Report from the President, June 2005


It is many months since I have written you about Bolivian Friends. Today I do so with a sigh of relief, since the installation of a new president has eased the crisis that has gripped Bolivia for three weeks, shutting down La Paz and making food and fuel (remember: it is mid-winter there) unavailable to the poor. Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé, still in his forties, with a graduate degree from Harvard, and until now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, seems trusted by all parties. He is expected to call for early elections, probably in August or September. The action further prepares the way for a third revolution in Bolivia, following those effected by the remarkable Victor Paz in 1952 and 1982. For more background, see my recent essay, "Bolivia: Preparing the Third Revolution."

In the past two seeks I spoke twice with Bernabé, on the first and sixth of June. Both times he was in the BQEF office, just three or four blocks from Plaza San Francesco, but a 90-minute walk from his home. And a walk it was, since there has been no transportation within La Paz for two weeks. Then I had an e-letter from him on 6/7, saying that he was working at home, because he now considered it too dangerous to walk through the city. Both he and Nelson Nogales, a scholarship student with whom I also talked, stressed the shortage of food and fuel—and they said it is cold now, midwinter in Bolivia.

Schools and universities have been closed, of course, and Bernabé was unable to disburse the May scholarships, for the first time since we began the program. He will try again tomorrow. In the US we received 22 contributions in May, totaling $4,186, less than $50 shy of our outlays of $4,233. That is still not enough to meet the monthly needs in Bolivia. The good news is that 13 of the contributors donated in May for the first time, indicating that we're getting the message out more effectively this year.

There are two exciting developments to report. One is the visit to Bolivia in August of Catalina Ríos and Andrew Rutledge, of Abington Friends School, to give workshops on Quaker teaching techniques to teachers in the three Bolivian Friends schools with which we are working. The other is the inauguration, by Fredonia Friends Meeting, of a program of meetings sponsoring a Bolivian scholarship student. There is more about these programs in the Newsletter and/or on the web at, where you can also make an on-line donation.

There will be continuing tension in Bolivia at least through the elections, so keep Bolivian Friends in your prayers, and help rekindle their hopes through BQEF scholarships. Let me know if you are not getting the newsletter, or if you wish to be dropped from this list.

In fellowship,