Violence is an unfamiliar reality that I´ve encountered in Santa Cruz.
Yesterday night my roommates and I stumbled across a photography exhibit with newspaper photos from the last year. I was surprised to realize how much bloody violence actually goes on in Bolivia each year (Or perhaps just last year).
In several of the photos I was able to recognize landmarks in Santa Cruz that I pass each day. One showed the central square filled with riot police spraying tear gas at protestors another showed a bloody man walking through a well known street filled with discarded rocks and glass. Cars and trucks on fire in the street, baseball bats being swung at humans, police attacking and beating an unarmed man, dead bodies being carried away in caskets. It was hard for me to reconcile the violence and police clashes in the photos with the calm safety of Santa Cruz I see each day.
Despite what I saw, I don´t fear for my safety here. I feel that Santa Cruz is a very safe city. Most of the violence captured in the photos was because of deliberate protests about specific issues. Unrest about the governmental status of Sucre, a desire for autonomy in Santa Cruz, protests about a new constitution. Interestingly enough, I´ve also noticed that nearly all of the graffiti in Santa Cruz is political in nature. Slogans like, ¨No mas fraude¨or ¨Morales = Muerte¨.
While I know that it is incredibly important to always be aware of my surroundings and avoid dangerous situations I also feel like the rare instances of violence in Santa Cruz can easily be avoided by simply remaining politically uninvolved.
On a completely different note, I was at a used bookstore yesterday and I found a copy of Truth by Al Franken! A good omen I think.