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Bolivia: The Wandering Hands of the Santa Cruz Mayor

It was not the first time that Santa Cruz Mayor Percy Fernández was caught on video behaving badly. This time it was during a March 29, 2012, public event, where he appeared with suspended city council member Desirée Bravo. When Bravo got up to address the assembled crowd, the tape clearly shows the hand of Fernández near Bravo's rear end, and it appeared that Bravo attempted to brush his hand away, which led to many to believe that Fernández was sexually harassing the council member. To add to this bizarre behavior, Fernández could be seen kissing and caressing her hand, while laughing with those sitting nearby.

Some point to a pattern of questionable behavior with women displayed by that Fernández in such a public setting. Another 2010 video shows him forcing a long kiss on the mouth [es] of an unnamed public official at the inspection of a new public works project in the city.

Naturally, Bolivian bloggers were outraged and wonder how such a situation could happen or continue to happen. Javier Badani (@jbadani) believes that Fernández is a national embarrassment and wonders why “Cruceños (residents of Santa Cruz) are so permissive with this pig of an authority? [es]“.

However, some wonder why Bravo did not immediately scold Fernández or prevent the Mayor from continuing to touch her. The blogger that writes under the name Inés Punto G on the blog La Mala Palabra is quite frustrated how politicians have been treating women lately [es], and believes that Bravo should have stood up in defense of this pattern of behavior:

Somos la mofa de las otras vaginas que mientras le agarran el culo a Desirée, ésta le sujeta cándida la manita a Percysconi (el nuevo Berlusconi de Santa Cruz), y a la par somos la lástima de los hombres que dicen: “si se deja”, vaya burla. ¡Pero dale un revés pues, que no está para uno! Desireé, no me amargues el día como lo hiciste hoy, por dignidad renuncia o mándale a comer mierda al viejo-verde de tu lado.

We are the laughing-stock of other vaginas, that while he grabs Desirée's butt, she also lets Percysconi (the new Berlusconi [former Italian Prime Minster] of Santa Cruz) kiss her hand, and we are the pity of the men who say, “if she lets them..,” what a mockery. She should have hit him! Desirée, don't spoil my day like you did today, for dignity's sake you should resign or should have made the old man at your side eat shit.

Twitter user @arbork writes [es]:

El silencio de Desirée me duele más que el silencio cómplice de Mujeres Creando y colectivos femeninos en Bolivia a manoseo de Percy.

Desirée's silence about Percy's actions hurts me more than the silent complicity of [feminist group] Mujeres Creando (Women Creating) and feminist collectives in Bolivia.

Journalist and Twitter user Mery Vaca (@meryvaca) responds to some of this criticism placed on Bravo [es]:

Sólo veo que crucifican a Desirée (está bien, debió darle una bofetada), pero, el depravado es Percy. No perdamos de vista eso

I see that they are only crucifying Desirée (it's okay, she should have slapped him), but the one who is depraved is Percy. Let's not lose sight of that.

A nearby Assembly member claims that Fernández was simply trying to clean Bravo's pants [es] because she had been sitting on a dirty chair. Nevertheless, a day later Fernández released a statement apologizing for his behavior and that it was not his intention to offend anyone. He added that due to the age difference of about 20 years, that Fernández could essentially be Bravo's father, to which Ximena Flores (@ximefloresss) responded [es]:

#Percy dice que #Desire es “como su hija”. pero no recuerdo que mi padre me ande manoseando, su disculpa es tan inapropiada como su acción.

Percy says that Desiree is “like her daughter,” but I don't remember my own father behaving this way with his hands, his [Fernandez] apology is inappropriate just like his behavior.

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