Dakar Rally in Argentina and Bolivia

My timing could be better: Just as I have moved to Bolivia to find some peace and quiet, the Dakar Rally thunders and roars past.

The famous desert race, which has removed Paris from its name, still calls itself the Dakar Rally, although it went to the Senegalese capital for the last time in 2007. In 2009 the rally moved to South America.

Since the beginning of the year, the cars, motorcycles, trucks and quads have been racing through Argentina. From 7 January 2016, they will be in Bolivia for a few days to disturb and destroy the salt flat of Uyuni.

Dakar 2016 map

A few weeks after the world came together in Paris to agree on leaving behind fossil fuels, fuel is burnt and the air is polluted here, just for fun and sport. Any optimism one could have had after the Paris accord (I had none) volatilizes in the clouds of dust swirled up by the race.

The direct impact on the environment and on archaeological treasures isn’t any better. But Evo Morales, who plasters the whole country with posters explaining “Living in unison with nature means living a good life,” thinks that the Dakar Rally is good advertising for Bolivia. Apart from the fact that the salt flats of Uyuni are the last place in Bolivia that would need any promotion, the money would be better spent if a travel blogger would have his stay in Bolivia financed for a year and would regularly write about the country and the people. Coincidentally, I am available.

Instead, Bolivia allows the sports company ASO to dip into the public purse and even deploys the military for logistics and for securing the racetrack. A practical side effect of the army’s presence is to dissuade anyone who would have thought of staging a protest against this racket.

My main point of criticism about the Dakar Rally is that it is a murderous spectacle, literally. The deaths of drivers can still be booked under risks willingly taken. But in the 37 years of its existence, the Dakar Rally has taken 69 human lives in total. Among them were more journalists than have been killed by some terrorist organizations and several children, who tend to cross streets, particularly if nobody bothered to inform them that this deadly circus would pass through their village.

Nani Roma of Spain and co-pilot celebrate winning the car title of the South American edition of the Dakar Rally 2014 in Valparaiso

“Sorry for all the people we killed. But it was great fun!”

In accordance with tradition, this year’s race began with  driver mowing down a dozen spectators.

If I drove like that, I would (hopefully) have to stand trial. Not so in the case of the Dakar Rally, whose drivers apparently enjoy legal immunity.

(Zur deutschen Fassung.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Argentina, Bolivia, Environment, Sports, Technology, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Dakar Rally in Argentina and Bolivia

  1. Pingback: Rallye Dakar in Argentinien und Bolivien | Der reisende Reporter

  2. Wow that’s insane. I hope you still find some quiet time soon.

    • Cochabamba, and particularly the area where I live, is a very relaxing place. The salt flat of Uyuni, where the race is, is actually a few hundred kilometers away. I am really more concerned in general than about my own well-being.

  3. Dino Bragoli says:

    They race big trucks that look like the recycling wagons that pick the bins up.

    • On its website, the Dakar Rally is really proud that it cleans up the rubbish. As if that wasn’t the least to be expected.
      Maybe the last driver in the field has to do this.

  4. brokenradius says:

    It is quite unusual that you have not posted anything since one month. Have you lost your Internet connectivity, or been finally caught by a black magic woman ?

    • No, no woman!
      I didn’t have internet at home for the first few weeks and now I have to catch up with work first.

      But I hope to write again soon. You are actually the first one who noticed my absence, or who mentioned it. Thank you very much!

      • Stefan MD says:

        Ah good to know. I usually read your posts on backlog in my email and rarely bother to load the blog directly. I noticed I caught up with the backlog too easily, and in the end I actually came here to check the comments section to see if someone had already posted a question remarking about your absence!

      • Thank you! It’s good to know that some people actually read what I write.

        I will get cracking again soon!

    • Xiaoping says:

      I am glad that you are safe, Andreas, you can live without Internet!

  5. Thank you for your post about the mind-boggling Dakar Rally. All the best

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