April Fools Day in December

December 28 marks Bolivia and much of Latin America’s version of April Fools Day (Día de los Inocentes).  Newspapers from around the country try to show how cute that they can be by planting fake stories on their print and online versions. An example of a good joke was the sports story in Los Tiempos newspaper about Argentina football player Ariel Ortega joining the club Aurora.  It was very believable because 1.) Ortega is the son of Bolivian immigrants in Argentina 2.) Aurora is preparing to play in the Libertadores Cup and a star player like that make sense. Yes, I fell for it.  Good job, Los Tiempos.  No harm, no foul.

However, in La Razon, another story caught my eye and for the entire day I believed that it was true.  It was about Santa Cruz Civic Committee President Branko Marinkovic being apprehended by masked men sent by the government. This is pretty irresponsible in my opinion, not because I fell for it, but because that story is more than believable since the government has threatened the arrest of their chief opposition. When, and not if, it happens, things will start to get very hairy once again in the country, and this story could have helped spread rumors and caused more confrontation in the country. 

Usually the admission of it being a joke is included at the end of each story, but the La Razon story was in the middle, thus making it harder to spot.

Truthiness in the Media

Looks like the Bolivian government is getting into the “truth” business by creating the first state-run newspaper.  According to ABI (the state’s information department), Evo Morales said:

 “Por primera el Estado tendrá su propio periódico y que difundirá cada día la verdad mediante los medios de comunicación”, señaló el Jefe de Estado..

“For the first time, the State will have its own newspaper and will each day distribute the truth through the media,” said the Head of State..




Rising Voices Microgrant Funds – Deadline January 18, 2009

From Rising Voices

Application Deadline: January 18, buy cialis 2009


Rising Voices, ed the outreach arm of Global Voices, sales is now accepting project proposals for microgrant funding of up to $5,000 for new media outreach projects. Ideal applicants will present innovative and detailed proposals to teach citizen media techniques to communities that are poorly positioned to discover and take advantage of tools like blogging, video-blogging, and podcasting on their own.

As the internet becomes more accessible to more people, including mobile phone users, the so-called digital divide seems to be narrowing. In its place, however, we see a participation gap in which the vast majority of blogs, podcasts, and online video are being produced in middle-class neighborhoods in major cities around the world.

Rising Voices aims to help bring new voices from new communities and speaking new languages to the conversational web, by providing resources and funding to local groups reaching out to underrepresented communities in the developing world. Please visit our current list of grantees for project examples.

The sky is the limit, but unfortunately funding is not. Rising Voices outreach grants will range from $2,000 to $5,000. Please be as thoughtful, specific, and realistic as possible when drafting your budgets.

Successful projects will be prominently featured on Global Voices. Grantees are expected to host regular workshops to train participants how to start and maintain a weblog, upload and share digital photographs, and produce basic videos. Grantees are also required to post regular project evaluations and updates to the Rising Voices website.

Completed applications will be accepted no later than Sunday, January 18. Please submit your completed application on the Rising Voices apply page.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below or by sending an email to outreach@globalvoicesonline.org.

Boliviana de Aviación in Cochabamba

Snapped this picture (through a dirty windshield) of new offices of the new Bolivian state airline Boliviana de Aviación (BOA), which is set to take-off soon.  Their central headquarters will be in Cochabamba, and will seemingly put LAB to rest permanently.

From Wikipedia:

The government says that it aims to “democratize air transport in Bolivia” through the airline, although also says that it will operate under commercial conditions and without subsidies.[1] The company’s General Manager will hold office for a five year term, and will be appointed by the President of Bolivia.[2]


Carlos Mesa Ready to Throw His Hat into the Ring

It’s almost official.  Former president Carlos Mesa will likely be one of Evo Morales’ chief rivals in the presidential elections tentatively scheduled for December 2009. Responding to questions by reporters in Lima, he said that if there will be elections (if and when the new Constitution passes), he will be a candidate.  

My early take is that Mesa is the *only* candidate that can come close to rivaling Morales’ support.  Now Santa Cruz must decide whether to support Mesa or live with more years of Evo.  If you recall, Mesa was Santa Cruz’ number one enemy long before Evo took the helm. It was Mesa’s iniciative that propelled autonomy with the election of regional governors.  Neither Costas, nor Manfred can attract those middle class voters that opted for change, but are disappointed in the direction of the current administration.  I also doubt that all of the 50-60% of Bolivians that approved of his work at the time of his resignation have changed their mind.

DEA is Ordered Out of Bolivia, and What the?

By now, salve we all know about the expulsion of the Drug Enforcement Agency out of Bolivia. However, when Evo Morales and his drug czar and former coca leader Felipe Caceres went to check out their installations, they were “surprised” that the DEA took their sophisticated equipment with them. The nerve of the US for taking their property with them from a place that they are not wanted.

Rescue Simulation in Cochabamba

The sounds of low flying planes, helicopters, and speeding ambulances filled the air of Cochabamba this morning.  The volunteers of SAR – FAB (Rescue Service of Bolivia) sponsored a rescue simulation in response to an earthquake that hypotheticallly shook the city this morning.

Earlier that morning, drivers of a couple of public transport lines blockaded the interesection of Ayacucho and Heroinas in the heart of the city because of conflicts they had with other public transport lines.

It’s refreshing to know that in the event of real emergency, that many groups (not just transport) are willing to block important access routes and further hinder rescue efforts.

Possible Candidates For Bolivia Elections in 2009

Specuation only and it is really early….

  • Evo Morales
  • Samuel Doria Medina
  • Carlos Mesa
  • Felipe Quispe
  • René Joaquino
  • Ruben Costas
  • Manfred Reyes Villa
  • Mario Cossio
  • Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze
  • Victor Hugo Cardenas

    I think the VP candidates would be more interesting. Many say Evo received the middle-class city vote because of his choice for VP, order who ironically turned out to be more radical than Evo himself.

    Anyone I am missing from the list?

  • Obama Loses at School in Santa Cruz

    Not all of Bolivia subscribed to the rest of the world’s desire for Barack Obama to be elected as president. The secondary school students at the Santa Cruz Cooperative School preferred McCain-Palin.

    As Aka Lusi wrote:

    I figure most kids vote their parent’s politics, and most of our parents belong to the anti-Evo Morales crew. Evo’s party translates to “Movement towards Socialism.” Obama was seen as wanting to make the US socialist…and for some reason a lot of our students were sure that Obama wanted to be friends with Chavez in Venezuela. I’m really not sure if had any specific statement on that, but I figure it was based on his whole idea that we should engage our friends as well as our enemies. Also, it’s strongly Roman Catholic, old school, which means no abortion, no gay rights, strict definition of marriage, etc.

    On the other hand, we did have some kids make informed decisions. One kid told me he was going to vote for McCain, then asked me who I was going to vote for, and why. A few days later he came back a few days later and said he picked Obama because of what I told him about the environment, and that he still didn’t like abortion but that it wasn’t his say. 10th grader. Great kid. Oh, and the teachers were overwhelmingly in Obama’s camp, too…I think 21-3 or something (it’s in another picture).

    Unfortunately, I heard some pretty racist comments by some Bolivian residents in the U.S. that they would never vote for a black person, and subscribing to some of the smear campaigns that were being waged by the Republicans (i.e. that he was a Muslim, that he was a socialist, etc.)

    Photo by Aka Lusi and used under a Creative Commons license