Case Study on Bolivia in UNDP Report: “Reflections On Drug Policy And Its Impact On Human Development: Innovative Approaches”

Protecting indigenous rights and promoting sustainable development: The story of Bolivia

“Bolivia is the world’s third largest producer of coca, the plant from which cocaine, as well as the secret ingredient in Coca-Cola, is derived. Coca leaves have been an essential part of Andean economic life and culture for thousands of years. In its natural form, coca is a mild stimulant that suppresses hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue, aids in digestion, provides vitamins and minerals lacking in local staples and has medicinal uses, including treating altitude sickness (Farthing and Kohl, 2014). Coca is an essential part of indigenous rituals and social interactions. Indigenous people have been chewing coca leaf for centuries, and millions of people in the Andean region of South America chew coca and drink coca tea daily.

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Indigenous Populations in Latin America / Poblaciones Indigenas en América Latina

In honor of the day of decolonization (celebrated in Bolivia) and the day of indigenous resistance (Venezuela, El Salvador) we celebrate the multitude of indigenous communities in today’s Latin America. According to 2011 UNDP figures, 62.2% of Bolivia’s population identify as indigenous. View the UNDP graph below for a look at the percentage of indigenous people out of the total population of different Latin American countries.

En el día de descolonización (celebrado en Bolivia) y el día de resistencia indígena (celebrado en Venezuela y El Salvador) nosotros festejamos la multitud de comunidades indigenas en America Latina. Según estadísticas de 2011 de la PNUD, 62.2% de la población Boliviana se identifica como indígena. Para conocer la población indígena respecto a la población total en diferentes países Latinoamericanos, vea el gráfico abajo.

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“When Indigenous Fashion Hits the Runway, Details Matter” by Jean Friedman-Rudovsky

Read the article below for an insightful exploration of the rise of “chola” fashion and identity both within and outside of Bolivia.

When Indigenous Fashion Hits the Runway, Details Matter

 By Jean Friedman-Rudovsky
All image credits: Yvette Paz Soldan

Fifteen years ago, Glenda Yañez put on the clothes of her ancestors. She had always admired how her grandmother dressed—her wide, layered skirt; a thick embroidered shawl; and a top hat leaning just so, two long and dark braids coming down her back. Yañez, who grew up in the bustling city of La Paz, Bolivia, had come of age in jeans and T-shirts.

That’s because her grandmother’s indigenous dress — known as the chola style — had for centuries been a target of acute discrimination. For most of Bolivia’s history, a Spanish-descended, white minority lorded over the country’s native majority in a system akin to apartheid. The chola wardrobe is a fashion distinctive to Bolivia’s second largest indigenous group, the Aymara people. And it’s one that has endured since the 1700s, even though it has brought with it heightened segregation.

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Original Text–Memorandum of Justification for U.S. “Decertification” of Bolivia

Below is the text of the White House’s Memorandum of Justification  for  Bolivia, used to justify the ninth consecutive “decertification” of Bolivia’s drug control efforts:



“During the past 12 months, the Bolivian government has failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under applicable international counternarcotics agreements or uphold the counternarcotics measures set forth in Section 489 (a) (1) of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, as amended. Bolivia is the world’s third largest cultivator of coca leaf used for the production of cocaine and other illegal narcotics derivatives.

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Some are more equal than others: U.S. “decertification” of Bolivia’s Drug Control Efforts

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Some are more equal than others:

                   U.S. “decertification” of Bolivia’s Drug Control Efforts

                                                          Kathryn Ledebur and Julia Romani Yanoff

                                                                                  Andean Information Network

                                                                                                    September 21, 2016

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Setting the Record Straight on Bolivia: Analysis from Jean Friedman-Rudovsky on February’s Referendum

Setting the Record Straight on Bolivia

                                         By Jean Friedman-Rudovsky

This past February, Bolivians voted on a constitutional reform that would have allowed Evo Morales to run for a fourth term as president. When all the ballots were counted, the “No” vote won by 132,509 votes, less than 3 percentage points. President Morales, rather calmly, conceded defeat.

I lived in Bolivia from 2005 to 2013 as the longest-tenured English language reporter during Morales’ presidency, writing mainly for Time Magazine. Unfortunately, U.S. coverage of the referendum missed the mark. The reporting fit all too neatly into a larger narrative of the waning “pink tide” of South American leaders. Evo Morales was depicted as a power-hungry dictator who would stop at nothing to extend his reign, and it would seem that the overwhelming majority of Bolivian people have rejected him and his policies.

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Kathryn Ledebur participates in Latin American Advisor Q & A on Mining Conflict

In September 9th’s edition of the Inter-American Dialogue’s Daily Publication “The Latin American Advisor”, Kathryn Ledebur, along with academics and policy analysts on Bolivia, participated in a featured Q & A on Bolivia’s mining conflict.

Read Kathryn’s response below:


Latin American Advisor Q&A: What is Behind the Strife Between Bolivia & Miners?

                                                                                                September 9, 2016

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AIN’s Kathryn Ledebur shares updates on the Cooperative Miners Conflict with Real News Network

On September 8, 2016, AIN Executive Director Kathryn Ledebur spoke with the Real News Network about updates in the Cooperative Miners Conflict. In particular, she explored the possibilities of future negotiations, investigations for the deaths of the 5 miners and Vice Minister Rodolfo Illanes, and the impacts of the conflict on future political developments.

To watch the full interview, click here.