U.S. Media Myths About Bolivia: The Second Referendum

cropped-AIN-logo-for-stamp.jpg                      U.S. Media Myths About Morales’ Bolivia:                                                                 Part 1

 “Evo Morales is intent on running for a fourth term in 2019.”

 This remains to be seen, although mainstream U.S. media sources suggest the contrary. For example, The Washington Post affirmed on July 24th that Evo Morales “appears intent on hanging on to power when his current mandate ends in 2020”—that he will disregard the results of the February referendum (which by a two percent margin determined that the Morales government could not amend the constitution to run for a fourth term). The jury is still out on the issue, as Morales is known for making brash public and sometimes contradictory statements. However, Morales never announced a plan to hold a second referendum or run again. After the Bolivian electoral court confirmed his defeat, Morales stated that he would respect the results and that: “the MAS party and social movements are very respectful of the results of any electoral process and democratic act.”

A May 25th New York Times editorial cites a vague soccer metaphor as evidence of Morales’ intent to prolong his tenure. The editorial, based on a May 24th Pagina Siete article, claims that “Mr. Morales announced a new referendum campaign, saying that the first one had been tainted by ‘lies’ about the Zapata case. ‘During the second inning, we’ll see who is who,’ he said.”

Unlike Morales’ now infamous 2010 soccer gaffe, the meaning of this frequently cited soccer comment is not clear. Moreover, Morales repeatedly denied that it had anything to do with a second referendum.

What Morales actually said:

A quick Google search shows that the “second inning” reference (as the New York Times calls it) first appeared on March 11th at a rally. In a speech to supporters, Morales said: “I was surprised when colleagues in Santa Cruz said, ‘we lost the first half but there’s still the second half.’” He added: “I’m not sure what that means.”

Nonetheless, “analysts” and media jumped to the conclusion that this speech, combined with a statement by Morales on February 26th that “[he] has an obligation to keep fighting,” meant that the government would ignore the results of the referendum. However, immediately after, the Santa Cruz-based newspaper, and frequent Morales critic, El Deber, reported that the president clarified that he never referred to a second referendum, as some analyst suggested. He said:

The first half was the modification of the constitution. The second half will be the election of new officials, and we will keep on winning, my friends. MAS will always have candidates.

Then, on May 23rd, at an event in Chuquisaca, Morales repeated the popular quote about the “second half,” provoking a renewed media backlash again equating the “second half” with a second referendum. In response, Morales reaffirmed on June 28th that he has no interest in holding a second referendum next year. He said:

“‘Everyone thought I was talking about a second half. The second round will be, obviously 2019, when, of course, there will be elections. It is true some colleagues are thinking about a second referendum; it’s a natural urge. But, I’ll say it again—that’s not what I am doing. I am confirming again—I will end my administration.’”

He further explained that although holding a second referendum would be legal under the constitution, he is steering against it because it would likely affect his legitimacy as a leader.

While it is impossible to predict what will happen in the next election, there is no proof that a Morales 2019 re-election or power grab is inevitable. Could it happen? Sure. But current U.S. mainstream press forces the narrative.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of AIN’s “U.S. Media Myths About Morales’ Bolivia” Series

Humanosphere article outlines Bolivia’s successful coca reduction

In an interview with Humanosphere, AIN’s Kathryn Ledebur discusses the gradual, but successful reduction of coca in Bolivia due to community coca control:

“’Wide-scale changes like this take time, and Bolivia is making slow but steady progress in the right direction,’ said Kathryn Ledebur, director of the Andean Information Network (AIN), in an interview with Humanosphere.”

To read the complete article, click the link here.

Credit: Nick Jewell/Flickr
Credit: Nick Jewell/Flickr

AIN participa a la alianza “Mujeres, Políticas de Drogas y Encarcelamiento”

AIN está orgulloso a pertenecer a la alianza, “Mujeres, Políticas de Drogas y Encarcelamiento.” Esta iniciativa pretende dar a conocer la penalización de drogas y el impacto desproporcionado sobre las mujeres, y abogar por políticas de justicia y drogas más sensatas.

Para obtener más información sobre esta iniciativa, visite la oficina de WOLA en el sitio web a continuación.

Echa un vistazo a la siguiente infografía para tener una pequeña visión general sobre las mujeres, el encarcelamiento, y las drogas en Bolivia:

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AIN Joins Women, Drug Policies, and Incarceration Project

AIN is excited to be contributing to the coalition on Women, Drug Policies, and Incarceration in the Americas. This initiative seeks to highlight the disproportionate impact drug criminalization has on women, and advocate for more sensible criminal justice and drug policies.

To learn more about the initiative, visit the Washington Office on Latin America’s website below:


Check out the following Infographic for a brief overview of women, incarceration, and drugs in Bolivia:

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Recent Statistics on Coca Cultivation in the Andes

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s recently published Coca Monitoring Reports for Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru reveal that Bolivia once again is the lowest producer of coca among the Andean countries. Peru produces nearly twice as much coca as Bolivia, while Colombia, having experienced a surge in coca production since last year, produces nearly five times the amount of coca as Bolivia. Whereas Colombia and Peru continue to implement forced eradication strategies, Bolivia’s community coca control strategy has proven successful in decreasing levels of coca production.Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 3.50.15 PM

UNODC Conference Highlights Situation of Incarcerated Women in Bolivia

 “The Politics of Drug Control, Women and Incarceration” Conference held Monday in La Paz by The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)  highlighted the disproportionate impact of drug related charges on vulnerable women in Latin America. As a panelist, AIN’s Kathryn Ledebur presented a report by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and other partners on Women, Drug Policies, and Incarceration. Kathryn Ledebur and the UNODC’s Representative for Bolivia, Antonino De Leo, advised that the new drug control law in Bolivia (replacing the outdated Law 1008) include more proportionate sentencing and alternatives to incarceration for low level drug crimes.

To read more about the “Politics of Drug Control, Women and Incarceration” conference see the article below: (Spanish)

 unodc de leo

Bolivia’s Historic Drop in Coca Cultivation Holds Steady

Authors: Kathryn Ledebur (AIN) and Coletta A. Youngers (WOLA).

Commentary.- For the fifth year in a row, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has reported a decline in the area under coca cultivation in the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Between 2010 and 2014, the country achieved a remarkable 34 percent net reduction in the area under coca cultivation. UNODC estimated 20,400 hectares of coca in Bolivia in 2014.

To read this paper please click here: Commentary Bolivia’s Historic Drop in Coca Cultivation Holds Steady

UNODC Official Coca Statistics July 2016

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released its 2015 Coca Crop Monitoring Survey for Bolivia, showing a one percent reduction in overall cultivation. There was also an increase in the price of dried coca leaf , as well as cocaine seizures. AIN’s translation of the summary of the report is here: link: UNODC BOLIVIA Coca monitoring results-July 2016

Analysis from WOLA and AIN coming tomorrow.
Survey (Spanish)
The UNODC Press Release in English:
Comunicado de Prense en español: