“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UNODC’s Representative for Bolivia, Antonino De Leo, advised that the new drug control law in Bolivia (replacing the outdated Law 1008) include more proportionate sentencing and alternatives to incarceration for low level drug crimes.
As the presidential campaigns gain momentum, AIN outlines the political and social landscape in Bolivia to provide background to understand upcoming electoral debates.
President Evo Morales is running for a third term in the October 12, 2014 elections. Critics argue he is not eligible to run for another consecutive term, but the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal ruled in his favor, and the opposition across the political spectrum lacks a strong, unifying candidate. Four candidates have formally registered to run against Morales.
Listen to AIN’s director Kathryn Ledebur on journalist Sara Shahriari’s Bolivia Update Podcast talking about overcrowding in Bolivian prisons.
September 15, 2013
This week La Paz protests a supposed population decrease, the US criticizes Bolivia’s anti-narcotics efforts, and we talk with Kathryn Ledebur of the Andean Information Network about Bolivia’s struggle to deal with overcrowding in prisons.
Please take a look into the life of nonviolent drug inmates in Bolivian jails in this video clip [El Mario – Las Cárceles de Bolivia], developed in collaboration with Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw of Cocaine Prison.
On September 11, 2013, President Morales signed a pardon decree designed to benefit between 1,000-2,000 inmates. The Bolivian congress must still approve the measure. (AIN will post a summary and analysis of the decree soon.) The pardon decree was a response to an August 23rd riot-turned-fire that killed 35 people in Palmasola prison, including a small child. A small group of prisoners from the maximum-security block of this Santa Cruz prison attacked other inmates, using kitchen propane tanks as flamethrowers. Fire spread in the prison, leaving many dead and 58 people with 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns over most of their bodies.
The Wall Street Journal’s recent article from August 1st, “Jailed American’s Drug Case Stokes Tension With Bolivia,” fails to acknowledge the many discrepancies in the Ostreicher case, dramatically exaggerates the effect the case has had on Bolivian-US relations, and contrives false connections between Ostreicher’s case and other drug-related cases. Prolonged pretrial detention and harsh conditions take a dramatic toll on prisoners and their families. However, the fact that Ostreicher is imprisoned under a law that the US pressured Bolivia to pass is noticeably absent in the article’s extensive discussion of US-Bolivian relations and the drug war. (Please see the AIN report, “Ostreicher Case: US-Imposed Legislation Still Dictates Drug Prosecutions.”)
Prison Detainees in Bolivia: Bad Fruit of a Slow Judiciary System
On June 3, 2011, the Bolivian antidrug police arrested Jacob Ostreicher, an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, New York, for money laundering and involvement with drug trafficking. Ostreicher, a flooring contractor who had invested in a rice-growing agricultural venture, had come to Santa Cruz to oversee his business venture when he was arrested. Ostreicher has been in the Palmasola prison in Santa Cruz, Bolivia for over a year awaiting trial. After several hearings, the judge ordered on September 23, 2011 that Ostreicher be released. A week later, the judge reversed his decision. A new judge was assigned to the case, but this judge recused himself, and no other judge has been appointed.