When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.



Pollo Vaccine? Chicken Truck Delivers COVID-19 Jabs To Bolivian City

Residents in the far-flung city of Trinidad, Bolivia can rest assured: 1,100 doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine were successfully delivered this week, albeit by the most unlikely of means. After being flown into the region on a flight operated by the national airline Boliviana de Aviación, the potentially life-saving cargo was loaded onto a truck belonging to a local chicken meat distributor.

Onlookers could tell something unusual was happening when the bright-yellow "Distribuidora de pollos" truck, owned by the Gabriel chicken company, pulled into the town accompanied by a full police escort, as reported by Bolivian daily El Diario.

Watch Video Show less

Bolivia Elections, A Quiet Revolution Bound To Reverberate

The decisive reelection of the left in Bolivia, after Evo Morales was crudely ousted, is a message to all those powers that aim to unseat the popular will.


BOGOTÁ — Bolivia has shown that nations learn a lesson when they lose their rights, and must gamble it all to win them back.

From the first day of last year's "suggested coup" by police and army against socialist President Evo Morales, Bolivia's native communities led the resistance, and paid the price in killings and repression at hands of the extreme right. A few months of zeal in privatizing the economy were in turn enough to convince the urban middle class that they were not living a "lesser evil" after Morales, whose reckless reelections had enraged them. They joined this indigenous mobilization, realizing that all the progress made toward a better life was at risk. But they did it quietly. They kept their voting intentions hidden until the last minute, lest elections be postponed yet again.

Thus the election results on Oct. 18 defied polls, and became the real meter of opinion. Only an avalanche of votes for MAS, the socialist movement that backed Morales, could prevent fraud or a refusal to recognize the results — and this is what happened.

Now, Bolivians must maintain a permanent state of mobilization — like the minga or collective protests of native Colombians who intermittently march on the capital to defend their rights, to prevent further coups, and ensure the parliamentary majority duly takes power.

So-called political cycles are not so clearly defined.

Seldom has an election so swiftly rectified a break with the constitutional order. The results will compound the elections' impact on global geopolitics, and are effectively a defeat for Donald Trump's authoritarian interventions, and those of his regional diplomatic arm, the Organization of American States. These results may now increase support for constitutional changes in Chile, encourage progressive alternatives in Ecuador and herald a complicated future at all levels for the political right in Colombia.

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales on Oct. 19 — Photo: Juan Ignacio Roncoroni/EFE/ZUMA

The election has also shown that so-called political cycles are not so clearly defined. They are determined by the zeitgeist, as the sociologist Erich Fromm might say, which combines subjective and objective elements that are unpredictable, and even not exactly real. Like the spirit of indignation and desire for change that characterize the protests of natives, the black community and peasant organizations currently marching and arousing consciences in Bogotá. Their protest conveys to anyone who cares to listen, the concerns of Latin American youngsters who have grown up in a context of inequality, exclusion, marginalization and violence imposed by the neoliberal, authoritarian version of capitalism.

This is time for neither political hubris nor human cruelty.

It is childish and dangerous to declare, as fascists and their ilk do, that such movements were cooked up by unspecified Chavistas and Bolivarians to discredit the state and its security forces, and take power using street protests. Rather, police and military forces have cause for reflection when they are dragged into policies of indiscriminate repression and attempted coups before having to face charges later on of rights violations and abuse of power.

Progressive elements in Colombia and elsewhere should also reflect, because they are the first to be surprised, and taken to task, by this generation's powers of mobilization and imagination. It is a generation that is angrily putting on the political agenda the right to study and work, our myriad cultural, economic and environmental problems, and its vision of a more inclusive, attentive and sympathetic way of life.

The questions that arise in a period of crisis are bound to find outlets, and will soon demand expansive programs forged from below. It is a message for all, that this is time for neither political hubris nor human cruelty.

Keep reading... Show less

Evo Morales Has Only Himself To Blame

The leftist leader had some worthy accomplishments during his long tenure as Bolivian president. But his quest for indefinite leadership cost him in the end.


Nine years ago in América Economía, we published an editorial praising "Evonomics," the economic policies of the now deposed Bolivian president Evo Morales. Those policies served the country well and, even in light of recent events, there's still no reason to argue otherwise.

Keep reading... Show less

Flying (And Landing) High In La Paz

La Paz"s airport delivers on its name: El Alto is indeed the highest international airport in the world. Luckily neither my wife Claudine (pictured here in the foreground) nor I suffered from altitude sickness during our often elevated travels through Bolivia and neighboring Peru.

Bertrand Hauger

Bolivia's Mysterious Monolithic Monk

Like their Easter Island counterparts, the giant statues of Tiwanaku, in western Bolivia, are shrouded in mystery. For example, the stone used for this "Monk" monolith comes from a quarry nearly 100 kilometers away.


Evo Morales, Economic Success Can Never Justify Autocracy

The legalistic formula the Bolivian leader has found to perpetuate his presidency is despotic and shameful.


Bolivia's Constitutional Court has given the socialist president, Evo Morales, the green light to run for a fourth presidential term.

Watch Video Show less
Benjamin Witte

Extra! Bolivia's Morales Gets Green Light To Run Again (And Again)

Bolivia's beaming president, as pictured (right) on Wednesday's front page of Tarija-based daily El País, has good reason to smile: He's just been cleared to seek reelection indefinitely.

Watch Video Show less
Mauricio Garrón

Hydropower, The Clean Motor Of Latin America's Energy Future


LA PAZ — As it stands now, half of Latin America's power is generated by hydroelectricity, an energy source that is also of vital importance worldwide, producing more electricity than all renewables combined.

Watch Video Show less
Roy Greenburgh

Identity Politics, From La Paz To Trump Tower

It is yet another alliance of ideas that fiction could not have invented. The leftist vice president of Bolivia, who has never disavowed his Marxist past, is seeing eye-to-eye with a certain out-for-himself American real estate mogul with a taste for gold-plated everything.

Watch Video Show less
Alvaro Garcia Linera*

Globalization As Ideology Is Dead And Buried

Donald Trump is not the free market's executioner, but a coroner appointed to quietly confirm its demise. Sadly, in its place, is a gaping void of alternatives.


LA PAZ — The mad rush toward a world without borders and relentless squeezing of the nation-state in the name of liberating commerce is coming to an end. Before the gasps of the globalized elite, the near-religious conviction that all societies were bound to coalesce into a single economic, financial and cultural whole has collapsed.

Watch Video Show less
Mauricio Ríos García

Why Energy-Rich Bolivia Is Mired In Economic Crisis

Like other Latin American countries, Bolivia has squandered commodity revenue and failed to make the hard reforms necessary to bolster the economy for the long haul.


LA PAZ — People in Bolivia appear to be waiting for everything to fall apart before they accept that their economy faces a crisis.

Watch Video Show less
Marcelo Ostria Trigo*

Ideology Over Interests, Why Latin American Leftists Broke With Brazil

The withdrawal of the ambassadors of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela from Brazil to protest Dilma Rousseff's ouster is a good example of partisan zeal harming the national interest.


LA PAZ The 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli famously declared that states do not have permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests. Circumstances and interests bring states closer or push them apart. I was reminded of the quote after the recent decision taken by Bolivia's President Evo Morales to recall his ambassador in Brazil in protest at the Brazilian senate's dismissal of the country's now former president, Dilma Rousseff. Fellow socialist states, Venezuela and Ecuador, soon followed suit.

This attitude is a long way from Bolivia's long-established policy of maintaining good relations with its neighbors (this being a land of "contacts not enmities," as one of the country's presidents, Luis Fernando Guachalla, said some 70 years ago). And Brazil is certainly a neighbor with many shared interests that transcend the two countries' political orientations.

Recently, Latin American populism has taken verbal spats to a whole new level. This time, the barbs have skipped their usual target — the United States "empire" — a state whose governments and policies really do alternate and yet which is routinely blamed for all our ills, including those that have yet to appear. But verbal attacks on Washington are one thing, especially when it is "distracted" with more important problems, and quite different from leveling charges against a powerful neighbor that also happens to be a key customer of Bolivian gas.

Beyond economic interests, there is an international principle to be respected: that of non-interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states. Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was sacked in late August at the end of an impeachment process that was, from the start, governed by established laws. Insisting on calling the move a coup is unjustified, even if one doesn't agree with the outcome of that political trial.

If defending democracy was the reason for the Bolivian government recalling its ambassador in Brazil, it would be far more understandable for it to back implementing the Inter-American Democratic Charter in Venezuela, where a fellow leftist regime is busily striking at laws and institutions, and refusing to recognize the overwhelming majority of votes won by parliamentary opponents. In fact, President Nicolás Maduro is the man behind the collective hostility shown by the ALBA group of states toward the new Brazilian government.

It is never good to apply double standards: one of complaisance toward friends, whatever their bad habits, and another, stricter standard for those who do not share your politics.

Brazil shares permanent and convergent interests with its three neighboring states but, for now, they have distanced themselves from the beleaguered nation. By the time this unfortunate episode ends, however, these interests will re-emerge, provoked by a lapse in common sense so typical of populist regimes.

Watch Video Show less
Gabriele Martini

In Bolivia, "Climate Refugees" Forced Into Urban Shantytowns

Climate change is drying up the Earth and making Bolivians search for new livelihoods in Latin America's poorest country.

LA PAZ — Nayra's calloused hands, sunbaked face and blackened arms reveal the hardship of living in the arid corners of Bolivia.

"We used to grow quinoa and potatoes and raise llamas but then the great drought came and changed our lives," she said. Although she's from Tarata, a village in the heart of the Bolivian Andes, climate change has forced her to move to La Paz, a city where she now sells snacks and drinks on the street.

Watch Video Show less
Danilo Arbilla

Evo Morales Ups Ante As Other Latin American Leftists Fade

Bolivia's president lost a referendum earlier this year that could have kept him in power beyond 2019. The long-serving leader may try to seek reelection regardless.


BOGOTÁ — With Mauricio Macri's election in Argentina, moves to depose Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Keiko Fujimori's rise in Peru, the pieces are clearly shifting on Latin America's political chessboard.

Watch Video Show less

La Paz Prayer

A couple of streets away from La Paz's eerie Witches' Market, complete with llama fetuses, this man praying at the Metropolitan Cathedral was relying on some slightly more conventional beliefs.

Sylvia Colombo

Bolivia, A Nation Divided Again After Morales Tastes Defeat


Watch Video Show less