Reading Bolivia in the U.S. Press

June 30, 2008

There are two salient trends in the US reporting about Bolivia: (1) the personalization of Morales as the representative of Bolivia's transformation backed by social movements and (2) the misrepresentation of both the new Bolivian Constitution and the so-called Autonomy Statutes of the business and regionalist elite.

If one reads the mainstream U.S. press to understand recent events in Bolivia, the following composite story emerges: Bolivia is a deeply divided and fractured country of profound cleavages, bitter fragmentation, and civil conflict, most of which can be attributed to the country's president, Evo Morales, elected in late 2005. A member of the Aymara ethnic group and Bolivia's first indigenous president, Morales is trying to give Indians a bigger role in government and a greater share of the economic pie. This has exacerbated tensions between Indians and the light-skinned descendants of the Spanish elite and inflamed regional tensions between the free-market-oriented east and the socialist tendencies of western Bolivia. Furthermore, Venezuela's Hugo Ch


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