Every day, millions of people in the Andes use coca like people in North America use coffee; they brew the leaves in hot water to make tea; some chew on the leaves to reenergize at work. For centuries, Andean populations have cherished the health and spiritual benefits of coca. In both uses, coca acts as a mild stimulant––like coffee––that can also suppress hunger, thirst, pain, and fatigue, and even relieve symptoms of altitude sickness.
In La Paz, Bolivia there is a prison unlike any other. It is home to thieves, tax evaders, drug traffickers, rapists, and murderers alike, as well as their families. It is unique because it is largely unguarded (about 50 guards are employed to stand watch on the outside) and because it is completely community run. San Pedro is the topic of much controversy. Questions such as “Why should criminals be allowed to govern themselves and roam freely,?” as well as “Why should children live with these men?” arise.
Last year, the Obama administration announced a new civil society initiative, Stand with Civil Society, calling for support of civil society groups across the world and acknowledging the role they play in pushing for citizen engagement, equity, transparency and accountability. These positive perspectives of civil society pushing for more democratic governance contrasts with more skeptical views that civil society may actually negatively impact the prospects for developing strong democrac
At the end of September, the International Court of Justice, the primary judicial branch of the United Nations, agreed to take the case between Bolivia and Chile about a border dispute, stating it has jurisdiction over the matter. Since Bolivia ceded territory along the coast to Chile as a consequence of the War of the Pacific and lost access to the Pacific Ocean, relations between the two countries have oscillated between periods of normal and nonexistent diplomatic relations.
The Bolivian LGBT community celebrated a historic triumph this past November when transgender Bolivians officially gained the right to change their name, sex and gender on legal documents.
Bolivia’s Evo Morales has three years left in his third presidential term, a term that will be his last due to a failed referendum attempt to change the constitution and allow him to run for a fourth time. In recent weeks, Morales has been rocked by scandals. In what feels like a bad telenovela, Morales has been implicated in an embezzlement and influence peddling scandal with a former lover who claims to have had a child with the president who may or may not be alive.
“No human being should eat from the garbage, but we, the street children, are barely human beings.”1 Joel is a 13-year-old boy who lives in the streets of La Paz, Bolivia. It is not uncommon for Joel and other street children to scour through dumpsters for scraps of food in order to survive. He believes that he and children like him represent the dregs of society, the “garbage.”