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Updates From Bolivia And Three New Publications

The Democracy Center On-Line
Volume 77 - November 5, 2007

Updates From Bolivia And Three New Publications

Dear Readers:

I apologize for the long delay since our last issue. The past few months have been eaten up by a few things, including putting the final touches on our new book, Dignity and Defiance: Stories from Bolivia's Challenge to Globalization (coming in 2008 from University of California Press)!

These have also been busy months in Bolivia, so we dedicate this newsletter to a few updates. We begin with a look at the roller coaster of recent events in Bolivia/U.S. relations, including an appearance by President Evo Morales on The Daily Show with John Stewart on Comedy Central. We offer an introduction and link to The Democracy Center's new briefing paper on the embattled process to write a new Bolivian constitution. We offer you an invitation - to receive The Center's new bi-weekly bulletin focusing specifically on topics Bolivian and Latin American (see below). Then we wrap up with an announcement about the new issue of our popular annual magazine.

Read on and best wishes to all!

Jim Shultz and The Democracy Center staff



Bolivia/U.S. relations, always a source of amazing developments, did not disappoint these past few months - featuring everything from a U.S. Army Colonel nailed for bringing in rounds of ammunition via a relative's suitcase to a spat over whether Bolivia's President coveted moving Disney World from its home in Orlando Florida. Some highlights:

'Ammogate' at the La Paz Airport

The fragile state of U.S./Bolivia relations took a tumble on a winter's evening here last June when a 20-year-old woman from the U.S. got off her American Airlines flight in La Paz, with 500 rounds of 45 caliber ammunition in her suitcase. It also turned out that she was the daughter-in-law-to-be of the U.S. Army Colonel who serves as the chief military officer at the U.S. Embassy here - setting off a full-scale international incident. U.S. Ambassador Phillip Goldberg tried to pass off the suitcase of ammo as an innocent mistake, with the bullets aimed at nothing more than the Colonel's target practice. Bolivians and U.S. citizens alike wondered what would have happened if Homeland Security in Miami had found a young Bolivian woman equally loaded with ammo en route to the Bolivian Embassy in Washington. The lack of a serious Embassy apology kept the story alive for weeks. Here's our Blog post on the incident, which we titled, Next Time Just Ask for Bagels:

Evo Visits the U.N., and John Stewart

September is the month when heads of state head to New York to give speeches before he U.N. There always seems to be one world leader that robs the most news at the annual President-fest, usually by saying the most outrageous thing in public. Last year it was Venezuela's Hugo Chavez declaring that George W. Bush was the devil ("I still smell sulfur"). This year it was Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declaring at Columbia University that Iran has not a single gay person living within its borders. Bolivia usually receives little notice at such gatherings, but this year President Evo Morales found an unlikely forum that gained him millions of viewers, and a good number of new fans. Bolivia's first indigenous President made a guest appearance on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with John Stewart. While other heads of state in N.Y. ranted, Bolivia's President walked away as "Evo the likeable." Leaving the stage he joked to Stewart, "Just please don't call me part of the Axis of Evil." Here's our Blog post with a link to a video of the show:

"Next He'll Want to Move Disney World"

While in New York at the U.N., President Morales also commented about the difficulties his aides endured to get visas to enter the U.S., a chronic problem for Bolivia and other poorer countries. He then suggested that maybe it was time to look into whether the U.N. should be in the U.S. at all. The U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, Mr. Goldberg, proved again that he wasn't quite ready for prime time duty. A wiser diplomat might have sought to smooth things over by offering to assist the Bolivian government with the visa problem. Instead Mr. Goldberg, declared publicly, "I wouldn't be surprised if he [Morales] would also want to move Disney World." This set off a silly war of words between the two governments that lasted weeks. Here's our Blog post:


For more than a year, Bolivia has been in the midst of a historic struggle to write a new Constitution. While the work of writing the new national 'magna carta' has taken place in a Constituent Assembly, elected by the people to undertake the historic task, conflicts over it have spilled out into the streets in every major city in the nation, including here in Cochabamba where three men were left dead in street battles last January. To help interested readers more fully understand what the Constituent Assembly and the process of Constitutional reform means for Bolivia, The Democracy Center assigned a special team (a mix of Bolivians and people from the U.S.) to assemble the story. Our new briefing paper, Re-Founding Bolivia: A Nation's Struggle Over Constitutional Reform, is the product of their work. You can read the paper here:


"Your Blog posts are great, but I wish they would come to my email box so I would remember to take a look at them." That is what a friend of ours who works on Latin American issues in Washington told us recently, and we have heard it from many others as well. So, The Democracy Center is now proud to offer our friends and readers a new bi-weekly bulletin: Democracy Center Updates. Every two weeks we'll take the most popular of our Blog posts and other articles and reports and send short summaries and links to the full versions directly to our readers who are most interested in following what we write and what we are up to. We'll still be here with this regular newsletter every month or two, but if you are interested in more, subscribe today, for free, to Democracy Center Updates. Just visit the link below to subscribe now:


Back by popular demand, The Democracy Center team is finalizing the production of our annual magazine that we launched last year. Once again, the magazine will feature a collection of articles and photos featuring Bolivian politics and culture. This year, however, we'll be taking the magazine even farther, looking at some of the other 'citizen power' projects and campaigns that The Democracy Center and our global friends are involved in worldwide - from environmental activism in the Balkans to work with Iraqi refugees in Jordan. Last year, with the help of many friends, we distributed more than 1500 copies of The Center's magazine in the U.S. For those who would like to join in the distribution effort this year (we charge $1 a copy to help with printing and postage), please send a note along to: no later than November 19.

THE DEMOCRACY CENTER ON-LINE is an electronic publication of The Democracy Center, distributed on an occasional basis to more than 4,500 organizations, policy makers, journalists and others, throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Please consider forwarding it along to those who might be interested. People can request to be added to the distribution list by sending an e-mail note to: Newspapers and periodicals interested in reprinting or excerpting material in the newsletter should contact The Democracy Center at Suggestions and comments are welcome. Past issues are available on The Democracy Center Web site.


SAN FRANCISCO: P.O. Box 22157 San Francisco, CA 94122
BOLIVIA: Casilla 5283, Cochabamba, Bolivia

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