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Bolivia's Major English Language Publication

Issue 43

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Editorial by Sara Shahriari

As Bolivia kicks into election season high gear with the vote for president just weeks away, the Bolivian Express writers chose to explore campaigns for this month's issue.

Many facets of a political campaign go far beyond promises and policy. For example, we absorb everything from catchy promotional songs with lyrics that embed themselves in our brains to the very clothes candidates choose to wear. Consider a few of this year's hopefuls: President Evo Morales in a polished, but not western, suit jacket; Samuel Doria Medina in a blue every-man hoodie looking ready to head out for a jog; and Fernando Vargas, an indigenous leader from the country's lowlands, sporting his signature leather sombrero.

Focusing on campaigns and elections in Bolivia, we must of course take a long look at President Morales, who now stands for a third term as president while running far ahead of his opponents in polls. Not everyone agrees that a third term is the right direction for Bolivia, though the constitutional tribunal endorsed the President's right to run again last year.

Then there is social media, a tool which every year reaches more Bolivians as internet and computer access expand. Social media promises to bring the average voter into a sort of direct - albeit electronic - contact with candidates. The way candidates of all stripes wage campaigns on Twitter, Facebook and beyond is an ever-evolving art. In the physical world, political allegiances and slogans are declared on the limited real estate of rural and urban walls, where graffiti ranging from the basic to the ornate forms a constantly changing, silent debate.

Also closely tied to the elections is a campaign known as 'Machistas Fuera de la Lista,' formed by feminist groups to demand that candidates who express chauvinistic beliefs withdraw from whatever political race they are involved in, be it local or national.

Of course not all campaigns directly relate to this year's elections. The Morales government has long cultivated associations between the president and indigenous leader Tupac Katari, who was killed by the Spanish in 1781 while leading a revolt against the colonial power. On a literary note, a project to select the greatest Bolivian books of all-time could be interpreted as a campaign to develop and solidify the nation's identity.

Moving beyond this month's articles, it's important to note that the 2014 elections occur just 32 years after Bolivia's return to democracy, which followed 18 years of military rule, dictatorship, or short-lived and unstable governments. It's a reminder that the ability to campaign for public office, or anything else for that matter, is a right that cannot be taken for granted.

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Articles from the latest issue of Bolivian Express

#VIRTUAL CAMPAIGNING

26 September, 2014, Shirin Vetry

Campaigning in Bolivia has now entered a whole new dimension for political action and advertising The motacú plant fell on to the open field. Within moments, the men from the Miraflores community in Pando gathered around the fallen palm tree and began to harvest its leaves for shelter. I am ...

THE STREET ART OF LA PAZ

26 September, 2014, Nikola Maksimovic

The Artistic Battleground for Political and Societal Expression Very few of La Paz’s walls, doors and highways have escaped the touch of the spray can and brush; graffiti tags, murals and political slogans line almost every street. This phenomenon is not exclusive to Bolivia, though; it has become a distinctive ...

ELECTION CATWALK

26 September, 2014, Christy Callaway-Gale and Malhar Mahurkar

The red carpet is out, the spotlights are set and the playlist, featuring the teleférico anthem and the commissioned Quipus rap, is ready for this October’s long-awaited election catwalk. Drummed into us from an early age is the concept ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but we’re going to ...

AGAINST THE EMPIRE

26 September, 2014, Malhar Mahurkar

Bolivian President Evo Morales has refused to toe the USA’s line since he came into power, and has clashed with the ‘land of the free’ in several high-profile incidents, including expelling the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the US ambassador, Philip Goldberg, both in 2008. In the words of the ...

BOLIVIA’S BIBLIOTECA DEL BICENTENARIO

26 September, 2014, Christy Callaway-Gale

Bolivia celebrates 200 years of independence in literary style. But is the government simply choosing a selection of greatest works or forming a campaign to shape a nation? Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Mill on the Floss: Three undeniable classics from the English literary canon. But how do you ...

DEMOCRACY: BOLIVIAN STYLE

26 September, 2014, Christy Callaway-Gale

Morales goes for his third electoral campaign but is it legitimate? How do you go about defining democracy? If you’re about to host a dinner party, look away now. Some might say it’s government by the people, a free electoral system, equality of rights, or a mish-mash of all of ...

A SONG FOR A VOTE

26 September, 2014, Christy Callaway-Gale

From theme tunes to advertisements, music plays an integral part in the media, but what role does it have in political elections campaigns? If you want to get a message stuck in people’s heads, a song is a great way to go about it. From major political campaigns to launches ...

#MACHISTAS FUERA DE LAS LISTAS

26 September, 2014, Valeria Wilde

Chauvinistic acts have recently made headlines across Bolivia. This is true across all sectors of society: from insecurity on the streets running to the very highest of political spheres. From sexist rhymes and songs to threats, groping and violent crimes including rape, domestic abuse and femicide, women find themselves at ...