The well-known attack on left-wing governments has also reached the President of Bolivia. Through all these years, now reaching decades, they persecuted him to turn him into a drug trafficker for the spectacle of certain national and international media. They have not found any proof.
From the time he was the manager of coca leaf producers in Chapare in the 1980s, and to date, they have searched and picked through his past, his present. But it remained intact. Not even the US ambassador to Bolivia, Manuel Rocha, in 2005, could destroy the clean record of the manager who was on the path to the Bolivian presidency.
From 2006, when Evo Morales became President, a new stage was triggered in this smear campaign. Along with other issues, drug trafficking and the complex drug world were the cornerstones of journalistic discourse by “mass media” and “analysts” who tried to overturn the favourable public opinion of government policies.
Mass media with an important scope, although not necessarily influential in people’s everyday lives, “triggered” notices, articles, reports and commentaries, such as the case of the magazine Veja, aiming at the credibility of the indigenous leader to wear it down and contributing, in key moments, to the destabilisation of the openly anti-imperialist government.
Veja acknowledges its centre-right editorial policy. Its proximity to powerful groups has given it several political scoops, but also several court cases due to their “investigation” type of journalism which became speculation, manipulation and lies.
Petrobras and the “false Indian”
Evo Morales’ first magazine question time took place in 2006 due to the nationalisation of the hydrocarbon industry, which included Petrobras. Front pages, reports and notes criticised the measure and, through this, the politics of Lula, the then-president of Brazil. From this specific topic they moved on to permanently criticising the progressive bloc in Latin America.
The next cornerstone on which Veja magazine’s discourse revolved was that of the “false Indian”, whereby the so-called investigative journalism turned into interpretive journalism plagued more by adjectives than by data and conclusive arguments. The smear campaign against the President followed a frequent pattern and on any topic raised.
2009, the axis of drug-trafficking
From 2009, Veja started to publish texts against President Morales and the policies applied to coca leaves. With the argument that 80% of the drug consumed in Brazil came from Bolivia, with no supporting data, criticism went to the expansion of areas of coca leaf production, announced by the Bolivian government.
Duda Teixeira and Reinaldo Acevedo, Veja magazine journalists, took turns writing about Evo Morales with the same negative slant and increasingly more similarities to drug traffickers. In 2011, Acevedo published an article naming for the first time the “narco-government”, whose objective in defining itself as pluricultural sought to cover up not only the rise in coca leaf production, but also the manufacture of cocaine and crack, and free movement across the Brazilian border.
These assertions with no checks, data or documentation, in other words, without a source, were the prelude to an extensive report.
Construction of the narco-state
Duda Teixeira released in 2012 the report with the biggest repercussions for other international mass media. “The Cocaine Republic” portrayed an image of a country in which everyone from the President, ministers, models, the Amawta people, police chiefs and cocalero leaders was involved in drug trafficking.
Lacking in evidence, the assertions were based on supposed Bolivian police intelligence reports that were not shown, but were supported by statements from Roger Pinto, a fugitive from Bolivian justice and living in asylum in Brazil.
Along the lines of interpretive journalism, increasingly further from the investigation, Veja again published stories about Evo Morales and the expulsion of USAID in 2013. That same year, another publication named Bolivia as “narco-state”. The grade of speculation was increased as a result, as well as the misinformation around the government’s policies.
This discursive construction culminated with the inference that Morales was a “false Indian”, using his power to practice narco-fascism.
This misleading matrix of opinion always correlated to the Bolivian media scene. In 2017, the proclamation of the General Law of Coca updated the discourse and messengers facing the national anti-drug policies.
The new rule, along with the Controlled Substances Law, replaced the previous 1008 law, which landed in English on Bolivian soil in the 1980s.
In printed and digital media, almost all columnists wrote against the new Law. The thematic line which was most effected was the coca leaf as merchandise destined for the drug-trafficking trade and associated crimes.
Several “analysts” who were part of previous governments deliberately forgot that they had not achieved any positive results by applying the North American approach to the fight against drugs. Moreover, several of their party supporters were accused of being linked to drug-trafficking.
The personal opinions of each columnist have no support for their claims, but they have ample space in newspapers and on websites. Without data, documents and proof, they seek to stigmatise the coca leaf, the President and the government. They do not dare to call it the “narco-state”, because the discourse void does not reach, but they do take a stance on the “narco-law”. Not even the indigenous columnists resist the script typed from the outside. They ignore and renounce the ceremonial, medicinal and religious value of the coca leaf that they learned from their ancestors. (PL)
Photos: Pixabay – (Translated by Donna Davison. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)