A hydroelectric power plant changed life for the small town of Agua Blanca. But the shrinking of the glaciers in Bolivia is threatening the greatest source of power for most of the country, and the only one for Agua Blanca.
For anybody who needed convincing, the Deepwater Horizon accident has proven that tapping the Earth for oil can be hazardous for workers and the environment.
The land occupied by the country of Bolivia has been inhabited continuously for more than 2,000 years. Perhaps due to the long perspective of time such ancient roots engender, Bolivians often view times marked on calendars or in the programs of meetings as advisory not mandatory. Yesterday, in Tiquipaya, a small town on the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia, a small crowd waited to gawk at Bolivian president Evo Morales. They chatted amiably as ten o'clock went by and the president had not appeared.
Capitalism. This was the most widely used word at the conference. Then came the phrase climate change, of course; the environment, and mother earth—or Pachamama, as it's known throughout the Andes.
It's 3:00 p.m. on a Tuesday, the first day of the climate change conference in Bolivia, and for the last hour the participants in a panel discussion have been arguing about the definition of a forest.
Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, has called for a worldwide meeting of indigenous people about global warming. Morales is an outspoken advocate for indigenous rights and a critic of the results of last December's Copenhagen Climate Conference.
Bolivian President Evo Morales says he's committed to fighting cocaine production and trafficking in his country. Three years ago, he instituted a drug program called "Coca si, cocaine no." That means it's illegal to make cocaine -- but farmers are allowed to grow the coca plant, the basis of cocaine, for traditional uses such as chewing or making tea.
Lindsey Mullikin, for the Pulitzer Center
The big city of La Paz may be a draw for younger people in Sabina Ramirez and her husband Roberto's village. But not for her. "I was born into a coca-growing family," Sabina says, "and we're going to keep it that way." The Ramirezes live in a humble two-bedroom cinder block house in the village of Irupana, in the forest region of Los Yungas. Of Aymara Indian stock, Roberto's eyes are constantly smiling. Sabina wears the traditional braid across her back, like most indigenous women from the area. Both show signs in their skin of a lifetime working under the strong Andean sun.
The coca plant, used in indigenous cultural rituals and traditional medicines, is also the main ingredient for cocaine. Bolivia is the third largest producer of coca and cocaine after Peru and Colombia. Despite pressure to cut back on coca farming, many Bolivians see few alternatives.
Aired on Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal the week of September 19, 2008.
From the VQR website:
"Bolivian President Evo Morales won office three years ago with the support of the nation's coca growers. He's supporting those cocaleros with his "Coca Si, Cocaína No" program, allowing coca to be produced and marketed legally, while barring production of cocaine. This is a difficult line for Morales to walk, but he does it to satisfy both his citizens and the international community."