Archive for La Razón

15 de Agosto: Noticias

Posted in abortion, Argentina, birth control, Bolivia, Latin America, reproductive rights, women with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2010 by eugeniadealtura

This week, a variety of news bits on Bolivia and reproductive rights around the world.

First, a story of social and political conflict in Bolivia’s Potosí department, where for the past 18 days, strikers have blocked roads and led social protests in the area.  Protestors are attempting to hold the Evo Morales government responsible for a number of projects that, although promised some time ago, have scarcely advanced.  The projects include an the construction of an international airport in the city of Potosí, the establishment of a new cement factory in the region, and government preservation of the historic Cerro Rico–the mountain pictured below whose silver deposits essentially financed the Spanish conquest of Latin America over 500 years ago.

The Andean Information Network (AIN) interprets recent protests in Potosí as evidence that Evo Morales’ traditional bases of support are disappointed with the administration’s failure to keep its promises.  While the Morales government often describes protests as led by the right wing, the AIN notes that, “seventy-eight percent of Potosí voters chose Morales in the 2009 presidential elections, second only to voters in the La Paz department.”  La Paz’s paper La Razón reports today that a variety of officials of the Morales government have been in negotiations with the Potosí protestors, and that some progress has been made on at least one point of contention, the plan to construct an airport.  However, hunger strikes and street blockades have continued, since five other major grievances have not yet been addressed.  Meanwhile, in the city of Potosí, families have been subsisting largely on noodles and rice, since blockades have prevented meat from reaching local markets.

None of the coverage of the Potosí protests that I have encountered thus far has discussed women’s particular participation in the protests or how women and girls are being affected by the conflicts.  In similar mobilizations in Bolivia, however, women have taken an active role.

This photo of the Cerro Rico mountain and Potosí city courtesy of Gerd Breitenbach, a user of Wikimedia Commons.

As political conflict rages in Bolivia, Argentina received an embarrassingly poor report card last week on women’s reproductive and sexual rights.  Last Tuesday, Human Rights Watch released a 52-page report chronicling, “the many obstacles women and girls face in getting the reproductive health care services to which they are entitled, such as contraception, voluntary sterilization procedures, and abortion after rape.”  Regular readers will remember that these are also common problems in Bolivia.  Their prevalence in Argentina, however, is even more appalling considering that this country’s socioeconomic indicators tower above those of Bolivia, even after the economic crisis of 2000-2001.

Similar to conditions in Bolivia, the report, entitled, “Illusions of Care: Lack of Accountability for Reproductive Rights in Argentina,” notes the high prevalence of illegal abortion, high rates of maternal mortality due to abortion, and the failure of judges and doctors to authorize and perform those abortions that are legal (ie., in cases of rape). Access to contraceptives is also restricted due to a variety of issues, such as long waits at clinics, the (unauthorized) demand that a husband sign for a woman’s sterilization procedure, and financial costs.  These issues–and other, similar ones around the world–prompted one Guardian blogger to call for a UN agency specifically devoted to women. That’s an idea that’s easy to get behind.

The Human Rights Watch report on Argentina can be downloaded here.

The San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Finally, good news from the U.S.A.: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in that country approved a new pill to be used to prevent pregnancy after intercourse. The medication, called “Ella,” is considerably more effective than the morning-after pill that is currently on the market, Plan B.  While Ella will prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days following sex, Plan B is only effective for 3 days, and becomes less effective the later it is taken after the event.

This move by the FDA has been interpreted as “evidence of a shift in the influence of political ideology at the FDA,” since its approval moved more quickly than that of Plan B, and, as one activist mentioned, was “‘based on scientific evidence, not politics.'”  This does not mean that the battle has been won, however–anti-abortion activists have been quick to describe Ella as an abortifacent, and some are planning campaigns against the drug.  At the moment, women can obtain Ella with a prescription from their health care provider at any time, so they can keep a supply at home.  Go get yours today!

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16 de Julio: Entre cumpleaños y el cambio

Posted in Argentina, Bolivia with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2010 by eugeniadealtura

This week, while Bolivia celebrated its antiquity, Argentina led the charge for progressive change in Latin America.  Today, el 16 de Julio, marks the 201st anniversary of Bolivia’s revolution for national independence.  While citizens of La Paz marched through the streets to commemorate the date, in Buenos Aires, gay men and women and their allies celebrated Argentina’s July 15 legalization of gay marriage.  The confluence of the two dates makes me reflect on Latin America’s tumultuous history, and brings me hope for more positive changes to come on the continent.

This photograph of Argentina’s presidential palace, the Casa Rosada, was provided by a guest photographer.

Bolivia’s popular daily paper, La Razón, published a nostalgic piece on the anniversary of the revolution emphasizing the changing face of La Paz city and the tenacity of its residents.  La Paz, originally founded inside a giant bowl, has seen its neighborhoods creep up the bowl’s sides and spill over onto the flatlands above.  The settlements on the high plains, or altiplano, have turned into El Alto, currently the fastest growing city in Latin America.  The residents of El Alto–largely indigenous migrants from the mines and countryside–have been involved in some of the most important Latin American political mobilizations of the 21st century, such as the 2003 overthrow of neoliberal President Gonzálo Sánchez de Lozada.  Sian Lazar’s El Alto, Rebel City (2008) and Lesley Gill’s Teetering on the Rim (2000) offer insightful accounts of El Alto’s role in radical Bolivian politics.  Back in 1809, El Alto did not yet exist, but the region’s radicalism was already apparent.  On May 25, 1809, Bolivia’s city of Sucre hosted the first revolt for independence on the continent.

View of the “bowl” of La Paz from the city of El Alto, about 350 meters above.

Bolivia’s La Razón also reported on Argentina’s historic passage of gay marriage, making it the first country in Latin America to do so.  Argentina–likely the least Catholic of the nations on the continent–legalized gay marriage in a Senate vote of 33 “yay,” 27 “nay,” and 3 abstaining.  Mexico City, which also allows gay marriage, immediately followed by offering the first gay couple married in Argentina a free honeymoon in Mexico.  While in Buenos Aires 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the yearly gay pride parade, and was surprised at how small it seemed.  Fortunately, much seems to have changed in the last decade.

In short, today is a good day.  Working on issues affecting women in Bolivia, it is easy to become discouraged by stories about and statistics on violence, unwanted pregnancy, and death.  However, the “norm” is changing.  All over the continent, people are working to improve their own and other’s lives.  And lately, these efforts are producing results.

9 de Julio: ¿En quién podemos confiar?

Posted in Bolivia, torture with tags , , , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by eugeniadealtura

Over the past several months, I have commented on a variety of violent crimes against women in La Paz and El Alto, including rape, physical and psychological violence, and murder. The reason we likely know about these cases is because these events, unlike many others, were actually reported to police. The branch of police in charge of crime in Bolivia is called the FELCC, for Fuerza Especial de Lucha Contra el Crimen–or roughly, the Special Force Fighting Against Crime. Readers familiar with Latin America may not be surprised to hear that Bolivians generally do not trust the police–any branch of it–because the organization is plagued by corruption, and the rich and connected rarely have to serve time for their crimes.

What may be more surprising, however, is that even in Bolivia–a country which has enjoyed democratic, albeit sometimes tumultuous, rule since 1982–citizens are still occasionally tortured during interrogations by police.

Many remember the brutal tortures, murders, and “disappearances” inflicted by Latin American military governments on their citizens during the 1960s-1980s.  At that time, blossoming social movements demanding justice for indigenous people, workers, women, and other disadvantaged groups sparked a ferocious backlash by military rulers fearing that communist “subversives” would overtake the country.  The United States government often supported these military measures, either indirectly or directly, with funding, training, and ideological support.  Many of the most heinous Latin American military torturers attended the U.S.-based School of the Americas.  Most of us, however–even those of us who regularly study Latin America–were under the impression that police and military torture is mostly, if not wholly, a thing of the past.

Which brings us to this story, published in late June by a La Paz daily, La Razón. The story centers on a woman La Razón calls “Fernanda,” who since May 2009 has been locked up in a jail in the La Paz neighborhood of Obrajes for a crime not identified in this piece.  Her original offense, however, and the one that led to her torture, was her alleged involvement in the kidnapping of a young man.  During the first several days of her interrogation and incarceration, Fernanda was subjected to the whole gamut of what are now considered the “normal” Latin American military torture techniques, including being beaten, insulted, and threatened while her head was covered by a black hood; shocked with electric prods; slowly suffocated, and forced to take her clothes off in front of interrogators.

At the time she was arrested, Fernanda was working as a taxi driver.  One day in May 2009, Fernanda was hired by a customer for a series of rides over a period of hours.  She also sold the man a number of calls from her personal cell phone, which he made while in the taxi cab.  Evidently, once the man was able to pick up the ransom money owed him for a kidnapping he had helped orchestrate, he ran off.  The entire time the rider was in the car, he had a gun pointed at Fernanda.  Realizing that her customer was involved in a crime, Fernanda reports that she voluntarily went to police.  That’s when she says her interrogation and torture began.

According to the police report, Fernanda did not present to police voluntarily, but was randomly discovered in her car at a gas station and taken in for questioning.  However, the FELCC has no record of holding Fernanda for the next few days when she reports being tortured.  This despite the fact that, after the incidents of torture, Fernanda was examined by a forensic doctor and by the Institute for Therapy and Investigation of the Consequences of Torture and State Violence (ITEI), both of which certified that she had been tortured.

Who to believe?  Who to trust?  Considering the stories you hear–some of which are in print–and the country’s history, I am inclined to trust Fernanda. But then, who do we go to when we are harassed, raped, attacked, or accidentally involved in a crime in Bolivia, if not the police?  Basically, we would be wise to find our own allies–because I am not sure we can trust those that the government has chosen for us.

If you currently live in La Paz or El Alto and have been a victim of a crime, or have been victimized by police, one of your allies is CIDEM.  Please contact them for more information.  Si usted actualmente vive en La Paz o en Al Alto y ha sido la víctima de un crimen, o si ha sido victimizada por la policía, uno de sus aliados es CIDEM.  Por favor, comuníquese con ellas para más información.

27 de Junio: No tiene que ver con la suerte

Posted in Bolivia, cholita, violence against women with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2010 by eugeniadealtura

Today, two vastly different Bolivian tales that display one reality while concealing another.  First, this morning in the city of La Paz, judges chose this year’s cholita paceña from 16 contestants.  For those not familiar with cholitas, this term designates women, ostensibly of indigenous descent, who wear a typical form of dress consisting of a brightly colored skirt over several layered petticoats, a blouse, a blanket/shawl, and a hat (in La Paz, this is often a bowler hat).  Cholitas typically wear their hair in two long braids connected by woolen hairpiece that keeps the ends of the two braids together. Cholitas are designated women “of skirt,” or de pollera, while other women who wear dresses or pants are called “of dress,” or de vestido.  While indigenous, mestiza, and white women may wear dresses or pants, usually only indigenous women are de pollera.

The yearly contest to choose the cholita paceña (“paceña” simply means that the chosen cholita is from the city of La Paz) is an event designed to pay “homage to the identity of the woman who is de pollera” (all translations mine).  Because wearing the skirt is a designation of indigenous identity, women who are de pollera have suffered discrimination for centuries, and at one point were even refused entry to the city’s central square.  Since the ascendance of indigenous president Evo Morales in 2006, there has been some revalorization of indigenous women’s identity, but many still suffer discrimination.  That is why that this contest is potentially so meaningful.

However, I have a doubt, that hopefully some of my readers will be able to answer: do these women actually dress in the pollera in their daily lives? I ask this not because I am cynical (or, not only because I am so), but because so many other forms of “paying homage to women who are de pollera” have revealed themselves to have little to do with actual skirted women.  For example, take the “cholita wrestling” match.  (If you have never heard of this, just google it–the videos will astound you.)  According to one “cholita” wrestler I met a few months ago, none of the powerful women who wrestle in the traditional outfit of skirt, shawl, and hat dress like cholitas in their daily lives.

On the other hand, maybe this is a legitimate contest only for cholita women. Like many other pseudo-beauty contests for “deviant” or “minority” groups, the competition for the cholita paceña judges not beauty–which perhaps would be too difficult to identify in non-white women [read: sarcastic]–but “spontaneity, that the cholitas are authentic, that they have charisma, and that they know how to speak a native language.”  (For those who might assume that the language requirement would guarantee a woman’s cholita status, think again–most of the country’s population can speak at least one native language in addition to Spanish.)  After all that, what do I wish?  That these women actually are women de pollera, and that they actually are judged for their beauty–why not?  Everyone else is.  (Readers, please post a comment if you know if the women contestants are usually de pollera.)

In far more sinister news, yesterday the La Paz daily La Razón reported on the Friday burial of a 20-year-old woman who was raped and murdered a week ago after leaving a dance club.  (I am painfully aware that this blog has become a sort of observatory for violent crime against women in Bolivia, but forever hopeful that this process of bearing witness will teach us something. And if after hearing the details of this case of violence against María Micaela Vargas Vargas  you feel you have not learned something about Bolivia, then you simply are not listening.)

On June 18, Vargas went out dancing with some friends at a club near the city’s cemetery, a busy market area of La Paz that is not particularly safe at night.  Doubtless aware of this fact, Vargas hopped in a taxi after leaving the club, likely thinking that this would be the safest way to get home.  What happened next?  “According to police reports, the taxi driver was attempting to rape [the woman] when two young men appeared and saved her; however, they took her over by the flower market, across the street from the General Cemetery, [where they] raped and strangled her.” Even more ironic, Vargas was raped in a temporary building erected by police for security purposes.

Take a moment to consider what this means.  That, of two cases of the coincidental crossing of paths–a taxi driver, and the young men who “saved” Vargas–both were disastrous.  That, if you meet–by chance–three men in Bolivia, all of them are likely to rape you.  What does this mean?  This means that this–the “coincidences,” the predatory men–has nothing at all to do with chance. It means that, chances are your average guy in Bolivia is as likely to rape and to kill you, as he is to save you.

13 de Junio: Cuando un país también es pobre

Posted in Bolivia, poverty with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2010 by eugeniadealtura

This week I discovered a few articles that emerged in the Bolivian press over the last several months that reminded me of the stunning variety of personal consequences to national poverty.  So often in this blog, I have identified particular government policies or cultural attitudes that affect Bolivian women, without placing these phenomena within the larger national and regional context.  It is this context that I would like to discuss today.  A context in which we recognize that Bolivia is the poorest country in Latin America (with the exception of Haiti).  And when an entire country is poor–not just its citizens–its infrastructure and institutions also suffer.  And suffering institutions, of course, means that many people’s basic needs are not being met.  This is what is happening in Bolivia.

Last January, La Paz’s daily La Prensa reported on striking health care workers at one crumbling local hospital that serves both the urban El Alto and surrounding rural populations.  Situated in the more middle-class, Ciudad Satélite neighborhood of El Alto, the Hospital Municipal Boliviano Holandés–often simply called the Holandés–was opened in 1999 to provide more health care options to alteños and to the rural population that often passes through the city.  According to one social worker I spoke with that works at the hospital, up to 80% of the clientele of the Holandés are rural migrants, many of whom speak exclusively the Aymara indigenous language.  (Most of the hospital staff also speaks Aymara.)

One of the reasons I was surprised to read this article is because, as part of my work in Bolivia, I have spent considerable time at the Holandés and the facility seems comparable to other hospitals in La Paz and El Alto.  Clearly, this is evidence not of the health of the Holandés, but of the deteriorated condition of most Bolivian health care centers.  As the La Prensa reporter notes, “In the pharmacy there are no medications, the [hospital] cots are rusted, they lack anesthesia for operations, there’s no food to give the hospitalized patients, the ambulances do not work, and when it rains, thanks to the broken roofs, there is almost as much water inside as out” (all translations mine).

Even more disturbing, one nurse at the Holandés commented that hospitalized patients–despite the existence of universal basic health insurance in Bolivia–must pay a daily fee for their care.  He notes, “‘The Holandés functions currently as a private clinic.  Whoever needs care has to buy their own medications.'”  Before reading this, I was under the erroneous impression that much had changed since the 1990s, when women seeking treatment for incomplete abortions would be left waiting sometimes for days in their hospital beds until they could afford to pay for the dilation and curettage or the manual vacuum aspirator procedure they required.  The deteriorated condition of the Holandés is taking its toll on both patients and staff.  Said one worker, “‘It’s been two months since they have paid our salaries, but this isn’t that important…The most serious [problem] is that…the infrastructure [of the hospital] is very deteriorated.”

Patient medical records stuffed into boxes are kept in this storage room in one local hospital.

Our second story of crumbling Bolivian institutions comes this week from Cochabamba, where one Defensoría de la Niñez lacks the necessary staff to investigate all of the cases it receives.  In Bolivia, the Defensorías are public institutions responsible for seeing cases of mistreatment of minors–including rape, physical and psychological violence, and abandonment.  These agencies are also instrumental in facilitating the adoptions of abandoned and orphaned children, since the Defensorías provide children with the personal documentation and the court order of release necessary to be adopted.  That is to say, when these institutions are not falling apart, they perform these functions.

In La Paz and El Alto, too, the Defensorías are facing difficulties.  As minors are becoming more familiar with their rights, more and more cases of mistreatment–particularly of rape of adolescent girls–are arriving at these institutions, and most lack the resources to deal with the cases effectively. Most of the safehouses where adolescent rape survivors could be placed are already over-burdened, and the foster system in Bolivia is so inefficient as to be almost useless.  Despite working long hours, most Defensoría staff feel unable to meet the needs of community members–and these community members, for their part, often opt not to report cases of abuse when they know they will face long lines and little follow-up.  I will never forget what one Defensoría worker told me when I called her to request an interview; she said: “Sure, come whenever you want–I’m here 24 hours a day.”

In any country affected by crushing poverty, women (and children) are generally hit the hardest.  Often dependent upon their male partners and extended families, and facing machista attitudes and sexist discrimination, women must struggle harder to achieve financial and social independence for themselves and their children.  However, women’s struggles do not occur in a vacuum.  The same phenomena that daily test women also test all Bolivians–patients and hospital workers, children and parents, government officials and social workers.  There are a few wealthy folks that escape, but many are in the same boat.  Because when it’s an entire country that’s poor, most discover that the effects of poverty trickle down to all.

29 de Mayo: Una variedad de ironías

Posted in Bolivia, women with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2010 by eugeniadealtura

This week, a smattering of news pieces on women and mothers in Bolivia, and a heartening noticia about Bolivia’s neighbor.

Last Thursday was Mother’s Day in Bolivia, and in La Paz, this manifested itself in schoolyards full of children dancing in expensive costumes (that mothers doubtless had to pay for), sales of stuffed bears and other kitschy items, family dinners, and even an evening display of fireworks. Although I was hopeful that the local press would highlight some of the more sinister aspects of motherhood in Bolivia–such as the fact that Bolivia continues to be the most dangerous place in Latin America to undertake the journey of motherhood, with the highest maternal mortality rates in the region–I was, as I often am with the local press, disappointed.

Instead, the La Paz daily La Razón brought us two light-hearted stories for mother’s day, one highlighting a concert for local mothers, and the other discounts to take advantage of when buying gifts for mom.  For anyone unfamiliar with Latin American cultural paradigms, it bears noting that the mother-son relationship is laden with all kinds of real and imagined meanings in Latin America.  Local men often liken their own mothers to the Virgin Mary, and unfavorably compare their girlfriends and wives to this unrealizable model.  Although this pattern can clearly prove disastrous for Latin American women and heterosexual relationships, it can also be kind of funny. All I’m gonna say is, even if you don’t read Spanish, check out the picture of the singers at the mother’s day concert and imagine the mother-son dynamic playing out in the audience last Thursday night.

In addition to the “official” mother’s day articles, La Razón brought us two other stories related to motherhood this week.  The first is the terrible account of a woman whose infant was stolen from a hospital in the city of Santa Cruz just hours after birth.  Although child trafficking is a serious problem in Bolivia, this kidnapping seems to just be a horrible fluke, unrelated to that broader phenomenon.  The article notes that a woman dressed in white took the baby from its mother’s room saying that she was going to have it vaccinated, and then disappeared.  Oddly–considering that Romani are not known to live in Bolivia–police believe that the kidnapper is a “foreign woman, a gypsy.”

This infant’s kidnapper could indeed have been a foreigner to Bolivia. Regardless, however, the belief that a kidnapper of Bolivian children is foreign speaks to another cultural paradigm in Bolivia, one with deep historical roots–that of the pishtaco. In Andean lore, pishtacos are typically white, man-like creatures that harvest indigenous bodies for profit.  When the railroad first barreled through the Bolivian countryside at the turn of the twentieth century, indigenous campesinos believed that pishtacos would suck fat out from their bellies and use this to grease the rails.  (If your interest is piqued, I would highly recommend Mary Weismantel’s Cholas and Pishtacos: Stories of Race and Sex in the Andes.)  Cultural paradigms aside, let’s hope police are able to reunite this woman with her child.

This image of La Paz from El Alto’s 16 de Julio market was provided by a guest photographer.

La Razón’s second unofficial mother’s day piece informs us that, from now on, all pregnant women in Bolivia will be required to undergo mandatory HIV and Syphilis testing.  Apparently, “there are 150 children in Bolivia living with HIV/AIDS, and 12 of every 1,000 newborns are infected with congenital syphilis.”  Although reducing STI rates in mothers and infants alike is a goal any right-thinking individual would support, I am, as I have mentioned before, wary of programs that force or coerce women to seek health care.  These programs are often intrusive, and do not generate enough patient trust in health care facilities to bring them through the door.  The current article does not share any details on how mandatory testing will be implemented, but so far, I am skeptical.  Stay tuned for more details.

Finally, the kick-ass women at Women on Waves bring us some good news about Peru: on May 27, Lima’s Collective for Free Information for Women (CLIM) announced the introduction of a new telephone hotline for women seeking information about medical abortion, or the “abortion pill.”  Free hotlines such as this one are key in countries where abortion is illegal, since many desperate women take medications to terminate pregnancy without the necessary medical information to make these procedures safe.  Since 350,000 women in Peru are estimated to abort illegally every year, this hotline could play a crucial role in reducing maternal deaths due to abortion.  Congrats, CLIM!

And to women everywhere: happy Mother’s Day.  Here’s to all the work that you do, and to supporting your right to decide when, and if, to do it.

22 de Mayo: Ni amante, ni amigo

Posted in Bolivia, violence against women with tags , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2010 by eugeniadealtura

In general, I make an effort to highlight new issues in the blog, and not write in detail about themes I have covered previously.  That is, until reality forces me to. Last Saturday night, a young Bolivian man named Víctor Avendaño killed his “friend” Betty Condori by hitting her over the head with a bottle.  Once she was dead, Avendaño carried Condori’s body around the city–first to pick up some plastic bags at a garbage heap, and then to leave some items of the woman’s clothing at his parents’ home, where he lived–before dousing the body with kerosene and setting it on fire on a La Paz city street.  During his confession to police, Avendaño said in his own defense, “‘My only crime was to love a woman that did not pay attention to me.'”  (As always, all translations are my own.)

But clearly, Avendaño is mistaken.  Even before he murdered this young woman and then burnt her body on a street corner, Avendaño had committed other crimes.  First, he recorded and downloaded Condori’s private cell phone conversations with a young man in another city. Sometime in the last few weeks, Avendaño reports that he begged Condori to at least be his friend—a proposal that the young woman allegedly accepted.  Then, last Saturday night, Avendaño bludgeoned his “friend” over the head with a bottle.  Adding insult and disrespect to death, the murderer then stole some of Condori’s clothing—the article does not tell us which garments he took, but we can imagine—and then desecrated her body by setting it on fire.

Although feminicides such as this one occur frequently in Bolivia, my first reaction is always, “how is this possible?”  And by this, I do not simply mean the murder.  I mean, how can it be that so many men in Bolivia believe that any of these actions against women—harassment, spying, murder—are acceptable?  How can so many men have it in them to commit these crimes, and to hold the ideas about women that they must have to in order to make these crimes possible?

Last Thursday night, after a few beers at a pub across town, my friend “Alicia” and I decided to enjoy the crisp night air of La Paz and walk the 20 minutes to our homes.  The constant, and often violently themed, catcalls that we received on our walk, plus this article on yet another murder of a young woman in La Paz, sparked much reflection.

As I have mentioned before, I do not believe that Bolivian men’s frequent alcohol abuse is a cause for high rates of sexual and physical violence in the country.  However, what alcohol does do, is lower inhibitions.  That’s why people all over the world go out to bars, grab a few drinks, and end up hooking up with someone at the next table—it’s a natural part of life that often facilitates lasting romance.  But when drunk men on a La Paz street comment on women’s bodies as if they are something to be consumed, and even reach out a hand to see what they can grab on a passer-by, that is not the alcohol.  When drunk men go home and beat their wives and children, that is not the alcohol. That is the man.

I do not mean to imply that every drunk man in La Paz that catcalls women on the street could end up committing rape or murder.  What I do mean to say is this: if he’s doing it drunk, he could do it sober.  If—drunk or sober—your partner, or any man you know, is taping your cell phone conversations, threatening you, or showing way too much interest in your relationships with other men, then this man is not your friend. He’s not your friend, and he does not deserve to be your lover.  And he might just try to kill you.

Si usted cree que podría estar en riesgo de violencia de su pareja o de cualquier otra persona, comuníquese con CIDEM al 249-0358 (La Paz), o al 281-0041 (El Alto).  If you believe that you might be at risk of violence by your partner or by any other person, call CIDEM in La Paz or El Alto at the above telephone numbers.