Bolivia – Should you be afraid of the new Afghanistan?

Zebra Crossing Bolivia

A fearsome example of the kind of lawless culture which permeates in Bolivia

When you read and see stories coming from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) about Bolivia being the New Afghanistan, you start to wonder. Are the Islamic Extremists really here? Is the country being run by a completely corrupt government? Is Bolivia SAFE? Is Bolivia a place you can visit, given the kind of language being used in this report in the WSJ?

I want to analyse this 5 minute report. I will do so using logically analysis of the statements made by the reporter and the news anchor. I will also refer to my own experience here in Bolivia over the past 5 weeks. I will break each sentence down line by line and try to discern what is really being said and why?

Each point will begin with the words as said by either the anchor or the reporter. I will analyse the words in the paragraphs afterwards.

The reporter in question is called Mary O’ Grady and for those of you who would like to watch the video first you can see it here. She has also written an equally sensationalist piece mirroring these sentiments in the video. You can read that here, but you need to subscribe first.

1. A disturbing report

The anchorman pre texts the conversation by referring to the report to follow, as “disturbing”. Using emotional language like this helps to condition the viewer to expect what follows to be something which is bad, upsetting and out of the ordinary. It is a subjective opinion which has no relevance in fact.

2. Poor and Land locked countries

The first comparisons between Bolivia and Afghanistan is that they are both “Poor and Land Locked” countries. This might be the most accurate statement the reporter makes. What she establishes here is a geographical and physical entity in the viewers mind. I will attest to the fact the Bolivia is indeed, poor and land locked. Comparing two countries based on physical appearance has ABSOLUTELY NO RELEVANCE to her report, apart from making the viewer believe that everything this reporter might say is fact

3. Morales connected to cocaine industry

The reporter then proceeds to attack the President of Bolivia. She ALLEGES he has connections to the drug trade in Bolivia. She SPECULATES that he allows the drug cartels to work away with no harassment from authorities. She BELIEVES that this is why he is such a popular president and was elected. You will notice that here the reporter resorts to idle conjecture – in other words, she makes loose statements which are not based up facts. She offers an OPINION, which follows on from her previous point about the two countries being land locked (which was a fact)

4. Pre 9/11 lawless culture.

Here is where the interview gets really interesting. The anchorman refers to Bolivian culture as being akin to “Pre 9/11 Lawless Culture” in Afghanistan. You need to understand what is happening here. The WSJ are planting the idea in the head of EVERY American who watches this video, that Bolivia is a dangerous and evil country. Think about it. Pre 9/11 and lawless evokes a memory so engrained in the group American psyche, that mentioning it so casually, instantly brings to mind the imagery of the World Trade Centre Towers collapsing.

They are planting ideas that the cultures here in Bolivia is harbouring a sentiment that could MAKE SOMETHING LIKE 9/11 HAPPEN AGAIN. This is pre emptive psychological conditioning at a mass scale. The idea being purported here is that if the USA government does not take action, then evil and bad things may happen again.

Let me clarify my experience of Bolivia for the past 5 weeks. It is a beautiful and peaceful country. The people are friendly. The streets are friendly. In all the major cities there are police visible and there is certainly no fear factor when you walk around. Sure you avoid some places, but that is the same in every country. Calling this culture “lawless” is the most blatant sensationalism I have read in a long time.

5. Relationship with Iran – allowing them to send fundamentalists

The interview moves on. We are brought to the crux of the issue – Iran. Bolivia has been seen to have an open relationship with Iran. As the US government has issues with Iran, it follows to have issues with friends of Iran. The reporter again ALLEGES that this relationship between the two countries means they are sending in extreme fundamentalists to Bolivia.

The idea being grown here is that Bolivia is currying favour with Iran and allowing agents to train and recruit in their country. Again we have to look at ANY facts the reporter uses. The first fact is that Bolivia and Afghanistan have similar geography. The only other fact she tells is that Bolivia and Iran have a working relationship.

EVERYTHING else she says is idle speculation – Nothing more and nothing else. She leaps from idea to idea as though she were stating fact after fact. The reality is that the opinion she proffers, merits drawing scant logical conclusions

6. In cohorts with Venezuela – all countries who are, must be Anti American and not safe

Let us bear in mind that the title of this piece is “Is Bolivia the new Afghanistan?” Here, the interview touches on the fact that Bolivia is friendly with Venezuela, a country known to speak out against American foreign policy. The reporter is blanketing all countries who do not agree with the US government as unsafe. The subtext here is that of “if we do nothing then another great tragedy could occur upon the American people”. The logical conclusion of what the reporter is saying is that some pre emptive strikes may be necessary to bring Bolivia into line.

What the reporter fails again to do is provide us with any fact at all. She merely speculates as to the “friendliness” of two countries and infers from this, that this is a dangerous situation for Americans. It is flimsy logic and has no bearing in a reality which calls for facts to be spoken and not idle speculation

7. Actors – human “intel” very important

The reporter then goes on to say that human “intel” is important. I would love to hear or see anything which is more than her talking about how important this kind of “intel” is. She makes no reference to actual “intel” she receives. Such reporting means we are to rely on her “word” over facts.

8. Who are the terrorists? Answer – the most high profile one is Iran

We get to the core of the issue here – Iran. The host asks the reporter who are the specific “Terrorist” threats. Notice how we move from speculation, to the idea that there are “Terrorists” in existence in Bolivia. There are ZERO factual statements to back up any of these conclusions.

The answer to the question about so called “Terrorists” is so absurd it is amusing. The host asked the reporter for specifics. Exactly who are these “Terrorists”? The answer the reporter gives is “Iran”. Iran. The country of Iran is the “Terrorists” in question hiding out in Bolivia.

Now, you must bear in mind that one is meant to follow their logical arguments. One is meant to actually LISTEN to what they are saying, without reacting to the sensationalism they use. So remember than when the host asked SPECIFICALLY who are the terrorists hiding out in Bolivia, the reporter answered by stating the country of Iran.

A country. The reporter named a complete country as being the SPECIFIC “Terrorists”. If that doesn’t strike you as strange, then maybe you should think again.

This is important because you can see how tenuous her logic and her story are. At this stage of the 5 minute interview, she has brought in “Terrorism” and Iran is behind it. But, once again, there are NIL facts to support any of the statements she makes. And there is just no reason for her to call the WHOLE country of Iran a “Terrorist” living in Bolivia.

9. The DEA and USAID have been kicked out so it is difficult to collect info

Here is where we get some idea of why her information is so subjective and speculative – She has nothing to go on. The traditional methods of garnering information in Bolivia have been ejected by the authorities. This means that while her ideas could have had some relevance if backed by facts, she has no FACTS.

10. More Somalis on the street of Santa Cruz

She then goes on to state that there are more Somalis on the streets of Santa Cruz. Who saw them? How does one know they are Somalian? If they were Somalian, how does one know they are dangerous? If we scroll up we notice that she said “Iran” were the specific “Terrorists”. When did the Somalian’s come into it?

Again the reporter jumps to speculate and name drops the Somalian’s. This is vague, unsubstantiated and means nothing. The idea is that people picture Somalian pirates in their heads and feel that fear. Pirates mean trouble. Best be careful. Best do something about it. But what is one to do?

11. Is this an argument for more security on borders as the Iranian’s can get into US and Canada via Latin American countries – they get refugee status and then into the USA

The host then drip feeds the question to the reporter – does this mean we need more security on our borders? Yes, yes and more yes. More security please. More security to protect the citizens of safe and lawful USA from the lawless terrorists in Bolivia. The reporter alleges she has heard of officials fast tracking documents to help Iranians.

But the only solution is more and more security. There is not enough already. This is how the security meme stays in vogue. We need security to protect from radical Islamic “Terrorists” being harboured in rogue states like Bolivia.
But providing a solution to problems which are based on NOTHING MORE THAN a rambling reporters opinion, seems to me a waste of time and resources.

12. And so is this an argument for more intelligence too?

The final question leaves us in no doubt as to what is needed. While security may provide some modicum of safety, the only real solution prior to pre emptive strikes, is more intelligence. What that means is that the NSA and the global spying network are, contrary to worldwide opinion, extremely necessary. This is the coding of this question and answer.

What she did not say was – “Bolivia is harbouring Iranian terrorists whom we know little about. But the NSA can get their details and keep us safe.” But this is what is implied and meant. There is little doubt as to who paid her for her report.

In Conclusion

What I hope you can see here is the agendas which are at work in any news report. This reporter provides the viewer with only two clear facts in 5 minutes of interview. Both have no relevance to the story which she and the host are selling.
The story they are selling is that Iranian Terrorists are everywhere and if we don’t get more NSA and TSA then we will have another 9/11 on our hands. Bolivia is a mere vehicle for the agenda to be played out in. They are selling us fear and loathing in South America.

This is as good an example of sensationalised journalism as you will find.

Let me explain to you that Bolivia is a really peaceful and safe country. I am writing this in a cute café, listening to jazz and drinking a frappacino. I have travelled here for 5 weeks and have had nothing but good experiences. The WIFI is a little patchy at times, but that sounds like a first world problem now doesn’t it?

Whatever happened to live and let live. The US government and their patsies at the Wall Street Journal do not need to stick their heads in here. They need to stay at home and turn off the propaganda machine. For this is the kind of propaganda which begins the attack on a country.
Leave Bolivia alone.

Post By John Leonard

A blogger who loves to make short documentaries. Spent many years playing football at a pretty decent standard. Fond of the poker. He is another good egg.

Website: → Sober Paddy

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  • Hector.

    Great article, she must have gotten all her yellow journalism factoids from some chilean advisors, they love to rub sand in the wound pointing out Bolivia is a landlocked country, something that they caused by invading the coastal part of Bolivia.

    • http://www.soberpaddy.com/ John Leonard

      Yeah Hector….crazy history to Bolivia, losing their coast and then the east part of the country to Brazil. It is easy for people to be lazy and just promote ideas which suit big countries or corporations. Wouldn’t it be much better if people did their own research and proper investiagtion, not just pump out some rubbish which has no substance?

  • aleparrae

    dude, if your experience in bolivia is limited to only 5 weeks and the worse problem you’ve had was with wifi… you must be stashed away in one of the gringo refuge places you guys normally go to
    and “let me explain to you that Bolivia” is a hell of a lot more complex than just a “really peaceful and safe country” from where you can “write [whatever] in a cute café, listening to jazz and drinking a frappacino”

    • http://www.soberpaddy.com/ John Leonard

      If you have some experience you would like to share about your time here in Bolivia, then I would love to hear it…Dude. “Us guys” who travel the world and visit remote locations looking for stories to share with Western audiences are not seeking refuge in Gringo hangouts. The point I was making is that the reporter was not talking about any facts. I was sharing the FACT OF MY EXPERIENCES. All I have is my experience and knowledge….not wikipedia or US based news outlets. If you have any of your own Bolivian history to speak about, then help me make things more complex and thorough.

      • aleparrae

        ok dude, first off: I AM BOLIVIAN, not a reporter that comes here to zip frapuccinos and bitch about poor internet.

        FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

        1. BOLIVIA IS A NARCO STATE. of course you wouldn’t get this from spending 5 weeks drinking coffee nor from reading it in wikipedia. EVO MORALES IS A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COCA GROWERS, this is not just a well known fact, it´s part of HISTORY. if you care to review a bit about bolivian history you’d know.

        2. COCA IS COCAINE. the rates of coca production surpass traditional consumption by more than 97%. only 2% is used for chewing it and making tea out of it. 98% of coca produced GOES INTO COCAINE PRODUCTION.(the source are various independent bolivian observer entities)

        3. the current president goes to great lengths of effort to make it look as – not just the usa, but – ANY COUNTRY IS THE ENEMY IF THEY DON’T SUPPORT THEIR POLICIES. our main allies are cuba, venezuela AND IRAN. of course this wouldn’t be much of a “problem” if it was only ideological support. but BOLIVIA PROVIDES WITH PASSPORTS TO IRANIANS and any other ally. again, you wouldn’t know this by just zipping frapuccinos, this made headline news some years ago and of course what shut up quickly.

        4. BOLIVIA IS A TRAINING SPACE FOR TERRORISTS, iranians come for whatever reason… sure, but not just them, the colombian paramilitary movements also come, along with the venezuelan to train the coca growers guerrilla technicks, just in case bolivians get sick of this charade of government and decide to kick morales out. this is their ensuring policy so they can continue with the COCAINE BUSINESS. (the source for this are several newscasts that were aired during the last 7 years, then quickly shut up)

        5. The DEA and USAID have been kicked out, true, but THE CIA STILL OPERATES IN THE COUNTRY and of course they can’t share that bit of news, but they still keep tabs on everything. I’m guessing that’s why she wasn’t so open about where she gets intel.

        but ultimately, I really don’t give a damn about the WSJ nor 5.5 for
        that matter. what pisses me off the most are gringos that come to
        bolivia, have a great time “drinking coffee” (because coffee is our
        greatest product, as I mentioned in 2) and leave thinking that they know it all after 5 weeks.

        I am a very lucky bolivian. I’ve been traveling the world for the past 12 years. I have been living at least two years in a different country in every continent (not africa yet) and the main thing I learned was a) to be thankful to the country that welcomed me, b) respect their people, traditions and history by learning it and most of all c) DO NOT CONTRADICT THEIR CITIZENS AS THEY KNOW THEIR COUNTRY MORE THAT I EVER WOULD.

        IN CONCLUSION

        “[you] guys who travel the world and visit remote locations looking for
        stories to share with Western audiences [who] are not seeking refuge in Gringo
        hangouts”

        -> LEAVE BOLIVIA ALONE: you don’t know my country by spending 5 weeks zipping frapuccinos and web surfing.

        • http://www.soberpaddy.com/ John Leonard

          Ok…so your problem seems to be that I mentioned you have Frappacinos available and that I made a remark about your WIFI. It also seems to be that I am a so called “Gringo”, even though I am Irish, not North American. The reason I spoke about coffee and WIFI was to contradcit the impression which the WSJ reporter was promoting about Bolivia being a lawless culture. EVerything I found when I wa there was safe and easy.

          You are extremely arrogant to think I would be conceited enough to say I knew about Bolivia. I mereley talked about my experiences in the country. I filmed a project outside Sucre and we saw some beautiful places and met some really warmed herated people.

          I am glad you are away from your country, because you need to get some perspective. I know Morales position as President of the Coca Association and lots more about the history of your country. YET. You are so emotional you cannot see that I was dissecting the lack of logic in the WSJ’s report. I do not claim to have answers, only an ability to see and read through bullshit.

          I did not contradict any Bolvian citizen. Maybe you should use your logical brain and not make up irrational statements. You seem angry that I have an opinion of your country. But believe me when I say that I love your country and even though you have a lot of rage against me for being there and talking about it, I even love you too.

          • aleparrae

            oh man… i could answer so much more, but… I’ve already spent more than 15 min on this
            ultimately neither you nor the wsj are “objective” (if there is such a thing)
            both are just pursuing your own agendas using poor little bolivia as a way to present your arguments…. and, that’s the way you guys normally use countries like mine.
            I think that love, as well as hate are very strong sentiments. I never trust people that throw them around easily…

          • http://www.soberpaddy.com/ John Leonard

            We could all answer more, but don’t have the time. Hope you get off your high horse and can see the point I was making and not just react with emotion to your own inherited perceived reality, which you read. Good luck to you sir. You should never refuse love.

  • Gman

    ohhhh shiiiiiit

    i have an inca flag in my bedroom and i drink coca mint tea every morning,
    and i’m irish , so i must be a terrorist,
    better not grow a beard or else i’ll be on the americas most wanted list in no time,
    as you get the same letters in iran as you do in ireland and must be planning to topple the american industrial machine from the north..
    : (

    in fairness to the two of them they do have their heads so far up the propaganda machines ass its beyond funny,
    i’m sure mr. goebbels himself would be proud of that work,
    and even this mr. adolf piece from mein kampf chapter 6 jumps to mind,
    ” Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side”
    so they anchor says “so we must have more security at the borders”
    obviously never heard of the conundrum of treating the symptom over the actual root cause.
    and as the famous saying goes, “its hard to understand something when your salary depends on you not understanding it”
    the stats on the $ of security costs per life lost form terrorist attacks would be astronomical,

    i must say i loved bolivia, its a beautiful country and have some epic stories with some amazingly kind people there, and think i was the whistest guy ever to step foot in the place too, ha ha,
    so of course my experience was only ever a snapshot of life in bolivia,
    and as you pointed out john there, it was very sneaky manuevre the chileans pulled to get the coastal land and leave them with being land locked and now leaving them the uneviable comparison to afghanistan.. very inconsiderate of them.

    as the john leopard fellas point of the propaganda machines just self perpetuate their own agenda, and if you arent waving the
    ” i love america, we want to sell you our resources cheap, cheap, cheap, america we love you long time” flag, you are against them,
    hence they got your presidential airplane grounded and searched as they got the european countries to deny him airspace to fly home as they taught he might have had edward snowden onboard..
    if only JFK hadd still been around, things probably would be in a better place,

    that woman reporter should fire her statastition, as the bolivian immigrants to canada are on average less than 000.05% of the yearly immigrants over the last ten years, and that’s with the height of the bolivian immigration to canada,

    and ale dude , your piece on dont contradict a countries citizens and they now the country better than any foreigner would,
    really now,
    i’ll take the northern north america as my case point for two reasons
    A) cause its favourable to my case in point,
    B) its relivant to this topic
    C) its actually two countries, canada and the usa

    i’ve travelled around them a fair bit and i’d love for you to actually ask any locals what is the countries history, whats its background, how did it get to where it is, why is it the way it is,
    cause i’d love to hear your response,
    christ, they even celebrate columbus day,
    they think he was the first person to find the whole continent , and then proceeded to save the locals from themselves,
    they actually get a statutory holiday for his annihilation of the indigenous people,
    suppose they just happened to gloss over that one in history class.
    and the usa has the proud record of having a 100% record in upholding treaties with the indigenous peoples of the land,
    yes a lovely 100% failure rate, and canada isnt exactly faring much better too
    for such “superpowers” and “world leaders” their human rights records on its indigenous peoples are ridiculously shocking,
    its a cold a simple fact that reigning governments self perpetuate the importance of themselves and will try adjust the public opinion of them accordingly,
    no country is perfect, as every government (and power structure) is open to corruption as the people at the top get hooked on the powertrip of control…
    not to be a nit picker, but you didnt actually point out how great your coffee was in point 2, and since i prefer tea to coffee, i have to disagree with you on that one.

    so i’ll have to love you’s and leave you’s

    ale, i’ll send a big kiss and a hug to you,

    dont worry john i’ll send one your way too

    guess i’m frivilously full of love today, dont worry ale, it isnt balls deep kinds love.