RELEASE DATE: 29 Dec, 2016

EDITORIAL BY William Wroblewski

What started with a failed constitutional referendum to allow President Evo Morales to run for an additional term in 2020 and closed with an ongoing nationwide water crisis gripping rural and urban areas nearly equally, 2016 has been a very interesting, and some would say critical, year for Bolivia. And as the year comes to a close, we all are taking the opportunity to take it all in, and to wonder what it all has meant and what the future may hold. This year, if anything, has taught us that sometimes changes signify growth or improvement, and sometimes they signify deterioration or regression. But in either case, the process is both exciting and challenging.

We have accomplished a lot at Bolivian Express over the past year. We trained 40 journalists from seven countries in the past 12 months, and have opened more doors to collaborate with incredible writers and artists from all over Bolivia to help us share this amazing country with our readers. We launched our first book, Bolivia Out of Sight: Postcards from the Unreported, and are currently hosting a related photo exhibit at Ciclik, a café/restaurant in La Paz’s Sopocachi district. We’ve maintained relationships and created new partnerships with businesses and organizations all over the country, all vibrant collaborators who play an important role in making this publication what it is. So we want to take the opportunity to say ‘Thank You!’ to all our writers, designers, collaborators, advertisers, partners, and readers for everything you have done with and for us in 2016. We would not be here without you!

For many, a new year marks a time of change, of promised improvement. And we at this publication see this time of year the same way. This issue of Bolivian Express is our final issue for 2016, with our next publication hitting the streets in mid-February 2017. By that time, you will see many changes to the magazine. The team is currently working on reimagining who we are, what we are about, and what we have to offer. Today, some details are uncertain, but we will be excited to unveil a renewed organization, an invigorated publication, and an expansion of the larger Bolivian Express network that will allow for new ways to engage with the community around us.

In 2017, we will be different. We will be bigger. We will be better.

In the spirit of the impending renewal that comes at the end of every year, and in honour of changes coming ahead for this publication, this issue of Bolivian Express focuses on this idea of ‘metamorphosis’, of drastic and lasting change. This month, our contributors explore changes in society in the face of global challenges: how Bolivia’s water crisis is changing the way its urban inhabitants are adjusting to a new reality of rationing and uncertainty; how Latin America’s push for energy development is affecting communities in the Amazon located at the sites of large hydroelectric projects; how the significance and value of natural spaces reach new levels of importance as new species are identified and catalogued. We learn about the constant reimagining of icons, from generational perspectives on the significance of Che Guevara to modern artistic interpretations of Bolivia’s cholitas through new tattoo styles. And on more personal levels, we explore the redemption of young people who have turned away from a life of delinquency to create a better world for themselves and others, and a man who has taken on a superhero-like alter ego to use satire and sarcasm to ignite political discussions on social media.

These are just a few examples of change that you will find in the pages of this issue. And the variety of topics we address here clearly show that metamorphoses can happen in variety of ways, from how someone sees themselves in the world to the restructuring of national and international power structures. Hopefully the process brings positive change, like a classic image of a caterpillar emerging from its chrysalis as a beautiful butterfly.

So at the end of 2016 and the dawn of a new year, join us with this issue of Bolivian Express as we celebrate the joy and complexities of the process of perpetual rebirth.   


Identidad Madidi

29 Dec, 2016 | Eleanor Henderson

Photo: Eleanor Henderson Proving the park’s unmatched biodiversityThe journey from La Paz to the San José de Uchupiamonas community, in the heart of Madidi National Park, reinforces its ecological imp...

Humor with a purpose

29 Dec, 2016 | Eleanor Henderson

Photo: Iván Rodriguez PetkovicLas Mentes Ociosas and their brand of musical comedyThe Palacio de Comunicaciones in La Paz is not as imposing as a theatre can be. Imagine your high school auditorium wi...

Languages in Contact

29 Dec, 2016 | Jet de Kort

Photo: Jet de KortCode-switching between Aymara and SpanishIn the blazing sun, about 150 inhabitants of Wichi Wichi, a village on the banks of Lake Titicaca, gather at the local plaza. Every Saturday...

Ecology vs. Development

29 Dec, 2016 | Jet de Kort

Photo: Theresa EdwardsThe struggle over the dams in the Beni RiverOn a humid and sunny day I traveled back from Madidi National Park on a wooden boat to the town of Rurrenabaque. The muddy Beni River...

An Ode to Andean Cuisine

29 Dec, 2016 | Jet De Kort

Photo: Alexandra MeleánChefs transform traditional food into a gastronomic experienceWhile living in La Paz, I have inherited much of Bolivia's food traditions, from early morning salteñas to chuño an...

El Gato Negro

29 Dec, 2016 | Adriana Murillo

Image: Courtesy of Chicho SernaThe caretaker of civil societyHe is an ordinary guy who wears a hat and a black mask to express his critiques of the government and society. When he speaks, his words ar...

Che Pantomime

29 Dec, 2016 | Angus Mcnelly

Illustration: Hugo L. CuellarThe sing-along story of the marxist guerrillaIn the auditorium of Bolivia’s Central Bank in La Paz, a cumbia star leads a sing-along to a pop song whilst children wave fla...

All Dried Up

29 Dec, 2016 | Karina Guzman

Photo: William WroblewskiThe drought has brought out the ugly and the good in La Paz’s affected areas.Manuel Morales, a resident of the San Antonio neighborhood in eastern La Paz, has been collecting...

Las Primas of Bolivia’s New School Tattoo

29 Dec, 2016 | Valeria Salinas Maceda

Photo: Jodido Diego (Juan Diego Alvarado)Let yourself be seduced by this sexy urban styleSince 2010, the tattoo scene in La Paz has experienced a revolution of sorts, as the Bolivian New School style...

From the Ashes

29 Dec, 2016 | Rodrigo Delgado Calderón

A Detention Centre for Adolescents Tries the Restorative-Justice RouteI am sitting in Café Urbano in Sopocachi listening to ‘El Fénix’, a song by paceño rapper-songwriter Fercho. The lyrics, set to hi...