#potd: Drink Coka Quina not C#c@-C#l@ in Bolivia

Travelling around Peru and then Bolivia (and now Chile) we’ve been gobsmacked by the domination of the soft drinks market & industry by C#c@-C#l@. Their signage & promo material is omnipresent, and their drinks are absolutely everpresent. We hardly ever drink their main brand on principal, so it was a pleasant surprise to come across an alternative – Coka Quina. Unsurprisingly a similar taste, and colour, but not bad. Certainly better than Peru’s C#c@-C#l@ part-owned Inca Kola, which was the colour of piss and not much better tasting!

C#c@-C#l@ dominate the sales of bottled water (con gas – fizzy, and sin gas – still), and also carbonated (gaseosas) drinks to a huge extent. In Peru in 2013 C#c@-C#l@ and it’s subsidiary/partner Corp JR Lindley (CCC-CRL) had a 49.8% share of the soft drinks market; in Bolivia in 2013 C#c@-C#l@ and its subsidiary/partner EMBOL took 58.3% of the market. Interestingly in the same year PepsiCo & it’s partners/subsidiaries took 9.2% & 17.2% respectively. Which is why when combined C#c@-C#l@ & PepsiCo globally control 35.7% and 71.7 % (by value) of the soft-drink and carbonated soft-drink markets respectively in 2014. And in 2013 their combined spend on global advertising was a whopping $7.27 billion! (See this report on Trade & Investment Liberalisation and the Soft Drinks Market in Peru & Bolivia). Continue reading


Civic strike in Cochabamba / #ParoCivico en #Cochabamba

What a strange day! Awaking in the morning in #Cochabamba Bolivia, to the sound of almost silence? No roar of traffic nor murmur of voices. What is going on? Out on the streets, in the city’s central district, it is eerily quiet. A quick hunt for coffee & wifi access, and a scan of a morning paper, reveals that…today, Thursday 16 March, is a 1-day #ParoCivico or Civic Strike. Organised by the Civic Committee of Cochabamba & supported by the local mayor, it´s specifically against a complicated legal section of a certain law, but more generally against narco-trafficking, and also the sense that the ‘Cocaleros’ (coca growers) receive preferential treatment (ie in relation to taxes).

This is a complicated issue! But we find the city, and probably the whole region, has been shut down by civic action since the very early hours, primarily by the simple tactic of blockading the roads – the key bridges into the city, the key intersections – and therefore ensuring there is no transportation. The blockades are a mix of ‘public transport’ vehicles (busses, taxis/trufis), bins & rubbish, and of course people in the middle of the road. Simple, and very effective. The streets are eerily quiet here in the city centre, and for as far as we are able to walk. Others are walking too, or moving by bike & motorcycle, and a few vehicles circulate within the blockaded areas. (See local media reports here and here in Spanish).
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#Bolivia – between a rock and a hard place

A key to visiting & travelling through a country is to try to understand at least some of it´s culture and history, and a one great way to do so is to read a book about it. Finding by chance a copy of ´Bolivia – between a rock and a hard place´, was just what was needed! Written by an English author, Pete Good (a long term resident in Bolivia), and published in 2006 (426 pages, published by Plural Editons, La Paz, ISBN 99905-839-5-1), this history of Bolivia, and it´s politics, was a fine read. (info & review). It´s also got a great bibliography of referenced Spanish & English books.

After a brief into to pre-colonialism in south America, author Good goes on to cover Bolivia up to the end of 2005, when Evo Morales & his MAS movements were elected. Having read various books & other resources prior to visiting south America, and especially ´Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent / Las Venas Abiertas de América Latina´ (Eduardo Galeano, 1971), finding Good´s book specifically on Bolivia was a bonus. Continue reading

La Paz street art – Murals #5

longlive the shoeshine

This is the last set of images of murals from the streets of #LaPaz, Bolivia…because after 6+ weeks we´ve moved on again! These murals were snapped after our last visit to Ma Wawaki, the equine therapy centre, so are mainly taken in the Zona Sur (South zone), painted on walls around vacant plots of land.

As we said before, there is so much street art in La Paz, it´s impossible to document it all…
but we´re sure we´ll find some more at our next stop. Enjoy! See pics below…
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#IWD2017 solidarity greetings from La Paz, Bolivia

Plenty of events in #La Paz #Bolivia for #IWD2017 and #8MParo and across the country. As this poster shows, many take a slightly more antagonistic approach to IWD than, say, the liberal reformists of the UN, or the party politicians who pay lip service to ‘womens issues’ and ‘womens rights’ – but spend most of the year enacting policies & practices that only serve the interests of patriarchy & capitalism! See brief report here on La Paz midday event; plus here report & video from an action by Mujeres Creando who interrrupted Bolivian TV this morning in protest at a manager accused of sexual harassment. Continue reading

#potd: A day’s work in La Paz…painting a wall!






It’s been a while….
but we picked up some brushes on Tuesday and got to work (unpaid of course!), re-doing a well known mural in the small town of Jupapina, south of #LaPaz. Doing any sort of painting in Bolivia is rather different to painting back home!

work in progress…

For starters there was the paint – instead of 5 or 6 tins of different colours, there was a big tub of white external emulsion, plus a selection of small tubes containing different colours to tint the white. So first off we got some plastic bottles & cut them in half to mix the colours in, then we found a few sticks in the street to stir with. Then there were the brushes on offer, with one exception they were the sort of cheapo B&Q ones back home, that you’d never buy if you wanted to do a good job. Then there was the ladder to use to reach the top of the wall, there was no ladder, a rickety plastic garden chair sufficed, just. Oh and it was raining, quite hard, so we delayed a couple of hours, until it was only drizzling, and then we got to work….with water based paint under a dark cloudy sky. Continue reading

Equine Therapy in an Urban Setting – in La Paz!?

Horses & riding eh? Something the rich do, an activity for the ‘Horsey Set’? Well maybe not always. In #LaPaz we came across a project providing equine (horse-based) therapy for people, mainly kids & youth, with special needs. Being somewhat cynical, we were amazed by the delight & progress of the kids, as they sat & rode horses, whilst undertaking a series of mobility exercises.
It was something to warm the cockles of your heart!

Equine therapy we discovered is not something that new in the western world, but here in Bolivia it is a fairly new developing practice. The centre we found in CotaCota, in south La Paz, operates under the auspices of the Humanities Faculty of the state run university UMSA. Named ‘Ma Wawaki Saranani’ in the indigenous language of Aymaran [orVamos todos juntos como uno‘ in Spanish; ‘We go (forwards) together as one’ in English]. Continue reading