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Bolivia lacks access to the ocean, so the country shouldn’t have any reason to fear pirates, right? Well, they may not be the kind with a parrot on their shoulder, but another type of pirate has become a serious problem for many Bolivian filmmakers and a target of local authorities. Shortly after a film’s premiere, one can find a bootlegged or pirated copy of the same move in the streets of any major Bolivian city. Financial incentives to produce one of the few Bolivian movies have been undermined by these illegal sellers.
An editorial (ES) in the La Paz daily, La Razón recently announced that the Union of Cinematic Workers and the street vendors came to an agreement that would prohibit the sale of national films by the street vendors. In addition, the vendors must wait “a little bit later” to sell international or Hollywood films, after the film premieres in one of the handful of theaters in the city of La Paz.
Gustavo Siles, who blogs at Almada de Noche (ES), does not agree with the editorial’s stance, which says that the agreement basically gives victory to the illegal vendors. Siles thinks that the agreement will help protect the national industry and it become easier to find national movies at video clubs or sold as DVDs (ES), since they may be better protected from piracy. In addition, he writes:
“I particularly wouldn’t purchase a movie off the street, especially one that I really would like to enjoy. One must remember that the quality of pirated movies is often very poor.”
However, he believes the fight against piracy in Bolivia is not well-targeted.
“I do not see the rationale in maintaining the position of “fight against piracy” in a country where, frankly, buying an original DVD or VHS tapes, which one can often still find, is unattainable due to the price…One must realize that it no longer necessary go out onto the street to find pirated movies, because they are now online, with a couple of clicks and a couple of hours of downloading. Don’t our authorities have better things to do? A little bit of information-based culture would do them some good.”
He goes on to say to ask whether the real issue is that the vendors occupy precious sidewalk space or the lack of their payment of taxes. For that, there are better solutions. However, he doesn’t buy that the mega Hollywood studios are being hurt by the sale of pirated movies in Bolivia, which is such a small country.
A new blog called Bolivia Eclipse (ES), written by Briegel Busch, who describes himself as a longtime Bolivian ex-patriate, who is very interested in the current Bolivian and Latin American reality. In addition, he is an amateur analyst and commentator, who practices social science as a hobby. One of his first posts talks about the three Bolivian cabinet members, who were seized, and what the government has called a kidnapping, in the city of Puerto Suarez (ES), which sites kilometers from the Brazilian border. The conflict stems from the operation of a Brazilian company in the area, where important iron and magnesium ore is currently found. The government of President Evo Morales announced that this company is operating illegally and must leave the country. Some of the population thinks that the conflict between this company and the government will slow down development in that region. However, Busch does not agree with the tactics of the individuals who kept the government officials captive, especially in light of the recent years of conflict and social unrest.
There are other new blogs written by Bolivians. The Bolivian blog community website Blogs Bolivia (ES) announced that the site continues to become the reference point for Bolivian blogs, including a reference in a newspaper article about blogs (ES) in La Razón. After the article was published, there was an 100% increase in the number of visits. A half a dozen new blogs were also added to the blogroll (ES), including a few music-related sites, such as blogs written by the bassplayer (ES) and drummer (ES) of Grillo Villegas’ new band (ES) , and a punk band called Sinobius (ES).
Journalists are also joining the ranks of the bloggers and are utilizing this technology to complement some of their other published articles. Alfonso Gumucio and his blog Bitácora Memoriosa (ES) also writes for the BolPress (ES) online media site. Sergio Molina Monasterios and his blog La Columna Robada (ES) has a special focus on Bolivian-Chilean relations. His vantage point as a Bolivian journalist living in the neighbor to the west is very unique because the two countries still have not renewed full diplomatic relations.