Bolivia: constitutional vote passes without violence —close call?

In an official statement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the “peaceful climate” in Bolivia during the Jan. 25 constitutional referendum. The statement said he “congratulates the people of Bolivia for this demonstration of civic responsibility,” and urges “all political leaders in Bolivia to work together henceforth to build a prosperous and inclusive future for their country.” (Xinhua, Jan. 27)

But the social-networking site Facebook removed a group whose title advocated raising money so a gunman could be hired to “liquidate” Bolivia’s President Evo Morales. The Spanish-language group, created in August, had 8,069 members. Called “Global collection to hire a sharpshooter to liquidate Evo Morales,” the group’s first description line stated, “We need to get the money to inspire someone to do it.”

The group’s Bolivian creator, Hony Pierola, 20, denied any malice. He told the AP he started the group “to laugh a little and wouldn’t be so stupid as to do it with serious intentions.” However, many of the group’s 497 postings violated Facebook’s terms of use, which ban threatening violence or expressing hatred. One Aug. 10 post suggested Morales be “tortured and made to suffer, like he’s doing indirectly to many Bolivian people.”

In an e-mail statement to AP, Pierola was unapologetic and made clear his deep distaste for Morales, telling the AP that “in my honest opinion as a human I think it’s not his fault he’s such an imbecile.” He added, “I hope he doesn’t do stupid things and that Bolivia doesn’t turn into a communist state.” (AP, Jan. 27)

See our last post on Bolivia.