17 January 2015

The Politics of Music Piracy in Bolivia

The government of indigenous Bolivian president Evo Morales, which was inaugurated in January 2006 and has huge popular support (gaining over 64% of the vote when re-elected in December 2009), has made no significant attempt to confront music, software or book piracy to date. However, the rise of piracy and collapse of the large-scale music industry date from well before Morales' tenure and need to be viewed in broader historical context. In particular, the various phases of neo-liberal policies since the mid-1980s have been seen to have exacerbated inequality, favoured foreign interests, reduced state legitimacy, and ultimately ignited the social movements that swept Morales and his Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) Government to Power. Thus, the growth of piracy may, in part, be seen to reflect social conditions that denied majority access to knowledge and cultural resources and a political climate in which many Bolivians came to feel that laws were unjust and favoured the rich.