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'Hostile' media can't catch Bolivia's president on the soccer field

'Hostile' media can't catch Bolivia's president on the soccer field

A day after his government published a list of Bolivia's "most hostile" media outlets, President Evo Morales on Wednesday challenged the South American nation's international press corps to a friendly soccer match.
Playing in the capital La Paz at 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) above sea level, the president and a selection of former World Cup players made short work of the journalists, winning by a final score of either 11-1 or 12-1, depending on who was keeping score.
At halftime Morales, an avid amateur soccer player, posed for photos with members of the reporters' squad. But while speaking briefly to Bolivian television reporters after the game, the president repeated his past critiques of the media.
"Some journalists treat me as if I'm ignorant, or crazy, and the press never reports this," Morales said. "Some foreign journalists come here just to offend me.
"If some Bolivian traveled to Spain or another country and offended their president, I know that they'd deport him," the president added. "Here we don't deport anybody."
A news release issued Tuesday by Morales' administration detailed claims of bias against the government by a television station based in Santa Cruz, the principal seat of Morales' conservative opposition, as well as several national newspapers.
The statement also named several high-profile Bolivian political analysts as participating in an alleged "Anti-Evo campaign."
Last week, Morales complained that much of Bolivia's media had aligned against him.
"The number-one enemies of Evo Morales are the majority of the media," Morales said while speaking at the inauguration of a new paved highway in the central state of Chuquisaca. "But we are not afraid _ let them do what they do, say what the say."
The president then appealed to Bolivian journalists' patriotism in asking for more favorable coverage of his populist reforms.
"If they love their country, if they want unity, if they seek the integration of our people, they are welcome to join us," Morales said.
Morales has repeatedly expressed his desire to open more government-friendly media outlets, and has announced plans to open numerous community radio stations in small towns throughout Bolivia.
While past governments have always used Bolivia's state-run radio and television networks to promote their own agendas, the channels have taken a noticeably stronger pro-government stance since Morales took office in January.
The government-run Radio Illimani, named after a snow-capped peak towering over La Paz, has changed its handle to Radio Patria Nueva (New Homeland Radio), and Tuesday's list of offending media outlets was released through the government's own official news agency.
Played on the field of an empty Hernando Siles stadium, Wednesday's match featured Luis Cristaldo, Milton Melgar and Carlos Borja, stars of the Bolivian team that qualified for Bolivia's only World Cup appearance in 1994. Morales played center forward, scoring on a penalty set up when one correspondent tripped Borja in the box.


Updated : 2020-12-01 20:29 GMT+08:00