December 28 marks Bolivia and much of Latin America’s version of April Fools Day (Día de los Inocentes). Newspapers from around the country try to show how cute that they can be by planting fake stories on their print and online versions. An example of a good joke was the sports story in Los Tiempos newspaper about Argentina football player Ariel Ortega joining the club Aurora. It was very believable because 1.) Ortega is the son of Bolivian immigrants in Argentina 2.) Aurora is preparing to play in the Libertadores Cup and a star player like that make sense. Yes, I fell for it. Good job, Los Tiempos. No harm, no foul.
However, in La Razon, another story caught my eye and for the entire day I believed that it was true. It was about Santa Cruz Civic Committee President Branko Marinkovic being apprehended by masked men sent by the government. This is pretty irresponsible in my opinion, not because I fell for it, but because that story is more than believable since the government has threatened the arrest of their chief opposition. When, and not if, it happens, things will start to get very hairy once again in the country, and this story could have helped spread rumors and caused more confrontation in the country.
Usually the admission of it being a joke is included at the end of each story, but the La Razon story was in the middle, thus making it harder to spot.