In the last years Bolivia has become more and more “popular” to other countries and the public sphere around the planet. This has generated a more complex opinion about Bolivian people. This includes a lot of stereotypes that are not at all true.
The first one and, I think, the worse is that foreign people think that Bolivian people are drug dealers. It might be true that Bolivians love coca leaf, but they do as a cultural heritage. The coca leaf was considered to be sacred in the past, precisely in the Inca period. In fact, most people don’t have access to drugs. Most cocaine is exported to other countries that do consume a lot of drugs, and also there is a lot of propaganda that prevents drug consuming here. Therefore, people here have a really small market for drugs which is good for the government’s image.
Another stereotype related to drug dealing is corruption. Maybe because of the last cases of police officers taking drugs to Brazil, you might think everyone in Bolivia is corrupt. This is another lie because of the great religious influence on low class people’s moral grounds. Most of the population knows that doing the right thing is the best way to help our country and themselves. Most politicians in the world are corrupt, this is known by society and it’s reflected in movies. However, this does not mean that the whole world is corrupt, the same happens with Bolivia, and the local politicians, they are corrupt, but this does not mean that the rest of the population is corrupt too.
Poverty is also another lie. Bolivia is not such a poor country. The real problem is that the money is not properly distributed as it is in other countries. I have a friend, who owns the importation rights for any famous car brands here in Bolivia, like Mercedes Benz, Honda, Porsche, etc. when he decided to get the rights for Porsche, the owners were concerned about the market in a developing country like Bolivia. They questioned him if it was really a good business for them, and they took a leap of faith. After the first month they were amazed, they explained that Bolivia had had more cars sold in the first month than Chile, Argentina, Peru and Colombia did in their first month, so Bolivia is not a country full of poor people after all.
Stereotypes sometimes can help you understand a culture, but in no society, in no country, and in no place, people are the same. One quality of mankind is that every person is different, stereotypes also generate prejudice and prejudice generates racism.