Bolivia: They Want to Shut Us Up Again with Guns and “the Word of God”

EDITORIAL NOTE: The situation in Boliva is immensely complicated and cannot be reduced to a simple “imperialist coup d’etat.” Undoubtedly, the mandate of Evo Morales, set to end on January 20, 2020, was prematurely interrupted, who was forced to resign along with his entire cabinet (vice president, presidents of Congress and yesterday, Minister of Defense) to avoid an escalation of violence. And without a doubt, the right, which saw Evo as an illegitimate candidate, has right away taken advantage of the power vacuum to arrest and threaten the opposition, dismantle the plurinational nation project with colonialist, racist, patriarchal, and religious precepts. That is by definition a coup d’etat, and we strongly reject the ongoing militarization of Bolivia. However, it should be noted that this escalation has been developing since the referendum of February 21, 2016 (21-F), when 51.3% of the population voted against changing the constitution, and when the Constitutional Court decided to ignore this vote and allow Evo Morales to run as a presidential candidate indefinitely. Therefore, the denial of a second round on October 20 already had all the signs of being seen and used by the opposition as electoral fraud. It is also important to emphasize that several of the leftist social movements in Bolivia had serious criticisms of the Evo Morales government, in particular for its alliances with right-wing business sectors and its extractivist policy. For us at Awasqa, the conflict in Bolivia should not be reduced to defending Evo Morales; it has more to do with the defense of social movements and indigenous peoples that opened the way with their decolonial struggles and made it possible for the first indigenous president of the continent to be elected in 2006. In that context, we share the ONAMIAP statement below.

SOURCE: Organización Nacional de Mujeres Indígenas Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú (ONAMIAP) 

YOU MIGHT BE ALSO INTERESTED IN: Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Aymara/Bolivian historian and sociologist on the current situation in Bolivia (during a Parliament of Women organized by Mujeres Creando)
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Facing the events in Bolivia, ONAMIAP expresses:

  1. What is happening in Bolivia is not an isolated event, it is a global phenomenon. It is the same colonialism, which feels weakened against the resistance and defense of our ancestral territories and rights. Colonialism wants to overwhelm us again, taking away our collective identity and eliminate our rights.
  2. Just as the invaders in the 15th and 16th centuries arrived with the sword and the cross, to impose their kings, their language, their religion, their economic model, today the fundamentalists unite to impose a systematic violation of human rights, denial of cultural diversity, the union of the church and state which we had overcome more than two hundred years ago.
  3. The wiphala, a symbol of resistance of the indigenous peoples for more than five centuries, has been burned and today we indigenous people are again an obstacle to the “economic development” of the rich. It is no accident that Camacho says: “La Pachamama will never return to the burned [government] Palace. Now Bolivia is for Christ.” And in the streets we see written “Long Live Bolivia Free of Indians”. We indigenous people are no longer citizens and do not deserve rights because we are not in favor of destroying our territories in the name of “development” and “democracy.”
  4. The goal of the extreme right and conservative religious groups is to disrupt all advances in the area of equal rights: between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, between men and women, in the care of the environment, in labor matters and many others.
  5. With the fall of the plurinational government of Bolivia, Argentina is left alone in Latin America, they will also lash out there, because the economic recession makes it vulnerable. Peru is no stranger to these political and economic crises promoted by neoliberal, fascist and religious fundamentalism policies. Our collective rights are being taken away, they persecute our female leaders and leaders, with the story of entrepreneurship and using dialogue they numb us to take away our territories and enslave our sons and daughters.
  6. We recognize that in Bolivia what is in danger is not a government or a leader, it is the process of the indigenous peoples to recover the autonomy and dignity that they took away from us. This process was born as a hope of emancipation and social reforms, especially of indigenous peoples, not only from Bolivia but from all of Latin America.
  7. A process that, however, made many mistakes. To centralize leadership in caudillismo, is to disrespect the processes of depatriarchalization of the movements of indigenous and feminist women. By allowing the entry of members of the right into your government. By not breaking with the extractivist economy. TIPNIS was the breaking point and through the government indigenous organizations were divided.
  8. Caudillismo was the main error, which is repeated throughout our continent’s history: to focus on a single leadership, without opening the way to renewal, to alternation, to collective responsibilities. It was this that opened the doors to the far right.
  9. In the real processes of change, we are all important. Everyone is responsible. Only unity, the recognition that processes are built collectively and from the bottom up, guarantees real changes and an universal respect for human, collective and individual rights.
  10. That is today the task of the indigenous organizations of our continent: to build a Latin America where there is no classism, fascism, racism, patriarchy, religious fundamentalism, and that allows us to decide our own way of life, which respects Mother Nature and moves towards reciprocity and living harmoniously [buen vivir]. Not a development imposed by the powerful that destroys the Pachamama.
  11. We call on the indigenous peoples of Latin America, all those exploited and marginalized by this system. We must unite to resist and promote the emancipation of our America. For our dignity, for that of our ancestors, for our Mother Earth and for the future of our sons and daughters.