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40 Gonzalo Alaiza is the director of Pro Mujer in Bolivia. 18 Xavier dad Mayor de San Simn in Cochabamba. 34 Juan Antonio Morales,
Alb is a linguist, anthropologist and Jesuit priest who has lived for professor of economics at the Universidad Catlica San Pablo in La Paz,
many years in El Alto. 58 Nigel Asquith was a 2009-10 Giorgio Ruf- was president of the Central Bank of Bolivia for more than ten years.
folo Fellow in Sustainability Science at Harvard Kennedy School. 95 86 Alcides Parejas Moreno is a Bolivian historian who has written more
Fernando Berguido (Nieman 11) is the editor of La Prensa in Panama. than thirty books. 45 Flix Patzi Paco, Bolivian Education Minister
28 Kate McGurn Centellas is Croft Assistant Professor of Anthropology 2006-07. is a professor at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrs in La
at the University of Mississippi. 81 Miguel Centellas is Croft Visiting Paz. 15 Tom Pegram is an interdisciplinary research fellow at New York
Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Mississippi. University School of Law. 30 Paula Pea Hasbn is the director of the
9 Gonzalo Chvez A. is the director of the School of Production and Museo de Historia y Archivo Histrico de Santa Cruz. 12 Ral Pearan-
Competivity at the Universidad Catlica San Pablo in La Paz. 54 David da U. (Nieman 08) is the editor-in-chief of Pagina Siete. 42 Elisabeth
Daepp is Associate Portfolio Manager with the United Nations Office Rhyne is the Managing Director of the Center for Financial Inclusion
for Project Services (UNOPS). 93 Peter DeShazo is Executive Director in New York. 21 Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui is a contemporary Aymara
of LASPAU. 48 Nicole Fabricant is Assistant Professor of Anthropology sociologist, historian, and subaltern theorist. 74 Eduardo Rodrguez
at Towson University. 6 Merilee Grindle is the director of Harvards Da- Veltze, MPA 88, Harvard Kennedy School, is Dean of the Law and
vid Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Edward S. Mason Political Science School at the Universidad Catlica San Pablo in La Paz.
Professor of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School. 78 Martn Sivak is the author of four books about Bolivia. 89 Mauricio
56 Bret Gustafson, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Washing- Souza Crespo is a film critic for Pagina Siete and the biweekly Nueva
ton University in St. Louis, received a PhD in Social Anthropology at Crnica. 2 Pablo Stefanoni is the editor of Nueva Sociedad and until
Harvard. 99 Eulogio Guzmn teaches at the School of the Museum of recently editor-in-chief of Le Monde Diplomatique Bolivia. 70 Helen
Fine Arts/Tufts University. 48 Kathryn Hicks is an Assistant Professor Strom graduated from Harvard College cum laude in Social Studies in
of Anthropology at the University of Memphis. 6 Mary Hilderbrand is a 2011. 84 Maristella Svampa is an Argentine writer with several books
Fellow in Development and director of the Mexico Program at Harvard on political and cultural processes. 25 Gratzia Villarroel, 2007-08
Kennedy School. 62 Luz Jimnez Quispe, an Aymara woman from DRCLAS Santo Domingo Visiting Scholar, is an Associate Professor of
Bolivia, is a doctoral student in the Educational College of the Univer- Political Science at St. Norbert College. 51 Fernanda Wanderley is the
sity of Arizona. 65 Brooke Larson, Professor of History at Stony Brook Associate Director of Graduate Research in Development Sciences at
University, was the 2011 DRCLAS Santo Domingo Visiting Scholar. 37 the Universidad Mayor de San Andrs in La Paz. 88 Maritza Wilde is
Roberto Laserna is an international consultant, university professor and director of the International Theater Festival of La Paz.
author of La trampa del rentismo. 97 Deborah T. Levenson is an As- WITH FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Antonio Surez, Winifred Parker,
sociate Professor of History at Boston College. 68 Marcia Mandepora Rosalie Parker Loewen, Ben Achtenberg and Jai Chowdhry Beeman.
is the rector of the UNIBOL-Guarani Apiaguaiki Tpa in Machareti, SPECIAL THANKS TO: Ftima Molina, Fernando Campero,
Bolivia. 76 Fernando Mayorga is director of CESU at the Universi- and the Banco Santander.
fall 2011

harvard review of Latin america

and beyond
editors letter

Zocalo Hed 26 Bolivia

Remembering pt
Zocalo deck 14 point one line By

Id almost forgotten about Che. Well, not the triumphant Che of Havana, but the Che who
fought unsuccessfully in Boliviaeven though Id been moved by Steven Soderberghs Che:
Part II a while back. But in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, my host Nigel Asquith from Natura Bolivia men-
tioned that some elderly folk in the area still remember Che. Nigel, who often travels to tiny
villages in remote rural areas, commented that many talk about Che with fondness. I looked
at him quizzically. I thought the Bolivian peasants disagreed with Che ideologically. They
Volume Xi No. 1
remembered him kindly because he fixed their teeth, he said. Not as a guerrilla, as a dentist.
Id almost forgotten about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, whose story I had first David Rockefeller Center
learned about in the 1969 film starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Nigel reminded me for Latin American Studies
of that too. Bolivia was a land so isolated and far away that outlaws could hide safely, even Director
though the two bandits eventually died in a shootout with Bolivian soldiers. Merilee S. Grindle
But I never forgot my first trip to Bolivia in 1977. I was expecting a desperately poor coun- Executive Director
try, something like Nicaragua or Haiti. Instead, I was impressed by the stout market women Kathy Eckroad
with elaborate skirts and bowler hats, seemingly well-off. I was startled by the lush country
club, where a Dutch oilman had invited me to lunch. Perhaps it was a question of expectations. ReVista
By my recent second trip, of course, I knew about the Gini coefficient that measures the gap Editor-in-Chief
between the rich and poor. Bolivia is a very poor and unequal country, but as many of the writ- June Carolyn Erlick

ers in this issue point out, it has enormous natural resources. Copy Editor
I kept trying to understand the 1977 tripwhen I had traveled to Bolivia as an Inter Ameri- Anita Safran

can Press Association scholarbut something was missing. But while reading about the 1952 Publication Interns
Revolution and the sweeping movements for indigenous education, I realized I had been expe- Jai Chowdhry Beeman
William N. Forster
riencing a country with deeply embedded dignity that had somewhat masked its poverty.
When I started to put this issue together, I had thought in terms of balancing opposing Design
political opinions by inviting a certain number of authors on either side of the fence. I should
have known better; balance isnt just a matter of who supports President Evo Morales and
who doesnt and to what degree. All along the road from La Paz to Cochabamba to Santa Cruz,
P & R Publications
my wonderful Bolivian hosts and guides were advising, take into account all of the regions,
gender balance, indigenous and non-indigenous, and the many varieties of indigenous people. Contact Us
Dont forget Afro-Bolivians, and then theres the rural and the urban. 1730 Cambridge Street
I arrived in Bolivia in January 2011, less than a month after the gasolinazoa huge hike in Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone: 617-495-5428
fuel prices that the president quickly rescinded following protests. I assumed that with the
Facsimile: 617-496-2802
rollback, the issue was over. Instead, I found protests were sweeping La Paz, Cochabamba and
Subscriptions and Reader Forum
Santa Cruz, the three cities I visited. Food prices and transportation costs had soared. Opposi-
tion came from the left, as well as the right. One union worker on a march in Cochabamba told
me, Were marching because Brother Evo needs to listen to us! Many of Evos supporters
felt he had let them down. And again, I realized I had forgotten. The volatility of the social revistaonline
movements and the huge unmet needs of an unequal society were still very much a part of the
equation; there was no certainty at all. ReVista, the Harvard Review of Latin America
One late moonlit night at the home of my gracious La Paz hosts Ral Pearanda and Ftima
Molina (Nieman 08), I looked out over outcrops of red, cragged rock, a veritable moonscape. Copyright 2011 by the President and
I thought of how that rock had been there years and years and years and yet how so very much Fellows of Harvard College.
ISSN 15411443
had changed socially and politically in the country in the five years of Evo Morales. With its
society in transition, Bolivia is at a crossroads and the future is yet to be decided. ReVista is printed on recycled stock.

This issue of ReVista is made

possible through the generous
support of Banco Santander
harvard review of Latin america

fall 2011
Volume Xi No. 1

bolivia Published by the David Rockefeller Center

for Latin American Studies
Harvard University
Five Years of Evo by Pablo Stefanoni 2

Through a Glass Darkly by Merilee Grindle and Mary Hilderbrand 6
The Bolivian Economy by Gonzalo Chvez A. 9
in every issue
Evo Morales by Ral Pearanda U. 12 MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Human Rights as a Vocation by Tom Pegram 15
Historic Archives of Santa Cruz de la Sierra 92
El Alto in Flux by Xavier Alb 18
Coca by Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui 21 BOOK TALK
Bolivian Women by Gratzia Villarroel 25 Revolution in Venezuela? 93
Medical Practices in Bolivia by Kate McGurn Centellas 28 A Review by Peter DeShazo
Regional Identities by Paula Pea Hasbn 30 The Panama Canal 95
A Review by Fernando Berguido
Exploring the Jungle Cradle 97
Post-Neoliberal Policies and the Populist Tradition 34
A Review by Deborah T. Levenson
by Juan Antonio Morales
Copans Stone Puzzles Come Indoors 98
Falling in the Rentier Trap by Roberto Laserna 37
A Review by Eulogio Guzmn
Development with a Womans Touch by Gonzalo Alaiza 40
Microfinance by Elisabeth Rhyne 42 reader forum 101
Communal Economy by Flix Patzi Paco 45

The Water Is Ours Damn It! by Nicole Fabricant and Kathryn Hicks 48 online
The Economy of the Extractive Industries by Fernanda Wanderley 51 Look for more content online at
Bolivias Lithium Potential by David Daepp 54
Bolivian Resource Politics by Bret Gustafson 56
Reciprocal Agreements for Water by Nigel Asquith 58

We Want Public Education! by Luz Jimnez Quispe 62
Warisata by Brooke Larson 65
Bolivias Indigenous Universities by Marcia Mandepora 68
The New Bolivian Education Law by Helen Strom 70

Justice to President, Justice to Change by Eduardo Rodrguez Veltze 74
After the Gasolinazo by Fernando Mayorga 76
Evo Morales Through the Prism of Wikileaks by Martn Sivak 78
Beyond Caudillos by Miguel Centellas 81


On the cover
Art and Politics by Maristella Svampa 84 The Wiphala flag representing indigenous peoples was given
The Flowering of Culture in Santa Cruz by Alcides Parejas Moreno 86 equal status with the traditional Bolivian flag by the countrys
new Constitution.
International Theater Festival by Maritza Wilde 88 Photograph by Antonio Surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/
Crash Course on Bolivian Cinema by Mauricio Souza Crespo 89 bolivianphoto.blogspot.com
first takes

Five Years of Evo

By Pablo Stefanoni

Less than a decade ago, few people out- tive peoples as the principal actors in the
side of Bolivia could name its president. actual process of change activates a series
Today, Evo Morales is not only a global of imaginaries about an other who is ca-
figure; he is an icon for critics of global- pable of providing fresh perspectives, cos-
ization. During the peak of neoliberalism movisions and alternative political, eco-
at the end of the 20th century, the Za- nomic and social practices in the face of
patistas in Mexico advocated changing Western decadence. But when one looks
the world without seizing power. Now, in at the situation more closely, it becomes
the first decade of the 21st century, Evo much more complicated. Although it is
Morales, Bolivias first indigenous presi- certain that the majority of Bolivians are
dent, embodies the desire to change the indigenous (62%, according to the 2001
world while in powerborrowing Sub- census), it is just as true that a fierce de-
comandante Marcos concept, to rule sire for inclusive modernization emerges Bolivias transformation under Evo Morales
by obeying the people (mandar obede- forcefully from deep within the Bolivian has been marked by social movements and
the change in elites.
ciendo), a phrase prominently displayed population. Evo Morales reactivates de-
on billboards with the presidents image velopmental imaginaries in which living
throughout Bolivia. well in terms of material welfare is more consolidated his power in the midst of a
Evo Morales took office on Decem- powerful than any spiritual or non-ma- violent dispute with the agro-industrial
ber 18, 2005, with an astounding 54% terialist guidelines allegedly inscribed in elite in the countrys eastern region, en-
of the vote. He immediately set into mo- indigenous cosmovisions. couraging the mobilization of peasants
tion a nationalist project with two main For many ReVista readers, Evo Mo- and the popular urban sectors. The sup-
agendas: the nationalization of oil and rales is seen as one of a group of emerg- port he found on the streets also translat-
gas and a Constitutional Convention. ing populist leaders in South America, ed into votes: in August 2008, he was rat-
With the first measure Morales proposed including Venezuelan President Hugo ified in a recall referendum with 67% of
to do away with the plunder of natural Chvez, his Ecuadoran colleague Rafael the votes, and in December 2009, he was
resources, in the words of his party, the Correa, the late Nstor Kirchner and reelected with an unprecedented 64%.
Movement Toward Socialism (MAS); the his widow, current Argentine president Nevertheless, the celebrations of the
second sought to do away with internal Cristina Fernndez, and the Nicaraguan governments fifth-year anniversary in
colonialism. Bolivian indigenous move- President Daniel Ortega. But this meat- January 2011 were tainted. The aborted
ments often use this term to characterize eating leftas Peruvian writer Alvaro gasolinazo, a fuel hike of up to 83%, had
the domestic persistence of the exclusion Vargas Llosa called it to distinguish it been announced on December 26, 2010,
of the native peoplesthe majority of Bo- from the vegetarian (and good) left by Vice President lvaro Garca Linera
liviansand the covert violence that con- is not homogenous. Morales leadership while Evo Morales was in Caracas offer-
tinued to smolder under the liberal-dem- contains a heavy dose of popular self- ing help for the floods. The surprise tim-
ocratic principles of citizens equality. representation rather than messianic ing and tone of the announcement that
Morales thus appears like the David who direction (in the countryside, peasants gas and diesel subsidies would be elimi-
confronts the imperialistic Goliath, an often comment, he is one of us). The natedstirring memories of the neolib-
image that greatly explains his popularity International Monetary Fund itself has eral economic corrections of the 1990s
both within Bolivia and abroad. praised his macroeconomic policy for its and beginning of the 2000ssparked
These developments have trans- prudence, and his social policies can be popular discontent against the govern-
formed Bolivia into a beacon for those compared without any difficulty to those ment unprecedented in the era of Evo.
who are searching for alternative models of the moderate Lula da Silva or his suc- Until that moment, protest had come
to capitalistic modernity and to the pres- cessor Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. from the conservative right; this time, it
ent economic crisis. The presence of na- In the last five-plus years, Morales has emanated from the strongholds of Evo-

2 ReVista fall 2011 photos by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/bolivianphoto.blogspot.com

governments statist projects such as set-
ting up state-owned factories. Official ne-
gotiations with small and large producers
this year to seek production increases to
bring down food prices and do away with
scarcity of products such as sugar, along
with the announcement of subsidies to
oil companies, demonstrate that over-
coming market mechanisms is a lot more
complicated than what the government
and the so-called social movements
ever imagined.
Evo Morales is suffering from the ef-
fects of a crisis of narrative. Creativity
appears to be declining in terms of think-
ing about measures with the sameor
similarpolitical-symbolic impact as
those taken in the first moments of the
Morales administration. The last educa-
tional reform law passed with little public
debate except among those directly affect-
ed (primarily teachers); the same holds
for a universal health insurance bill that
is being drawn up, and other necessary
reforms to guarantee free health care to
the majority of Bolivians who today must
pay for care in low-quality hospitals
let alone what happens when a Bolivian
needs specialized health care. Though
these efforts are real, they have not pro-
duced a compelling narrative about the
social effects of the Morales government.
The transformation is most profound-
ly noted in the change of elites, the mas-
sive inclusion of indigenous, peasant and
common citizens in the state apparatus,
in the changing self-perception of Bo-
livians and in the realm of international
ismEvo supporters themselves. As a eloquent grandstanding that referenced politics in which Bolivia has allied itself
result, a week later, before the discontent such concepts as communitarian social- with countries such as Venezuela, Cuba
grew any stronger, Morales hastened to ism, and changes that had actually taken and Iran after decades of uncritical sub-
strike down his own decree. The Boliv- placemany of them modestin the mission to Washingtons dictates.
ian president repeated that the govern- daily lives of Bolivians. Moderate suc- The purchase of a satellite from
ment was obeying the people and that cesses in the fight against poverty, the China, the bet on megaprojects such
although the measure was a necessary implementation of social subsidy bonds as petrochemicals, hydroelectric proj-
one, the social movements had made him and the construction of rural electrifica- ects, mining and highways (including
realize that the moment was not right for tion and highways are undeniable ac- in the Amazon region) or the presidents
its implementation. Nevertheless, price complishments, but far from being an close links with the Armed Forces at-
increases and the uncertainty created by anti-capitalist policy. At the same time, test to the different imaginaries in play
the measure spawned a series of protests the Bolivian state remains chronically thatbecause of the lack of debate
about the high cost of food. weak, especially because it lacks quali- among themat times appear like an
Moreover, the mini-crisis made ap- fied technocrats and institutional density. ideological mess that muddles together
parent the disconnect between the often This deficit creates many obstacles to the indigenism and hardcore development

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 3
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

The government reacted to the move-

ment by pressing charges against del
Granado and current La Paz mayor Luis
Revilla, a mechanism that in the past had
allowed it to get rid of its principal con-
servative rivals. This year, the governor
of Tarija (in the south of the country and
the principal reservoir of Bolivian gas)
was deposed and obtained political asy-
lum in Paraguay; Leopoldo Fernndez,
the former governor of Pando, is still in
jail waiting to be sentenced for the so-
called Porvenir massacre in 2008, when
pro-Evo peasants were allegedly am-
bushed by Fernndez thugs in the isolat-
ed Bolivian Amazon region. And several
former strong opposition leaders fled to
Artisanal workers from the eastern region around Santa Cruz. the United States, among them Branko
Marinkovic, the former pro-autonomy
policies. Among these we may trace two summits, domestic policies regarding leader of Santa Cruz region, and former
general and schematic lines that could environmental defense or the struggle presidential candidate Manfred Reyes
produce several possible combina- against climate change are inconsistent; Villa. It is not clear, however, whether
tions. One visionthe hegemonic one, the environmental costs of becoming the government can get the same results
in which Vice-President Garca Linera a mining power once againgiven the with members of the moderate left, even
participatesproposes a strong state boom with its high pricesare not sub- if their movement is weak.
accompanied by prudent macroeco- ject to public debate or even of funda- Morales faces a certain ideological
stagnation. His second term has been
marked with all the wear and tear that a
second term implies. From this perspec-
From the eastern regions to the highlands, Bolivians tive, Morales futurehe is planning to
run again in 2014will depend on his
expect a revolution in their pocketbooks. Bolivians capacity to take charge of the process of
want action instead of sweeping discourse. change and to recover some of the mys-
tique of his first term. Without a doubt,
change has entered into its most pro-
nomic policies. Another tendency, more mental concern to the government. saic moment, without great enemies in
philosophical than practical in terms In this context, for the first time since sightwhich is an advantage and a dis-
of public policy, is expressed in venues arriving in office, Morales not only faces advantage at the same time. The struggle
such as climate change summits and opposition from the knee-jerk right, but against the separatists had managed
anti-summits, social movement forums from the center-left Movement Without to solidify the Morales ranks until 2008.
and courses on political formation. This Fear, led by former La Paz Mayor Juan Now Bolivians are expecting Morales
tendency projects a communitarian per- del Granado, a Morales ally until the be- sweeping discourse to be translated into
spective, based on political, economic, ginning of 2010. With support from the better concrete conditions in their daily
and even judicial pluralism sanctioned urban middle class, especially in La Paz, lives. They are expecting a revolution in
by the new Constitution. The main ad- members without fear have sought to their pocketbooks.
vocate of this trend is Foreign Minister cast themselves as a more democratic and
David Choquehuanca, who is highly re- institutional variation of the present pro- Pablo Stefanoni, journalist and econo-
garded by the Aymaras of the Altiplano. cess of change, criticizing its errors and mist, is the editor of Nueva Sociedad.
The tensions between these two tenden- supporting its achievements. To garner Until February 2011, he was editor-
cies are particularly noticeable in the support, the movement seeks to capital- in-chief of Le Monde Diplomatique
realm of the environment. While Bo- ize on del Granados accomplishments as Bolivia. He is the author of Qu hacer
livia has sought to play an international mayor, one of the best administrations in con los indios... Y otros traumas de la
leadership and moral role in the climate the country in the past decades. colonialidad.

4 ReVista fall 2011 photo by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/

For foreigners, Bolivia can be a difficult place to understand.
Merilee Grindle and Mary Hilderbrand reflect on their
experiences with Bolivia at several historical moments.
Yet, even for Bolivians, the country can be a puzzle.
Gonzalo Chvez A. examines the contrast between Bolivia's
excellent macroeconomic statistics and the fact that most
Bolivians just eke out a living.

n Through a Glass Darkly 6

n The Bolivian Economy 9

artist by
photo credit
urlwinifredparker@comcast.net drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 5
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Through A Glass Darkly

Reflecting on Bolivia
By Mary E. Hilderbrand and Merilee S. Grindle

As the American Airlines flight from Miami chance to take in the sights and sounds
neared La Paz, we peered down through of a new country, to learn firsthand about
the thin light of early morning, trying political, social and economic realities.
to make sense of the arid land below us. This was the first of many visits to a
Were the neat pyramids of stones at the country dramatic in its landscape and its
corner of each field the result of clear- history. Initially, we were pursuing re-
ing the land for planting? If so, it must search for a report for the United Nations
be rocky, inhospitable soil for growing Development Programme on public sec-
crops. Were those really herds of llamas tor reform. Within months, however, we
and alpacas that dotted the landscape? were actively engaged in a much larger
And how spectacular the snow-covered project involving the Harvard Institute
Andes appeared in comparison with the for International Development (HIID)
altiplano. We continued to watch as the and the Universidad Catlica Boliviana A humble home with red bricks and zinc
walled compounds at the edges of El Alto (UCB). In this USAID-sponsored initia- roofing hovers over the sprawling La Paz
appeared, gaining clarity and detail as we tive, HIID and the university would col- skyline.

descended to the runway. Before us, Bo- laborate to establish a Masters program
livias high plains and mountains seemed in public policy at UCB. We hoped that engaged and articulate citizens of Bolivia.
an exotic moonscape. many of the characteristics of the Har- Several of them have written for this im-
Moments later, entering a rustic im- vard Kennedy School, where both of us portant issue of ReVista. Although the
migration hall, we took note of the oxygen were teaching, could be adapted to the original USAID-HIID project is long
tanks available for passengers with dif- Bolivian context, contributing to peda- over, the MpD and the Harvard Kennedy
ficulty breathing at 4,000 meters. Soon, gogy and public policy research in this School have continued working together
our taxi wove through the early morning interesting environment. and our history of professional and per-
throngs of El Altos commerce and we That program evolved into the Mae- sonal engagement in the country has now
descended the sculpted bowl into La Paz. stras para el Desarrollo (MpD), the first spanned almost 18 years. We have vivid
Foot trails bit into the hillsides; shacks Masters program of any kind at a Boliv- memories of that first touchdown in El
clung precariously on dry cliffs along with ian university. The MpD has made an Alto, for it opened a window on the dra-
modern mansions; women in bowler hats important contribution to human capital matic history of Bolivia over those years.
and wide, floating skirts trekked down- development for Bolivias public, non- Yet we have seen through this window
hill, and a river spilled muddy water profit and private sectors, training hun- only darkly. The year 1993 was a time of
down a steep sluice. As we entered the dreds of students in analytic methods, great hope for the country; we saw many
city, crowds of indigenous people waited organizational management and leader- problems but we also saw a political and
for buses and set up street markets in the ship, reaching thousands more through economic landscape that was becoming
shadow of crumbling colonial churches its executive courses and research and more stable and secure. Following many
and 19th century buildings recalling the consulting work. Setting a standard for years marked by coups and military dicta-
exuberance of periodic economic booms. postgraduate education in the country, torships, drug trafficking and corruption
Despite the passage of time, our mem- it has consistently demonstrated that and deep economic crisis, Bolivia by then
ories of this 1993 arrival are still crystal scarcity of resources can be compensated had had a functioning electoral democracy
clear. For both of us, it was a first trip to through innovation and deep dedication. in place for a decade; the military seemed
Bolivia. For one, it was the fulfillment of Equally important for us, this rela- marginalized from political engagement;
a lifetime dream to see the Andes and tionship with the MpD and with a cadre hyperinflation had been defeated. Suc-
the start of a demanding and unfamiliar of graduates from the Harvard Kennedy cessive administrations had introduced
assignment. For the otheralready well School has been a foundation for endur- policy reforms that aimed to supplant
traveled in Latin Americait was the ing friendships with many of the most the state-led economy of the preceding

6 ReVista fall 2011 photo by winifred parker, winifredparker@comcast.net


suggest the answers.

A decade after our first visit to Bolivia,
we had another opportunity to reflect on
the uncertainties involved in understand-
ing current events in a country. The set-
ting, in September 2003, was a dinner
party, lively with conversation and excel-
lent Andean food. We were surrounded by
friends from the Harvard Kennedy School
and the MpD. Many were now professors,
while others were serving in government,
providing policy analysis and advice to
political leaders; two former government
ministers were part of the group; others
worked in foundations looking for solu-
tions to problems of poverty, poor educa-
tion, and national identity.
The following day was to be marked
by a massive demonstration of indigenous
organizations; La Paz would be largely
shut down. Thus, much of the discussion
decades with a more market-led model economic reforms had directly addressed at the table concerned serious issues. How
of development. Widely touted popular the fundamental inequality and injustice should we understand what was happen-
participation reforms gave local commu- in the countrys institutions. ing in the country? How would policy and
nities more resources and decision-mak- We were not alone in our failure to un- development issues be decided in the fu-
ing power. The international community derstand the unresolved issues that Bo- ture? How were conflicts about identity
eagerly promoted Bolivias experience as a livia faced in the mid-1990s. Indeed, the and representation to be resolved? The
model of reform initiatives, and hotel cof- countrys experience turned into a chal- themes were often general: the extent to
fee shops in La Paz were bustling with in- lenge for how economic development which neoliberal reforms had opened up
ternational experts consulting over break- was understood and practiced in the space for changing the rules of political
fast and meeting with Bolivian colleagues 1990s and early 2000s. Some claimed engagement or had simply incited anger
over generous lunch buffets. It seemed a that the reforms had not been deep and protest; the ability of the democratic
good time to be introduced to the coun- enough nor fully enough implemented institutions re-introduced in 1982 to sur-
trys potential. and argued for staying the course; oth- vive tomorrows demands for change; the
What we perceived in 1993 turned out ers questioned whether the reforms had capacity of the government to contain the
to be untrustworthy, however. Economic been appropriate from the beginning. potential violence of the crowd; the lead-
growth proved elusive over the following If stabilization and structural adjust- ership and organization of indigenous
years, especially on the altiplano. Auster- ment reforms did not lead to economic protest. But these issues spilled over into
ity and structural reforms were painful; growth within a reasonable time period, more personal questions that underlined
they required a payoff at some point to be was a different approach to development the gravity of the immediate situation. Are
sustainable, and that payoff did not come needed? If democratic elections and de- you going to go to the office tomorrow?
soon enough for the large population of centralization left so many marginalized Will it be safe to send the kids to school in
poor and indigenous people. Many had from the political process and with little the morning? Should we stockpile food in
lost their jobs through economic turmoil prospect of addressing deep inequalities case it becomes unsafe to leave the house?
and reform; many had been affected by in the society, how were such issues to be The next day, the two of us stood on the
drug enforcement initiatives that threat- addressed? If drug eradication programs steps of a downtown hotelthinking that
ened their livelihoods and even their were capable of mobilizing protests from if violence erupted we could easily duck
customs and values. Many felt betrayed large numbers of poor people, were they insideand watched the protest. From
and they denounced neoliberal policies the right programs? If regional inequali- this vantage point, it seemed a peaceful
for the hardships they faced. Meanwhile, ties increased in the wake of such chang- demonstration. Rank upon rank of civil
regional tensions revived when some es, what needed to be done to ameliorate and political organizations marched by,
parts of the country began to grow eco- them? The experience of Bolivia posed each with a banner, the women in in-
nomically. Neither the political nor the these tough questions; it did not, alas, digenous dress and the men in working

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 7
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

clothes and jackets, their knitted hats processes and work to explain stasis and assess current events in light of continu-
worn as emblems of their cultures. There change in institutional arrangements. At ities and expectations based on what we
was little chanting, and we did not feel the time, however, we were unable to see know of the past. But the day-to-day view
threatened by the banners or the protest- clearly into the future or assess the extent from the street is often that of how much
ers. We watched for over an hour as thou- to which it would be marked by change. change occurs over the short termand
sands passed by, insistently denouncing Indeed, since the early 2000s, the how abruptly it can occurand of how
the government for its management of the extent of change in Bolivia has been ex- contingent those changes are.
economy and the countrys vast natural traordinary. Political, social, and econom- Certainly Everyman might question
resources, demanding recognition of dis- ic issues in the fall of 2011 include ques- the academic view if the recent history of
tinct cultural identities, claiming power tions about the control and use of natural Bolivia is consulted. The 1980s and 1990s
in a new Bolivia, but doing so in well-re- resources, the relationship between cen- had brought many significant changes.
hearsed style. This was the first time that tral and local governments, the recogni- But the more fundamental change to
we had seen a major demonstration in the tion of ancient demands for participa- come in the 2000s, deeply affecting the
cellular era, and we marveled at how or- tion, the right to secede from the nation, countrys political and social institutions
der was kept and communications main- and how identity would define political and the dynamics of its politics and eco-
tained by a small army of marshals with mobilization and voting. A newly written nomic development, could not have been
cell phones and walkie-talkies. constitution has laid the basis for reshap- clearly foreseen in those years. There is
In the end, the day ended peacefully, ing political and economic institutions to no question that the Bolivia of 2011 is a
the crowd dispersed, and the government address some of these fundamental is- very different country from what had ex-
survived. We returned to Cambridge, be- sues, yet turning that document into a isted in those prior decades. Yet the ques-
lieving we had witnessed an important set of living, viable institutions will be a tion of how to understand these changes
event, but fairly sanguine about the ca- long process, and many basic questions and how to place them in historical con-
pacity of the government to manage such remain to be worked out. text remains elusive.
dissent. Two weeks later, however, in the Today, we insist that political events For many Bolivians who had lived at
context of growing and increasingly vio- such as those that played out in the the margins of politics and economic de-
lent opposition, government forces fired 2000s in Bolivia reflect prior conflicts velopment for centuries, 2011 is a time of
on a group of protesters, several were over identity, participation, legitimacy hope again. But many questions remain
killed, and the president was soon forced and resources. Equally, however, the about the direction and long-term sus-
to resign and leave the country. A new po- big steps from 1993 to 2003 to 2011 are tainability of economic policies, devel-
litical era was at hand, one in which the a reminder that history is shaped not opment strategies, institutional frame-
countrys indigenous population would only over the longer term but also in works, and political representation.
become much more important partici- the shorter term in conflicts about the It is not clear yet whether the balance
pants in decisions about the political, consolidation of power, how interests between hope and disappointment, so
economic and social future of the country. are represented and engaged, and how often settled on the negative side in the
Perhaps ironically, or perhaps inevitably, choices are made about the construction past, will this time sustain the positive
the new democratic institutions intro- of new institutions. While changes may expectations of so many Bolivians. The
duced in the 1980s and 1990s, if inad- seem foregone conclusions in retrospect, analysis and accounts included in this is-
equate in themselves, had provided an they are anything but certain as energies, sue of ReVista may help us understand
opening for major political demands for strategies, and political resources are put better some of the aspects of the current
the inclusion of the indigenous peoples of to use in conflicts about power and the situation, the accomplishments, perhaps
Bolivia into its formal institutions. direction of development. the failures, and certainly the work re-
These storiesour first impressions As we consider over two decades of maining to be done. At the street-level,
of a country and perceptions from a change in Bolivia, it now seems to us that however, we continue to see the future
decade laterare unsettling in retro- understanding history involves adjusting through a glass darkly.
spect. We had probably witnessed far short-term perspectives to longer-term
more than we thought we had as our interpretations and, looking backward, Mary Hilderbrand is a Fellow in
taxi fought against indigenous foot traf- seeing through windows more clearly. Development and director of the Mexico
fic in El Alto in 1993 and as we stood on This is not easily done, and may or may not Program at Harvard Kennedy School.
the steps of a hotel watching a protest provide greater insights into the future.
in 2003. Should we have been able to As social scientists, we are accustomed to Merilee Grindle is Edward S. Mason
read these situations more accurately? making reference to the enduring nature Professor of International Develop-
We were, after all, trained as political of institutions and the characteristics of ment at Harvard Kennedy School and
scientists, academics who study political political and social systems, attempting to DRCLAS director.

8 ReVista fall 2011


economy needs to be made on two levels.

The first is macroeconomic, a snapshot
of the economic situation. The second is
a tomography, a sort of deeper structur-
al look, a kind of imaginary MRI of the
countrys productive apparatus.
The Bolivian economy grew at an av-
erage of 4.5% yearly between 2006 and
2010. This result is quite similar to the
growth rate during the period of the
height of neoliberalism between 1994
and 1998. The growth of the gross na-
tional product in Bolivia, in addition to
being quite low compared to the rest of
the Latin American region, is very sensi-
tive to the booms and busts of interna-
tional prices for natural resources and
the volatility of foreign investment.
In these five years we are looking at,
the unemployment rate in Bolivia in the
formal sector was reduced to 7%. How-
ever, this statistic applies to only 20% of
the employed population; the remain-
ing 80% just eke out their living in the
informal sector with low quality jobs

The Bolivian Economy and without any type of social protection

such as health insurance.
During the first five years of Presi-
Snapshot or MRI? By Gonzalo Chvez A. dent Morales administration, the infla-
tion rate was very volatile. In 2006, it
was 4.95%, quite similar to that of the
previous three years. In the meantime,
A few years ago I attended a meeting of indigenous population, levels of poverty in 2007-2008, prices spiraled upwards,
Latin American countries in which the and inequality, size of the gross domestic registering a hike of 12% yearly as a re-
participants were divided up by geo- product (GDP), productive diversification sult of increases in food prices. In 2009,
graphic areas. I automatically went to and institutional developmentare more inflation was sharply reduced to .26%,
look for my neighbors from Peru and similar to those of Central America than but jumped up again to 7.18% in 2010.
Chile. When I entered the room marked those of our neighbors in the southern During this five-year period, the Bo-
Southern Cone, I was stopped by one cone. These indeed were the criteria used livian economy also registered a fiscal
of the organizers who told me that Bo- to group countries in the international surplus, a positive trade balance, and a
livia had been grouped with Central event in which I was participating. significant increase in international re-
America. My first reaction was indigna- Expectations for change in Bolivias serves mounting to more than ten billion
tion at my hosts geographic ignorance; economic and political model were enor- dollars. These figures show that Bolivias
I felt like shoving a world map into their mous in 2006, when the first indigenous macroeconomy performed splendidly, to
hands. Fortunately, I restrained myself. It president, Evo Morales, took office. The a large extent because of favorable ex-
crossed my mind that even though from country was booming. Many hoped the change rates and higher income obtained
a territorial perspective Bolivia is in the bonanza of foreign revenue would al- through the nationalization of the petro-
heart of the Latin Americas southern low Bolivia to overcome low economic leum industry. Indeed, the prices of the
cone, from the point of view of human growth and poverty, thus ceasing to be raw materials exported by Bolivia tripled
and economic geography, it is plausible the poorest country in South America. between 2006 and 2010.
to lump it together with countries like Ni- Looking at five years of the presidents These macroeconomic results also
caragua and Honduras. Indeed, many of mandate, it is apparent that an evalua- reflect the high level of continuity in
our structural indicatorspercentage of tion of the performance of the Bolivian the management of economic policy, in

photo by winifred parker, winifredparker@comcast.net drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 9

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

spite of all the talk about change. In ef- The Bolivian economy suffers from tor is quite low, and this inactivity has
fect, President Morales macroeconomic the so-called Dutch diseasethe overde- translated into stagnation of the proved
policy reflects a strong influence of the pendence on natural resourcesand the reserves of natural gas. Moreover, natu-
goals and instruments of the neoliberal clearest indicator of this is the increasing ral gas exports have declined, a national-
period, and this policy was not integrat- exchange rate. Dutch disease is produc- ization damaged Bolivias relations with
ed enough towards promoting economic ing growth without wealth, deindustri- neighboring markets, particularly that of
growth and better quality jobs. Monetary alization of the little industry Bolivia Brazil. And because of the lack of invest-
and exchange policies of the Morales ad- has and curbs on the growth of devel- ment in the petroleum sector, Bolivia has
ministration were focused on controlling opment of a productive infrastructure. actually tuned into an importer of diesel
inflation, maintaining an anti-productive This theme is complicated even more by and gasoline.
bias, just as they had in the past. Only af- governmental insistence on maintaining To sum up, this tomography demon-
ter the 2008-2009 world financial crisis a fixed exchange rate, which is damag- strates that Bolivias productive structure
did monetary policy become more flex- ing to exports with a value-added com- is returning to primary goods, lack of
ible and promote the reduction of inter- ponent and also foments both legal and human capital, institutional weakness,
est rates. However, even these lower rates illegal imports. enormous growth in the informal econ-
did not provide incentives for the private The informal economy, stimulated omy, low levels of technological innova-
sector to take on debt, because of institu- by these imports, has spiraled in terms tion, precarious employment, little diver-
tional and preexisting structural restric- of both goods and services and in an in- sification and industrialization, and low
tions in the Bolivian market such as the direct manner is linked to contraband levels of productivity both in the public
size of the businesses and guarantees. and drug trafficking. In the year 2000, and private sectors. The macroeconomic
Fiscal policy was much more proac- imports barely reached $19 billion dol- figures make us look like a middle in-
tive in the social area. The Morales ad- lars, while in 2010, they surged to $70 come country, according to the World
ministration maintained a voucher for billion. Legal and illegal trade grew in a Bank, which brings us closer to the eco-
senior citizens known as Renta Digni- substantial way with financing from the nomic tendencies of the neighboring
dad and created conditional transfers of trade surplus and the explosion of inter- countries. However, the tomography
money for women and children known as national remittances. indicates structural bottlenecks which
the Juana Azurduy de Padilla program. The hypertrophy of the informal sec- make us more like the Central American
Although partial improvement can tor in goods and services also contributes economies. As we observed in the 80s,
be seen in the macroeconomic photog- to the strangulation of the already weak the macroeconomy is getting on fine, but
raphy, no significant changes were reg- industrial sector, which is less competi- the people are getting on poorly.
istered in the tomographyits MRI, if tive because of the increasing exchange As the neoliberal administration had
you willof the Bolivian economy. The rates, and which has also lost external done earlier, President Morales gov-
countrys economic structure conceals markets for ideological reasons. For ex- ernment continues to bet on macroeco-
old and new ailments that keep the coun- ample, textile exports to the U.S. market nomic results in spite of his promise of
try from an integral economic and social have been shut down because of the dip- productive changes evident in the new
development. lomatic distancing caused by the expul- constitution. The tomography of the
A deeper lookour symbolic tomogra- sion of the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia. Bolivian economy also shows that the
physhows, for example, that the Boliv- Another ailment that is clearly seen in country holds great productive potential
ian economy has gone back to being just the Bolivian economy is the drop in pro- in areas like tourism, textiles, organic
as highly dependent on natural resources ductivity, particularly in the public sec- products and the forest industry. Howev-
as it was in the 1930s. Public investment tor. Serious problems of administration, er, to deliver on this potential requires a
continues to concentrate resources in tra- inefficiency, corruption, institutional productive revolution that abandons the
ditional sectors such as hydrocarbons and weakness and difficulties in implementa- economic and political logic tied strictly
mining. In 2010, the exports of minerals, tion of public investment are some of the to natural resources.
natural gas and soy represented 80% of symptoms of this economic illness.
sales on the world market, while industri- The oil industry in particular is suffer- Gonzalo Chvez A. is the director of the
al products represented only 20% of the ing from anemia and atrophy. In particu- School of Production and Competitivity,
exports. Bolivia has returned to a primari- lar, the public oil company Yacimientos Universidad Catlica San Pablo, La Paz.
ly export and rentist econmy that makes it Petrolferos Fiscales Bolivianos, which An economist with doctoral studies at
vulnerable both in the external sector and ought to be the banner for change, has the University of Manchester (England),
in the national exchequer, with more than not taken off because of management he holds a Masters in Public Policy
50% of its income coming from natural problems and lack of financial resources. from Harvard Kennedy School.
gas alone. The level of investment in the oil sec- E-mail: gchavez@mpd.ucb.edu.bo

10 ReVista fall 2011

of change
This section features two portraits of Bolivians who have
worked for change. Ral Pearanda U., the editor of
Pgina Siete, creates a portrait of the country's president,
Evo Morales, through an exclusive interview. Human rights
specialist Tom Pegram paints a picture of the late Bolivian
Human Rights Ombudswoman Ana Mara Romero de
Campero and her legacy.

n Evo Morales: Portrait of Change 12

n Human Rights as a Vocation 15

artist courtesy
photo by
of and
url drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 11
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

President Evo Morales talks to Ral

Pearanda (first to his left) and the Pgina

Evo Morales
Siete team in an English-language ReVista
exclusive (flower vase digitally altered).

Portrait of Change By Ral Pearanda U.

It was 4:45 a.m. in La Paz. Five men gathered reception area be kept small so that visi- nowhere. Only sad and lonely vistas sur-
at dawn at a lonely bus stop in a resi- tors would not be intimidated. Whether round this wilderness in the Bolivian al-
dential zone. They were wearing thick or not this story is true, the fact is that tiplano; off in the distance, the peaks of
jackets to ward off the intense cold of the the lobby is less than 240 square feet and the Andean mountains are visible. Adobe
morning. They seemed nervous. Indeed, serves as a gateway to rooms and salons houses with small windows fend off the
they were, because they were going to the with floors made of exquisite mahoga- cold in a zone where temperatures often
presidential house. Four journalists (my- ny-mara, a type of semi-precious nearly fall to freezing. Residents survive on sub-
self included) and one photographer, all extinct wood from the Amazon region. sistence agriculture and husbandry, pro-
from the Bolivian newspaper Pgina Sie- An elegant staircase leads to the second ducing potatoes and alfalfa, and raising
te, were preparing to interview President floor, more sunlit than the first. sheep and llamas. A few months back,
Evo Morales (with an English exclusive Obviously, Birced had no way of some journalists had visited the Morales
for ReVista). knowing that three decades after the birthplace 220 miles from La Paz, trav-
construction, its current residentwho, eling on dirt roads for much of the trip.
The presidential residence was built in some believe, wishes to stay on for a The one-room house with a thatched
the mid-1970s under the unlikely su- longer term than was established in the roof and dirt floors had no electricity
pervision of Turkish architect Osman original rental leasewould be an indig- or running water, and Morales mother
Birced; after just a few years in the coun- enous Bolivian man born into poverty. cooked using llama dung as fuel. Four of
try, he had carved out a niche in Bolivian The architect could not have imagined Morales seven siblings died because of
architecture, polishing his Spanish and that the present day residentan adoles- lack of medical attention.
achieving great prestige. General Hugo cent at the time was living in a remote The Karachullpa community, next
Banzers government accepted the archi- corner of the Bolivian altiplano at an alti- to Isallavi, where I lived as a child, had
tects proposal to construct the residence tude of 13,000 feet in an adobe house no almost nothing to eat in 1971 because
in a modern style with straight lines, bigger than the modest lobby Birced had there was a tremendous drought. I was
large areas for socializing and not a few designed for the presidential residence. 13 years old and I saw how they could
triangular rooms. Birceds wife, Fsum, only boil ankaoco, a root tuber from
an intelligent and intuitive woman with Evo Morales was born to an Aymara the tola bush of the altiplano. It hurt me
an ability to read fortunes from coffee household in October 1959 in Isallavi in to see this. How are they going to get by
dregs, suggested to her husband that the the canton of Orinoca, in the middle of just on this? I asked myself. When my

12 ReVista fall 2011 photo by Jos Luis Quintana/Pgina Siete

portraits of change

father butchered a llama or a lamb, espe- tions, that is Evo Morales. As Morales is Like everyone, Evo is more than one per-
cially llama, families would just show up hyperactive, he did not obey the surgeons son at the same time. He is the charis-
out of nowhere; my father gave them the mandate to keep off his feet and within matic leader ready to recognize some of
feet, heads, tripe, something nutritious, a short period he was back to business his errors; and he is also the stubborn
recounts the president, sprawled out on a as usualincluding playing soccer and leader with fixed ideas who does not al-
stretcher while a Cuban doctor performs frontn (a game similar to Basque pelo- low his adversaries to get in his way
physical therapy to strengthen the mus- ta). Morales already had a serious relapse sometimes taking advantage of his full
cles around his recently operated knee. at the beginning of the year because he power to do so. He genuinely represents
Evo continues: It wasnt going so good didnt heed his doctors and most likely the aspirations of indigenous Bolivians
for us either. That year, we only had a sack will have more in the future. a symbol of indigenous leadership both
of white corn, which was our breakfast, in the country and abroad. Yet he is also
lunch and dinner. My mother toasted the In 1965, the economic situation was very capable of bashing people with the stron-
corn, crushed it and boiled it with some- bad. At that time it was the custom to gest verbal abuse. He accused his former
thing like jerked beef or a bone; for lunch, travel to the sugar harvest in Jujuy, in the ally and possible opposition presidential
we had the corn toasted or stewed and in north of Argentina. One took the train to candidate Juan Del Granado of being
the evening once again she toasted corn the border and then to La Quiaca, and corrupt and declared that his political
and served it with a bit of meat. The corn then go further south. Morales traveled party was garbage, not that long after he
was running out. So my father took me there with his father, his brother Hugo had praised Del Granado, saying that he
out of school to accompany him as a mu- and his sister Esther, the oldest one, who would like to clone him. Evo is the per-
leteer going to Independencia in Ayopaya took care of us and cooked for us. Evo was son who has most democratizedde fac-
province, taking fifty male llamas to ex- six. I was a closed-off Aymara; I didnt toBolivian society, spurring an impor-
change for salt and meat. know any Spanish, he says. He arrived tant change in elites. Yet he is the person
Some of the events that he has most at a camp of sugar harvesters near Jujuy, who often pays no heed to the constitu-
recounted without a doubt marked his where the workers were required to send tion and bends the rules to get rid of op-
ponents. Finally, he is the president who
for five years was careful to talk cautiously
about Chile, Bolivias permanent regional
Evo genuinely represents the aspirations of indigenous rival, but doesnt pause for a minute to
scorn and insult the representatives of
Boliviansa symbol of indigenous leadership both in the U.S. government and embassy.
the country and abroad. But contradictions exist. One of Evos targets is, in fact, the
U.S. government, which exercised tre-
mendous power in Bolivia for the last
life: that he slept on the road, that it their children to school. The professor half century before he took power. The
rained, that he had little food, that he didnt understand anything I said, and I U.S. embassy exercised veto power over
chewed orange peels thrown out the couldnt understand her, he recalls. She cabinet appointments, administered
window by bus passengers. In this way called me Evito, Evito, and then she sat landing strips where Bolivian authori-
he traveled an entire month at his fa- by my side. It was his first contact with ties could not arrive without prior per-
thers side, perhaps feeling he was an Spanish, the language he would speak mission, met with senators at the em-
adult already, perhaps imagining that it for the rest of his life. He lost his fluency bassy to coordinate approval of laws,
would be better to have an adolescence in Aymara over the years because when convoked authorities to scold them, de-
that did not require him to travel on foot the family arrived in Chapare in 1980, cided military operations and anti-drug
thirty days without shelter. Aymara speakers and Quechua speakers laws; some ambassadors even chewed
were fighting over which language to use; out presidents in public. Ambassador
Even for experienced journalists, its un- everyone ended up speaking Spanish. Robert Gelbard, for example, criticized
usual to interview a president. And even Asked whether he now considers him- then-President Jaime Paz Zamora for
less likely to begin a dialogue at five in self a socialist, Morales replies, I under- his coca leaf is not cocaine campaign.
the morning while the leader is under- stand by socialism that there is equality in Ambassador Donna Hrinak said that
going physical therapy, still wearing the the society and to achieve this, one needs Bolivians, under Hugo Banzers second
Bolivian football team shorts he used to have state participation in production. government, didnt have the balls to
the previous evening in a friendly soccer And there is another important point confront corrupt drug judges.
match. If there is one person who does education and health care must be uni- Bolivia is going to have bilateral rela-
not conform to any molds or preconcep- versaleven if some sectors oppose that. tions with everyone, asserts Evo, when

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 13
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

we moved to a bigger room to continue president comes from commentators....

the interview after his therapy. Fortu- Later, thinking that I come from ayllu in
nately, we have broken with the domi- Orinoca, where there are communitar-
nance of the United States. In the first ian lands, where to this date there is no
visits by the ambassador or some U.S. private property; then, I do come from
congressmen, they told me, No, no, you that movement. In Orinoca, there is no
cant have relations with Cuba; thats union; there is an ayllu. In the time of the
risky, and not with Venezuela or Iran ei- Democratic Popular Union (UDP, 1982-
ther. They all told me that. 1985), they wanted to have ayllus instead
But I told them, No, we are a culture of unions. I come from the ayllus.
of dialogue, and we are going to have re-
lations with everyoneincluding you. Since 1988, Morales has been the most
important social leader in Bolivia. After
Yet Evo has argued with the U.S. govern- he was elected to parliament in 1997,
ment in what might be called an extreme his international image began to grow
fashion. If previous presidents were sub- and he became the darling of the anti-
missive, he is hostile. He has insulted globalization groups and leftist non-
U.S. ambassadors and USAID in a per- President Evo Morales in the interview. governmental organizations. This past
sistent and often unfair way, even expel- January, he completed five years in of-
ling Ambassador Philip Goldberg. One of me secretary of sports for the union, my fice with countless challenges still facing
the main points of contention is Bolivian first position in the San Francisco Union him. His popularity has declined; the
drug policy, which emphasizes voluntary in 1980. My nickname was soccer kid, social movements that were loyal to him
eradication, social control and action until later it became Compaero Evo. have distanced themselves from his ad-
against drug trafficking rather than coca Morales adopted a vague leftist and ministration and he has lost the aura of
crops. The U.S. government considers it populist ideology criticizing North a different type of leader. An important
insufficient, though the United Nations American imperialism. In his day-to- factor was the gasolinazo, an aborted
and the European Union are less critical. day life, he had to deal with U.S. Drug gasoline price increase in January.
At the time of this interview, Bolivia was Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents di- It wasnt the technocrats or the Vice
hammering out an anti-drug agreement. recting anti-coca police and Army op- President that were responsible, he de-
Nothing happens; nothing advanc- erations. The experience clarified for him clares. I am the responsible one. I dont
es, Evo frets. The foreign minister is whom he saw as the principal enemy: the like anyone else to take the blame.
very disillusioned. Obamas discourse is U.S. government and the political par- Im not interested in a positive or
that we are all partners; he talks about ties that represented the Bolivian elite. negative image, he adds. I am only in-
mutual respect, but in reality, he doesnt On at least two occasions he was brutally terested in the truth. And the truth is
want that. beaten, and he was arrested dozens of that the economy of fuel subsidies needs
times. Those years led him to develop a to be fixed.
Since there wasnt a secondary school in stance advocating the need to nationalize But his approval has been dropping at
his locality, Evos father sent him to Oru- the countrys primary natural resources the polls. Until very recently, it seemed
ro, capital of the department by the same in order to distribute their profits to likely that he would push through a con-
name, to finish his high school studies. the most needy sectors of society. Later, stitutional change so he could run for a
He worked as a bricklayer and a baker. when he achieved the presidency, he also third term in 2015. Today that seems a
He also played trumpet in one of Oruros adopted an indigenist discourse that remote possibility.
legendary musical bands. And finally, he placed a high value on Bolivian indig-
returned, once again, to the altiplano. enous roots and on indigenous culture Ral Pearanda U. is a journalist who
Little later, escaping from a new in general. Many people accuse him of was a 2008 Nieman Fellow at Har-
drought at home, he arrived in Chapare embracing this stance out of pure dema- vard. Editor-in-chief of Pgina Siete in
in 1980 at 21. He adapted quickly to the goguery. Bolivia, he has worked as a correspon-
tropical climate and geography, bought a I believe that you journalists have giv- dent for AP and ANSA. He founded the
small plot of land and planted coca and en me the title of Indigenous President. I Bolivian weeklies Nueva Economa
some citrus. His situation was modest never thought of myself as an indigenous and La poca, both of which are still in
but not miserable, and he was even able leader, but I understood that I was the existence. He was managing editor of
to hire some workers. He was a well- first president that came out of the labor ltima Hora and editorial page editor of
known soccer player. First they named movement; this term first indigenous La Razn.

14 ReVista fall 2011 photo by Jos Luis Quintana/Pgina Siete

portraits of change

Human Rights as a Vocation

A Portrait of Ana Mara Romero de Campero by Tom Pegram

With Ana Mara Romero dies a piece of Gonzalo Romero, was a leading figure on
the history of Bolivia. This woman is the left of the Bolivian Socialist Falange
who built our democracy. (FSB) party, and at the center of the tur-
bulent revolutionary politics of the era.
These words of remembrance by the Bo- His nationalist revolutionary ideology
livian Vice President lvaro Garca was likely to have fostered Ana Maras
Linera marked the death of Ana Mara outlook on Bolivian society, as she pur-
Romero de Campero on October 25, sued her own political formation, honing
2010, at the age of 69, the first woman her abilities as a journalist to convey a
President of the Senate of the newly complex Bolivian reality to the world. A
formed Bolivian Plurinational Assem- noted irreverence towards the powerful,
bly. In the days that followed, his sen- as well as a gift for mediating conflict,
timents were echoed not only by many provided early indications of her future
of the urban elite and professionals of vocation.
La Paz but also, more unusually, by civil During decades of political strife, Ana
society activists and ordinary Bolivians Mara became a figurehead for inde-
throughout the country. Ana Mara Romero was sworn in as President pendent journalism and a rare authorita-
Largely unknown outside Bolivia, of the Bolivian Senate in January 2010. tive womans voice on the national stage.
Ana Mara Romero dedicated her life to The first woman to preside over the Jour-
promoting democracy and human rights human rights institutions although they nalists Association, she also founded and
with particular regard for those most dis- seemed to be held in high public esteem, led the Circle of Women Journalists and
advantaged in Bolivian society. Her work in contrast to their much-maligned po- became President of the National Press
reached its apogee with her appoint- litical systems. Bolivia was no exception. Association. In a Bolivian world of male
ment as the first Defensora del Pueblo Over the course of a three-hour discus- hierarchy, such a trajectory was a signifi-
in 1998, an office broadly translating its sion, Ana Mara provided valuable in- cant achievement and perhaps inevitably
intent into English as Human Rights sight into the grand schemes and opera- marked her out for political office. Ini-
Ombudswoman. The high public stand- tional minutiae that informed her term tially, however, her experience with of-
ing of the Defensor del Pueblo in Boliv- as Defensora, as well as the philosophi- ficial politics would be fleeting. In 1979,
ian society today is largely attributable to cal basis for her actions. A growing body Ana Mara was appointed Minister for
her forceful leadership as Defensora until of anecdotal evidence suggested that Information during the short-lived dem-
2003. In turn, Ana Mara used her con- the Bolivian Defensora alongside its ocratic administration of Wlter Gue-
siderable public popularity as the former Colombian, Guatemalan and Peruvian vara Arce that was toppled by one of the
Defensora del Pueblo to continue to play counterpartswas, and remains, widely many military coups that plagued Bolivia
a constructive role amidst the turbulent regarded as a credible, impactful institu- throughout the twentieth century, led on
and divisive events that followed Mo- tion in a sea of dysfunctionality. In the this occasion by General Alberto Natush
rales rise to power in 2005. The recount- course of my five-year investigation, a Busch. Ana Mara was instrumental in
ing of Ana Maras story serves also to recurring predictor of success came into tipping off the international community
reflect, albeit partially, upon the past, the focus: the exceptional leadership quali- about the coup with the aid of her per-
present and the future of Bolivias strug- ties of individual Defensores, includ- sonal telex machine.
gle towards viable democracy. ing Jaime Crdoba Trivio (Colombia), In the late 1990s, Ana Mara Rome-
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ramiro de Len Carpio (Guatemala), ro truly found her voice on the national
Ana Mara at her office in July 2008 Jorge Santistevan de Noriega (Peru) and stage. According to the Bolivian journal-
as part of my research into the human Ana Mara herself. ist and historian Rolando Carvajal, her
rights impact of Defensoras del Pueblo Ana Mara Romero Campero was influence on some of the most important
in Latin America. Intriguingly, little at- born into a deeply political household social and political events of recent years
tention had been paid to these new state in La Paz on June 29, 1941. Her father, is perhaps exceeded only by Evo Morales.

photo by Gonzalo Jallasi/ABI drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 15

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Crucial to this narrative is the almost lators to account. She also successfully This inverting of the old order ushered in
unanimous congressional endorsement petitioned the Constitutional Tribunal a period that has seen high levels of po-
of Ana Mara as the first Bolivian Defen- to strike down the Banzer governments larization and bitter social conflict along
sora in 1998, during the government of state of emergency decree, much to the political, regional and ethnic lines. Such
erstwhile dictator, later democratically chagrin of government ministers. a challenging new context has also de-
elected, President Hugo Banzer. A novel Ana Maras term as Defensora ex- manded adaptation and reinvention on
office, autonomous yet part of the state, pired in September 2003, and in the the part of democratic and rights-orient-
and with an explicit human rights pro- midst of a highly contested reelection ed stakeholders.
motion and protection mandate, the De- bid, the Gas War saw countrywide pro- The former Defensora turned her en-
fensor del Pueblo appointment provided tests against the selling of Bolivias nat- ergy towards conflict resolution, negotia-
Ana Mara with a powerful bullhorn with ural gas reserves to the United States tion and dialogue, resulting in the 2005
which to advocate for change. She proved through Chilean territory. On October 11, creation of the NGO Fundacin UNIR.
an adept political operator, capable of 2003, on the order of Defense Minister While generally supportive of the re-
navigating in an increasingly polarized Carlos Snchez Berzan, military forces forms undertaken by the Morales gov-
social reality and a faltering political shot to death an estimated 67 people in ernment, Ana Mara remained an inde-
system. Above all, she had the virtue of El Alto and left hundreds more wounded. pendent-minded and constructive critic
understanding that her role as Defensor In response, Ana Mara began a hunger of the administration. Notwithstanding
was to represent a Magistratura de la strike in protest against the actions of the intermittent disagreements, her rela-
Persuasin [Magistrate of Persuasion]. Snchez de Lozada government, quickly tionship with Evo Morales remained one
The message that all Bolivians had joined by hundreds of human rights ac- of mutual respect and even admiration.
rightsirrespective of political affiliation tivists. This controversial action was re- An invitation in October 2009 for her to
or ethnicityand that the state had a re- garded even by some of her family as a stand as the first MAS Senator for La Paz
sponsibility towards those most vulner- step too far. Nevertheless, Ana Mara felt in the newly formed Plurinational As-
able and marginalized within society had compelled by a moral duty to do some- sembly was widely viewed as Morales at-
a powerful resonance. Ana Mara rapidly thing. In our interview, she commented tempt to broaden the appeal of the MAS
positioned herself and the institution as simply, I suppose this action was coher- to the urban middle classes and intellec-
a voice for the voiceless. ent with my life and, in particular, my tual elites. After some deliberation, Ana
The Defensor del Pueblo set about work as Defensora. It proved effective. Mara accepted the invitation and pub-
reframing human rights as an objective Then-sitting Vice President Carlos Mesa licly endorsed the general direction of
standard apart from the political fray of remarks in his 2008 memoir, Presiden- Morales political project. Elected Sena-
competing ideologies. Campaigns to re- cia Sitiada: Memorias de mi Gobierno, tor for La Paz in December 2009, she
dress widely perceived injustices (such as that the action by the Defensora result- was unanimously appointed President of
the denial of kidney transplants, reform ed in the destruction of the governments the Senate shortly thereafter. Illness de-
of the social security code and compul- support base within the middle classes, nied Ana Mara the chance of fully realiz-
sory military conscription) contributed almost certainly contributing to the fall ing the role of mediator-in-chief within
to her popular appeal as a determined of the government days later. the Senate. Nevertheless, her election to
human rights defender in the face of These events would eventually re- one of the highest offices in the land was
formidable opposition. Against vocal ob- define Bolivian politics, precipitating a a fitting tribute to a life lived in defense
jections by the Bolivian government and seismic shift in the political landscape of ordinary Bolivians human and demo-
U.S. embassy, Ana Mara intervened in with the election of Evo Morales in 2005. cratic rights.
a violent conflict between cocaleros and In the wake of Black October, Ana Mara
security forces in 1998 in El Chapare. did not seek reelection as Defensora. Tom Pegram (DPhil in Politics from
Her effortsalongside those of local civil Nevertheless, her legacy as a human Nuffield College, University of Oxford)
society and churchto generate a space rights advocate, as well as the prestige is an interdisciplinary research fellow
for dialogue are widely credited as hav- she brought to the office, has contributed at New York University School of Law.
ing achieved an ultimately peaceful reso- to the appointment of credible individu- He specializes in the study of National
lution to the impasse. als as successors. Both Waldo Albarracn Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs)
Ana Mara was a familiar mediating (2003-2008) and the current Defensor in democratizing political systems and
presence in many other social and politi- Rolando Villena are highly respected their human rights function. He was the
cal conflicts in the late 1990s and 2000s. within the human rights community. 2008-09 National Human Rights Insti-
During the 2000 Cochabamba Water The election of Morales and ascendance tution Fellow at Harvard University Law
War, the Defensora actively sought to of the traditionally excluded marks a de- School Human Rights Program. Contact:
hold the water utility company and regu- cisive break from the old political model. thomas.pegram@nuffield.oxon.org.

16 ReVista fall 2011

section header

and society
Being Bolivian is belonging to a small landlocked nation.
But its also being Aymara, Quechua, Guarani, Afro-Bolivian,
mestizo, male or female; its being from the highlands or the
lowlands. Its how one defines oneself and how society defines
individuals. Here, several writers reflect on different aspects of
Bolivian identity.

n El Alto in Flux 18
n Coca 21
n Bolivian Women 25
n Medical Practices in Bolivia 28
n Regional Identities 30

artist by
photo credit
and urltsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/ drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 17
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

El Alto in Flux
Crossroads Between La Paz and the Altiplano By Xavier Alb

When I passed through El Alto de La Paz ment (state) capitals and other smaller vidual families, the bonds between city
for the first time in 1954, I didnt even cities. But the city is changing. In the and countryside are very strong. With
notice. The cityjust a few minutes out- 1980s, most of the housing was only one the exception of a few very inhospitable
side of La Pazconsisted of just a few story high. Now, there are more and more places, the altiplano has not emptied
little houses and market stalls at the highrises, some in an art nouveau style out, though it has somewhat stagnated,
end of the immense altiplano. La Ceja particular to El Alto, in which the lower distributing members of its families be-
(the eyebrow), reaching some 13,500 floors house stores, residences, extrava- tween the country and the city, as if the
feet into the air, suddenly tumbles down gant event salons and, sometimes, luxuri- city were another socially complementa-
toward the river and the city of La Paz, ous chalet residences on the higher floors. ry productive niche (and one that is cer-
about a thousand feet lower, as if it were In the last census in 2001, 74% of El tainly privileged). This fluidity between
another Grand Canyon filled with build- Altos residents defined themselves as city and country taps into the ancestral
ings at the bottom, and on either side, Aymara, although only 48% spoke the Andean strategy of combining access to
little houses of unprocessed red brick vir- language. Younger generations born or different microclimates in order to guar-
tually hanging off both sides. raised in the city have few incentives to antee survival.
Towards the end of the colony (1780- use Aymara. Most alteos own their own The concept of resident has emerged
81), this Cejathe border of present-day lots and are constructing houses; the as a new and very important social cat-
El Altowas already conspicuous for census also found much self-employment egory in the countryside; this is the name
having sheltered thousands of Aymara and many family-style businesses there. locals have developed for those who live
rebels led by Julin Apaza (Tpaj Ka- El Alto has been strengthening an in the city. Many of these citydwellers
tari) and his wife Bartolina Sisa. From identity distinct from that of La Paz, organize associations based on place of
the vantage of the higher point, they which residents refer to as La Hoyada origin and keep strong ties with their
laid siege to La Paz for six long months. the hollows. But together they make up home communities. Family celebrations
Residents in La Paz endured famine and the same metropolis, the largest in the help seal these ties through rituals that
death until the rebels were routed by country, so their interdependence is very cement exchanges, rights and mutual
Spanish troops arrivng from Lima and strong. About 200,000 workers from El obligations. These residents know that
Buenos Aires. That encircling of La Paz Alto travel down to La Paz every day in if they fulfil their sundry communal ob-
has remained deeply engraved in the col- the thousands of minibuses that ply be- ligationsincluding holding communal
lective unconscious, with guilt and fear tween the two cities. And another huge offices and sponsoring patronal fiestas
buried within in the descendants of the quantity of people travel on Sundays in they will maintain their rights to the
besieged population, and as a model and the other direction to the 70-block 16 de land. With the 1994 Popular Participa-
battle flag for the Aymara people, despite Julio open air market that sells every- tion Law, rural municipalities have ob-
the fact they were defeated. thing from needles to Volvos. If La Paz tained many more resources, and some
In 1985, El Alto was declared a inde- is the political heart of Bolivia, El Alto is El Alto residents also run for mayors
pendent municipality. Since 2007, it ac- still its lungs. The bureaucracy of La Paz and councilmen in their home commu-
tually numbers more inhabitants than is getting old; El Alto is an adolescent in nities. Quite a few rural municipalities
the capital city (although El Alto is part the prime years. At important moments, even have a second informal seat in the
of Greater La Paz). In 2011, it is likely La Paz and El Alto have united to func- citywhich could be the urban home of
that the population will reach a million, tion as a single body working together on the mayorto attend to the needs of resi-
300 times greater than its population the political future of the country. dents from the community paisanos.
in 1950. Although El Alto is already Bo- But all this only represents half of the The rural origins of many of El Altos
livias second most populous city (after key role of El Alto. The other half is the citizens help us to understand the weight
Santa Cruz) and although its human de- citys enduring ties to the Aymara alti- of the neighborhood boards known as
velopment index has improved from 0.59 plano. Theres been no census to deter- juntas vecinales, from the street leaders
in 1992 to 0.66 in 2005, it ranks in 47th mine how many El Alto residents also and the board of each zone, neighborhood
place among the countrys municipalities, maintain a place in the countryside, but and area to the powerful Federation of
considerably lower than all the depart- it is evident that, on the level of indi- Neighborhood Boards of El Alto known

18 ReVista fall 2011

by its Spanish acronym as FEJUVE, warn off anyone thinking about steal- Residents of La Ceja in El Alto go about their
which brings together more than 500 of ing. When someone new comes into the daily activities.
these boards; they are the urban version of neighborhood, they are expected to win
a rural community. Some neighborhoods their right to living space by visiting the of El Alto operates as an intercultural
were even originally formed by people board with a few cases of beer as a gift. and catalyzing hinge between La Paz
from the same place or occupation (such Just like in the countryside, there are and the altiplano.
as neighborhoods made up of miners). fiestas and celebrations going on all the The characteristic of being a hinge, a
Over the years, even though people from time in El Alto. It is always surprising to bellows, a fork in the road, in Spanish,
other places came in, the neighborhood see the number of both traditional and bisagra, has strengthened the political
was usually controlled by a board whose new salons for receptions, parties, din- importance of El Alto, with back-and-
membership reflected its origins. There is ners, dances or worship services. And forth fluctuations. Since the return of
not a sector of El Alto that does not have in spite of the great number of meeting democracy in the 1980s, the electorate
some neighborhood association. Because places, the streets are not only for walk- has vacillated between rightist and leftist
of this community structure, even in the ing. They are also a blatantly public place candidates, generally favoring the most
midst of the chaos of new neighborhoods for celebrating, dancing, selling, blocking populist tendency because of offers of
that with only basic services are constant- vehicles and protesting. public works and services.
ly springing up, El Alto does not seem to But a city is not quite a collective enti- The emergence of Evo Morales and
suffer the anomie that often afflicts other ty. Unlike in rural communities, there are the MAS party has led to an even stronger
great urban concentrations in the conti- many people who live in the same zone or internal polarization between neighbor-
nent. even on the same street and do not know hoods because of their distinct histories
In spite of many conflicts, sinecures each other or participate in the neighbor- and options. On the one hand, El Alto
and scams, these neighborhood boards hood assembies. As in any city, relation- is characterized as a great revolutionary
are recognized by everyone as the lo- ships are not always based on physical city, with very ethnic overtones, particu-
cal authority. Public works, services and proximity, but on other factors such as larly since October 2003. After the first
even complaints to the municipal au- jobs, religion, youth groups and studies. road blockades came under Army fire in
thorities or other public agencies about Cellphones also facilitate these relations the countryside, El Alto became the great
unfulfilled promises are all channeled over distance. In this sense, we can talk protagonist of the mobilizations. Its resi-
through these boards. Many times, the about traces of anomie here as well. dents suffered the most losses of the 60
juntas vecinales resolve neighborly dis- Taking into account both perspec- killed and 400 wounded by the Armys
putes and organize to put an end to the tivesthe city of anomie and that of violent repression; most of the unarmed
bad deeds of thieves and gang members. solidarityand in both directionsto- victims had mobilized around October
Effigies are hung from lampposts to wards La Paz and away from itthe city 12, El Da de la Hispanidad (the date on

photo by Rudolf Crdenas, PIEB drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 19

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

which Columbus Day is celebrated in the

United States.)
After the bloody events, I accompa-
nied a street funeral wake for a girl who
had come from the countryside a few
months earlier. The crowd helped me up
to the terrace roof of her house, where she
had stacked up two bricks to be able to
see what was happening out there on the
avenue. When she peered out, a war bul-
let pierced her head, leaving a large lock
of hair on the other side of the terrace as
a witness to its trajectory. A few blocks
down the street, another wake was be-
ing held in a church for an unidentified
youth and an old man whose bodies had
been brought there in a wheelbarrow.
Such vicious repression did not make This Art Nouveau building has a chalet built onto its roof.
cowards out of the residents of El Alto.
They were infuriated. Neighborhood Lucho Paredes, a former member of the who years before had been implicated in
boards organized thousands from El Alto MIR party (then in the government) who a scandalous affair. But in the election
who converged together like a great flood severed his ties with that party after the the biggest surprise was the unknown
from different points in El Alto to the cen- 2003 events. Paredes marched with the 30-year-old Soledad Sole Chopetn
ter of La Paz. It was like a sped-up reit- rebels from El Alto and later founded his (UN), whose polls were showing at two
eration of the 1781 anti-colonial action. own party, Plan Progreso (PP). In 2004, percent in February but on April 4, gar-
This time, many of the residents of La Paz he was reelected with 53% of the vote, nered 30 percent of the votea very
were themselves quite sympathetic to the compared to 17% for the MAS candidate; respectable second place. A significant
movement, and otherssuch as the min- a year later, in December 2005, while number of El Alto residents opted for
ing cooperativeslent direct support. The 77% of El Alto voted for Evo as president, Sole, because she emphasized that she
march was successful. Finally, the Army Pepe Lucho narrowly won public office, was a warmi (woman), young and on the
gave in. President Snchez de Lozada re- as prefect, this time in an alliance with fringes of traditional electoral politics.
signed and fled the country. Since then, the rightist party PODEMOS, (although At the end of 2010, the Evo govern-
the cry of the people from El Alto, El Alto this time with a narrow difference with ment surprised everyone with a decree
on its feet, never on its knees (El Alto de the MAS candidate, 39% vs 38%). that immediately raised gasoline prices
pie, nunca de rodillas) has become conse- Evo Morales and MAS have contin- by a whopping 83% without enact-
crated as a popular slogan. ued to dominate the political stage in ing significant compensatory measures
However, other neighborhoods of El El Alto: in December 2009, they gained for the majority of the population. The
Alto simply did not participate. One of control of more than two-thirds of the president invoked the problem of contra-
the main representatives of this group, new Plurinational Legislative Assembly, band as a justification for the measure,
the son of El Altos first mayor and now with El Alto reelecting the president and but even if his reason was probably valid,
an important leader of the domestic op- his congressional representatives by an the gas price hike set off huge increases
position group known as Unidad Nacio- astounding 87%, since the four previous in transportation and food prices. Huge
nal (UN) considers that these activists years had been filled with bonanzas, sub- mass protests erupted, even in those sec-
described above reflect only a minority sidies and comparative tranquility. tors that had been very loyal to Evos po-
of leaders who impose their intolerant But cracks began to appear, and by litical process, including El Alto. Only a
decisions and who commit excesses in April 2010 the MAS won the mayor- few of the leaders of the popular move-
the name of healthy neighborhood corpo- alty with a mere 39% of the vote. In the ments (mostly in rural areas) accepted
ratism. After the events of October 2003, streets, people were talking about hav- his reasoning. But the disenchantment,
USAIDand other organizationsde- ing to choose between a ratero (thief ), protests and loss of credibility were so
voted much more money to the mayors refering to the MAS candidate who fi- generalized that Evo, one hour before
office for streets and other basic infra- nally won, accused of corruption and a the celebrations of the New Year, re-
structure. Since 1999, the mayors office cholero (a man who goes after cho- voked the decree in person, declaring
has been in the hands of populist Pepe litas), referring to the MSM candidate the necessity of governing by obeying

20 ReVista fall 2011 photo courtesy of PIEB

identity and society

the people. His new stance was that

the measures continued to be neces- Coca
sary, but that neither the moment nor
the way of putting them into practice An Indigenous Commodity and Its Paradoxes
were opportune. In the short run,
everything calmed down and New By Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui
Years fireworks also celebrated the
reversal of the measure. Yet prices of
most goods could not be rolled back,
nor did it appear possible to return to In October 2003, a tumultuous indigenous years of intense activity eventually led to
a state of unconditional love for Evo and popular uprising brought down the the election in 2005 of coca grower Evo
and his government. Now not only government of President Gonzalo Sn- Morales, an Aymara native, as the first in-
the opposition was marchingmuch chez de Lozada, following a massacre digenous president in the Americas.
of the popular sector rediscovered that cut short the lives of 67 people in El
that the old style of protests such as Alto and the provinces of La Paz. The so- The Life History of Coca Leaf
marches and road blockages still got called gas war was one of the climaxes Despite the expressions of public approv-
them what they wanted. of popular protests that had begun in al and unusual levels of coverage in the
In April 2011, the previously weak- 2000 with the water war of February- international mass media, that election
ened Bolivian Workers Union (COB) April in Cochabamba and the indigenous introduced a thorn of mistrust and fear
called for an indefinite general strike. and coca growers September-October among the conservative national and in-
Its main demand was higher sala- agenda in that same year in the altiplano, ternational circles; after all, it was a coca
ries, especially in the areas of health the Yungas and El Chapare. growers leader who had taken the reins
and education. On the hidden agen- The broad insurgent, indigenous and of the nation, someone who for almost
da of certain leaders was a desire to popular movement fermenting over these two decades had headed forceful actions,
strengthen their organization inter-
nally in the wake of union elections.
The workers ended up with some pay
increases, but not as much as they
had asked for. In this sense, the gov-
ernment was strengthened more than
the COB.
Significantly, all the street demon-
strations with their noisy miners ex-
plosives and inevitable confrontations
with the police affected only the city of
La Paz, although a few of the marches
originated in El Alto and included
teachers from that city. This time, El
Alto was quiet and most schools kept
their doors open, unlike the situation
in La Paz. Why? I asked a group of
youth. They answered, Here, only a
few people earn a salary.
Thus, in spite of government ef-
forts to reverse the unfavorable new
situation of higher prices and preva-
lent protests, Pandoras box appears
to have been opened. It may be im-
possible to close it.

Xavier Alb is a linguist, anthropol-

ogist and Jesuit priest who has lived
for many years in El Alto.

photo by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/ drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 21

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

blockades and protest marches. high value as a symbol of national iden- The pharmaceuticals industry, which
One of the main bases of the new tity and pride contribute to an opening specialized in extracting crystallized co-
governments support lies with the coca for unprecedented sovereign policies and caine from the leaf, was based on the co-
producers. Since the 1980s, these grow- practices. In turn, because these practices lonial and oligarchic economies of Asia
ers and sellers have been calling for a free involve the consumption of coca, this po- and Peru. Competing with this pharma-
market for coca leaf as a more effective litical phenomenon boosts the rural coca ceutical cocaine was the medicinal plant
way of handling the problem of this ille- growing economies, consolidating an ex- industrywhat you might call the light
gal activity, instead of repression. pansive and stratified internal market. industry for cocawhich still enjoyed
In colonial timesthat is, during considerable prestige at this time of
the first globalizationthis large inter- Economic Dynamic and medical pluralism and plant experimen-
nal market in coca, wines and spirits, in Prohibition Policy tation. In contrast to this international
addition to minerals (gold, silver and, The history of inclusion of coca leaf onto market, Bolivian cocadespite being
later, tin), was a feature of indigenous Schedule 1 of Prohibited Substances of partly in the hands of large estateswas
modernity. Luis Miguel Glave (1989) the 1961 UN Single Convention on Nar- more closely linked to the organic growth
has revived 16th-century Andean terms cotic Drugs dates back to the 19th-cen- of regional and interregional markets,
to denote this space: the trajn (loosely tury boom in European medical science largely coordinated by an itinerant cholo
translated as hubbub), a vast circuit of and analytical chemistry. Forerunners population.
trade routes, businessmen and capital to the current biopiracy initiatives of The United States was an enthusiastic
that boosted the regional economy of the large seed, food and medicinal plant consumer of coca products. At first, the
what is now Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. transnationals, European and U.S. medi- manufacturers of these coca leaf tonics,
Against this backdrop, the indigenous cal companies entered into fierce com-
population found a space for long-term mercial competition for control of the
economic participation while offering market for coca-derived products.
cultural resistance. This helps us under- From 1860 on, companies such as the
stand the historical forces at play behind U.S.-based Parke-Davis and Merck in
the modern coca growers behavior; the Germany rushed to the Andes to identify
work involved in the production, distri- cheap sources of supply and to gather
bution and consumption of coca leaf has seeds to export them to their overseas
also resulted in a long-standing coor- colonies. The only Andean country that
dination between mining-trading-coca could compete on the world market with
growing that has demonstrated a note- its own pharmaceutical industryalbeit
worthy continuity to this very day. rudimentarywas Peru, which sold the
The course of the life history of coca free base made in its factories directly
leaf as an indigenous commodity reveals to overseas laboratories. These, in turn,
the conspiracies of power and the corpo- refined the product to sell it in crystal
rate interests that seek to block the po- form as cocaine hydrochloride in the
tential of this market within the context world pharmaceutical market.
of the anti-drug war. Since the early 20th Meanwhile, Bolivian coca, with its
century, large pharmaceutical companies characteristic high price and aromatic
have assembled an apparatus of violent quality, continued to supply the regional
repression of coca under the abstract extended market for akhulliku or co-
argument of defending public health in queo, which was linked to the silver, salt-
consumer countries. In opposition, coca peter, tin and copper markets and to the
producers are resisting the many forms dynamic world of labor and urban and
of this unequal and unsuccessful war. rural ritual. In his doctoral thesis pre-
The coca growers, along with the distrib- sented in Berlin in 1917, Theodor Walger
utors and consumers, are the protago- observed, Although exports [of Boliv-
nists of Bolivian indigenous modernity ian coca] are small, local consumption
that functions on the internal market is enormous. The internal coca market
and is the result of empowerment pro- amounts to 3 million bolivianos and is
cesses, agency and decolonization. therefore of great economic significance.
In Bolivia, the existence of a large In taxes alone, coca generates a quarter
number of lawful consumers and cocas of a million bolivianos a year.

22 ReVista fall 2011 photo by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/

identity and society

energy drinks, syrups, tinctures and elix- wine, based on a syrup of natural coca states that coca substitutes for food prod-
irs emphasized the difference between leaf soaked in grape wine. It enjoyed ucts, poisons the body and leads to a lack
the natural byproducts of the whole leaf great popularity in the United States of concentration at work. The report was
and other preparations that contained until eclipsed by Coca-Cola, which of- ratified in 1952 as a report of the World
pure cocaine from the laboratory. fered a temperance drink during Pro- Health Organization Committee of Ex-
Soon, however, competition became hibition and wiped Mariani off the map. perts and then again in 1982, 1992 and
fiercer and some companies began to rely The battle against coca was only won by afterwards, despite an independent 1995
on addiction as a market principle ( just Coca-Cola in 1961, when it managed to WHO study that sought to amend this
as tobacco companies do today). get one single use for coca leaf included erroneous and prejudiced position. The
Preparations appeared with a high in Article 27 of the UN Single Conven- 1950 UN document was later used to dis-
content of pure cocaine (the famous tion on Narcotic Drugs: flavoring. The credit President Evo Morales coca policy.
cures for catarrh and nasal congestion), company held the monopoly of legal use
giving rise to abuse and notorious medi- of coca leaf in Merchandise No. 5, a veg- From Law 1008 to the
cal scandals. Likewise, the drinks and etable extract that continues to form part Plan Dignidad
soft drinks companies were carving out of its secret formula with coca from The 1961 Convention was neither re-
an ever larger market, free from restric- Trujillo, Peru. placed nor complemented by the UN
tions and controls, which soon had to In 1949, the Coca Leaf Study Com- Convention on the Illicit Traffic of Nar-
adapt to the ebbs and flows of the Pro- mission paid an official visit to Peru and cotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substanc-
hibition era (first alcohol, then cocaine). Bolivia. Its 1950 report links the use of es, approved in Vienna in 1988. The
One classic case was that of Mariani coca with malnutrition and poverty, resulting document reflects the new sen-
sibilities of that decade with its impor-
tant processes of ethnic self-affirmation.
In this context, the Bolivian delegation
managed to get the notion of tolerated
traditional uses of akhulliku included
as a residual right of indigenous peoples
who continued the habit where there
was historic evidence of such use. Law
1008, promulgated that same year in
Bolivia, establishes an area of 12,000
hectares (about 30,000 acres) as legal
in some provinces of La Paz and in the
region of Vandiola in Cochabamba.
All coca farms outside of this demar-
cated area were considered surplus
meaning that sooner or later they would
be illegal. It was precisely in El Chapare
and other provinces of the Cochabam-
ba tropics that the anti-drug war later
reached its most violent stage with the
goal of zero coca. In order to forcibly
eradicate coca farms, the government
militarized the Cochabamba region with
ensuing mass arrests, raids and murders.
Coca growers responded by replanting
coca in ever more remote and inacces-
sible areas.
The rise of Hugo Bnzer to power in
1997 led to an unprecedented escalation
of militarization and violence in Bolivia,
which had a follow-up effect at the inter-
national level. In 1998, the United Na-
tions approved a Plan of Action that, for

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 23
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

the first time, validated the use of force to gators, manufacturers and professional ing the spectrum of the coca growers
eradicate crops defined as illegal. associations. Once more, the wider plat- representativeness considerably.
form of defense of natural resources Evo Moraleswho had been travel-
The Coca Grower Insurgency drew support from the vast urban world ing abroad during the October uprising
as Basis for the New State of the excluded, as well as the middle known as the gas warmanaged to capi-
Against this backdrop of international class and intelligentsia. talize on it. The October agenda became
prohibition and anti-drug militariza- the basis for his electoral manifesto: oil
tion, the coca growers organizationSix From Insurgency to Power and gas nationalization, the holding of a
Federations of the Cochabamba Tropics The events of 9/11 produced a feverish Constituent Assembly, land redistribu-
(Seis Federaciones del Trpico de Cocha- change in drug war rhetoric. Evo Morales tion, defense of coca and the war on cor-
bamba)gained political momentum and the coca growers were no longer po- ruption. The December 2005 electoral
under the leadership of Evo Morales. litical adversaries in the democratic are- triumph of MAS was based on this solid
The coca growers organization burst na: they were drug terrorists, defenders path of planned accumulation and co-
into electoral politics following a sweep- of armed struggle with links to guerrillas ordination of agendas, in which coca be-
ing trajectory from local to national in Colombia or Peru. came just one issue in a wider program of
level. Evo Morales leadership began The subsequent Sacaba uprising re- defense of natural resources.
with blockades, clashes and protest ac- vealed the impatience and desperation
tions revolving around promulgation of of the coca growers in the face of moral Epilogue: Promises and
Law 1008 and the Villa Tunari massacre fundamentalists who were trying to de- Dangers of Evo Morales
in 1988. In negotiations later that year, stroy the legal market for coca in Co- Coca Policy
the mobilized grassroots coca growers chabamba. Of the six deaths caused by The increasingly explicit pressures and
obtained recognition of the traditional the conflict, four were soldiers from the demands for the destruction of legal mar-
uses of the leaf and the possibility of its Armed Forces, two of whom had been kets are pushing the government into an
industrialization. They also managed to cruelly lynched in revenge for the mur- ever more irate position of civil disobedi-
get an explicit ban on the use of herbi- ders of two coca growers. All this ended ence in relation to the United Nations and
cides and other chemical agents included in the embarrassing withdrawal of par- United Statesto the point of expelling
in the law, along with the manual eradi- liamentary privileges from Evo Morales, all U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency mem-
cation of surplus crops. Eradication was announced openly by U.S. Ambassador bers. Morales government has defined a
defined as a voluntary process subject to Manuel Rocha, which merely added to Strategy for Struggle against Drugs Traf-
financial compensation. the coca grower leaders popularity in ficking and Revaluation of Coca Leaf
The zero coca plan, launched dur- the polls, with his vote rising from 3.6% (Republic of Bolivia, 2006), which sum-
ing the first government of Snchez de in 1997 to 23% in the elections of June marizes a sovereign and well-informed
Lozada, was also openly resisted. The 2002. This turned the MAS into the sec- policy on the implications of eradicating
22-day March for Life, Coca and Na- ond largest party in the country, expand- coca and the concomitant need to extend
tional Sovereignty, which arrived in La the market for its legal use in order to of-
Paz on September 20, 1994, re-estab- fer an outlet for existing production. This
lished the indigenous technique of the document also redefines the area of legal
1990 March for Territory and Dignity coca, expanding it to 20,000 hectares
and adopted a rich symbolic language (about 50,000 acres).
that emphasized the notion of coca as a But there is also a degree of ambigu-
sacred plant and symbol for indigenous ity and conflict between the initiatives of
peoples and part of the traditional phar- civil society and those of the government.
macopoeia. The Six Federations and These conflicts are expressed, on the lo-
their leader built on these events at the cal level, in pressures by the anti-drug ap-
political level, achieving a number of paratus, in active and daily resistance by
mayoral posts and councillorships and the producers and in the position not
eventually posts in parliament. always consistentof the government.
Eradication was just one focus of the The government has demanded the
coca growers protests. The participation withdrawal of coca leaf from UN Sched-
of the Six Federations was decisive in the ule 1 (1961) and the opening up of legal
Cochabamba water war, with coca grow- markets abroad. Despite the explicit
ers becoming part of the Water Coordi- An indigenous woman sells coca leaf in a refusal of the United States to even dis-
nation Body, along with the towns irri- downtown plaza as bystanders look on. cuss such an alternative, proposals for

24 ReVista fall 2011 photo by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/

small-scale industrialization and ex-
port to Latin America and Europe
are now slowly being developed; the
states desire to open up markets and
industrialize coca doesnt go beyond
mere rhetoric. This opposition of in-
terests explains the conflictive tone of
the declarations on both sides, such
as the ever more aggressive stand of
the International Narcotics Control
Board (INCB) and the United Nations
against coca, which in turn resulted in
an ultimatum and the U.S. embassys
threat to delegitimize Evo Morales
government, using language harking
back to the 1961 agreement rather
than the more progressive 1988 one. Bolivian Women
One hopeful sign has been the
emergence of new markets and diver- Making The Revolution By Gratzia Villarroel
sification of the legal uses and ben-
efits of coca, which has experienced
an intense boom in recent years. In
June 2003, the first Festival of Coca, When Evo Morales was first elected to emergedlike Las Mujeres Listas para
Sovereignty and Human Rights was office, he was asked if he would make a las Listasthat had a positive impact
held in Asunta (South Yungas de La ministry for gender. He responded that on women in the 2010 elections. Today
Paz). Since then, annual coca fairs, he would not and that instead he would the Plurinational Legislative Assembly
seminars, concerts and public debates make women themselves ministers. Var- has a total of 30% female representation,
have increased the public legitimacy ious womens organizations criticized including 33 female deputies (28%) and
of coca; discussion and defense have his decision at the time yet his play on 17 senators (47%). In addition, 43% of all
been fully integrated into the academ- words proved to be true: in 2011, half of Bolivian council members are women.
ic and political debates of civil society. the twenty ministers in his cabinet are While greater female political rep-
The growing coordination be- women, an unprecedented development resentation in formal politics is a trend
tween civil society and government for Bolivia. in Latin Americathe region currently
initiatives may develop a clear politi- Evo Morales has acknowledged the boasts three female presidents, quite a
cal proposal with which to resist the significance of gender parity, calling it few female defense ministers, and a sig-
transnationals conspiracy and de- a tribute to my mother, my sister, and nificant increase of female representa-
velop the actions necessary for the do- my daughter. There are a lot of firsts tion in legislaturesthe Morales govern-
mestic and international decriminal- for women in the Morales government: ment ranks among the most progressive
ization of our sacred plant. Carmen Trujillo is the first Minister of in Latin America in female political rep-
Labor, Maria Cecilia Chacn recently resentation. Perhaps the biggest achieve-
Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui is a pro- became Bolivias first Defense Minister, ment, one that is unparalleled in any
fessor in the Sociology Department Ana Maria Romero was elected the first other part of Latin America, is the po-
in the Universidad Mayor de San female President of the Senate, Silvia litical visibility of indigenous women.
Andrs. A contemporary Aymara Lazarte was the first woman to preside Although the Morales government has
sociologist, historian, and subaltern over a Constitutional Assembly, Leonilda been criticized for forcing indigenous
theorist, she is the previous director Zurita became the first female leader of women to address ethnic discrimination
and longtime member of the Taller the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) over gender concerns, early indicators
de Historia Oral Andina (Workshop party in Cochabamba, and the list goes demonstrate that women in the Morales
on Andean Oral History). She is also on. Furthermore, thanks to the new Bo- government are exerting their influence
an activist who works directly with livian constitution, the work of the Boliv- in both areas.
indigenous movements in Bolivia, ian Womens Coordinating Committee, Indigenous women were at Morales
such as the Katarista movement and and Evo Morales commitment to gen- side since he was a union leader in the
the coca growers movement. der parity various campaign strategies Chapare region. They organized dem-

photo by rosalie parker loewen drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 25

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

onstrations, marches, road blockades, Zurita and Silvia Lazarte, supporting they would organically support the gov-
sit-ins, and mobilized entire communi- Morales since his Chapare days, are high- ernment of Evo Morales Ayma. Today the
ties in support of his candidacy. Once ly respected among Bolivias indigenous Bartolinas have grown into a very pow-
Evo took office, the Bartolinas became women. In January 2010, the powerful erful organization that has over 100,000
his most ardent defenders as he began indigenous womens organization, Bar- female members and a union presence
the transformation of the Bolivian po- tolina Sisa National Federation of Bo- in every region of Bolivia and in remote
litical landscape. To his credit, Evo Mo- livian Peasant Women (FNMCB-BS or rural communities. One of the most im-
rales had the vision to reward womens Bartolinas) proposed them (along with pressive developments in the Bolivian
contributions with political power, per- that of former Senator Isabel Ortega) as political landscape is the transformation
haps guided by the Andean principle of their top choices for Morales new cabi- of the Bartolinas from a fringe radical
Chacha-Warmigender complemen-
tarity. Indeed, unlike other opposition
movements in Latin America that rel-
egated woman to the background once
they came into power, Morales made
President Evo Morales has had the vision to reward
sure that women occupied high ranking womens contributions with political power, perhaps
political roles from the very beginning,
although they did not immediately enjoy
guided by the Andean principle known as Chacha-
as high a level of decision-making as they Warmi, gender complementarity.
do today.
Leonilda Zurita, one of Morales clos-
est advisors, was once believed to be one net. Morales ended up tapping Bartolina womens group to an organization that
of the most powerful women in Bolivia. leader Nilda Copa as Minister of Justice, can wield power at the highest levels of
Acknowledging the important strides and Isabel Ortega as her deputy minister. government and have still have an impact
that women have made in the last five The president also elevated the role in every corner of Bolivia. In the last five
years, she said, We still have men who of indigenous women by including the years, the federation has expanded its
dont want women to participate in Bo- FNMCB-BS as a powerful branch of membership to include women from all
livia, but we have fought against that and Bolivias social movements, a step that sectors of society; it has also increasingly
here we are with more power than ever. proved to be beneficial for his political displaced traditional NGOs by working
(Robert Clarkson, Bolivian Constitution ambitions. Coming out of a long history directly with women at the grassroots.
Reinvented to Champion Gender Equal- of opposition, the Bartolinas embraced The administration has also imple-
ity, The Solicitor. February 11, 2010). their new formal status proclaiming that mented various policies designed to

26 ReVista fall 2011 photos by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/

identity and society

Left: Afro-Bolivians are among many cultures in the plurinational society; right: artisans
reviewing handmade products from other cultures during training in Tajzara region in
southern Bolivia sponsored by the Jalsuri Foundation <http://work.www.jalsuri.org>.

improve womens lives: between 2006 sentation. Elected women are sometimes that a critical mass of women in po-
and 2008, the government distributed violently forced to resign their positions litical positions can positively impact
10,300 property titles to rural women, if the elected alternate is a man. In addi- the lives of all women. The number of
a measure that is likely to have a posi- tion, political dissent can be alienating for elected women in Evo Morales second
tive long-term impact on their families women who take a different stand or who presidential term still offers hope for an
and on their communities; the current publicly express their dissatisfaction with improved quality of life.
government has addressed womens re- the government. Former MAS member As quoted in Andres Schipani in Bo-
productive health by providing subsidies Sabina Cuellar has been brought to trial livian Women Spearhead the Morales
designed to reduce maternal and infant for her failure to stop the attacks on in- Revolution, Minister of Justice Nilda
mortality; poor pregnant women are able digenous peoples in Chuquisaca on May Copa sums it up:
to receive a stipend for attending pre-na- 24, 2008. Many believe this move by the For a long time, we the women have
tal and post-natal checkups; infants are government is politically motivated. Bar- been excluded in Bolivia.
able to get free vaccinations. tolina Leonilda Zurita, one of the most I remember my mother didnt know
However, women who are or were part experienced women in the Morales gov- how to read and write, neither did my
of the Morales government still face many ernment, has yet to be tapped for a high grandmother.
challenges, including family constraints, level position; she has publicly expressed There used to be a lot of racism and
political violence and harsh punishment her disenchantment with the lack of deci- machismo. There is still some, but now
for political dissent. Nemecia Achacollo, sion-making power for women in the gov- that is changing thanks to brother Evo
the current Minister of Rural Develop- ernment (Franz Chavez, Q&A: Bolivian Morales.
ment, has acknowledged that her political Women a Force Behind Power But Still
involvement has taken a toll on her fam- Powerless. IPS News, Dec. 10. 2009.) Gratzia Villarroel is an Associate Pro-
ily. Her younger daughters wondered why While Bolivian women are mak- fessor of Political Science at St. Norbert
she was never home to wash their clothes ing impressive strides into the political College. She was the 2007-2008 Santo
and cook their meals. Her husband once process, they still represent a very small Domingo Visiting Scholar at DRCLAS,
got so mad at her for being absent that he elite group. High teen pregnancy rates Harvard University. Her research
burned her official documents (Ramn have reached alarming rates in Bolivia, focuses on the UN Womens Convention
Rocha Monroy, Biografa de Nemecia labor discrimination against pregnant (CEDAW) and the political participa-
Achacollo Tola, BOLPRESS). COBOL, women continues to exist, laws that tion of Latin American women. She is
the Association of Women Counselors of guarantee equal pay for equal work have currently completing a manuscript en-
Bolivia has documented and denounced yet to be enacted, and sexual harass- titled In the Footsteps of Bartolina Sisa:
the continuing existence of political vio- ment in the workplace is still rampant. Indigenous Women, Evo Morales, and
lence despite high rates of political repre- Nonetheless, there are early indicators the Bolivian Social Revolution.

photo courtesy of daniela viscarra (right) drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 27

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Medical Practices in Bolivia

Indigenous, Western, or Natural? By Kate McGurn Centellas

On the sixth floor of an older building in or scientific research, or any kind of in- specific deities or cosmologies within
La Paz is a small office with a modest formation, or um, if you know of anyone healing rituals performed by specialized
sign printed on standard computer pa- I can talk to. I stumble through, still practitioners (such as yatiris). Natural
per. The dim light in the narrow hallway somewhat nervous and uncomfortable medicine can mean anything from pills
makes it difficult for me to read the sign. that Ive interrupted teatime. derived from natural products (for in-
I notice a poster on the door advertis- The woman who opened the door stance, lollipops made of honey and bee
ing the Primer Encuentro Nacional de gives me a big smile and tells me that pollen to soothe coughs and sold in a jar
Plantas Medicinales de Bolivia, the First of course, it is our job to help you learn on the counter of a pharmacy) to pre-
National Meeting on Bolivian Medicinal about what we do. You need to come scriptions from medical doctors to drink
Plants, held in December 2010 under the back and talk to the Vice-Minister, but herbal teas and take probiotics for com-
sponsorship of this office. Ive stumbled hes out in the campo in Potos in run- mon stomach and respiratory ailments.
on the Vice Ministry of Traditional Medi- ning a workshop (taller). Then one of the Both emphasize herbalism. Traditional
cine and Interculturality (Viceministerio men joins in, telling me that the Vice- medicine is a term that encompasses
de Medicina Tradicional e Interculturali- Minister is really busy but hed like to both of these. Many middle-class, mesti-
dad), created by Evo Morales as part of talk to me. I ask what the offices position zo, urban Bolivians consult yatiris, inte-
the Ministry of Health and Sports shortly is on working with biomedical institu- grate natural medicines into their medi-
after his inauguration in 2006. tions and practitioners. The same man cal practices and emphasize the healing
A middle-aged woman in Western makes a tent with his hands, interlac- power of Bolivian pharmacopeia.
clothing, drinking a cup of coca tea made ing his fingers. He tells me that they aim Yet Western medicine is the dominant
from whole coca leaves, opens the door. for articulation with Western medical paradigm in major cities, though many
Two men and another woman are there, traditions, and that they are engaged in poor and indigenous Bolivians view ur-
one working at a computer propped on a long process of dialog and integration ban hospitals and clinics with suspicion.
a small stand. Posters and informational with biomedical practitioners and insti- This is due to fear of the treatments pro-
materials cover the walls; bookshelves tutions to achieve this. vided, legacies of discrimination within
squeeze into a corner filled with binders, What can we make of an official the public hospital system, cost, and
photocopied and spiral-bound informes, Vice-Ministry of Traditional Medicine conflicting models of health and healing.
and locally-published books on indig- (albeit one in cramped quarters, locat- Furthermore, supplies and equipment,
enous medicine, medicinal plants and ed some distance away from the Minis- especially in the public hospital and clin-
medical pluralism. It looks like a crowd- try of Health)? Does this hint at a new ic system, are in short supply. Patients of-
ed, collegial office of a small but produc- modelone that goes beyond medical ten need to provide their own bandages,
tive department at a university, or the pluralism, often institutionally under- syringes and other crucial items before
location of an overworked but dedicated stood as individual picking-and-choos- receiving treatment.
small NGO. ing of health and medical philosophies. Such structural factors have histori-
Everyone smiles at me and waits for What would an articulated practice of cally impeded access to healthcare for
me to say something. I nervously begin intercultural health care look like? One much of the urban population, and ac-
talking, rushing through the Spanish- of the Vice-Ministrys aims is to ensure cess is much worse for rural populations.
language formalities for greeting a group that traditional medicine in Bolivia is not Bolivias health indicators are still among
and trying to explain my presence in their an afterthought or a mere supplement the poorest in the Western hemisphere,
office. I, uh, am an anthropologist inter- to Western modes of healthcare. Under according to the WHO.
ested in pluralist forms of medicine and Evo Morales, institutional legitimacy has Integrating the diverse knowledge
science in Bolivia. Im doing research on increasingly been given to traditional, traditions and reducing structural im-
the Bolivian system of science, technology indigenous and natural forms of medi- pediments to health care in Bolivia is
and medicine. Im, um, wondering if, uh, cal practice. These terms are not iden- the work of articulation. Articulation is a
maybe your office has put out any kind of tical in Bolivia. Indigenous medicine buzzword used, in conjunction with in-
materials about what you do, or how you is the most specific; generally referring terculturalidad, to help define the vision
interact with Western forms of medicine to healing practices that incorporate of the Vice-Ministry, as explained on its

28 ReVista fall 2011

website: to preserve and strengthen nat- told that a Kallawaya herbalist could be Natural remedies, including many coca
ural medicine and to formulate policy for called in to consult for a patient hospi- products, are sold at a street stand.

a more equitable and intercultural health talized in a Western public hospital and
system (additional details available at would share his findings in a conference these intercultural spaces (Im picturing
http://www.sns.gob.bo/index.php?ID=V with the patients medical doctor. He a Venn diagram with the overlap as inter-
iceMedicinaTradicional). would also perform specific rituals with- cultural space and the cultures or prac-
This endeavor is not hierarchical, so in the hospital. tices cleanly defined and separable).
that traditional practices, broadly de- Articulation seems to be required un- This fits within the definition of Bo-
fined, are viewed as equal to Western der an intercultural model: intercultur- livia as a pluralist state. Pluralism in
medicine in this interaction. Of course, ality (an odd, awkward word in English) Bolivia as part of a (perhaps hegemonic)
there are knowledge and power hier- means that diverse and clearly defined state project is evident across multiple
archies that predate the articulation cultures come together and interact. Ar- domains of social life, at least rhetorically
model and will influence how smoothly ticulation, the model for how this hap- and officially: education, health, science
and equally their application happens pens, is very different than, for instance, policy, law, and so forth. Part of this proj-
in practice. However, what is key here the melting pot ideology in the United ect included the reorganization of gov-
is that the model is supposedly non-hi- States. Articulation does not imply the ernment ministries and vice-ministries
erarchical and takes knowledge claims blurring of boundaries or the homogeni- immediately following Moraless inaugu-
of indigenous traditions as seriously as zation and blending of different groups ration to reflect indigenous traditions and
those of Western ones. For instance, into one national culture. Instead, there practices. The emphasis on articulation
when I inquired how articulation hap- are separate spheres for different cul- makes sense considering the state is now
pens in Western-dominant spaces, I was tures, with interaction only occurring in being defined as comprised of many na-

photo by kate mcgurn centellas drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 29

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

tions. Articulation in this model tries

to level the playing field and allow for
the public emergence and recognition
of indigenous scientific and medical
experts. It is linked to what I have dis-
cussed elsewhere as the emergence of a
specific form of science in Bolivia I call
plural science and to how different
forms of expertise (what I call the con-
struction of equivalency) are autho-
rized and recognized in specific con-
texts. Yet it emphasizes separate and
perhaps oppositional cultures within
Bolivia, with little common ground be-
yond this intercultural space.
How effective this model will be in
terms of breaking down barriers to ef-
fective health care, to providing space
for indigenous medical traditions, and
to improving Bolivias health indica-
tors remains murky. It has the poten-
tial to move beyond individual choice
models of medical pluralism and to
provide a more holistic approach to
medicine in Bolivia. It is also ideologi-
cally consistent with the pluralist proj-
ect of Evo Morales and the refound-
ing of the Bolivian state (with all of its Regional Identities
concerns and inconsistencies). Yet it is
still unclear how fully integrated this Focus on Santa Cruz By Paula Pea Hasbn
model will be by Western institutions.
After all, the Vice-Ministry is located
in a small office some distance from the
Ministry of Health and Sports, which Everyone thinks of Bolivia as an Andean tion of Bolivia: Santa Cruz and two new
is perhaps symbolic of its relative dis- country, even though two thirds of it lies departments, Beni (1842) and Pando
tance from its more mainstream ac- in the lowlands. This area, also known as (1938). These three territories share sim-
tivities. The most recent informe of the Bolivian Orient, is inhabited by more ilar cultural characteristics, as well as an
health indicators in Bolivia mentions than thirty indigenous nations of diverse economy based on agricultural produc-
traditional medicine only once in 162 languages, though the majority of its tion, cattle farming and forestry. A strong
pages: when it gave the name and title population is mestizoa mix of indig- regional identity has developed based on
of the Vice Minister in an introductory enous and Spanish-descent. history and on these three areas ethnic
page listing ministry officials. The Bolivian Orient belongs to the diversity and mestizo heritage.
ancient colonial territory of the Santa The regional identitynow quite a
Kate McGurn Centellas is Croft Cruz Provincial Government, which be- politically active onehas on several oc-
Assistant Professor of Anthropology came part of the Republic of Bolivia in casions come into conflict with the Ande-
at the University of Mississippi. Her 1825, after the Independence War. Yet an-based central governments power. In
research interests include the anthro- the newly formed Bolivian state and gov- 2003 the region backed the Department
pology of gender, science, higher edu- ernment sites were located quite a dis- Autonomy political proposal, which has
cation, and local expertise. She is cur- tance away, in the Andean mining area, garnered votes in favor of this form of
rently completing a book manuscript where most of the Bolivian population government in several referendums over
entitled Nurturing National Science: of Quechua and Aymara originslived. the years. This region also is known for
Bioscientific Promises and Emerging The department of Santa Cruz was di- its electoral opposition to President Evo
Identities in Pluralist Bolivia. vided up into three parts after the forma- Morales.

30 ReVista fall 2011 photo by kate mcgurn centellas

identity and society

The Bolivian Orient has expressed the area, particularly since such warfare A view of the Santa Cruz valleys.
opposition to the cultural project of the was detrimental to the economical de-
Evo Morales government with its strong velopment of the mining regions such
ties in the Andean indigenous world, giv- as Potosi. In Santa Cruz, a third frontier formed, Santa Cruz continued to be a
en the regions strong sense of different was establishedseeking El Dorado in marginal region, far from the domi-
identity. Between 2003 and 2008 politi- the region of Paititi. During the colonial nant political and economic networks.
cal confrontations intensified, even after centuries, the Santa Cruz de la Sierra Throughout its history, the region fought
the approval of the new constitution, provincial government enjoyed a degree against the unitary and centralist gov-
when the Morales government managed of autonomy from the power centers ernment, demanding decentralization,
to weaken the opposition in the low- of the Spanish Empire, because of the whether in the Federalist form during
lands. Regional identities exist and have great distances and communication dif- the 19th century or political decentral-
continued to strengthen despite of the ficulties. This provincial government also ization in the 20th century.
political confrontation. was host to the Jesuit Missions of Moxos Until 1950, the central government
The cultural identity of Santa Cruz and Chiquitos, where a different kind of based its economy on mineral exports.
has developed since the Spanish domina- evangelization developed because of this Agricultural production was not suffi-
tion. The Santa Cruz Provincial Govern- regions ethnic characteristics. Because cient for internal consumption. In 1942,
ment was formed as a frontier territory of these historical circumstances, the U.S. economist Mervin Bohan proposed
to stop the Portuguese invasion on the ethnic tensions in the Orient are differ- economic diversification, emphasizing
eastern border. It also sought to keep out ent than those in the rest of Bolivia. the need to include the Orients products
hostile native nations that were attacking Once the Republic of Bolivia was in the Bolivian economy to ensure an ad-

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 31
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

agricultural and forest products.

In the 1980s, after Bolivias return
to democracy, a movement developed
in Santa Cruz to establish local govern-
ments and hold municipal mayoral elec-
tions. This demand was once again cat-
egorized as separatist by the central
government. Nevertheless, municipal au-
thorities were indeed elected. Nowadays,
350 autonomous municipalities exist in
During the 1990s, Santa Cruz called
for decentralization of power and the
creation of departmental governments.
But this demand was not heeded by the
central government. As a consequence,
at the beginning of the 21st century,
calls for department autonomy continue
in Santa Cruz. Its strong regional cohe-
sion, based on its cultural identity, has
turned into a political movement seek-
ing a change in the centralist and unitary
The colonial-style downtown plaza in Santa Cruz is ringed by public and cultural institutions,
government form of Bolivia.
and is filled with pedestrian life from sunup to late evening. Older buildings blend in with The two identities, the ethnic Andean
modern ones. and the regional Oriental, confront each
other. Researchers have centered their
equate food supply. beginning of the 21st century through studies on indigenous demands, leaving
Political participation was limited to distinct political projects. The first seeks aside regional demands. Indeed, many
men who knew how to read and write. a social transformation towards a com- consider regional demands to be anti-
Thus, most of the population was un- munitarian economy, while the second indigenous, linking them to the oligar-
able to choose its political representa- seeks departmental autonomies for im- chies, without considering that both sets
tives. In 1952, a nationalist revolution proved regional economic development. of demands question the Bolivian state
took place with U.S. support. This event The tension between these two projects that has historically excluded them. The
transformed the country, allowing uni- has become evident in a political and current government, responsive to eth-
versal suffrage, and among other mea- economic struggle since Morales came nic demands, has not answered the re-
sures, promoting the development of into power in January 2006. gional ones. Within its political project,
Santa Cruz. From the second half of the Not only has the second half of the it categorizes these demands as opposi-
20th century onwards, Bolivia changed, 20th century been marked by confronta- tional, because they seek to end the cen-
widening its territory with the inclusion tions between Santa Cruz and the central tralized power in the Andes and distrib-
of the lowlands, and allowing citizenship government. A succession of Bolivian ute it among the nine departments that
for all people, including the participation governments viewed cruceo demands constitute Bolivia.
of indigenous population. as separatist, accusing the region of Bolivias problems will be resolved
In the second half of the 20th century, wanting independence. Santa Cruz, an once both agendas are satisfied: that of
two different types of identities began to oil producing region, had to confront the the indigenous population and that of
emerge in Bolivia. The first one, an eth- central government during the late 1950s the departments. This is how a country
nic identity, was based on the indigenous to obtain royalty payments for oil exports. can be built, by including all the people
population, concentrated in the Andean Once these payments were granted, the that live in it, with no ethnic or regional
area. The second, a regional identity, was region managed to transform and grow. differences.
located in the departments that form the In fifty years, it has become Bolivias
lowlands, with their predominantly mes- leading economy, contributing to 40% Paula Pea Hasbn is the director of
tizo population and economic and po- of the national GNP and concentrating the Museo de Historia y Archivo Histri-
litical modernization projects. These two 25% of the national population in its ter- co de Santa Cruz . She can be reached at
identities manifested themselves at the ritory. It is an exporter of agro-industrial, Museo_historia@uagrm.edu.bo.

32 ReVista fall 2011 photo courtesy of paula pea

Economy and
Bolivia, one of Latin Americas poorest and most unequal
countries, has experimented with several forms of economy
from neoliberal to populist. Yet, it is among the worlds leaders
in microfinance, according to Harvard Business School
Professor Michael Chu. Here are glimpses of some visions of
economy and development.

n Post-Neoliberal Policies and the Populist Tradition 35

n Falling in the Rentier Trap 37
n Development with a Womans Touch 40
n Microfinance 42
n Communal Economy 45

artist by
Photos credit
ACCION International drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 33
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Post-Neoliberal Policies...
And the Populist Tradition By Juan Antonio Morales

President Evo Morales two inaugura- Without a doubt, the crowning of Evo of the last century. Populism here needs
tions in 2006 and 2009 at the archaeo- Morales is a watershed in Bolivian history, to be understood in the Latin American
logical site of Tiwanacu captured the closing the parenthesis of twenty years of sense, with its recurring invocations
imagination of people in Bolivia and representative democracy and of a mar- of the masses, its ultranationalism, its
throughout the world. They were not ket economy open to foreign trade and to state-centric focus, its Manichaeism
simple acts of inauguration of the first foreign capital, but it does not represent seeing things in terms of good and evil
indigenous president of Bolivia, but a break with that history. Morales and and its reliance on caudillos (strong-
seemed almost to be a coronation of the coalition of social movements that men). Politics conducted by taking to the
himself as the spiritual leader of the in- make up the Movement toward Social- streets and expressing general contempt
digenous peoples of the Americas, with ism (MAS) harked back to the tradition for traditional channels of representative
festive celebrations to delight tourists. of nationalism and revolutionary labor democracy such as parliaments are also
Rituals, costumes and amautas (priests) movements dating from the 1952 Boliv- part of the legacy of national revolution
recreated what pre-Columbian and even ian Revolution, while at the same time and of populism.
pre-Incan rituals would have looked like, incorporating new currents of thought. Morales personally comes out of the
as documented by Bolivian anthropolo- This revolution has been studied widely labor movement, although one that is sui
gists. Some critics commented sarcasti- both within Bolivia and internationally, generisrepresenting coca-leaf produc-
cally that the spectacles were worthy of and the comparison has frequently been ing peasants. Peasant labor unions are
Tintn in the Temple of the Sun, a refer- made with the 1910 Mexican Revolution.
ence to a popular Belgian-French cartoon Many observers have also found similari- Ubiquitous protests have their roots in
book series popular in Latin America. ties with the great populist movements Bolivias populist tradition.

34 ReVista fall 2011 photos by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/

economy and development

as politicized as those of factory work- speech. He has strongly opposed trans- petty bourgeoisie and from established
ers were in their time, but their forms of national businesses that, in his words, political parties, the MAS leadership
struggle are different. Instead of strik- loot the nations national resources, and includes more of the indigenous peas-
ing, the peasants block roads to present he has engaged in a struggle against Bo- ant class, and has formed a strange alli-
their demands and make their strength livian oligarchies allied with foreign cap- ance with non-governmental agencies
felt. Morales, an opposition leader be- ital. Likewise, he proposed an increased (NGOs), many of them with foreign fund-
fore assuming power, had led numerous involvement of the state in the economy ing. The NGOs have provided MAS with
demonstrations, sometimes violent ones, and an economic policy with emphasis a platform in the modern international
against the governments that he charac- on distribution of income and of wealth. left, as fighters against savage capital-
terized as neoliberal. As in 1952, the use of symbols also has ism and consumerism who are in favor of
Electoral results at the end of 2005, an important role. Frequently, words and environmental conservation and a more
when MAS won by an ample majority, the aggressive discourse go far beyond just society, less based on profit and more
surprised some observers because of its actual deeds. on solidarity. In addition, one-time lead-
strong showing, but such strength should A primary goal of the 1952 Revolu- ers of the Communist party and ultra-left
not have been altogether unexpected. At tion was to destroy the established order. parties such as former guerillas from the
the polls, MAS took advantage of the MAS also has as its objective the dis- 60s and 70s have found a home in MAS.
populations great discontent, especially mantling of the so-called neoliberal state The 1952 Revolution insisted on the
among the poorest, with an economic and to lock out neoliberal parties and assimilation of the indigenous popula-
situation marked by the prolonged re- policies forever. Another leitmotif in the tion, a majority of the country, into the
gional crisis that had begun with the Bra- two revolutions is the theme of decolo- national project, while the government
zilian devaluation at the end of the last nization, although no one is sure exactly of Evo Morales puts the emphasis on the
century. The gap between the poor and what that means. A principal objective of affirmation of ethnic identities. The new
rich had been worsening since the 90s, the MAS government is the repeal of the constitution, proposed and approved
even if povertymeasured by indicators most important structural reforms of the during the MAS government, reflects
such as the satisfaction of basic needs neoliberal era. Thus, privatizations have this definition of Bolivia as a plurination-
had actually decreased in Bolivia. That reverted to nationalizations; pension and al state, made up of 36 different nations.
gap was the greatest cause of the general education reforms have been counter- In keeping with this vision but also stem-
discontent. Moreover, traditional politi- reformed, and the legal independence of ming from other factors, the new Politi-
cal parties were suffering loss of prestige the Central Bank has been significantly cal Constitution outlines a more decen-
because of their pacts and coalitions, curtailed. tralized country, with more power for the
based more on opportunism than on any The MAS power strategy is also all- provincial and municipal governments
social policies. There were also many al- embracing, as was the case in the 1952 than under the hypercentralist model in-
legations of corruption, although most of Revolution. Not only does the MAS con- herited from the national revolution.
these charges have not been proved. trol the legislative branch with ample The MAS discourse, just as that of oth-
In the 2009 elections, Morales got majorities in both houses, but it also er populist movements in Latin America,
almost two-thirds of the vote. This elec- controls almost all the state and munici- proclaims its strong commitment to the
tion crowned a series of previous elec- pal governments, as well as the judicial struggle against corruption. This was
toral triumphs. There is no doubt that branch. The opposition now has a very never part of the discourse of the older
the official discourse had found reso- reduced participation, mostly symbolic, revolution. In the black-and-white vision
nance with the voters. Moreover, the in Congress. In terms of actual deeds, it of the world that is also typical of Latin
economy had gathered steam and infla- is a one-party government. The new con- American populism, the people are op-
tion, in spite of some short-term out- stitutions ambiguity on the possibility of posed to the corrupt oligarchy, which is
breaks, had been brought under control. multiple reelections calls into question furthermore at the service of foreign in-
It is also noteworthy that Bolivia had any changes in power. terests. MAS calls all governments of the
weathered the 2007-2009 international neoliberal era corrupt. The accusation of
financial crisis well. MAS social policies SimilaritiesBut Also corruption, sometimes on insignificant
of giving out small conditional grants Differences or invented grounds, is also a convenient
were also immensely popular. Great similarities abound, but there are way to get rid of political opposition.
also great differences between the recent In spite of the anti-neoliberal dis-
Two Revolutions experience and that of the mid-century course, the government has maintained
Just as leaders had done in the 1952 national revolution. In the first place, the low customs tariffs and eliminated im-
Revolution, Evo Morales has stirred the actors are different. While the leaders of port and export quotas, prohibitions
flames of extreme nationalism, at least in the national revolution came from the and other quantitative restrictions, with

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 35
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

just a few exceptions. Its fiscal policy is The national revolution ended in eco- The social policy of this administra-
more cautious than that usually associ- nomic catastrophe, and that situation tion has consisted primarily of condi-
ated with this type of regime; the MAS had to be contained in 1957 by a program tional grants to families with school-age
government has exercised a certain fiscal of orthodox stabilization. In contrast, in children, to the elderly and to pregnant
prudence and has not suffered the fiscal the five years of MAS government, the women or mothers with very small chil-
disasters that have been so character- country has benefited from an extraor- dren. These grants, generally helpful, are
istic of other Latin American populist dinary economic context, characterized also often characteristic of neoliberal
regimes. The government has also paid by continued high prices for its hydro- economies. At the same time, there has
attention to controlling inflation; its carbon and metal exports. The favorable been no improvement in the quality of
monetary policy has been quite conven- external circumstances have had direct the schools or in state health service.
tional, even if it has severely restricted fiscal implications, which have allowed
the independence of the Central Bank. the government to enjoy fiscal superavits Sustainability of the
from 2006 to 2010. Even the 2007-2009 Experiment
Relentless Hostility international financial crisis did not nick Looking ahead, one asks whether the
to Private Investment Bolivia s fiscal accounts. experiment of the Evo Morales govern-
What might be characterized as the im- In spite of the very favorable general ment is sustainable over time. The low
prudence of MAS has been felt above all context, which among other things has rate of investment and the virtual stand-
in its nationalizations and other mea- represented additional income of US$17 still of the growth of productivity seem
sures that seriously weaken property billion for the government in the last five to forecast a return to low growth rates.
rights. Even though the new constitution years, the growth of the economy has The country has not changed very much
recognizes the right to private property, been modest, compared with neighbor- either, in spite of the extraordinary fa-
it nevertheless imposes many restric- ing countries or even with some years of vorable international circumstances.
tions and obligations. The constitution the neoliberal era. The rate of investment The quality of public policies, and in
grants priority to state property and to has been low, very much below the aver- particular the economic policy, suffers
the communitarian forms of production, age rate for Latin Americaespecially with a government thateven though it
although the parameters of communitar- private investment. Without a doubt, the is democratically electeddoes not gov-
ian property are not very well defined. In aggressive anti-business discourse, the ern with the conventional procedures of
passing, its worth noting that the consti- nationalizations and the ambiguities of a democracy.
tution is full of this type of imprecision. the new Political Constitution have cre- Many Bolivian observers have the
It is a voluminous text that contemplates ated an adverse climate for investment. impression that the Bolivian economy
a broad array of rightsmore precisely, It is typical of countries with populist may have missed a great opportunity to
of aspirationsthe fulfillment of which policies that the first area to feel a strain gain momentum. Morales not only had
is very difficult to verify. in the economy is investment. a very favorable international context,
but also enjoyed broad domestic and in-
ternational support. As happened with
other experiences in the region and our
own in 1952, things seem to go well at
the beginning and for a time, but after
a longer period, the fault lines appear
that lead to the failure of populist ex-
periments. As the saying goes, history
repeats itself.

Juan Antonio Morales is professor of

economics at the Catholic University
of Bolivia He served as president of the
Central Bank of Bolivia for more than
ten years, until May 2006. He has lec-
tured, as visiting professor, in universi-
ties in Latin America, the United States
and Europe and he has written exten-
sively on the economic development of
Protesters march in Santa Cruz after the gasolinazo, which increased the price of food. Bolivia and other countries.

36 ReVista fall 2011 photo by june carolyn erlick

economy and development

Thieves will be lynched reads the warning

sign on the effigy.

turing plants all over the country. One of

them is Papelbol, the paper factory men-
tioned above. Its home is in the middle
of a fragile environment that has been
almost destroyed during the last three
decades of peasant settlements and
coca cultivation: the Chapare region on
the edge of the Amazons areas that has
some of the heaviest rainfall in the world.
As originally planned, the paper plant
would engulf the remaining forest and
contaminate the surrounding rivers.
Fortunately for the environment,
as my friend said, Papelbol is not op-
erating properly, and, chances are, will
never do so.
It would not be the first time that
something like that has happened in Bo-
livia. From the city of Potos, in the An-
dean altiplano, you can see not only the
magnificent Cerro Rico, which still gives
its silver to the world, but also the Ka-
rachipampa mill. This is a huge melting
plant for lead and zinc that never actually
functioned, despite the US$250 million
dollars invested in it 35 years ago.
These two examplesand there are
many morenot only illustrate the ques-
tionable ability of the state to run pro-
ductive companies, but also help us to
understand the rentier trap and how it
There is a growing literature on the

Falling in the Rentier Trap so called natural resources curse. Most of

it explores and describes the correlation
between abundance of natural resources,
Or how Evo Morales is missing an opportunity and economic stagnation, expressed ei-
ther as sluggish economic growth or as
By Roberto Laserna widespread development maladies, such
as poverty, corruption and social conflict.
The problem, however, is not the
abundance itself. There are many expe-
Why are you so quiet about the paper Dont worry, he replied, That plant riences of economic success and social
factory the governments building in the will never work. It is a state company, re- wellbeing in countries endowed with a
middle of the rain forest, in Chapare? I member? wealth of natural resources, and some
asked an environmental activist who has Although his comment was ironic, he cases of recent success based on that
been making noise about water pollu- certainly had a point. Eager to use the wealth. The problem seems to arise from
tion, forest preservation, garbage treat- rents from natural resources to industri- the concentration of such abundance
ment and every single environmental alize the economy, the Bolivian govern- and its revenues, on the one hand, and
issue in Bolivia. ment has decided to invest in manufac- specific social and institutional condi-

photo by winifred parker, winifredparker@comcast.net drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 37

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

tions, on the other. In fact, I call the rent- ate an industrialized economy in which ing more lives and properties. Indeed,
ier trap the convergence of three factors: the poor would get the benefits through people are so fearful that lynchings are
rent concentration, weak institutions better jobs and salaries, social security becoming a frequent practice, both in ru-
and social inequality. The rentier trap, in and improved public services. ral and in urban areas.
my view, impedes development because, The export boom was bigger than ex- The government is making desper-
once in motion, it re-creates weak insti- pected because of skyrocketing oil and ate efforts to control corruption after the
tutional systems and reproduces poverty mineral prices, fueled by the economic third man in command, Santos Ramrez,
and inequality. growth in China, India, Brazil and other was caught in a mafia-type scheme
History shows that, if you pour mon- emerging countries. (2009), and a police general was trapped
ey from natural resources exports into a In fact, Bolivia is currently exporting smuggling cocaine through Chile (2011).
country with high levels of poverty and six times more than during the 1990s; At the time of their arrests, Ramirez was
inequality and with a weak democracy, it its fiscal revenues grew six times since managing the state oil company and
is very likely that the money will stir social 2005. But poverty is not declining at the General Sanabria was in charge of nar-
conflicts. The political system will tend to same rate; public services are deteriorat- cotics intelligence.
grow even weaker because of escalating ing in many areas, and social conflicts At the same time, public investments
opportunities for corruption. Those who are on the rise. In spite of being reelected such as the paper factory are just not
are poor and vulnerable have little power by more than 60% of the votes, which working. More than a billion dollars have
to organize and intervene successfully in gave his party control over parliament, already been invested in industrial plants
the struggle over the control of those re- judiciary, electoral courts and most of with the same frustrating results. Most
sources, and will remain as poor and ex- the local governments, Morales rule is of them were located without regards
cluded as before the export boom. plagued by governance problems. to economic or environmental condi-
Such are the cases, for example, of Even the hydrocarbons industry is tions, only to satisfy local pressures, just
Nigeria and Chad. The description also in trouble. Declining investments have as infrastructure investments were often
jibes with most of Venezuelan history reduced the production for the internal made to appease social unrest. Soccer
and, currently, it is also applicable in market and Bolivia is using a large part fields, paved roads, subsidies, and union
Bolivia. The places that were not dam- of its revenues to import gas oil, gasoline buildings have absorbed a big part of the
aged by the sudden flow of abundant re- and even liquefied gas for domestic use, as resources brought by the bonanza, satisfy-
sources are those that already had strong well as to pay for subsidies that increase ing local interest groups but leaving intact
institutions and more equitable societies with rising international oil prices. the main causes of poverty and inequality.
such as Alaska and Norway. The same social organizations that All these problems are taking a toll on
Bolivian exports remained below $US toppled the previous democratic govern- Morales popularity. Opinion polls show
one billion a year for decades until for- ments and supported Evo Morales are a sharp decline in favorable opinion on
eign investments expanded natural gas getting disenchanted. So far, the Morales his government, and although most of
reserves and developed a dynamic export revolution has only been able to reform his supporters are reluctant to make the
industry at the beginning of the century. the constitution, expanding rights and President responsible for the bad gover-
After a difficult process of stabilization making promises that are more difficult nance, blaming instead his ministers and
and institutional reforms, spanning from to fulfill than ever. advisors, the majority is already stating
1985 to 2000, the discovery of gas re- Bolivia has again fallen into the rent- that they will not vote again for Morales,
serves and the prospect of increasing ex- ier trap. Its democratic institutions were according to reputable opinion polls.
ports stirred expectations and people be- weak to begin with, as shown by the fact The Bolivian authorities seem totally
came impatient with the steady but slow that they were unable to channel the unaware of the problems I describe as
process of economic growth and poverty uprisings that toppled Gonzalo Snchez the rentier trap. Their plans still focus
reduction. de Lozada in 2003 and Carlos Mesa in on retaining and expanding their power,
Anxious to control the incoming fiscal 2005, and that pushed Eduardo Rodr- as if controlling weak institutions would
boom, social and political organizations guez Veltz to speed up presidential elec- give them the capacity to avoid social
appealed to the poor. They mobilized tions in 2005. But institutions are even pressures and soothe the social unrest.
and were able to expel the traditional weaker now after a forced constitutional They are still aiming to increase their
parties from government. In 2005, Evo reform that questioned all rules and au- control over fiscal revenues, forgetting
Morales, the candidate of the Movement thorities. Contraband has been growing past failures and ignoring current ones,
Towards Socialism (MAS), campaigned along landlocked Bolivias extended bor- and trying to renew their industrializa-
on taking control of natural resources der lines. Drug trafficking has expanded tion plans.
and recovering them from the hands of despite efforts to control coca cultiva- Luckily, not all is failure in Bolivia.
private companies. He promised to cre- tion; delinquency and insecurity are tak- Part of the natural gas revenues goes di-

38 ReVista fall 2011

section header

rectly to the elderly, children and preg- In fact, in November 2007 a group of state-led industrialization, nationalis-
nant women through cash transfers. of Bolivian scholars, policy makers and tic policies and political control of insti-
In 2009, for instance, cash transfers opinion leaders suggested exactly that. tutions.
amounted close to US$286 million dol- This group, including former President As the rentier trap tightens, the op-
lars, which represents around 1.3% of the Eduardo Rodrguez, Vice President Vic- portunities for a good use of natural re-
Gross Domestic Product. Most of that tor Hugo Crdenas and Central Bank sources decline.
goes to people older than 60 as a non- President Juan Antonio Morales, signed An engineer involved in the paper
contributive pension, giving continuity a manifesto saying: plant in the Chapare told me the plant
to the Bonosol program, created during will soon be put into operation by bring-
the first Snchez de Lozada administra- We all are Bolivia, so we propose that all ing cellulose pulp from Brazil. It is easy
tion (1993-1997). This program is now natural rents be distributed to all citi- to imagine President Morales playing
called Renta Dignidad, and reaches more zens, without intermediaries or [politi- soccer during the plant inauguration
than 750,000 men and women. They cal] promises, directly and transparent- and the Central Bank authorizing a new
only need to show their IDs to collect the ly, so that each person will decide how credit to subsidize its operations. But I
money in monthly or yearly payments, as to use those resources for the benefit of am sure that such a success will last only
they choose. their families and to contribute to the as long as those subsidies, so that the
Based on the success of this program, common progress. paper plant will soon become another
which proved its positive impact in low- example of a sad period when Bolivia
ering poverty, the Morales government Fundacin Milenio, a La Paz-based missed the chance to start a new path for
created two additional cash transfer think tank, has discussed the rationale development.
programs: Juancito Pinto and Juana behind this in a number of publications.
Azurduy. The first is given to children Those reports show thoughtfulness in Roberto Laserna got his doctoral
who attend public schools and the sec- the use of cash transfers, evaluate the degree from UC Berkeley in 1995. He
ond favors pregnant women who get likely low inflationary impact of the dis- has done extensive research on social
medical attention at public facilities. tribution, estimate the resulting higher and economic problems and worked
I think that these experiences seem economic growth of expanding the do- as an international consultant and
to show an exit from the rentier trap. It mestic market, and look into the possible university professor in Bolivia (San
is necessary to circumvent the state and reduction in inequality and poverty that Simn), Peru (El Pacifico) and United
to pulverize the concentrated flow of could be attained if natural rents would States (Princeton). His books include
money, scattering it into little bits. Thus, go directly to the people. La democracia en el Chenko and La
it will literally rain money, spreading all However, none of these arguments trampa del rentismo. He is an active
natural rents all over the economy, giving seem to persuade the Morales govern- blogger (laserna.wordpress.com) and
consumer power to the people. ment to leave behind the illusionary path twitter @roblaser.

photos by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/ drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 39

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Development with a Womans Touch

Human Development: Microfinance, Health and Womens Empowerment
by Gonzalo Alaiza

Today, like every day, Adela Reyes, 56, gets hand, Bolivia has consistently underper- Adela also attends medical checkups with
up at five in the morning. She serves her formed, coming in second worst only to her children and grandson at the Pro Mu-
family breakfast, prepares lunch, orga- Haiti on the American continent. Ad- jer agency, and she receives training in
nizes the household, sends the kids off to ela and her family are represented in health, personal care and basic business
school, and takes care of her 11-month- these statistics, since for every 1,000 live skills. She is very proud of being the head
old motherless grandson, her daughter births, fifty Bolivian children die before of her household and counting on a busi-
having died in childbirth in home birth their first birthday (2008, ENDSA); for ness that has grown considerably in the
in an isolated rural community. Adela every 100,000 births, 310 women die in past few years because of her effort.
leaves the house at 8:30, carrying the childbirth or shortly thereafter (2008, Pro Mujer began its health services in
baby on her back as she makes her way ENDSA); and average life expectancy for 1998, with full coverage in all its offices.
to the small business she runs: selling Bolivians is 65.4 years (2007, UNDP). In the last two years, it is starting to bring
school utensils in a local market. As she The statistics have shown a tendency to these services to rural communities,
walks, she does mental arithmetic: today, improve, but Bolivia still lags far behind where health care is precarious or nonex-
she is due to pay back a third of the loan other Latin American countries. istent, and where cultural practices often
she owes for her business. Bolivias health system is fragmented, rely heavily on herbal or animal-based
For many, Adela is just one more of split between public health, with state- remedies, as well as the use of rituals.
the thousands of poor women who live run hospitals and health centers; private Women like Adelawhose struggles
in Bolivia. Although the country has medicine; and the social security system. may be the same, a little bit better, or a
made some progress in poverty reduc- The latter only covers one out of every little bit worseare members (or clients)
tion, it is still the poorest country in four Bolivians, which means the rest of Pro Mujer. Pro Mujer aggregates ap-
South America, and recently surpassed need to use money out of pocket to pay proximately 93,000 women in Bolivia
Brazil as the continents most unequal
country (as measured by the widely used
Gini coefficient).
For others, Adela is an indigenous
woman who received a fourth-grade
Bolivia is a world leader in microfinance, small loans
education with a lot of difficulty. Of all to support business ventures. Pro Mujer is unusual
countries in Latin America, Bolivia has
the largest indigenous population (about
because it provides answers to two needs of the poor:
60%), a group of people with various health care and low-cost financing.
mixed identities who rely on a private
enterprise-based western economy, com-
bined with indigenous spiritual values, for health care. Unfortunately, Adela is and close to 212,000 women in the five
bilingualism, and traditional customs part of the group with no coverage. countries where Pro Mujer operatesAr-
including the use of traditional clothing. In a sense, Adela represents each of gentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Mexico, and
For those who understand the world these statistics. But to Pro Mujer, a so- Peru. These women all share a common
of microfinance, Adela is one out of the cial development organization, she is a denominator: they are entrepreneurial
approximately 918,000 clients served by strong, respected woman and president women who live or have previously lived
the microfinance system in Bolivia (as of of her Communal Bank, a group of 20 in precarious conditions; who suffer
December 2010), of which women par- to 30 women who have organized as an from social exclusion, limited access to
ticipants constitute 58.57%. For many association to access credit. Adela began health services, and limited sources of fi-
years now, Bolivia has been a world her business six years ago with a US$100 nancing, because while they need capital
leader in microfinance. microcredit granted by Pro Mujer; in ad- to launch a business, very few financial
In the health arena, on the other dition to Pro Mujers financial services, institutions take the risk to lend under

40 ReVista fall 2011

economy and development

these circumstances. They are all brave

women who fight for better days, who
take care of their health, and who have
started their own businesses to support
their families.
For the last five years, Bolivia has had
a populist government under the indig-
enous leadership of President Evo Mo-
rales, who has made considerable strides
in public health, especially by giving eco-
nomic incentives to make sure women use
prenatal and postnatal services and take
their children for regular checkups. But
it is precisely because of this policy of in-
centives that the public health clinics are
overloaded. The consequent long waits
at public health clinics represent a costly
loss of productive work time for women
like Adela and other Pro Mujer clients, so
they prefer not to use the public system.
Since they are not wage workers, they do
not have access to the social security sys-
tem. Thus, they often become victims of
an unregulated private health system that
charges too much in relationship to their
unstable income. The health services pro-
vided by Pro Mujer fill a niche with easy
access to free, high-quality primary care.
It is far from easy to combine finan-
cial services with human development
services, such as health care and busi-
ness training. But this is the formula
that Pro Mujer has applied succesfully
for more than 20 years, working to em-
power women and in the process, benefit
their families and communities.

Gonzalo Alaiza is the director of Pro Mu-

jer in Bolivia. He received his BA in busi-
ness administration from the Universi-
dad Catlica Boliviana and a Masters
in Business Finance, a degree obtained
through the joint program between the
Universidad Catlica Boliviana and
the Harvard Institute For International
Development. Alaiza has more than 14
years of experience with the Bolivian
finance sytem. For more information on
Pro Mujer, see www.promujer.org.

Justina R. and her daughter are both

Pro Mujer clients (above); women at a
Communal Bank Association meeting

photos courtesy of pro mujer drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 41

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

A World-Class Performance By Elisabeth Rhyne

When I first saw the photos of the sacking motivated bank that lends to the poor? idealistic Bolivian social activists cre-
of BancoSol, I cried. The slide show be- Why did that make me cry? And what ated a series of microfinance institutions
gan with chaotic pictures of the mob has become of BancoSol and the rest of (MFIs). They found a ready market for
hauling desks, computers and files into the microfinance sector since then? small loans among Bolivias enormous
the street and setting them on fire. Next Development economist Claudio informal sector, dominated by Aymara-
were two captured looters lying face Gonzlez-Vega once said of microfinance speaking microentrepreneurs. The need,
down and handcuffed amid the wreckage in Bolivia, One could not write the re- the services and the culture somehow
of what hours before had been a func- cent economic history of Bolivia with- clicked, and these MFIs quickly grew
tioning bank branch. Finally, next-day out highlighting microfinance, and one into leaders in the emerging global mi-
photographs documented the ravaged could not write the world history of mi- crofinance sector.
premises of BansoSols branches all over crofinance without highlighting Bolivia. Among the Bolivian MFIs, BancoSol
La Paz and El Alto. (Boulder Finance Institute presentation, was the flagship. It started as Prodem, an
Thinking back to 2003 when these July 2007). Microfinance is one of Bo- NGO promoted by U.S. non-profit AC-
events occurred, I ask three questions. livias best claims to a world-class perfor- CION International, with grants from
Why did protestors ransack a socially- mance. It started in the late 1980s when USAID and the Inter-American Devel-

42 ReVista fall 2011 Photos by John Rae for ACCION International

economy and development

Left: El Alto Branch of BancoSol; above,

Hortencia Rojas, client of BancoSol, and loan
officer, Raul Zusao, in her market business.

opment Bank. In 1992, after five years nancial services to 150 million people. the same part of Bolivias population as
of unexpectedly rapid growth, Prodem For me, BancoSol symbolized the best BancoSols clients, could turn against it
sought a bank license from the Bolivian achievements of microfinance. As one of and the other MFIs with such anger and
authorities and created BancoSol, Latin the first wave of people to stake my pro- destructive force. I believed that creating
Americas first private commercial bank fessional life on the microfinance move- institutions to serve microentrepreneurs
exclusively devoted to microenterpris- ment, I connected with BancoSol from who had never had loans before was an
es. BancoSols example spawned a half the first. I knew the protagonists, from unequivocal social good, contributing to
dozen similar transformations in Boliv- the radical anti-banker Pancho Otero a society based on economic justice. The
ia, creating a commercial microfinance who created Prodem and became Banco- protesters called that into doubt.
sector. More importantly, the Bolivian Sols first CEO, to the current CEO, Kurt The protests were partly about mi-
model led to the transformation of doz- Koenigsfest. I had even written a book crofinance, but they were also about big-
ens of MFIs around the world, launching about microfinance in Bolivia. ger political issues. For one thing, the
the expansion of microfinance from a few And so I cried at the insult to all microfinance industry had recently par-
tiny, donor-driven programs to a global BancoSol represented. I cried to think ticipated in a rush to lend (provoked by
industry that today brings access to fi- that the protesters, presumably from the entry of consumer lenders into their

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 43
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

market) that resulted in widespread This involved revising lending methods 18 percent, are lower than in any other
over-indebtedness among clients. This and upgrading the credit bureau to cover Latin American country. But the Morales
fueled a protest movement centered on all microfinance clients and to ensure government pushes for single digits.
debt and directed against microlenders. up-to-the-minute information. Next, The incentives for cost-cutting
By 2003 another motive had emerged: they sought to better satisfy client needs prompt MFIs to introduce technologi-
BancoSol was sometimes called Gonis by adding new financial products like cally-enhanced delivery systems. Koe-
Bank because President Snchez de savings, money transfers, insurance and nigsfest reports that moving a transac-
Lozada, known as Goni, was among the housing loans. Finally, they determined tion from teller to cell phone reduces
original founders of Prodem and owned to speak with a common voice to policy BancoSols cost from $2.50 to $0.80. A
a small share of BancoSol. BancoSol was makers in the new government, and so less benign effect of pressure on inter-
a surrogate for Goni. The looting reflect- strengthened their associations: ASO- est rates renders the smallest loans un-
ed the broader social disorder across eco- FIN for regulated MFIs and FINRURAL viable. BancoSols average loan in 2010
nomic sectors that led to Gonis fall and for NGOs. was US$3,500, well above the average in
other countries where interest rates are
The rapport that existed between
Microfinance represents 20 percent of all Bolivias bank regulators and MFIs during the in-
fancy of the sector has been replaced by a
banking assets, a significantly higher percentage than harsher tone. But given their importance
in any other country. Its also growing at 25% per year. as a source of financial services for so
many vulnerable people, the administra-
tion is willing to live with them. At least,
ultimately to the ascent of Evo Morales Those who joined the Morales gov- from their perspective, the MFIs are bet-
as Bolivias first Aymara president. ernment, for their part, also adjusted. ter than the mainstream banks.
But those days are long past. Today, The standard populist view that all banks And that is why BancoSol CEO Kurt
BancoSol is a profitable bank with nearly are part of the power and economic elite Koenigsfest was recently elected presi-
150,000 borrowers and 440,000 savers. and therefore not to be trusted appears dent of the Bolivian bankers association,
It leads a thriving microfinance sector to have been tempered in this adminis- ASOBAN, making him the chief inter-
in Bolivia that serves more clients than tration by its recognition that MFIs are locutor with the government for the en-
banks and other financial institutions important to the very people the govern- tire financial sector. Koenigsfest observes
combined. Microfinance represents 20 ment represents. The Morales govern- that his election shows that the bankers
percent of all Bolivias banking assets, ment has evolved a critical but tolerant recognize the success of microfinance in
a significantly higher percentage than approach to microfinance. In contrast producing good social and business re-
in any other country, and is growing at to governments in Venezuela, Ecuador sults and in demonstrating its bona fides
25 percent per year, far faster than the and Nicaragua, it has refrained from the to the Morales government. Ten years
mainstream banking sector. Moreover, moves that are politically popular in the ago this would have been impossible, he
microfinance clients in Bolivia today re- short term but undermine the ability of notes.
ceive a wider range of higher quality ser- the microfinance sector to do its work. As for me, I romanticize microfinance
vices than they did in 2003, at a much Initial proposals to create a govern- less than I used to. The protests taught
lower cost. ment bank for the poor were eventually me that good social motivations are only
The path from 2003 to 2011 required abandoned, possibly in recognition that effective when well-grounded in their
significant adjustment, both from the it would be too costly for a government particular culture and political economy,
microfinance providers and from the bank to try to compete with the MFIs. and then, only if they deliver something
one-time protesters who then joined In the wary relationship that now of real value to the people they serve.
the Morales administration looking to exists between the government and the
change Bolivias social and economic or- MFIs, interest rates are the biggest issue. Elisabeth Rhyne is the Managing Direc-
der. The government pushes microfinance in- tor of the Center for Financial Inclusion
The leaders of the microfinance sector stitutions to pay savers more and charge in New York and author of Mainstream-
recognized the need to rebuild on a firm- borrowers less. It hints at but does not ing Microfinance: How Lending to the
er foundation, and did so in three main act on the threat of an interest rate cap Poor Began, Grew and Came of Age in
ways. First, they improved their ability to on loans. Recognizing that this could Bolivia, Kumarian Press, 2001. She can
judge repayment capacity to avoid send- change, the MFIs strive to reduce inter- be contacted at: erhyne@accion.org;
ing borrowers into unsustainable debt. est rates. Rates in Bolivia, now below www.centerforfinancialinclusion.org.

44 ReVista fall 2011

economy and development

Communal Economy
An Alternative to Socialism and Capitalism By Flix Patzi Paco

Over the course of history, modern West- small scale. The 36 cultural and linguis- ciated as ownerswhether the products
ern civilization has evolved mainly un- tic groups of indigenous civilizations that of the enterprises are material or cultural
der two widespread economic systems: make up the majority of Bolivias popula- goods or services.
the capitalist and the socialist. The first tion already practice a form of economy A few workers or thousands of work-
involves private means of production that is not based on either private or state ers could make up this association; the
or work, with the revenue derived from property, and even less on the exploita- model is not rigid. The association would
the workers labor appropriated by the tion of work. It is a communitarian econ- produce goods or services, with technol-
capitalist owner, the oft-called exploita- omy, currently limited to rural areas and ogy and other production materials ac-
tion by the capitalist of the wage earner. primarily to agricultural activities. In our quired by the directly associated group
In the second type of economy, the state proposal for a communitarian model, of workers.
owns the means of production and all the we are attempting to reclaim this rural In such a communitarian enterprise,
businesses, with a social class of bureau- experience as a model for an alterna- workers do not earn wages as in a capi-
crats that serve as managers. The worker tive means of productionan outline of talist private enterprise or in a state so-
is still a wage earner in this type of econ- a more contemporary form of economy cialist economy; as producers, they do
omy, but the revenue produced by the in the Bolivian context that is a viable not sell their labor. A worker owns the
worker is kept by the state, rather than alternative to capitalism and socialism. product he or she manufactures. This
by the worker. These are in a nutshell the Hence I propose the creation of empre- means that the worker keeps the profits
two types of economies that people hold sas comunales in the city, in the country- once a certain amount has been paid to
up as theoretical models. side, and throughout various industries.
A version of an alternative economic These collectives would belong to the Miniature dollar bills mingle with bolivianos
model operates in Bolivia, if only on a group of workers directly and freely asso- in the traditional Bolivian alasitas festival.

photo by winifred parker, winifredparker@comcast.net drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 45

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

the state in the form of a tax and to the portunity to associate in a communal The role of the state in Bolivia in this
communal enterprise as an investment enterprise and become direct workers process will be to stimulate the creation
in its growth. themselves. Thus, the separation be- of communal enterprises, to guarantee
Producers thus would not work for tween manual and intellectual work will markets for the goods produced by them,
a third party as they do in both capital- be eliminated. and to develop energy sources and infra-
ist and socialist economies, but rather The communal economy would take structure to foster these enterprises.
for themselves. The incentive of being into account many of the technologi- Because communal enterprises do not
able to keep his/her own revenue should cal and scientific advances of our time, have the capacity to administer the na-
motivate everyone to produce according in full realization that science and tech- tions strategic resources, in these cases
to his/her ability and needs. Some will nology are not necessarily bound to the and in these cases only will state enter-
earn more than others and prosperbut dominant state or capitalist means of prises be created. Revenues from these
always through ones own work and not production. enterprises will contribute to the soci-
etys welfare.
It is necessary to clarify that, in the
initial phase, communal enterprises
The communitarian model would allow the may secure the investments of private
firms, but only with the requirement that
unemployed and informal sector workers to join the the profits be reinvested to increase the
official economy by forming a communal enterprise. amount of capital in the country. This
period would mark the great moment of
historic transition toward a society with-
through the work of others, given the pro- Peasants and indigenous people in Bo- out exploited citizens.
hibition of the purchase of the labor force. livia and in many places throughout the In the communal society, the state is
The model of the communal economy world hold property in collective form, by no means extinguished. On the con-
brings workers together in associations which, in legal terms, Bolivia has called trary, it takes charge of planning the
in order to buy technology that a worker communitarian lands of origin. Much equitable empowerment of communi-
could not afford alone. This technology land, however, has already been divided tarian enterprises through tax policies.
could be used by the worker in her own into parcels with individual land titles, The state will continue to guarantee the
workshop, or in a designated location but the common practice is that individu- nations security, its monetary policy and,
where all the associates together are en- als or families work the land together. basically, will be in charge of consolidat-
gaged in production. Thus, we are talking In these cases, associations dont ing all productive forces oriented toward
about two types of communal enterpris- need to be formed because the workers national integration.
es. The first is a producers association are already organized into communities. In Bolivia, 80% of the population
with members who produce in their in- In this agricultural sector, technologies is unemployed or works in what is now
dividual workplaces and share technol- need to be introduced to obtain compar- called the informal sector. The commu-
ogy and perhaps distribution and other ative advantages for the processes of pro- nitarian model would allow these people
forms of economic support they consider duction and industrialization, making to incorporate into the official economy
necessary and useful. The second type of sure at the same time that the peasants by forming a communal enterprise. It
communal enterprise consists of people and indigenous peoples actually manage would also be a solution for the 30% of
who work together in the same space, the enterprise. Once these comparative the indigenous population that already
often with the technical division of work advantages have been obtained, this sec- participates in a rural communal econo-
as an important factor. The latter type tor can pass from subsistence to a large- my based on small parcels of land. Thus,
of communal enterprise would be more scale economy that will permit peasants creating an economy of modern commu-
appropriate for assembly work and for and indigenous people to raise their nal enterprises in Bolivia is a productive
large-scale production. Both types of en- present subsistence economic levels. beginning in the direction of a more in-
terprises need specialized professionals, These communal enterprises will clusive, less exploitative economy.
who must follow the orders of the work- require seed money, and in addition to
ers who form the association with equal- loans, the state will need to provide the Flix Patzi Paco holds a degree in sociol-
ity in rights and obligations. technology necessary for the communal ogy and a doctorate in development
Specialized professionals will pro- associations to start up as direct produc- studies. He is a professor at the Univer-
vide innovative technology for use in the ers. Other domestic and foreign private sidad Mayor de San Andrs in La Paz.
communal enterprises. But even more enterprises can be partners with these He was Bolivian Education Minister in
importantly, they will have the great op- potential communal enterprises. 2006-2007.

46 ReVista fall 2011

Bolivia is a country rich in resources from gas to silver
to lithium. The question still remains as to whom these
resourcesincluding the highly valuable commodity of water
belong and how they should be distributed and conserved.

n The Water Is Ours Damn It! 48

n The Economy of the Extractive Industries 51
n Bolivias Lithium Potential 54
n Bolivian Resource Politics 56
n Reciprocal Agreements for Water 58

artist by
photo credit
urltsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/ drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 47
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

The Water is Ours Damn It!

New Regional and Local Frictions Over Scarce Water
By Nicole Fabricant and Kathryn Hicks

In July 2010, we asked the President of the While El Alto and Cochabamba have
Federation of Neighborhood Organiza- gained international attention for the suc-
tions (FEJUVE) in El Alto, Bolivia, how cess of their social movements, our work
his organization planned to address sea- on water scarcity in El Alto suggests that it
sonal water scarcity there. Our concern would be a mistake either to romanticize
was aroused when, in 2007, local and in- these movements or to underestimate the
ternational papers began to warn about barriers and challenges they face. Here,
the possible effects of rapidly retreating we will explore some of the local and re-
glaciers, changing weather patterns, and gional tensions surrounding the issue of
continued rural-to-urban migration on new water struggles in El Alto, illustrating
the reservoirs supplying the two cities of the stakes involved in the international
La Paz and El Alto. debate on global warming.
As the potential for seasonal water For two years (2009-2011), we have
scarcity in both cities has increased over been conducting collaborative anthropo-
time, so too has the conflict over how to logical research on the biological, social,
best to manage, protect and distribute political/economic and environmen-
these resources. Rubn Mendoza told us, tal effects of water scarcity in El Alto, concession resulted in dramatic increases
We have found a new water source, its which relies to a substantial degree on in cost and left substantial portions of the
a huge laguna (lake) and that is where glacial melt during the dry season. Wa- city without water service. Simultane-
we will be able to obtain water for our- ter scarcity is a rather complex issue in ously, neoliberal agricultural policies fur-
selves, for El Alto. He further suggested this highland region of Bolivia; it is un- ther uprooted rural communities in the
that rather than developing a governing clear to what degree such water scarcity highlands leading to ever greater flows of
board with representatives from each is a result of global warming and melt- migrants from rural to urban peripheral
city to manage water, Alteos would ac- ing glaciers or faulty infrastructure and areas like El Alto, where many new il-
tively search for new sources and sell this newly expanded population pressures on legal squatter communities had to build
water to La Paz to help finance new and fragile water systems. their own infrastructure, pipelines, and
more efficient water-related infrastruc- Adding to this complexity are neoliber- petition the municipal agents (disguised
ture. While he was conscious of the need al policies introduced in the 1990s, which as private entities) to legalize their rights
for a meaningful solution to address the privatized Bolivias municipal water sup- to water. Many communities in this city
historic imbalance in levels of poverty ply and made it into a commodity. The ad- still lack access to the municipal network.
and access to basic services in both cities, ministration of Gonzalo Snchez de Loza- Neighborhoods cobble together their own
he was far less concerned with the fact da sold a 30-year water concession for El infrastructure, precluding central plan-
that the reservoir in question was built Alto and La Paz to the sole bidder, Aguas ning for preservation of dwindling re-
and maintained by a rural community, de Illimani consortium, led by the French sources.
and used for agricultural purposes. His Company Lyonnaise des Eaux. The policy In order to understand the new re-
response illustrated the tension between was designed as a pro-poor strategy to gional and local conflicts resulting from
city and country as seen in the recently balance public and private interests for water scarcity, we must first turn briefly
politicized indigenous-based discourse the benefit of all, and was perceived as a toward the historic inequality of these
of usos y costumbres (indigenous uses successful model for other nations in the two highland cities, which comprise
and customs) or communitarian values, Global South (see Nina Laurie and Carlos part of the same metropolis, but can be
often framed in opposition to uneven Crespo, Deconstructing the Best Case thought of as radically opposite urban
power relations and as an alternative to Scenario: Lessons from Water Politics in environments. La Paz, founded in 1548, is
development that relies upon large-scale, El Alto, La Paz, Geoforum, vol. 38, no. the seat of legislative and executive pow-
extractive industries. 5, September 2007, 842). However, this er in Bolivia, which historically served as

48 ReVista fall 2011 photo by Kathryn Hicks

section header

the supply center for the silver produc- Neighborhood Boards of El Alto (Feder- El Alto residents envision that this hidden
ing colonial city of Potos and the Pacif- acin de Juntas Vecinales) which repre- lake might resolve water scarcity.

ic Ocean harbors. El Alto, on the other sent the collective interests of disparate
hand, was part of the rural periphery neighborhoods comprising this munici- patterns, and a measurable lack of water
that extended alongside this important pality. The FEJUVE, more recently, has in their wells. As one resident in El Alto
commercial center, but was comprised also become the engine of radical pro- remarked, We know that climate change
mainly of indigenous peasant communi- test and change, as its people took to the is happening because its getting hotter
ties (see Carlos Revilla, Understanding streets in the 2000s to reclaim resources, and hotter. In the past, we would put a
the Mobilizations of October 2003. In both water and gas, from transnational shirt out to dry and it would take days
Remapping Bolivia: Resources, Territory corporations. now it only takes hours (interview, July
and Indigeneity in a Plurinational State, On top of uneven access and distri- 19, 2010).
edited by Nicole Fabricant and Bret Gus- bution of water due to neoliberal and While community residents in some of
tafson, Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press, 2011). post-neoliberal policies, radical shifts these peripheral neighborhoods seemed
However, in the 20th century, due to in temperature have led to melting gla- at a loss for how to organize around is-
both environmental and economic fac- ciers, important buffers of water supply sues of climate change and water scar-
tors, El Alto began to urbanize at a very during the dry season. Dirk Hoffman, a city, the regional leaders of the FEJUVE
rapid rate, becoming an urban metropo- German glaciologist living in Bolivia and had a plan for the city of El Alto. The FE-
lis in its own right. Alteos initially creat- studying glacier melt, commented, It is JUVE initially supported the creation of
ed their own neighborhood organizations easier to measure climate change in rural EPSAS (the new state-based water com-
(called neighborhood boards)which areas because of the physical effects of pany that was created as a temporary so-
were essentially community organiza- drought, increases in pests, and difficul- lution post-privatization); now, however,
tions petitioning for and legalizing land ties of production, however, it is nearly they are promoting the development of
tenure, accessing critical services, and impossible to measure climate change in an independent and autonomous water
building infrastructureat a local level. urban El Alto because of so many other company built upon Aymara principles
These neighborhood boards still remain factors that interact with climate change of social justice, reciprocity and equality.
critical to accessing basic infrastructure (interview, August 2, 2010). Residents While FEJUVE-El Alto calls for a water
and come together into a regional feder- perceive climate change in the form of a company independent from La Paz, mu-
ation called FEJUVE, the Federation of stronger sun, hotter days, erratic weather nicipal agents in La Paz are pushing for a

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 49
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

more centralized plan called Agua Para water supply. One FEJUVE member intentions, he has been unable to halt the
Todos, which would involve a single wa- joked, Everyone is so worried about cli- influence and power of transnational cor-
ter company based in El Alto with rep- mate change and water scarcity [] but porations. This economic dependency on
resentatives from national, regional, and this will provide enough for La Paz and large-scale extraction of mining resourc-
municipal governments, and neighbor- El Alto for the next 100 years. Another es and hydrocarbons will only continue
hood organizations, making decisions remarked, this water source belongs to to speed up climate change, destroy the
about larger-scale infrastructure. Fund- local comuneros and they do not want to environment, reroute water supplies and
ing would come from a combination of give up their rights to this laguna. But eventually displace native communities,
user fees, foreign aid, investment and the truth is that now it will belong to El all in the interest of private capital. The
federal funds. FEJUVE-El Alto remains Alto. They continued to joke in the van disjunction between Alteos discourses
suspicious of La Pazs proposal for a cen- about what the water company would be of reciprocity and redistribution and
tralized water company: many of these named and how they will build sufficient their actions of usurpation, then, repre-
suspicions were couched in the language pipelines from here down to the city of sents a world in a grain of sand, as Men-
and discourse of historic inequality, deep El Alto, and about financing this project doza and his team might enact the same
racism, and failure of La Paz officials to through international donors like Euro- kinds of destructive practices and repro-
deliver on promised services/infrastruc- pean Union or private capital from Japan. duce unequal power relations. In this
ture. One representative noted, We are This daily practice of organizing in a context, the rhetoric (whether at a global
talking about [an extension of the neo- moment of scarcity can reproduce broad- or local level) of preserving Pachamama
liberal project], a business of and for based inequalities at a regional or local according to usos y costumbres might
waterwe should continue to observe level: between regions, urban and rural hold merely cultural and symbolic value
this problem. To us, [their plan], ap- residents, indigenous/mestizo, and those in a moment of expansive capitalism and
pears laughable (El Alteo, February who hold governmental power versus resource-based extraction.
27, 2010). While both La Paz and El local agricultural laborers or comune-
Alto might rely upon the same water re- ros. Despite organizers public discourse Nicole Fabricant is an Assistant Profes-
sources of glaciers located high above the about the use of Aymara values to pro- sor of Anthropology at Towson Uni-
cities, they have radically different and mote a more redistributive and equitable versity. She is co-editor of a book (with
conflicting visions for how to address water system, they rely upon similar Bret Gustafson, Washington U) entitled
the problem. Further, neither plan pays processes of accumulation by disposses- Remapping Bolivia: Resources, Territory
more than lip service to global warming sionlike rerouting natural flows to city and Indigeneity in a Plurinational State
and the potential for increased regional centers, disrupting and displacing whole (SAR Press, 2011) and she is currently
conflict with worsening water scarcity. communities. completing revisions on a manuscript
Returning to our initial discussion with These local contradictions mirror about the Landless Peasant Movement
the FEJUVE leader, in an effort to see for the national and international political (MST) Bolivia and new forms of agrar-
ourselves this hidden fuente de agua, we scene. President Evo Morales, might de- ian citizenship in the lowland region
traveled with a team of local activists to a clare to a large and enthusiastic crowd of (UNC Press, forthcoming).
glacier-fed reservoir, hidden deep in the global environmental activists, We have
mountains. In an experience eerily remi- two paths: either Pachamama or death. Kathryn Hicks is an Assistant Profes-
niscent of the James Bond movie, Quan- We have two paths: either capitalism dies sor of Anthropology at the University of
tum of Solace, where Bonds mission is or Mother Earth dies. (Evo Morales, De- Memphis. She has written extensively in
to save what the viewer thinks is oil, we mocracy Now, April 20, 2010) However, peer-reviewed journals on the importance
traveled for several hours up a narrow and his rhetoric and public proclamations of of social support networks in accessing
windy dirt road path from the main high- revamping the entire system according critical medical services in impoverished
way into the mountain range. We passed to an indigenous-based form of sustain- communities of El Alto, Bolivia and has
brown and green mountain ranges and able development, as Pablo Regalsky recently launched a new project on envi-
pastures, rolling hills filled with moss and (Andean Center for Communication and ronmental racism in the production of
patches of hay, small-scale farming com- Development or CENDA) notes, has not health disparities in southwest Memphis.
munities herding animals and tending to necessarily held up in practice as foreign
crops. When we finally reached our desti- capital still plays a decisive role in Boliv- The title of this article is taken from a popular
nation, we were shocked by the expanse ias development policies. (See Bill Wein- protest slogan, El agua es nuestra, carajo! (the
of water stretching in length as far as the berg, New Water Wars in Bolivia: Cli- water is ours, damn it!) from the Cochabamba
eye could see; this crystal clear blue wa- mate Change and Indigenous Struggle, Water Wars where thousands of people filled the
ter appeared endless. People immediately NACLA vol. 43, no. 5, Sept./Oct. 2010, main plaza in April 2000 in resistance to the
started taking pictures and videos of the 23.) While Morales might have the best of privatization of their municipal water supply.

50 ReVista fall 2011

natural resources

The Economy of the Extractive Industries

Poverty and Social Equality By Fernanda Wanderley

Its worth a Potosan idiom that uses the

name of Bolivias famous colonial silver-
mining town as a way of saying its worth
a fortuneis closely identified with the
countrys past and its economic history.
We Bolivians have always depended on
some natural resource or other. The first
was silver from the highlands of Potos,
then tin and now natural gas. Through-
out its history as a republic, Bolivia has
constantly faced the difficulty of over-
coming the model of revenue based on
the extraction of non-renewable natu-
ral resources. This type of resource-de-
pendent economy known as an enclave
economy produces few jobs and is iso-
lated from job-intensive industries that
produce goods and services for the do-
mestic market.
To illustrate this strong dependence
on natural resources, its worth mention-
ing that 80% of 2010 exports were natu-
ral resources; half of all public income
comes from taxes on natural resources.
Bolivia is a classic example of the limits of
a primarily export-dependent economic
model that has produced a mediocre av-
erage growth rate in the last six decades.
Between 1950 and 2010, the Bolivian
economy grew an average of 2.8% yearly,
which translated to an annual per capita
average of 0.5% growth, an extremely
low number through which to overcome
poverty and social inequality.
Thus at the end of 2009, more than
half (58%) of the Bolivian population
was experiencing moderate poverty and Miners: a resource-dependent economy produces few jobs.
an additional 32% lived in extreme pov-
erty. The inequality between urban and model of economic growth is making the unsustainable because they depend on
rural areas continued to be significant, country poorer in the long run. funding from the export sector, which
with 74% of the rural population in pov- The heavy dependence on the ex- suffers from the price volatility of the
erty, compared to only half of the urban traction of just a few natural resources price of raw export materials.
population. To overcome these levels of with low aggregate value creates a socio- Most Bolivians survive by generat-
poverty and inequality, the growth rate of economic structure of precarious em- ing their own income in sectors of low
the Bolivian economy would have to be ployment. Moreover, poverty alleviation productivity and are thus excluded from
at least 6%. That means Bolivias current strategies have been insufficient and any social and laboral protection. Even

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bolivia: revolutions and beyond

within the employed population, only tion in public enterprises and by channel- port in uncompetitive and inefficient
20% has access to health insurance; the ing external aid to subsidize the private circumstances (Juan Antonio Morales,
pension system covers only 27% of the sector. However, this objective was not Bolivian Trade and Development 1952-
employed population. This means that reached in Bolivia. Growth continued to 1987, working paper, 1988).
almost two-thirds of the Bolivian popu- be propelled by the export of three prod- During this period, social welfare
lation is highly vulnerable, eking out its uctstin, oil and natural gas, all of them policies sought to cover the entire pop-
existence in the informal sector. controlled by the public sector and strong- ulation, but in practice only reached a
Studies like Jean Imbs and Romain ly dependent on world market conditions reduced number of formally employed
Wacziargs Stages of Diversification as and the availability of international loans. workers. The majority of workers and
Self-Discovery in American Economic Loans granted during this period their families, surviving in the informal
Review, March 2003, show that countries were destined to finance public sec- sector, were protected only through their
that export a diversity of products have tor spending and export diversification family networks and their own capacity
to generate income. State social benefits
were extended only to a select group of
workers, particularly public employees.
None of Bolivias development modelspast In 1985, the pendulum of the econo-
my swung back toward a liberal model.
or presenthave paved the road to economic Policy makers bet on the market and
transformation and diversification. minimizing the importance of industrial
policies to promote national production
and diversification. The hope was that
higher rates of per capita growth. Simi- projects, some with successful outcomes liberalization of the markets and privati-
larly, other works illustrate that countries such as the sale of natural gas to Argen- zation of public enterprises would foster
grow the most quickly when they export tina and the soy agroindustry. However, conditions to make the economy more
products that are part of the export bas- a great part of these resources were not dynamic and generate employment, thus
ket of the countries with the highest per invested in the proposed targets nor were overcoming poverty and social inequality.
capita incomes. (Dani Rodrik, Indus- they returned, meaning that the state as- Although some macroeconomic and
trial Policy for the Twenty-First Century, sumed the subsequent debt. As a result, financial reforms did take place, the state
Kennedy School of Government work- the majority of the production activities prioritized reforms in capital-intensive
ing paper, 2004, and Ricardo Hausman, were begun and executed with state sup- sectors such as hydrocarbons, telecom-
J. Hwang and Danu Rodrik, What You
Export Matters in Journal of Economic
Growth, no. 12, 2007).
This begs the question of why Bolivia
has not been able to transform its pro-
duction to stimulate an economic takeoff
and sustainable increase in social welfare,
while similar countries have managed to
advance toward this goal. We will explore
the principal limitations of the institu-
tional and political architecture behind
the development models implemented in
the past sixty years in Bolivia: state capi-
talism (1952-1985), neoliberalism (1985-
2005) and post-neoliberalism (2006-
2011). Until now, none of these models
have managed to sustain a transformation
of Bolivias productive model and accom-
panying improvement in social welfare.
State capitalism focuses on produc-
ing a diversity of goods and services while
consolidating a national industrial base in
two ways: through direct state participa- A worker processes natural resources, an important part of Bolivias economy.

52 ReVista fall 2011 photo by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/

natural resources

munications, and electricity, with aggres- did not contribute to the development of through different types of vouchers and
sive policies designed to attract foreign a strategic vision of productive transfor- temporary employment programs.
investment. No consistent industrial mation and diversification of exports. The exaggerated emphasis on natural
policies were articulated for other labor- One of the main fallacies of the prin- resources has deepened the social strug-
intensive sectors such as the agriculture cipled bases for President Morales new gle over income distribution, once more
and livestock industry, food processing model is the conviction that state plan- turning attention away from the policies
and the nascent Bolivian textile industry. ning should and can act unilaterally as a that would lead to transform Bolivias
These structural reforms inaugurated guiding force in economic development. productive model and economythe
Bolivias gas era, a period characterized There was no attempt to forge a public- same policies that would establish a fi-
by greater economic dependence on this private coordination; no integration of nancial mechanism for domestic income
natural resource and insufficient poli- policies of technological development and distribution, thus softening the depen-
cies for the development of private sector innovation; no strengthening of the man- dence on an inherently volatile surplus
production that generates employment. agement of economic units; no informa- and the risks of relying on a rentier and
The result was that more people worked tion dissemination and training; and lack corporatist culture, historically marked
in the informal sector in activities such of support for forming associations to by clientelistic and corporatist relations
as contraband, coca leaf production, overcome the weakness of private coordi- between the state and society.
commerce and retail activities with low nation in the Bolivian economic structure. We can only conclude that none of
productivity. Moreover, the macroeconomic policies the development models implemented in
At the same time and without co- of the post-neoliberal period maintained Bolivia have managed to integrate a vi-
ordination with economic policies, the the fiscal orientation of the neoliberal sion of a complementary relationship be-
state promoted social policies to give the period, to the detriment of a productive tween market and state that would pave
population access to public services in vision. The concept of stability restricted the road to economic transformation
education, health, and other programs to inflation control and the compartmen- and diversification. The result is the ab-
aimed at the poorest sectors through talized view of the microeconomy and the sence of intrinsic and sustained policies
social investment funds. Although pov- macroeconomy still persist. Actions to for improved continuation of produc-
erty measured by the satisfaction of basic promote the relationship between both tion chains, and an increase in produc-
needs decreased, poverty measured by dimensions of the economy never got off tivity and technological development. If
income actually increased and social in- the ground, nor was there promotion of a we Bolivians do not widen our economic
equality remained the same. macroeconomic environment favorable to base and stimulate coordination between
The third period, post-neoliberalism, private investment. economic and social policies, we will
began in 2006 with President Evo Mo- During this period, the Morales gov- never reach our goal of overcoming pov-
rales government when soaring prices ernment concentrated its efforts on erty and social inequality. We will remain
of raw materials had created a promis- reforming the management of hydro- subject to our dependence on natural re-
ing international context for exporters. carbons under the model of nationaliza- sources. The label of Its worth a Potos,
There was much expectation at the be- tion. Although the levels of tax collection will stay with us.
ginning of his term that he would use have been unprecedented in the past few
the increased revenue to promote pro- years, the ambiguities and inconsisten- Fernanda Wanderley is the Associate
duction in non-traditional sectors that cies of this model have led to a slowdown Director of Graduate Research in De-
employ most Bolivian workers, and thus in private investment, as well as a signifi- velopment Sciences at the Universidad
overcome the export model of exclusive cant decrease in the proven reserves of Mayor de San Andrs (CIDES-UMSA),
dependence on hydrocarbon income. natural gas and, consequently, of produc- La Paz, Bolivia. She holds a doctorate
The model was based on concepts tion. Thus, the sustainability of hydrocar- in sociology from Columbia University.
opposed to neoliberalism. Among these bon production is not secure and might She has written many articles, including
were the return to a more active state not ensure an adequate supply of energy Beyond Gas: Between the Narrow-Based
role in the economy and the recognition for the country and an important flow of and Broad-Based Economy in Unre-
of juridical, political, and economic plu- income for the state in the long run. solved Tensions Bolivia Past and Pres-
rality. Although these ideas constituted a At the same time, in spite of its goals ent (eds. John Crabtree and Laurence
new and promising conceptional frame of of overcoming an assistance-oriented vi- Whitehead, University of Pittsburgh
reference, in practice rigid and opposing sion of social policies, the government has Press, 2008) and Between Reform and
visions about the role of the state and the continued with programs and projects Inertia: Bolivias Employment and So-
market prevailed. The excess of ideology- focused on populations with the greatest cial Protection Policies over the Past 20
driven thinkingnow from the left degree of social exclusion and has broad- Years in International Labor Review,
about alternatives to the capitalist system ened policies of direct money transfers vol. 148, 3, 2009.

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bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Bolivias Lithium Potential

The Opportunity Deeper Beneath the Surface By David Daepp

The southwest highlands of Bolivia have efit for Bolivians? supplying countries represents a player
offered residents one primary livelihood: Whether or not you understand the at a poker table whose hand is defined
salt mining. In recent years, however, a science behind the uses of lithium, you by his countrys abundance, viability and
lesser known yet highly abundant ele- would probably recognize its application quality of lithium reserves. Winning a
ment there has become the core of nation- as the main element in the batteries that hand at this table can mean the signing
al economic, political and even cultural power your cell phone, GPS, scanner, of an exploration contract, the signing
debates: lithium. Bolivias leadership is laptop, iPad, iPod and many other devic- of a trade deal or simply the continued
well aware of the growing importance es. But another expanding application is business from a consumer country. At
and desirability of this light silver-white fueling the growing demand for lithium: this betting table, Bolivia has shown a
metal. It is also aware that estimates electric and hybrid vehicles. From the notably aggressive and confident stance
have shown Bolivia to hold between 40 Toyota Prius to the Ford Fusion to the for which there are both clear arguments
and 50 percent of the worlds volume of Chevrolet Volt, the Nissan Leaf and many and counterarguments.
lithium. Equipped with this information, other present and future models, hybrid Almost a year ago, the Bolivian gov-
the Evo Morales government is playing a and all-electric cars are stirring great in- ernment committed $900 million for a
strong hand at the negotiating table. But terest among major players and consum- state-run lithium industry, according to
the real question is not how much lithium ers alike. China has publicly stated its the Strategic Plan for Lithium Industri-
is extractable nor the timeline for extract- aim to put one million new hybrid/elec-
ing and refining it. The real question is tric cars on its roads in the next few years. Salar de Uyuni, traditionally dependent on
which path will lead to the greatest ben- Now picture that each of the lithium- salt mining.

54 ReVista fall 2011 photo by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/

natural resources

alization. Bolivia plans to go it alone in joyed unheralded, steady popularity, Mo- With this in mind, lets look at the
the process, financing the entire chain of rales must recall that his political capital financing side of lithium viability in Bo-
production, including a battery plant on was built on the backing of Bolivians livia. The Bolivian government is already
Bolivian soil by 2014. most in need. Now in times of sharp eco- committed to a $1 billion investment
In search of a strategic partner, the nomic difficulty, the potential gains from plan in hydrocarbons to offset the poor
government has rejected proposals from lithium exploration could offer much results of its nationalist policies in the
at least six state and private compa- needed relief if extraction, refining and natural gas industry. Withdrawal from
niesincluding those from Japan, South distribution processes are managed ef- the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug
Korea, and Francecountries with sub- fectively and in a timely fashion. Eradication Act program in September
stantial expertise in lithium battery and
electric car technology.
Between 2000 and 2008, worldwide
demand for lithium grew at approxi- By the end of 2008, Bolivia had been labeled by many
mately six percent annually. By the end
of 2008, Bolivia had been labeled by
as the Saudi Arabia of lithium. Turning hefty claims
many as the Saudi Arabia of lithium. into reality is a difficult challenge.
This hardly earned nickname reinforced
an extreme posturing of Bolivian lead-
ership best characterized by demand- Compounding pre-existing challeng- 2008 (which gives preference of access
ing non-negotiable terms with majority es, recent and continued revision of glob- to the U.S. market) produced a loss of
ownership and guarantees for the bulk al lithium reserve estimates could force 9,000 jobs through 2009 and has forced
of rents from extraction to conversion. Bolivias hand at the bargaining table. A a doubling of government subsidies to
Fellow players in the lithium market, study by the James A. Baker III Institute manufacturing exports (from $8 million
more specifically the major consuming for Public Policy highlights that new es- to $16 million). Bolivias strained finan-
nations, called Bolivias bluffwalk- timates for Chile, Argentina, China, Af- cial situation worsened by government
ing away from the negotiating table and ghanistan and the United States (among decisions to impose price controls has
leaving a significant potential untapped. other countries) effectively raise global forced the country to approach foreign
In keeping with his mantra of equi- supply figures and diminish Bolivias investors and to test the national aver-
table distribution, Morales succeeded in importance in the lithium market, mov- sion to non-national interests.
reducing extreme poverty and making ing its world percentage down to 36%. Exploring lithium and turning the
improvements in literacy rates during Add to this discouraging reality that be- Uyuni into an effective, responsible ex-
his first term. But many of these achieve- tween 2005 and 2008 the United States traction site brings with it significant,
ments were short-term gains from imported 63% of its lithium from Chile overlapping risks for the tourism indus-
heightening central control and giving and 35% from Argentina. And beyond try, as well as the environment and lo-
handouts to his constituency. the fact that Bolivias competitors have cal livelihoods. If the government-built
To apply a broader measure of na- already proven their abilities by deliver- pipelines delivering water to the pilot
tional well-being, it is useful to look at ing to big consumer countries is the fact projects at Uyuni falter, allowing pollu-
the United Nations Development Pro- that Bolivia has yet to begin commercial tion into the groundwater, local farmers
grammes Human Development Index lithium production. will suffer considerably. Turning hefty
(HDI) from 2010. HDI represents a To help you picture what it would take claims into reality will require an ap-
push for a broader definition of well-be- to jumpstart Bolivias lithium production proach based on environmental, tech-
ing and provides a composite measure of and conversion to usable material, imag- nological, infrastructure, cultural and
three basic dimensions of human devel- ine a nearly desolate plateau 12,000 feet economic analyses and a program built
opment: health, education and income. above sea level near the crest of the An- on the capability of firms and individu-
Bolivias HDI is 0.643, which gives the des in southwest Bolivia serviced only by als with extensive experience and knowl-
country a rank of 95 out of 169 countries secondary roads. This is a rough sketch edge. To curb environmental risks, Mo-
with comparable data. Between 2005 of Salar de Uyuni, the (currently) undis- rales may want to more closely involve
and 2010, the HDI of the Latin America puted single largest deposit of lithium in the Bolivian Environmental Defense
and Caribbean region increased from the world. To make the Uyuni a viable League (FOBOMADE) in strengthening
0.683 to 0.706 whereas Bolivias HDI in- production site, all infrastructure will assessments and subsequent implemen-
creased from 0.631 to 0.643placing it need to be built from scratch and both tation plans.
below the regional average. technology and skilled labor brought in In this difficult and yet potentially op-
An unorthodox leader who once en- from outside the area. portune time, Bolivian leadership could

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bolivia: revolutions and beyond

take a historical lesson from China

and the Asian tigers to inform its ap-
proach to the lithium boon. Foreign
firms should be allowed to contribute
to the development of a universally
agreed upon extraction, conversion
and distribution strategy. Agreements
must mandate and prioritize the
training of locals by foreign firms, en-
suring knowledge and skills transfer
coupled with minimum reinvestment
levels in local industries yet revisiting
the current demand of 60% earnings
share for the state. Bolivia should
learn from the example of China,
where spillover effects from foreign
firms hiring and training locals have Bolivian Resource Politics
greatly strengthened local and na-
tional capacities. Gas and Beyond By Bret Gustafson
Better yet, take a page from the
history of DeBeers and Botswana and
specifically how the insightful leader-
ship of Seretse Khama built a mutu- Across the hill country between the Andes nationalization of gas was central in the
ally beneficial relationship with the and the Chaco of southeastern Bolivia, the Gas War that led to the ouster of the
commercial giant that would drive past two decades have seen the rapid ex- free-market regime of Gonzalo Snchez
national prosperity for generations. pansion of natural gas exploration, pipe- de Lozada in 2003. Embracing this pop-
Morales should reassess his stance lines, and well sites. Here in the ancestral ular demand, Evo Morales and the MAS
and consider the far-reaching impli- territory of the indigenous Guarani, gas surged to the fore in 2005 and began to
cations of continuing to overplay a giants like Brazils Petrobras, Frances roll back free-market neoliberalism and
weakening hand rather than taking Total, and Spains Repsol are leading Bo- move toward state-led development. Yet
the bold step of overcoming xenopho- livias natural gas boom. As with other despite the shrill cries of conservatives,
bia with an inclusive, environmentally natural resourceslithium, steel, gold, Bolivias was a modest nationalization.
and economically progressive lithium zinc, tin, timber and landgas exports of- The government did not expropriate
strategy that could set the stage for a fer revenue for a country of deep inequal- foreign firms, but pushed for a renego-
more prosperous, competitive Bolivia. ity and high poverty. In the case of gas, tiation of contracts. This brought royalty
revenue comes largely from Brazil, the rates into line with global norms. After
David Daepp is Associate Portfolio industrial giant next door that consumes recouping their expenses, multinational
Manager with the United Nations around 70% of Bolivias production. The companies now transfer higher percent-
Office for Project Services (UNOPS) rest is divided roughly evenly between ex- ages of gas rents to the state. Bolivia is
where he manages the Latin America ports to Argentina and Bolivias domestic attempting to rebuild its state oil and gas
& Caribbean portfolio for the Global marketcars, electricity generation and company, YPFB, yet dependence on for-
Environment Facilitys Small Grants household use. Gas royalties flowing into eign capital and technology means that
Programme. He holds a B. A. in Eco- the treasury have generated a fiscal sur- multinational firms remain as central
nomics from the College of the Holy plus and a huge dollar reserve. Yet the re- actors. Contrary to arguments that na-
Cross and an M. A. in International source boom also threatens environmen- tionalization would lead to divestment,
Development Economics from Ford- tal degradation, political volatility and multinational firms continue to flock ea-
ham University. He has written for renewed export dependence. Further- gerly to Bolivia to dig holes in pursuit of
ReVista as well as Amricas maga- more, with many resources lying under resource wealth.
zine (published by the Organization their territories, indigenous organizations On the social side, the era of gas has
of American States) and The Long confront new challenges in their pursuit led to new anti-poverty efforts. Cash
Term View (Massachusetts School of of self-determination. transfer programsmodest measures
Law at Andover). He can be contacted Gas is at the center of these national
at ddaepp@gmail.com. resource struggles. The demand for the Sign warns about explosive gas.

56 ReVista fall 2011 photo by bret gustafson

natural resources

embraced by entities like the World the state through gas revenues tends to indigenous organizations and regional
Banknow use gas revenues to make overwhelm long term planning. elites. Hydroelectric projects promoted
periodic payments to the elderly and In places like Guarani country, the by Brazil on Bolivias northeast frontier
schoolchildren and to encourage neo- apparent wealth generated by gas is jux- are opposed by environmentalists and
and post-natal care for expectant moth- taposed against the ongoing poverty of local peoples. Oil development in the
ers. Regional governments in gas-rich rural peoples in a state and economy that Amazon creates friction as well. Brazil
regions that receive higher royalty per- are still heavily colonial in structure. has also promoted new highway projects
centages have launched their own so- Gas concentrates wealth in urban cen- in Bolivia that transect indigenous ter-
cial programs. For instance, in Tarija, ters, without radically transforming rural ritories and are seen as grave threats by
the governor instituted regional health lives. The government has embraced talk indigenous peoples. This is all paradoxi-
insurance, plans for urgent employ- of a plurinational state and decoloniza- cal, given the expectations that Evo Mo-
ment that pay rural communities to tion, but for peoples like the Guarani, ru- rales election would lead to more robust
work on local infrastructure or agricul- ral poverty persists alongside the fenced indigenous rights. For indigenous move-
tural projects, and food supplements off enclaves of Petrobras and Repsol. The ments, the struggle continues.
for the elderly. Urban households have establishment of an Indigenous Develop- From the birds-eye view, other pro-
seen increased installation of domestic ment Fund that receives its own percent- cesses may overwhelm the aspirations
gas lines. This is a much desired shift age has not yet made a substantive differ- of Bolivians to pursue a new economic
in a country where trucks historically ence. As Guarani say, We live on top of model. Powerful consumer countries see
cruised through neighborhoods to de- the gas, but we still cook with firewood, Bolivia as a provider country and a tran-
liver garrafas (LPG tanks), and insecu- our schools are a disaster, and our terri- sit corridor. Historically the United States
rity of supply was a constant concern. tories are still occupied by others. has been the imperialist du jour, but Bra-
Automobiles are being refitted to burn On a national level, Bolivia is expe- zil is now invoked as the new empire. Bra-
natural gas and taxi drivers now reflect riencing contradictions shared by other zil suggests that its growth helps Bolivia,
on the comparative benefits of natural exporters of energy resources, which but current trends primarily favor capital
gas (cheaper and good for daytime use) often subsidize importation and inter- accumulation in Brazil. The rise of the
to gasoline (better for evening driving nal consumption of fuels like gasoline, global south and the turn away from free-
and cleaning out the carburetor). While diesel fuel and liquified petroleum gas market piracy toward state-led redistribu-
significant, these policies to promote (LPG), products for which Bolivia lacks tive economies is certainly promising. Yet
domestic consumption do not radically sufficient refining and separation capac- the new extractivism has yet to come to
transform the underlying structure of a ity (for condensing liquid fuels from gas). terms with its own colonial roots, and the
narrow-based export economy. Subsidized LPG is smuggled to Peru effects fall heavily on peoples cursed by
Gas also brings risks that the practice and sold for profit, leading to gas short- the geological history under their lands.
of politics is overwhelmed by fights over ages in a gas-rich country. In addition, Rural peoples and environments have
gas rents. This rentier logic pervades last December the government tried to long been sacrificed in the name of na-
political discourse, as different groups encourage foreign companies to extract tional progress. Whether the new era will
(regional and municipal governments, and refine more oil by reducing subsidies mark a change remains to be seen.
indigenous peoples, the military, the on gasoline. This gasolinazo would have
state oil company) argue about their raised fuel prices by 80%. It was met Bret Gustafson, Associate Professor of
rights to percentages (porcentajes) of with mass protest that almost toppled Anthropology at Washington University
gas royalties. This has paralleled the Evo, and the government beat a rapid in St. Louis, received a PhD in Social
intensification of regionalism in the retreat, especially since many of the pro- Anthropology at Harvard in 2002. Since
easttinged with anti-indigenous rac- testers came from his support base. 1992 he has lived and done research
ismin opposition to national citizen- Many indigenous movements are avid on indigenous politics in Bolivia. His
ship and the indigenous resurgence. MAS supporters, but tensions are in- book, New Languages of the State:
Indigenous peoples clamor for rights to creasing between those who seek whole- Indigenous Resurgence and the Politics
consultation, compensation and a voice sale extraction and those who prioritize of Knowledge in Bolivia (Duke, 2009)
in deciding whether and how extractive indigenous rights. Pressures to allow examined indigenous language school-
economies proceed in their territories. access to foreign companies have cre- ing and education reform. A co-edited
The public debate also raises the ques- ated new challenges for indigenous or- volume, Remapping Bolivia: Resources,
tion of whether Bolivia might add value ganizations. Mining generates conflicts Territory, and Indigeneity in a Plurina-
to its gas through industrialization, but between local communities and the state tional State (with Nicole Fabricant, SAR,
the political immediacy of gas struggles in the high Andes. Steel production in 2011), explores territorial conflicts in the
and the national priority to capitalize the east has mobilized conflicts between era of Evo.

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bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Reciprocal Agreements for Water

An environmental management revolution in in the Santa Cruz valleys
By Nigel Asquith

September 21, 1967. A hot wind sweeps tum- the Masicuri River and his spinach fields the number found in the whole of North
bleweed through the village of Alto Seco. will be dry all winter. Claudios ten cows, America. These forests have other uses
Women peer from behind drawn shutters, his only other income source, struggle to too: the region provides drinking water
to catch a glimpse of the visitors who ar- find water. They spend most of their time to the 1.5 million residents of Santa Cruz,
rived earlier in the day. They had walked close to the temporary streams: compact- and supplies irrigation water and flood
slowly into the village, carrying immense ing soil, eroding the stream banks, pol- protection to the fertile lowlands where
backpacks. The men made camp in an luting the water and grazing on the few soy producers drive Bolivias agricultural
abandoned house next to a waterhole, and remaining forest tree seedlings. export economy.
during the evening talked to a group of 15 The upland forests of the Santa Cruz Deforestation and cattle-grazinga
amazed and silent peasants: The gov- valleys are also increasingly threatened tragedy of commons exacerbated by cli-
ernment has abandoned Alto Seco: you by illegal land incursions. Encouraged by mate changeare fundamentally chang-
have no healthcare, no paved road, and farmers unions and local leaders, landless ing the Santa Cruz valleys. The valleys
no clean water. But dont worry said migrants from the altiplano are entering are fast losing their ability to provide
Comandante Che Guevara. Were here to the region to clear water-producing cloud food, water and other environmental ser-
help. Were communists. forests for agriculture. Deforestation and vices to their residents, while the farmers
September 21, 2010. The same hot forest degradation in the Mosqueras and are as poor as they were when Che failed
wind still sweeps tumbleweed through Vilcas watersheds of Cruceo Valleys in- to persuade them to rise up and revolt.
Alto Seco. Little has changed: villagers creased by almost 500% between 1986 Water scarcity has led to reduced agricul-
greet visitors with the same guarded sus- and 2004, while downstream flooding tural yields, and of the 3,000 children in
picion, and Alto Seco still has no health- over the same period caused $250 mil- the region, almost a sixth spend signifi-
care, no paved road, and no clean wa- lion in damages. In 2006, floods in the cant time out of school, suffering from
ter. But dont worry said Maria Teresa lower Rio Grande destroyed more than diarrhea caused by drinking water con-
Vargas, the leader of the latest group of 250,000 acres of soy and other crops. taminated by their families own cows.
visitors. Were here to help. Were con- Except where they suffer intense graz- In early 2003 in the municipality of
servationists. ing pressure, the eastern slopes of the Pampagrande, in the small village of Santa
Claudio Gutirrez could do with the Andes support some of the worlds most Rosa de Lima, a quiet revolution began. At
help. With each passing year, he sees few- biodiverse forests. Bordering the northern a meeting facilitated by a non-governmen-
er rain clouds above his farm. Rainfall has edge of the Santa Cruz valleys is Ambor tal organization, Fundacin Natura Boliv-
halved in the 50 years since Che and his National Park, home to 10% of all the bird ia, five downstream irrigators negotiated a
guerrillas passed through the Santa Cruz species on planet earth. The 100 square groundbreaking deal with their upstream
valleys, and with current rates of defores- mile Los Negros Valley supports 235 counterparts. For every 25 acres of forest
tation, Claudio expects that in five years resident bird species, almost a quarter of you conserve for a year, Andrs Rojas told

58 ReVista fall 2011 photos courtesy of nigel asquith

section header

Serafn Carrasco, we will give you one mental services tariff are channeled, the Left to right: Small streams from inside
beehive and training on how to produce municipal government agrees to annual Amboro National Park feed the Los Negros
River and provide important irrigation water;
and sell honey. And so the first reciprocal purchase of beehives, fruit tree seedlings,
cloud forests; the Los Negros River affected
agreement for water was struck. irrigation pipes or other development by upstream deforestation exacerbated by
By 2010, the initial five Santa Rosa tools, to be given in compensation for climate change; agriculture in the middle of
farmers protecting 1,235 acres had mush- forest conservation activities, and Fun- the Los Negros watershed.
roomed to 63 families conserving 10,000 dacin Natura invests cash from its do-
acres. The scheme had spread to neigh- nors, and provides technical support to ment offered Claudio six beehives and
boring Comarapa and Mairana munici- get the scheme up and running. training and equipment for honey pro-
palities, which protected another 12,000 Maria Teresa Vargas of Natura ex- ductiona value of more than $600in
acres through conservation contracts. The plains: the model is cheap, efficient and exchange for the conservation of 75 acres
crucial innovation, though, is not just that transparent. Each party pays its own of his water-producing cloud forests, he
upstream farmers have signed contracts costs, including technician salaries, fuel was converted. Claudio is slowly convinc-
to conserve their forests. What really is and other expenses, so that every single ing the rest of his family, starting with his
noteworthy is that the downstream water dollar that enters the water fund is in- brothers Jess, Carlos and Jos, that the
users are paying for the schemes. In 2007, vested in upstream conservation. The scheme can also work for them.
residents of Los Negros, Comarapa and accounts of the water co-operatives are A more important question for Na-
Mairana voted to increase their water tar- open for all members to see, so there is tura Bolivia is whether the local water
iffs by 9%, 15% and 7% respectively. simply no space for mismanagement or funds achieve their stated goal. While
In Comarapa, for example, every $20 misappropriation of funds. it all sounds great on paper, notes Ma-
invested by Fundacin Natura Bolivia In 2007 the concept was scaled up a ria Teresa Vargas, we havent yet proven
and its donors is matched by $30 of local level when Rubn Costas, the Governor that these funds really are catalyzing new
funds, which together purchase a beehive of the Department of Santa Cruz, created conservation in areas which otherwise
to compensate for conservation of 5 acres a new 1.8 million-acre protected area to would be degraded or deforested, and if
of water-producing forest for five years. conserve the forested headwaters of the local people really have received benefits
Honey revenue per acre of forest con- Santa Cruz valleys. The Rio Grande-Valles that would not have occurred without
served is $10 per year, so within five years Cruceos Protected Area filled a hole in the funds.
the landowner has not only used the $20 of Bolivias conservation map, creating a This lack of knowledge about the
donor funds to conserve five acres of forest, biodiversity corridor between Ambor impact of conservation activities is not
but has also sold $50 worth of honey. For- and Iao National Parks, and, like a virus, unique to the Santa Cruz water funds.
est conservation and watershed manage- the water fund concept replicated into Across the globe, conservation initiatives
ment have thus been transformed from Moro Moro, Vallegrande, Postrervalle, large and small have rarely been subject
unenforceable top-down impositions by Samaipata and Pucara municipalities. to scientific analysis of their effectiveness.
central government, to negotiated agree- In Pucara, close to Alto Seco, Claudio Instead, conservationists have depended
ments among participating equals. Gutirrez took some convincing. Visi- on intuition and anecdote to guide the
While the details of each municipal tors have been coming and going from design of investments. This makes little
scheme differ, the basic concept is the Pucara since before the time of Che, sense: as Paul Ferraro and Subhrendu
same everywhere. Three parties sign a he asserted. They come with so many Pattanyak suggested in 2006 (in PLOS
ten-year agreement: the water co-opera- promises, and always end up providing Biology): If we want to ensure that do-
tive opens a separate bank account, into nothing. But once the Pucara hydroelec- nors limited resources make a difference,
which revenues from the new environ- tric cooperative and municipal govern- we must accept that testing hypotheses

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 59
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

about what policies and interventions assessed the diversity of beetles and am- Kelsey Jack explains:
protect environmental services requires phibians in each communitys forests. All conservation and development
the same scientific rigor and state-of-the- Fundacin Natura technicians then re- project face financial constraints, yet
art methods that we invest in testing eco- turned to all 120 communities to report we actually dont know if many popular
logical hypotheses. back on results of the data collection interventions work or not. There is no
Understanding of the ecological as- process; to explain to the farmers how better way of assessing whether an in-
pects of conservation rests, in part, on current land practices such as extensive tervention actually works than through
well-designed empirical studies. In con- cattle grazing are destroying the environ- a randomized experiment, and, given
trast, our understanding of the way in ment and their own water supplies; and that project resources are finite, there is
which policies can help protect biodiver- to demonstrate the economic viability of no fairer way to allocate funds to com-
sity rests primarily on anecdotal moni- alternative productive activities such as munities than in a random draw. Our
toring of projects that were not even honey and fruit production, and ratio- methodology randomly assigns which
communities receive the project first,
and we use this experiment to then sci-
entifically assess if the project actually
Harvards Sustainability Science Program helped works or not. What is increasingly clear

develop an evaluation to show if direct incentives for is that effective conservation and devel-
opment requires evidence about what
land and water conservation were effective. works, including the sometimes sur-
prising ways that potential beneficiaries
respond to the proposed interventions.
designed to answer the question, Does nalization of cattle ranching.
this intervention work better than no in- In August 2011, the experiment itself Just ask Che. His communist revo-
tervention at all? Sadly, we thus have no finally began. Through a simple lottery lution in the Santa Cruz valleys ground
idea if the billions of dollars invested in conducted in front of local officials, 60 to an abrupt haltmainly because he
conservation in the last decades have ac- communitieshalf of the communities didnt understand his audiences needs,
tually achieved anything. in the areawere selected to receive and they werent convinced that he
In 2009, Fundacin Natura Bolivia funding for reciprocal agreements. All could help them. Perhaps Natura Bo-
approached Kelsey Jack at Harvards farmers in the selected communities who livias conservation effort, led by people
Sustainability Science Program to try to own land within 300 feet of streams and from the region, addressing a recog-
develop a program evaluation: a study rivers are eligible to receive in-kind pay- nized local problem, will have more suc-
that could show, once and for all, wheth- mentsi.e. fruit trees or bee boxesat cess. We will keep fighting to protect
er giving farmers like Claudio Gutirrez the equivalent rate of $2 per acre of wa- the peoples water supplies, asserts Ma-
direct incentives to conserve their land ter-producing forest conserved for a year. ria Teresa Vargas of Natura: Hasta la
could achieve cost-effective conservation Farmers in the other 60 communities victoria siempre. Unlike the events of
and development. Jack and Harvard col- will receive nothing other than infor- 1967, a rigorous experimental method-
leagues then spent a year and half with mation about the state of the environ- ology will determine whether Naturas
Natura figuring out how such an experi- ment, and follow up data collection will revolution really is victorious or not.
ment could best be implemented. Fol- indicate whether there is more effective
lowing the logic of the natural sciences, conservation in the sites where compen- Nigel Asquith was a 2009-2010 Giorgio
the analysis is straightforward in its de- sation is paid, and if these payments have Ruffolo Fellow in Sustainability Science
sign. However, it is costly, complex, and had an effect on local livelihoods and at Harvard Kennedy School. While at
slow in its implementation. perceptions about the environment and Harvard, he helped develop a research
To establish a baseline, every single local institutions. Once the experimental program to assess the efficiency of the
family in the Rio Grande-Valles Cruce- results are in, farmers in the 60 non- Natura Bolivias work in the Santa Cruz
os Protected Area initially completed a treated communities will then become valleys. His research was supported by
15-page questionnaire about their socio- eligible for the scheme. the Sustainability Science Program at
economic situation, their perceptions Critics of such program evaluations Harvard, the European Commission, the
about the environment and the role of assert that they are unfair (How can MacArthur Foundation, and the UKs
various institutions in their lives. At the you deny project benefits to some com- Ecosystem Services for Poverty Allevia-
same time, researchers measured water munities and not others?) and unethi- tion Program funded by DFID, ESRC
quality in, above, and below each com- cal (How can researchers justify play- and NERC. Contact: nigelasquith@
munity, mapped vegetation cover, and ing god with peoples lives?). Harvards yahoo.com.

60 ReVista fall 2011

focus on
Indigenous education has been a right in Bolivia since the 1952
Revolution. Warisata, the first indigenous school, dates back
to 1931. Yet, with Bolivias new education law, that education is
being widely extended, and for the first time, all Bolivians are
learning indigenous languages and cultures.

n We Want Public Education! 62

n Warisata 65
n Bolivias Indigenous Universities 68
n The New Bolivian Education Law 70

artist by
photo credit
url drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 61
We Want Public Education!
Education on the Agenda of Bolivian Indigenous Peoples Movement
By Luz Jimnez Quispe

We Want Public Education has been a We Want Public Education! women. In the cities, Alberta saw the
decades-long call among the Bolivian The following story illustrates the chal- causes of the indigenous womens situ-
indigenous peoples public demands. It lenges that confronted our quest for edu- ation and subjugation as they remained
represents thousands of voices, thou- cation. Alberta Quispe (my mother) was poor and illiterate. This led Alberta to
sands of women and men looking for the an indigenous woman, Aymara and Bo- become involved in social movements
right to have access to school. We had livian, who was born before 1952. At that and in the struggles for education.
to organize our communities to request time indigenous people did not have any In the 1980s, Bolivias government is-
schools and teachers from the national right to an education or to citizenship. sued Decree 21060, which threatened to
governments. For endless years the in- Indigenous men and women were pre- privatize education, and this in turn stim-
digenous leaders traveled to the cities destined to be workers, employees, and ulated social movement to defend pub-
asking for one teacher or a new school, servants. They were considered incapa- lic education. At that time, Alberta was
over and over again. We had to bring ble of abstract thought, or understand- living in El Alto city, a municipality that
gifts to the authorities in order to gain ing civilization and modernity. Alberta connects La Paz with the altiplano. She
one teacher for our communities. Some- dreamed of going to school all her life had been diagnosed with cancer, but all
times our needs for education became to learn to read and write. But she was her thoughts were concentrated on find-
good business for bad authorities. But excluded from receiving an education by ing a good education for her children and
today, our past requests are legal rights. an institutionalized and racist national grandchildren; she understood the im-
This article tells about the indigenous political system. However, the girl had portance of education for all indigenous
movement that achieved intercultural a thirst for knowledge that went beyond
bilingual education for everybody in the the limitations of history, and she learned An indigenous child exhibits a prized piece
country. from the knowledge of Andean Aymara of candy.

62 ReVista fall 2011 photo by winifred parker, winifredparker@comcast.net

focus on education

people, for indigenous women, and for the ered the main instrument for consolidat- enous people into the Bolivian main-
entire Bolivian society. The following is an ing the country. However, it was also used stream to benefit the dominant class.
excerpt from the narrative of Albertas last to assimilate the population. Local lan- The indigenous people in Bolivia de-
experience organizing for education: guages were to be used only for the pur- veloped diverse strategies to resist and
Yesterday we had a meeting at the neigh- pose of teaching the dominant language, persist. After 1955 many indigenous
borhood council. We were informed Spanish. This educational goal was rein- started to go to school, some to the Su-
by the federation (FEJUVE) about the forced in the Educational Code of 1955. perior Normal Institutes (teachers) and
Decree. We were told we should defend a few to the public universities. Even
public education by marching. Nobody Article 115 - The literacy action will though the indigenous professionals
wanted to move, then I decided to speak predominate in areas where indigenous were taught from the assimilation per-
and I said: I am an old woman. I am sick languages, using the native language as spective, they used their knowledge to
and tired but I will take to the streets a vehicle for learning immediately from help the indigenous movement. The first
with the leaders to defend the education Castilian, as a necessary factor of na- Aymara students were present at the em-
of our wawas (children). Where are the tional linguistic integration. To this ef- blematic indigenous meeting in the An-
men? Will you go with us or not? Then, fect will be adopted phonetic alphabets des and help to write a most important
one by one they began to join the march that save the greatest possible similar- document during the military dictator-
until finally everybody decided to go. ity with the Castilian language alphabet ship in the 1970s, as follows:
After finishing the meeting we all went (emphasis added). Tiwanaku Manifesto (1973)
to the streets. On the way we met people Article 120 - The fundamental objec- We, Quechua and Aymara farmers, just
from other areas and neighborhoods. I tives of rural education are: as members of other native cultures of
did not have time to change into my city 1. D
 evelop good habits in the farmers the country, feel economically exploited
clothes and I thought: What will my life, with regard to their eating habits, and culturally and politically oppressed.
friends think if they see me looking like hygiene and health, shelter, clothing In Bolivia there has not been an integra-
a country bumpkin? But we had to keep and personal and social behavior. tion of cultures but rather only a layer-
walking. Reaching the city, our social 2. Promote functional literacy training ing and domination, maintaining us in
movement caused chaos, the cars could through the use and mastery of the the lowest and most exploited stratum
not move and people began to be an- basic tools of learning: reading, writ- in the social pyramid.
gry and upset. Then I heard two chotas ing and arithmetic. The education [we receive] only seeks
(city women) say: these ignorant Indi- 3. Teach farmers to be good agricultural to convert the Indian into a species of
ans bother us! I turned my head to the workers, trained in the use of renew- mixed person without definition or per-
crowd and shouted aloud: Yes, we are ig- able systems of crops and animal sonality, but it also pursues his assimi-
norant Indians! So, what do we want?! farming. lation into the western and capitalist
And they all shouted: Public Education! 4. E
 ncourage and develop their techni- culture.
(La Paz, Alberta Quispe, 1986) cal vocational skills by teaching the Neither our virtues nor our own vision of
basics of rural industries and handi- the world have been respected [] our
Yes, education had been on the agen- crafts in their region, enabling the culture and our mentality have not been
da of indigenous peoples for hundreds of earning of a living through productive respected.
years. Education was seen as a right and manual labour.
an opportunity to become citizens. Indig- 5. C
 ultivate love of the traditions, folk- The document also declared that
enous women felt the effects most. Accord- lore and national popular applied art despite the lack of respect, indigenous
ing to National Statistical Institute (INE, by developing their aesthetic sense. knowledge was alive.
2001), in Bolivia the female illiteracy rate Prevent and eradicate the practices of In order to construct a model of edu-
is 19.35 percent while the male is 6.94 per- alcoholism, the use of coca, supersti- cation rooted in indigenous knowledge
cent. In the rural areas female illiteracy is tions and prejudices prevailing in ag- and wisdom the indigenous professionals
37.91 percent, male is 14.42 percent. In the riculture, through science education. looked to the past and studied the Ayllu
last five years literacy campaigns have low- 6. Develop the farmers civic awareness Warisata School that was active from
ered female illiteracy rates. so they can participate actively in the 1931 to 1940. The school emerged from
process of economic and cultural de- the spirit and philosophy of clandestine
Public Policies for velopment of the nation. (National schools that began in 1905 in order to
Indigenous Education Educational Code 1955) promote the freedom and autonomy of
Since the National Revolution (1952) in- indigenous communities. Aymara caci-
digenous peoples in Bolivia have had the The National Educational Code of que Avelino Siani and teacher Elizardo
right to education. Education was consid- 1955 was designed to assimilate indig- Prez spearheaded the Warisata School,

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 63
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

which promoted certain values and vi- included 21 members from social, educa- cana, Tapiete, Toromona, Uru-Chipaya,
sions about education and the Bolivian tional, and indigenous peoples organiza- Weenhayek, Yaminawa, Yuki, Yurakare
state. Students at the school divided their tions. I was a member of this historical and Zamuco.
days between productive work, com- process and I can testify to how hard it II. The plurinational and departmental
munity service, and classes. A council was to achieve final agreements. Every governments should use at least two of-
of Amawtas (Aymara wise people) as- sector presented its educational politi- ficial languages. One of them should be
sumed responsibility for decisions about cal agenda. The committee collected the Spanish, and the other will be decided
taking into account the use, convenience,
circumstances, needs and preferences of
the population as a whole or the territory
The new education law represents a veritable cultural in question. Other autonomies should

revolution and a huge challenge for people in the use the languages of their territories, and
one of them must be Spanish.
government and people in the community.
New Education Law
These changes in Bolivian law will be con-
school life. This experience was quickly proposals and gathered educational ex- trolled by the social organization and In-
replicated in other indigenous communi- periences from different institutions. digenous Educational Councils (CEPOs.)
ties in the Andes and in the Amazon. In The final version of the new education This control covers the entire national ed-
1940 the Warisata School was closed by law was named Avelino Sinani and Eliz- ucational system, including universities.
the national government because it was ardo Prez document in tribute to the CEPOs have specific functions such as
seen as a threat to the status quo. pioneers of the Ayllu Warisata School. participating in formulating educational
In 2006, the National Congress on policies, and ensuring the implementa-
The Educational Proposal Education reviewed and approved the tion and enforcement of intracultural,
Woven by Amazonian and draft of the Law of the New Bolivian intercultural and multilingual education
Andean Indigenous Peoples Education. The bill was presented to the from planning to evaluation.
We want education is still the indigenous president and then to the national parlia- Indigenous adults are organized and
womens demand in Bolivia. However, the ment. Finally, it was approved in Decem- connected with the educational process
question is: what kind of education? The ber of 2010. in their communities or schools in the
answer is not simple or easy. The experi- The educational law was written dur- cities. Various elders were also called
ences of indigenous peoples have opened ing a time of structural changes in Boliv- to contribute their knowledge, so that
a complex and diverse scenery that de- ia, drawn up before the new constitution. knowledge from many indigenous com-
mands a new educational model, new cur- However, since a few participants in the munities will now become part of the
ricula, and new vision about Bolivia. design of the educational law were mem- mandatory national curriculum. There-
All of Bolivias indigenous people bers of the Constituent Assembly, some fore, Bolivia will have a national cur-
came together in a huge organization articles from the New Constitution over- riculum that will provide intercultural
(2006) called the Indigenous Block with lap with the new educational law. education to all the citizens. Also, every
representatives from the Amazon and the The following are some articles indigenous nation will have the opportu-
Andes. Led by Indigenous Educational from the each of the documents that nity to write its own curriculum, using its
Councils (CEPOs), the Indigenous Block shows how much the indigenous people specific knowledge, time, space, didacti-
drew up an education proposal after a achieved in the area of language policies cal process, and criteria for evaluation,
wide consultation with all indigenous and education. etc. This is a veritable cultural revolution
communities in the country. The result National Constitution and a huge challenge for people in the
was the book entitled A Native Indig- Article 5. I. State Official languages are government and people in the communi-
enous Education Aiming towards Ideo- Spanish and all indigenous languages ties. It is a historic opportunity to assem-
logical, Political, Territorial and Cultural which are Aymara, Araona, Baure, B- ble much knowledge together, including
Self-determination. This book was the siro, Canichana, Cavineo, Cayubaba, the indigenous knowledge.
most important input for designing the Chacobo, Chiman, Esse Ejja, Guarani,
new law on education in Bolivia in 2006, Guarasuawe, Guarayu, Itonama, Leco, Luz Jimnez Quispe is an Aymara
under the presidency of Evo Morales. Machajuyai-Kallawaya, Machineri, woman from Bolivia, educator and an-
The Ministry of Education organized Maropa, Mojeo-Trinitario, Mojeo- thropologist. Currently she is a Doctoral
a committee to write the new education Ignaciano, Mosetn, Movima, Mor, Pa- Student in the Educational College of the
law in March of 2006. The committee cawara, Puquina, Quechua, Sirion, Ta- University of Arizona.

64 ReVista fall 2011

A Historical Footnote by Brooke Larson

This year, on August 2, Bolivia will com- struggle and repression serve as the last and Aymara peasants who put their faith,
memorate the 80th anniversary of the living link to this past. labor and trust in the school project.
founding of the escuela-ayllu of Wari- Memory and myth aside for the mo- The school, which eventually drew
sata, an extraordinary intercultural ex- ment, the documentary record accords hundreds of students and families from
periment in indigenous schooling that Warisata a pioneering place--not only surrounding villages, was planted square-
flourished between 1931 and 1940 on in Bolivia, but in Latin Americas history ly within the matrix of the traditional
the high plateau (altiplano) in the shad- of popular and indigenous school proj- kin-based, landed community (or, ayllu).
ows of the volcanic peak of Illampu. On ects. That larger pan-American history Working along side the schools teachers
that day, the usual civic rituals and offi- of school reform burst into public con- and director, Aymara communal work
cial remembrances--school pageants, TV sciousness in the 1960s, when Brazilian parties (minkas) baked adobe bricks and
documentaries, and editorial page reflec- educator Paulo Freire began to popular- raised the school building, donated lands
tionswill mark the schools founding ize his educational philosophy, known in exchange for the education of their
and burnish its iconic status in the pub- as the pedagogy of the oppressed. But children, built an aqueduct to channel
lic memory. For some older Bolivians, long before Freire began preaching his Illampus glacial lake water to the school
this commemoration will also signal the program of adult education, a humble complex, and tended the schools fields,
passing of the last members of the found- rural school, located in an Indian village flocks, and orchards that provisioned the
ing generation of Aymara peasants and named Warisata, had been crafted out of school children (including its large board-
white teachers, who carved out an eman- intercultural dialogue and hands-on col- ing population). The schools intercultural
cipatory Indian school in a hostile social laboration between a few white educa- egalitarian ethos (based on traditional
environment, and whose testimonials of tors, who had ventured into the region, norms of reciprocal exchange, or ayni)

photo courtesy of Carlos Salazar Mostajo/ drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 65

Gesta y Fotografa, Historia de Warisata en Imagenes
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

also governed the schools administrative of Warisatas influence--the fact that it livias unique, decade-long experiment
and judicial workings. An Aymara parlia- eventually irradiated political and insti- in communal schooling was crushed and
ment of amawtas (wise elders and coun- tutional influence across a wide swath publically reviled.
selors) participated in policy making, gov- of territory and attracted multitudes of Given its dramatic history, it is hardly
ernance, arbitration, and discipline, and indigenous pilgrims to its festivals and surprising that Warisatas afterlife has
the rustic parliament was also turned into assemblies--that put it on the landlords been a history of conflictive memories
a forum of Aymara oratory, debate, and psychic map as a major irritant. Just as and antagonistic narratives. At worst,
discussion about broader social issues the schools fame was spreading beyond the political struggle for memory has de-
and grievances that burdened indigenous Bolivia to Peru, Mexico, and the United volved into caricatures of the school in its
people. States (which sent streams of visitors to heyday: its critics represented Warisata
The prosaic workings of this school observe this innovative school), Warisata as a mortal threat to the nation (which
surprised many white visitors to the became a source of bitter debate among was then rescued by the oligarchic elites
school, because it breached societys educators, intellectuals, and politicians from imminent race war or revolution
prevailing racial-caste norms that pro- at home. Bolivias conservative aristoc- by abolishing the escuela-ayllu); while
scribed hard manual labor to white men racy accused Warisatas teachers and its defenders fashioned Warisata into an
(particularly men of letters and educa- amawtas of preaching racial hatred, Andean socialist utopia, which was just
tors) and, at the same time, presumed walling off the Indian school from na- beginning to liberate the Indian from
Indians incapable of oratory and rational tional society, and stirring up the res- the long nightmare of internal colonial-
thoughtmuch less of participatory de- tive peasantry across the altiplano. But ism (before Bolivias reactionary elites
mocracy and self-governance. It was not the school also came under attack from took the school down and snuffed out
uncommon in the late 1930s for a visiting a faction of progressive educators, who the peaceful process of Indian emanci-
journalist or politician to recall in utter denigrated the schools underlying phi- pation). The bitter lesson in 1940 was
amazement the dignity and eloquence losophy of cultural pluralism and instead not lost on Warisatas champions: there
of Aymara amawtas speaking before an pushed forward an assimilationist agen- could be no emancipation of the Indian
assembled group of Indians about the da, aimed at converting Aymara (and without revolutionary change.
issues of the day, or to remark on the Quechua) Indians into generic (cultur- After the 1952 National Revolution,
extraordinary enthusiasm that Indi- ally mestizo) campesinos. When the Warisatas currency began to rise in official
ans demonstrated in their concern and oligarchy suddenly returned to power memory, but the school was unmoored
participation in matters of education. in 1940, the assimilationists seized this from its indigenous origins and turned
Equally impressive to foreign educators moment to strike. In a matter of months, into a nationalist symbol, consonant with
was the schools innovative curriculum Bolivian public education was revamped the project of the National Revolution-
(blending practical agro-industrial skills (at least in theoretical terms) as the ary Movement (MNR) to remake Indians
with academic work, and often using bi- states arm of Indian assimilation. Wari- into campesinos within a unifying mes-
lingual methods of instruction). The cur- sata was invaded and transformed. Bo- tizo nation. On this new public stage, the
riculum, driven by an ideal of practical schools past acquired a new significance.
knowledge tailored to the material needs It became an emblem of the govern-
and cultural values of the Aymara com- ments heralded Agrarian Reform policy,
munity, was also responsive to the fierce which was proclaimed to the nation and
desire of Aymara communities to acquire the world in the peasant town of Ucurea
new forms of instrumental knowledge or (Cochabamba) on August 2, 1953. From
cultural capital (access to the dominant then on, the official history and memory
Spanish language, alphabetic literacy, of Warisata were eclipsed by (and con-
bureaucratic, historical, and legal knowl- flated with) the post-revolutionary states
edge, etc.) to press their claims against tactical decision to turn that date into a
hostile landlords in Bolivian courts of state holiday commemorating the MNR-
law or government ministries. led revolution and its 1953 land reform.
The fact that this community-based The event was part of the states new na-
school was turning into a wellspring tionalist narrative that fashioned the ideal
of Aymara civic knowledge and activ- campesino into the embodiment of rural
ism was, by itself, sufficient to turn it progress and national unity. All things
into a target of landlord reprisal and Indian, including the deep ethnic politics
persecution by local political authori- Some indigenous members of the Amauta and conflictive history of Warisata, were
ties. But it was the scope and intensity Parliament (1931). to be banished (or else, sanitized as na-

66 ReVista fall 2011 photo courtesy of Carlos Salazar Mostajo/

Gesta y Fotografa, Historia de Warisata en Imagenes
focus on education

tional folklore) from political discourse by the 1990s, tropical lowland peoples) a place of honor in the nations evolving
in the post-revolutionary era of cultural staged protest actions and began push- collective memory, at the very moment
nationalism. Meanwhile the states 1955 ing cultural and economic agendas that Bolivia began reinventing itself as a plu-
Educational Reform code mapped out a included a fundamental challenge to rilingual multiethnic nation. But, in Sep-
curriculum that would spread schools, Bolivias system of public education. In tember 2003, Warisata became the scene
but suppress indigenous languages, his- the search for cultural revitalization and of military violence against striking stu-
tories, and identities. Silence and forget- empowerment within a reimagined mul- dents and peasants. That shocking turn
ting wove the subtext of the MNRs newly ticultural nation, Aymara-Quechua lead- of eventsthe unprecedented bloody
revamped national holiday heralding the ers looked to the past for inspiration and clash on the schools sacred groundset
end of the Bolivian latifundio, while pro- guidance. They found it, at least in part, off a series of political events that eventu-
jecting a modernizing agrarian narrative in the buried history of Aymara commu- ally forced President Gonzalo Snchez de
devoid of Indians. nities struggles for the right to commu- Losada into exile the following month.
Over the next two decades, there nal lands and village primary schools that In Bolivias current political climate,
were occasional excursions into the past, took place in the early part of the 20th there is an understandable sense of ur-
and Warisata would crop up again in century, when most peones were still for- gency to plumb the past for knowledge
the news or in public commemoration, bidden to learn how to read and write. In and inspiration in the ongoing search
especially with the passing of another the late 1980s and early 1990s local schol- for a genuinely pluralist national culture
decade. A few stalwarts, men like Eliz- ars (including Roberto Choque Canqui, and educational curriculumone capa-
ardo Prez (co-founder and director) and Carlos Mamani, and a collective of young ble of nourishing Bolivias rich heritage
Carlos Salazar Mostajo (teacher in the historians [popularly known as THOA]) of ethnic and ecological diversity. Indeed,
late 1930s and later a writer, artist, and fanned out across the countryside to col- Luz Jimenez Quispes article in ReVista
journalist), did their best to bring to life, lect oral testimonies and dig into pro- charts the contours of a cultural revolu-
though their own memoirs and stories, vincial archives. They harvested rich tion unfolding in Bolivia today, which is
the history of sacrifices and hardships, as material showing that, in many regions, centered on the education reforms (aptly
well as the triumphs and achievements, rural Indian communities had a deep, named after the co-founders of the Wari-
that went into the making of the escuela- semi-clandestine history of organizing sata escuela-ayllu), which were ratified
ayllu. On the negative side, Warisata and subsidizing rural literacy schools in by the congress in December, 2010. This
continued to be the target of pedagogical the void of absent state support and in new education reform law is driven by the
criticism of its alleged failings. the context of local colonial-styled vio- principles of cultural and epistemologi-
Warisatas resurgence as a meaning- lence. These scholars also pieced together cal pluralism and by a decentralized and
ful landmark in Bolivian public history narratives that re-situated the origins of participatory mode of organization. Given
came only in the 1970s and 1980s, when Warisata in this larger history of Aymara the states chronic institutional weakness
a new generation of Aymara and Que- communities and their emancipatory and historic tendency to hype educational
chua activists, scholars and intellectuals struggles for lands, schools, and justice reform as the panacea of all things ill, only
began to reengage the past and, through under successive oligarchic regimes. This time will tell how this effort plays out.
their own scholarly writing and teaching, new research revealed, for example, the There is no denying, however, that the
began to unearth the hidden narratives foundational role that Avelino Siani, an 2010 Education Reform represents the
of indigenous-centered history that had Aymara literacy teacher, had played in symbolic relocation of indigenous peo-
been so long buried under official memo- the mobilization of communal peasant ples at the very core of Bolivian cultural
ry. As indigenous cultural values became support for Warisata in 1931, and in the politics and nationality. Collective memo-
the driving force of rural and urban mo- public defense of the schools integrity be- ries of Warisata, on its 80th anniversary,
bilizations across the altiplano, and as fore hostile state authorities in 1941, just surely will have deep resonance for many
trade union leaders and university youth hours before he died. of todays indigenous activists and educa-
began to attack the structural racism and Within this shifting political and in- tors, in search of a usable past.
inequality that had marginalized most tellectual climate, then, Warisata became
native people, a few Aymara students be- a wellspring of collective memory and in- Brooke Larson, Professor of History at
gan to rediscover and rescue an alterna- spiration for many indigenous scholars, Stony Brook University, was the Santo
tive collective past. Warisatas activation teachers, and activists in search of decol- Domingo Visiting Scholar at DRCLAS,
as a powerful indigenous symbol, and its onizing agendas for Bolivian school re- in 2011. Author and co-editor of several
growing mystique in the public memory, form and other areas of social life. Long books, she is currently writing a book
were part of this larger political and cul- forgotten or discredited as a failed uto- on Aymara social movements and the
tural shift going on in Bolivia at the time, pian experiment in Indian schooling, politics of Indian education in early-to-
as its indigenous majority (including, in the mid-1990s Warisata finally found mid 20th century Bolivia.

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 67
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Bolivias Indigenous Universities

Building Community By Marcia Mandepora

Along with demands for territory and defense of Guarani territory and was ex- gagement rather than opposition. Based
self-determination to redress their his- ecuted by by the Bolivian army in 1892. on my experiences as a Guarani leader
toric marginality, the indigenous peoples The UNIBOL is a leveling institution and educator and the first rector of the
push for higher education has found meant to compensate for the fact that Guarani UNIBOL, the question is how to
traction with the election of Evo Morales. indigenous youth are underrepresented transform how these activities take place
In 2008 the government launched the in Bolivias traditional universities. In- in indigenous territories. As indigenous
Indigenous University of Bolivia (UNI- digenous students receive government organizations, we now have the power to
BOL) with sites in three ethnolinguistic assistance and the backing of their prevent oil companies from acting as they
regions. The Aymara UNIBOL is in War- organizations. UNIBOL offers training please. Training in these fields could help
isata, near La Paz, where the countrys that responds to the government focus our peoples monitor, mitigate, and par-
first indigenous school was founded in on communitarian productive devel- ticipate in productive and redistributive
1931. A Quechua branch is in the Chapa- opment. In the Guarani case, students aspects of extraction and commercializa-
re region north of Cochabamba. Though study forestry (for forest management in tion, and to do so with more concern for
not a traditional Quechua area, the Cha- the Amazon); veterinary medicine and environmental and social impacts. This
pare has long been a destination for Que- animal sciences (for engaging the cattle would be, at least, the ideal outcome.
chua migrants and is a bastion of support economy in eastern Bolivia), fisheries Yet the UNIBOL also has a deeper mis-
for the MAS by coca farmers. The third science (for fish farming) and gas and sion that overlaps with efforts to rethink
is in the predominantly Guarani south- petroleum engineering. the university elsewhere in Latin Ameri-
eastern Chaco. The Guarani UNIBOL The paradox is that oil and gasas ca. Along with the Bolivian government,
also serves peoples of the Amazonia well as ranching, logging and industri- the university embraces the discourse of
and eastern Bolivia (Guarayu, Chiqui- alized fishinghave all affected indig- decolonization. Decolonization seeks
tano, and Moxeo) and the Tapiete and enous communities in negative ways. to dismantle legacies of colonial rule and
Weenhayek, also from the Chaco. Here Nonetheless, as well sites and pipelines rethink indigenous and national futures.
the university is named after Apiaguaiki dot and crisscross the region, indigenous This means at the ground level unravel-
Tpa, a Guarani who led an uprising in organizations have taken a stance of en- ing institutional and ideological racism,

68 ReVista fall 2011 murals courtesy of Carlos Salazar Mostajo/

Gesta y Fotografa, Historia de Warisata en Imagenes
focus on education

addressing racialized class inequalities change of knowledge. As I often say, if we These colorful murals by indigenous artists
and dismantling the patriarchal logic of are just training youth to be like the rest, adorned the walls of Warisata. As Marcia
Mandepora explains, UNIBOLBolivias first
colonial rule. It also means rethinking we are doing nothing for our people. We
indigenous universityhas its roots in Wari-
western knowledge and exploring indig- are simply creating technocrats. sata, the countrys first indigenous school.
enous linguistic and cultural perspectives. Decolonization operates practically
For indigenous peoples, this also means as a demand for affirmative action and
rethinking the territorial and ideological intercultural respect. Yet thinking deeply poverty and environmental degradation,
order of the state itself, which was created about knowledge, nature, and living while relying upon these activities to gen-
to control indigenous peoples and lands well requires a deeper engagement with erate revenues for state transformation.
for resource extraction or labor. Against socially, historically and spiritually em- As the vanguard in the transformation
development that fuels accumulation bedded realities of peoples relationships of the colonial character of the state and
elsewhere, decolonization imagines new to nature in indigenous regions. As such, higher education, our work to construct
economies that pursue buen vivir, or the decolonial thinking is likely beyond the the UNIBOL may offer some possibilities.
good life. ken or comfort of conventional academ-
Training youth and pursuing deeper ics. While northern universities retrench Marcia Mandepora is the rector of the
transformations is a tall order for fledg- themselves in disciplines, techno-science UNIBOL-Guarani Apiaguaiki Tpa in
ling universities. Nonetheless, we must and positivist inquiry, decolonial think- Machareti, Bolivia. She received a Licen-
move beyond the old way of thinking that ing questions the bases and purposes ciatura in Sociology from the University
universities should assimilate our young of knowledge production. In the case of of San Simn in Cochabamba in 1997,
people to western ways of thinking. Now extractive activities, the challenge is the and a Masters in Bilingual Intercul-
the university teaches indigenous histo- search for new economic models that tural Education from PROEIB-Andes
ries and knowledge alongside technical lead to living well or the good life in and that university in 2000. As one
expertise. For example, a Guarani oil specific places, rather than the endless of the first and few Guarani to attain
technician would aspire to compete with commodification of people and nature. postgraduate education, Mandepora is a
any other such expert, but would also The UNIBOL thus marks a break leading intellectual and womens leader
know how to engage and understand in- from the past, but is itself dependent on of the Assembly of Guarani People and a
digenous social realities. Students would the acceleration of extractive activities. A nationally recognized figure in indig-
approach indigenous organizations and special tax on natural gas funds these and enous education.
territories through mutual respect and other universities. The UNIBOL is thus This article was translated by Bret Gus-
concern for rethinking living well. We caught in the contradiction confronting tafson, author of New Languages of the State:
see students and communities learning the entire country: how to transform ex- Indigenous Resurgence and the Politics of
from each other, through a reciprocal ex- tractive economies that have led to rural Knowledge in Bolivia (Duke, 2009).

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 69
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

The New Bolivian Education Law

Among the Guarayo By Helen Strom

They marched determinedly down Boliv- While these tensions didnt indicate deep swollen feetThat type of education,
ias Santa Cruz-Trinidad highway under political breaks between MAS and local where did it lead us? To the point where
the hot sun. It was July of 2010, and indigenous activists, they raised several we admired that type of mother and we
Bolivias most prominent lowland indig- questions. Why, for example, did some looked down on our mothersthe school
enous organization, CIDOB (Confedera- Indians not embrace a policy designed had made us value other cultures, anoth-
tion of Indigenous Peoples of the Boliv- for all Indians? And what were they de- er model of mother, another way of life.
ian Oriente) was marching to demand manding instead? As Aymara activist Pedro Apala put it,
modifications to the new Law of Autono- decolonization therefore requires Boliv-
mies (or Self-Determination) and De- A decolonizing education ians to stop valuing the foreign and be-
centralization, created by Evo Moraless The new Avelino Siani-Elizardo Prez gin to value what is ours. While previous
largely Andean party MAS (Movement Bolivian Education Law is a cornerstone policy created indigenous education pro-
Towards Socialism). of the MAS agenda to radically change grams solely for the Indians, the new law
I was among the marchers. Ten days the historically racist, hierarchical or- presents indigenousness as something
earlier, the protesters had reached the der of Bolivian society. Named after the that all Bolivians need, indigenous or
busy town of Ascensin de Guarayos, founders of the Warisata school (see pp. not. For example, the law requires every
home of the Guarayo Indians since the 65-67), the law proposes a revolutionary, child to learn an indigenous language and
1500s. I was in Ascensin to study edu- decolonizing education with a new em- some indigenous content in addition to
cation, and local education activists had phasis on productive skills, community Spanish and traditional Western subject
urged me to join them in the march. Just involvement, and indigenous language, matter. In the activists terminology, the
hide if the reporters come, so they dont culture, and knowledge. After a stormy new education is both intracultural and
write that were being funded by the reception (the proposal presented by in- intercultural. It seeks to strengthen cul-
Americans, they warned with a smile, digenous organizations in 2006 was op- ture within Indian communities and also
referencing President Moraless unsub- posed by the urban teachers union, the promote dialogue between cultures that
stantiated claims that the U.S. develop- Church and many universities), a modi- puts Western and indigenous ideas on an
ment agency USAID was behind the pro- fied version was signed into law in De- equal playing field. From the standpoint
test. My study of Bolivian education had cember 2010; the Ministry of Education of indigenous rights, the lingo all sounded
forced me to look at broader issues of so- is now gradually phasing in the new law good to leaders in La Paz. But what would
cial and political change in this country in Bolivian schools. decolonization look like in practice?
where 70% of the population identifies Activists and officials in La Paz de-
as indigenous. scribed the old Bolivian education system Highland-lowland tensions
For two and a half months that winter, as one of mental colonization in which In June 2010, the eight Indigenous Edu-
I carried out ethnographic research on the white elite imported and imposed cation Councils (Consejos Educativos de
yet another widely publicized and con- their allegedly superior Western mod- los Pueblos Originarios, CEPOs) and the
troversial MAS policy designed largely els of schooling and knowledge. Aymara Ministry of Education met to discuss the
to benefit the indigenous population, the official Victor Pinaya, the Director of the new regional curricula. Seven of Bolivias
new Bolivian Education Law. After inter- Office of Curricular Development in the most numerous indigenous peoples have
viewing national education leaders in La Ministry of Education, told me about his their own Councils, while remaining
Paz, where the policy was being revised own experience in a rural school: I re- groups make up the Multiethnic Amazo-
and debated, I went to study the laws re- member my book that I used when I was nian Council. These groups are currently
ception in the Guarayo community of As- littleit said, Mother eats cake. First of designing regional curricula that corre-
censin in the department of Santa Cruz all, I didnt know what cake was. Second, spond to the language, culture, territory,
for two months. there was [a picture of ] a mother, but and context of their peoples. Under the
The new policy resonated in the town she was blond, with white complexion, new law, these curricula will be applied
on many levels, yet I found significant with a dress, shoes. But when I looked at alongside a new national curriculum.
disagreement over various aspects of my mother, she was brown-skinned with The lone gringa in the room, I seated
the laws content and implementation. braids, short with sandals, with her worn, myself next to the Guarayo representa-

70 ReVista fall 2011

focus on education

The new education law brings education

about indigenous communities to all.

for several centuries prior to coloniza-

tion, relying on subsistence agriculture,
hunting, and gathering from the sur-
rounding forests. Spanish colonial efforts
focused on the more accessible highlands
and their dense, well-organized popula-
tions, largely ignoring the isolated low-
land frontier. Indeed, exploitation of the
Guarayo did not begin until the arrival
of Franciscan missionaries in the early
1800s. The priests founded several mis-
sion towns, including Ascensin, as part
of their project to congregate, convert
and civilize the natives.
In 1938, the Bolivian state stripped
the missions of their control over the
Guarayo, clearing the way for the local
white elite. With state backing, these
elites seized local land and compelled the
Guarayo to work as peons on their farms.
When the 1952 National Revolution end-
ed the hacienda system in the highlands
tive. As Ministry officials introduced more contextualizing something from and gave indigenous highlanders new
themselves, he turned toward me. All other peoplesthan recognizing native forms of political representation, these
of the officials are Quechua or Aymara, knowledge. reforms failed to reach the lowlands.
none of them is from the lowlands, he I furrowed my brow. Didnt the Vice Change would have to be driven from be-
informed me softly. With a current pop- Minister consider plantains to be indig- low. In the 1980s, the Guarayo and other
ulation of 20,000, the Guarayo are one enous or native? Perhaps he had is- lowland groups began to organize.
of Bolivias 34 so-called lowland groups sues with the plants history, as the crop Today, the Guarayo enjoy increased
represented by CIDOB, the indigenous recalls the infamous banana plantations political power in their communities and
organization leading the aforementioned and banana republics of the Caribbean significant (if still partial) control over
march. Lowland peoples have demon- and Central America. Or maybe it was their territory, a term now used by inter-
strated increasing political clout since because bananas were part of imposed national law to describe land of tradition-
the 1990s. They are still, however, a dis- alternative development projects by US- al use and occupancy. However, logging
tinct minority compared to the domi- AID in some parts of Bolivia. None of and other commercial deforestation have
nant highland groups (Quechua and these connections seemed to hit home in severely depleted the rich expanse of for-
Aymara) that comprise roughly 85% of Ascensin, however, where native resi- ests, chasing the dense groves to distant
the countrys indigenous population. dents cultivate the crop and use it for tra- slopes and inaccessible hilltops. Further-
Indeed, while lowland groups generally ditional Guarayo dishes such as masaco. more, the Guarayo are still marginalized
supported Morales and MAS, they were I wasnt able to ask the Vice Minister in many senses, in their region and within
quick to tell me that they were underrep- to elaborate but the comment was reveal- Bolivia as a whole. Its a position that they
resented at the national level. The CEPO ing in itself. While highland intellectuals continue to work to reverse.
representatives showed an hour-long envisioned a process of radical decolo- Nevertheless, the Guarayo do not
Powerpoint on their progress, followed nization from the West, the ideas and want to call this change decolonization.
by an open opportunity for comments. sense of history only partially resonated Inside the offices of the Guarayan Edu-
High-ranking Ministry officials offered with lowland groups such as the Guarayo. cational Council (CEPIG), an official told
abundant praise but also criticized the me that the concept of fully decoloniz-
curricula as too Western. One Vice Min- National laws in Ascensin ing from Western influences is too radi-
ister questioned a sample lowland lesson The Guarayo enjoyed a semi-nomadic cal and impractical given the current re-
about the plantain, arguing that it was existence in the tropical eastern lowlands ality of many of these groups. A relatively

photo by rosalie parker loewen drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 71

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

small Guarayan town through the 1970s, materials, infrastructure, and teacher each with substantive rights to consulta-
Ascensin has been transformed into a salaries. Indeed, schools in Ascensin tion, autonomy and self-determination.
multi-ethnic hub through increased mi- face issues of severe underfunding that Additionally, as one of many distinct na-
gration and commerce. One glance at As- disproportionately affect the towns tions that constitute the state, each indig-
censins main commercial area confirms poorest Guarayo residents; some schools enous group demands equality and inclu-
this; the twenty-block stretch is saturat- even lack running water. There is no sion in a state that is imagined as having
ed with cell phone vendors, microfinance university in the area; most Guarayo broad redistributive responsibilities.
banks and a couple of new Internet ca- youth cannot continue their education In Bolivia, plurinationalism is now
fs. Indeed, today, many Guarayo look to after high school. Locals demanded central to debates over the relationship
move ahead through equal access to ad- that municipal, regional, and national between the state and indigenous rights.
vanced education and new technologies, governments fulfill their responsibility While the concept is often attributed to
not through a romantic return to some to address these citizenship needs. Morales, plurinationalism arose as a pro-
pre-colonial past. Policymakers in La Paz Many residents also insisted that the posal of grassroots indigenous organiza-
do not deny this reality; they also high- government consult and involve them tions and was later incorporated into the
light the potential value of many West- more in the construction of educational MAS agenda despite objections within
ern advances, including technology. The policy. One weekday evening, I chatted the party. In 2009, the Republic of Bolivia
disagreement over the term, however, over coffee and pastries with Mara, a became the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
reflects highland officials call for a more Guarayan teacher and mother in Ascen- Implementation of the term, however, is
far-reaching and thorough shift towards sin. She estimated that the majority of still being defined and negotiated, with
authentic indigenousness. For exam- teachers knew very little about the new indigenous groups pushing for more au-
ple, while some national activists advo- law; teachers had only received pam- tonomy, consultation and resources from
cate a full return to indigenous spiritual- phlets about the policy. She also criti- Morales government.
ity, many Guarayo in Ascensin identify cized the lack of Guarayo representation Positioned near the front of the
strongly with the Catholic Church. at several events, including a 2009 con- march, I glanced behind me at the col-
Despite Ascensins diverse popula- ference to write the national curriculum. orful spectacle. Hundreds of activists
tion, teachers, parents and leaders gen- Expressing her frustration with what she snaked down the unevenly paved road,
erally supported CEPIG proposals to saw as a disconnect between the Minis- bearing Bolivian flags alongside banners
emphasize Guarayan language and cul- try of Education and the communities, with the names of different indigenous
ture in schools. About half of the towns Mara commented, A reform like this groups. On either side, rolling green
20,000 residents are still Guarayo; the should come from belowthey have nev- hills and plains speckled with cusisal
other half comes from other parts of Bo- er consulted usits an imposition. Al- palms and the occasional herd of grazing
livia, including many indigenous high- though she supported much of the laws cattle stretched out under an open sky.
landers. The Guarayo see education as an content, she was unhappy with the man- While MAS has brought some changes
important means of strengthening indig- ner in which it was created. for these lowland groups, the impact on
enous identity following intense racism at At the 2010 indigenous march, I dis- indigenous communities will rely heavily
the hands of the white elite. Despite these covered that these desires were not lim- on policymakers willingness to expand
steps to revalue Guarayo identity, the lan- ited to education, butthroughout the local participation, autonomy, and re-
guage and culture are still threatened. countryincluded concerns over a lack sources. For the Guarayo and other in-
For example, as one Guarayo teacher ex- of resources and local participation. The digenous groups, the struggle for dignity
plained, the town now celebrates the Day specific list of grievances was long but and equality marches on.
of Tradition and many residents wear the themes remained constantmarch-
traditional clothing for the occasion. But ers wanted more control over their own Helen Strom graduated from Harvard
we take that off and throw it away; we are land, greater financial guarantees from College cum laude in Social Studies in
other people, he added. Its different to the state, and more representation in and 2011. Her honors thesis, entitledI Am
learn to practice, live with, and value [the consultation from the national govern- Free and Not an Indio; I am Guarayo:
culture] one has. ment. While largely absent in discourse, Plurinationalism, Ethnicity, and De-
the trendy new term plurinationalism colonization in Evo Morales Bolivia,
Toward a plurinational state loomed in the background. First used was based on eight months of travel and
Language and culture, however, are not as a mobilizing phrase for indigenous research in Bolivia and earned high
most residents top priorities in educa- movements in Bolivia and Ecuador in the departmental marks. Special thanks to
tion. Access and equality are. Guarayan 1980s, plurinationalism envisions indig- her thesis advisor and mentor Theodore
teachers, parents, and leaders unfailing- enous groups, and all others in any such Macdonald for his invaluable collabora-
ly called for more resources, including multiethnic country, as separate nations, tion and guidance.

72 ReVista fall 2011

In the last five years, Evo Morales has governed with new
concepts such as plurinationalism and decolonialization.
But what does it all mean in practice? Eminent Bolivian and
Latin American thinkers give us their viewpoints.

n Justice to President, Justice to Change 74

n After the Gasolinazo 76
n Evo Morales Through the Prism of Wikileaks 78
n Beyond Caudillos 81

artist by
photo credit
june carolyn
url drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 73
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Justice to President
Justice to Change by Eduardo Rodrguez Veltze

A couple of years ago, after visiting power and legality, as those who hold In 2005, I had been working at the
Egypt and Tunisia in a mission to pro- power to develop and enforce the laws Supreme Court for more than six years
mote a greater freedom of speech and tend to do so either in a custom-made and then as Chief Justice for about a
better democracy, and then attending manner, or apply them in a discretion- year. This was a time of extraordinary
the presidential succession in Hondu- ary manner for their own benefit, as achievements, hearing and solving law
ras, I realized that in Bolivia, some years part of a centralist and dominant juridi- cases, and at the same time, promot-
earlier, in 2005, an acute political crisis cal culture. ing structural changes in order to open
had been successfully overcome in peace, The new Constitution defines a new new spaces for justice, so that people
without violence, and under the Consti- complex concept for Bolivia: Unitarian could feel well served and the meaning
tution. Not too long ago, change of this Social State of Plurinational Communi- of justice could be better understood in
kind was typically undertaken by the tarian Rule of Law, free, independent, a country with prevailing poverty and in-
military and with foreign meddling. By sovereign, democratic, intercultural, de- equality. A conservative juridical culture
contrast, the current fragile democracy centralized and with autonomies, based and the political instability were notori-
has been preserved intact for the last 25 on political, economic, juridical, cultural ous obstacles to these aims.
years, which is the longest democratic and linguistic pluralism within the coun- Suddenly on Sunday June 9, 2005,
period of the republican history. During trys process of integration. It also pays the uncertain presidential succession in
this time, a whole generation has been exceptionally strong attention to the the midst of increasing social and po-
committed to a system that still needs to existence of the indigenous originary litical unrest led to a crisis. A couple of
undergo significant changes. peasant nations and peoples and their years earlier, the popular discontent over
Yet, democratic efforts are slowly ancestral dominion over their territories, the administration of Snchez de Lozada
bearing fruit in Bolivia. Bolivia has now granting their free determination. had produced his resignation and even-
elected a legitimate government that in- The introduction of legal pluralism as tual departure from the country. Vice
corporates large population sectors that a principle on which the new State of So- President Carlos Mesa became Presi-
were traditionally excluded in the past. cial Unitarian Rule of Communitarian dent, but resigned before completing a
In January 2009, the current govern- Plurinational Law is based, provides a second year in office in the midst of in-
ment held a Constituent Assembly and new conception of the law and of legal in- creasingly ungovernable scenarios. The
approved a new Constitution that begins struments that interact with the Consti- presidential succession was then opened
a process of intense structural changes tution and other regulatory instruments. to the leaders of the Congress, but, as
aimed at producing better stability, a sus- Legal pluralism means the possibility of their representative capacity had been
tainable balance with pluralism, and the intersecting, combining and interrelat- severely compromised, both leaders re-
ability to meet both old and new expecta- ing legal orders in order to produce a signed the succession and turned to the
tions. This new Constitution goes beyond new way of understanding a plural and last possible successor: the President of
the old republican molds and keeps the complex society that intends to restore the Supreme Court of Justice.
relation of an active constituent power the rights of the peasant, native and in- On the evening of June 9, I became
with the power holders in a lively man- digenous peoples in the framework of the 64th President of Bolivia. The Presi-
ner in order to make government trans- a constitutional policy. This initiative dent of the Senate called me to say that
parent, understand it, and solve any de- inaugurates a new transition period of I had to appear in the House of Liberty,
ficiencies that might have existed during Bolivian institutions and its legal system, the old colonial chapel where the Dec-
its conception. including the legal instruments thereof laration of Independence of Bolivia had
One of the most troubling (and en- (such as the Constitution and the laws). been signed in 1825, as the Congress
couraging at the same time) aspects of This may take many years of complex re- had decided to accept the resignations
this process relates to the rule of law and forms, and the main obstacle to be solved of both congressional leaders, calling on
justice, to the thoughtful consideration might be the cultural one. me to assume the presidential office until
of how legitimate are the authorities I myself have had to grapple with the next elections. I soon found myself
responsible for their development and many of the issues that the new Consti- taking the oath and delivering a message
fulfillment, and to the relation between tution takes on. to the nation. I did it recalling that I was

74 ReVista fall 2011

political processes

assuming these new responsibilities as a some critical commitments: thus, elec- treason, espionage and other charges
Judge of the Republic and invoked the tions would take place for president, vice that had been filed during the electoral
common purpose of strengthening de- president and congressional represen- campaign as a result of an obscure op-
mocracy with the participation of all Bo- tatives; parliament members agreed to eration conducted in September 2005,
livians. From that moment on, my daily resign two years before the end of their while I was attending a summit in
routine changed severely. In the wee terms; a Constituent Assembly would Brasilia, by Bolivian army officers to re-
hours of the next day, when I got back be held; a referendum on departmental move 28 Chinese missiles (manpads) to
home, my children were getting ready autonomies would also take place; and the United States, so that they could be
to go to school, and they were surprised governors would be elected by popular deactivated, with the assistance of the
to see around them the security person- vote. All of these agreements demanded American military mission in Bolivia.
nel, many journalists, and neighbors who a great deal of effort to frame the appro- This clandestine operation produced
woke up with a new president. priate legal amendments and interpreta- a diplomatic protest against the U.S.
It turned out that to form and lead tion of the Constitution. mission. In those days, the search for
a government as a Judge/President was General elections took place in De- security bordered on paranoia and the
not an easy job, as I did not have a party cember 2005, when an unprecedented fight against terrorism could defy the
or political allies, so the transition was number of voters, of more than 80% respect for the law, the conventions and
not pleasant. I soon learned that the those registered, cast their ballots.. the peoples rights. After five years, I am
still waiting to be heard by the Attorney
General. The actions taken, information
from Wikileaks and other testimonies
still are not valued, and neither Boliv-
Legal pluralism is a new way of understanding a ian nor the U.S. governments are will-
complex society that intends to restore the rights of ing to clarify the situation. (A Wikileak
cable revealed that the Bolivian govern-
the peasant, native and indigenous peoples in the ment requested that the United States
framework of a constitutional policy. withdraw the clause about missiles from
the bilateral agenda.) The lawsuit filed
against me is like my shadow; it follows
loneliness of power was going to be a The people elected Evo Morales as the me everywhere. Yet, apart from my per-
close companion from then on. My first president and Alvaro Garca as the Vice sonal story, I feel that democratic efforts
actions in government were of an emer- President by an absolute majority of are bearing fruit.
gency nature and aimed at demobilizing votes and, for the first time, the gov- Yes, there are challenges. The political
the armed forces and dialoguing with the ernors of the nine departments of the tensions caused by ideological differenc-
social and political movements, which country were elected as well. A day after es, exclusion, inequality and poverty are
gradually accepted that an independent President Morales took office in January still putting the democratic coexistence to
administration was best fitted to ensure 2006, I returned to the Supreme Court test. However, it is possible to think that
the next elections. However, the presi- with many lessons learned and much sat- the democratic system will continue to be
dential responsibilities were not just lim- isfaction. The judicial branch had gained the essential factor to guarantee the com-
ited to organizing the presidential elec- a prominent role in the effective applica- pletion of the desired changes in peace
tions, but also to exercise all the powers tion of the principle of checks and bal- and with a higher tolerance and freedom,
of the executive branch. Some of them ances to solve the constitutional crisis, and, ideally, with greater justice too.
were quite complex, including passage of and I also had been able to drive some
a new hydrocarbon act, which included of the measures intended to improve the Eduardo Rodrguez Veltz is former
tax hikes; its resulting income distribu- justice system. Bolivian Chief Justice and President of
tion produced both domestic benefits On the other hand, I also experienced the Republic following resignations of
and legal claims from the multinationals. the effects of the real politik, as my term the president and congressional lead-
At the same time, a difficult equation in the judiciary was shortened due to my ers (2005-2006). Currently, he isthe
of political and social agendas had to be resignation in March 2006. A group of Dean of the Law and Political Science
negotiated within the legal framework. judges from the Supreme Court object- School at the Universidad Catlica Bo-
The traditional political parties were in ed to the legality of my return claiming liviana San Pablo, in La Paz, Bolivia.
crisis and tried to reverse a process of that, by accepting the presidency, I had He was a Mason Fellow at the Harvard
changes that seemed inevitable. Even- waived my position as a judge. Crimi- Kennedy School of Government in
tually, after arduous efforts, we reached nal charges were filed against me for 1988 (MPA 88).

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bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Political Effects of an Economic Measure

After the Gasolinazo By Fernando Mayorga

On the usually sleepy day after Christmas, dramatically altered Bolivias political The gasolinazo didnt change the ar-
on December 26, 2010, Bolivia was awak- landscape, with widespread implications ray of forces in the political arena, but it
ened with a jolt: the Bolivian government for the government agenda. The official did negatively affect the strength of the
had just decreed a huge increase in the party still maintained its resources of government and the image of the presi-
price of combustible fuels. The country powerindeed, the presidents second dent. It weakened the governments abil-
exploded in a series of popular protests. term had begun with a positive outlook ity to mobilize politically by fraying the
A week later, the government revoked for the fulfillment of its political project. link between MAS and the social move-
the measure. Nevertheless, the price Evo Morales was reelected in December ments that constitute MAS electoral
of food and transportation continue to 2009 with 64 percent of the votes, while and political mobilization base. It also
spiral upwards. Social discontent grew; MAS captured a congressional majority. decreased the popularity of Evo Morales,
three months later, workers carried out a The party also obtained favorable results whose leadership and reelection are cru-
general strike to demand higher salaries. in departmental (state) and municipal cial to the ruling party strategy for the
For the first time in five years, the gov- elections in April 2010, winning six out 2014 presidential race and to guarantee-
ernment faced repudiation by the social of nine governors seats and more than ing the continuity of MAS.
sectors loyal to Evo Morales party, the three-fourths of the municipal govern- The MAS party and Bolivias social
Movement towards Socialism (MAS). ments. The undeniable supremacy of the movements are linked in an unstable
The gasolinazoas the nation MAS meant that its discursive hegemony
dubbed the aborted 73 percent gasoline permeated diverse spheres of the nations After the gasolinazo, a miners union
hike and subsequent mass protests political process. protests in Santa Cruz.

76 ReVista fall 2011 artist credit name and url

political processes

and fluctuating coalition. The cohesion ernment declined and the leadership of of wage workers and social movements
and breadth of this coalition depend Evo Morales was put into question. Gen- that criticize the neoliberal stance.
on the dominant issues in the political eral rejection of the governments decision With regards to the second challenge,
realm and on the success of the govern- revealed the weakness of the hegemonic the government has also adopted a new
ment agenda. With high profile issues, capacity of the MAS. The party had man- strategy by counting on the coalescing
including the nationalization of natural aged to dominate the political arena in the force of nationalism and focusing on
resources, approval of a new constitu- last few years through its emphasis on na- the issue of Bolivias access to the sea. In
tion and the reelection of Evo Morales, tionalism and the rights and identities of March, speaking on the Day of the Sea,
the usual coalition counts on a variety of indigenous peoplesdiscursive linchpins which commemorates Bolivias defeat by
social organizationspeasants, womens
groups, indigenous organizations, urban
settlers, miners, neighborhood boards
and retired citizens groups, among oth- The MAS faces a double challenge: reshaping the
ersthat respond in a body to the leader-
ship of the government party. Once these
alliance of the government and social movements and
are generally satisfied, other types of de- recovering Evo Morales popularity.
mands emerge, typically, interest groups
or corporatist interests that distance
themselves from the coalition and there- that characterized the process of change Chile in the 19th-century War of the Pa-
fore do not act in a united fashion. The spearheaded by the MAS and that defined cific, Evo Morales said his country will
gasolinazo was precisely the event that the programatic orientation of the new take Chile to international courts to try to
provoked the predominance of corporat- political constitution. regain access to the Pacific Ocean, which
ist interests among the workers unions. The return of the state as a protago- it lost in that war 132 years ago. He noted
Several social movements firmly rejected nist in Bolivias economyparticularly that Chile had failed to respond to a dead-
the price hike measure which they con- in the nationalization of the hydrocarbon line he had set for progress in negotia-
sidered anti-popular and neoliberal, thus industrymodified the relationship be- tions. Bolivias loss of the sea was an open
weakening the pro-government coalition tween the state and multinational compa- wound that must be healed, he said. He
and isolating peasant organizations clos- nies. Demands for stability and economic also said that Bolivia would continue dia-
est to MAS. growth were met through state control logue with Chile while seeking a legal so-
Protests swept the very cities in which of natural resources and the production lution to its landlocked status.
the MAS had garnered the majority of the chain for hydrocarbons. Thus, the gaso- This invocation of traditional nation-
vote the year before. Harsh and unprec- linazo was seen as a negation of the na- alism seeks to restore the popularity of
edented diatribes against Evo Morales tionalization; this shift in economic policy Evo Morales, even though the course of
accused him of being a traitor and sub- has weakened MAS discourse because its this initiative is highly uncertain because
mitting to neoliberalism. Several polls nationalist and state-centric stance lost his popularity also largely depends on
taken after the gasolinazo showed that credibility. Criticism and questioning has how the government performs on the
Evo Morales popularity had dropped to emerged from those on the leftboth economy. Uncertainty returns to Boliv-
the lowest point in his sixty months of from political parties and union move- ian politics after five years of government
governmentwith a 56 percent rejection ments. The indigenist axis remains firmly under MAS, which had led the transition
rate on the national level, compared to in place, however, because the MAS has to a new state model; the state still con-
an approval rate of 70 percent the year no discursive rivals in this area, even fronts the historic legacies of inequality
before. though indigenous peoples are question- and poverty that have characterized the
Moreover, the political forces leading ing the state-promoted industrialization Bolivian society despite the undeniable
the protests were quite different from program, noting the internal contradic- advances in the strengthening of democ-
the traditional opposition from the right. tions of this development model. racy and citizenship. The gasolinazo was
One example of this new opposition is After the gasolinazo, the MAS faces a watershed that reminded Bolivian citi-
the left-leaning Movement Without Fear a double challenge. It needs to both re- zens of that reality.
(Movimiento Sin MiedoMSM) that shape the alliance of the government and
holds the mayoralty in La Paz, the seat of the social movements and to recover the Fernando Mayorga, a sociologist who
the government, and could challenge the presidents popularity. Successfully ad- holds a doctorate in political science, is
MAS in 2014. dressing the first challenge will depend on a professor and director of CESU at the
The gasolinazo had a twofold political the governments adoption of economic Universidad Mayor de San Simn in
effect: public support for the party gov- measures that will restore the confidence Cochabamba.

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bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Evo Morales Through the

Prism of Wikileaks
Democracy In Danger By Martn Sivak

A century ago, the U.S. ambassador to Bo- In August 2007, a cable from the U.S.
livia suggested that coca-leaf consump- embassy in La Paz declared that demo-
tion, a millenarian tradition among cracy was in danger, adding that the
indigenous peoples, was the source of support of democracy in Bolivia was
Bolivias problems. He proposed instead the foremost priority. The embassy rai-
plain American chewing gum for ev- sed serious questions about Morales
eryone. The gum would be donated by commitment to democracyunderstood
U.S. companies and distributed by the as separation of powers, checks and ba-
embassy. lances, an active political opposition and
At the beginning of this century, an- free pressgiven his demonstrated im-
other U.S. ambassador interpreted the patience with compromise. The cable
2002 elections in terms of the Wars on defined him as a leader with strong an-
Terror and Drugs, calling for a massive ti-democratic tendencies, adding, over
vote against the coca-growers union the years he has been known to bribe,
leader, Evo Morales. This U.S. stance in- threaten and even physically intimidate
creased Morales share of the votes sub- anyone who stood in his way, including
stantially, leading him unexpectedly to government officials, politicians and co-
finish second. In the wake of the 2002 calero colleagues. To the embassy, Mo- in Bolivia, London: Institute for Study of
election, according to State Department rales project of change and renovation the Americas, 2011).
documents, the U.S. embassy proposed of the justice system exemplified his au-
strengthening opposition parties to off- thoritarianism. Bolivianization
set the growing power in Bolivia of MAS, Thus, throughout the Wikileak docu- Starting with the 1952 National Revolu-
Morales party, calling him an illegal ments, the United States appears as one of tion (nationalization of mines, universal
coca agitator. Neither the chewing gum the last defenders of the ancien regime suffrage and agrarian reform) to Morales
strategy nor that of supporting political that of pacted democracy and neoliberal inauguration, the United States grand
parties in decline managed to reduce coca reformswhich had been severely cha- narrative framed Washington-La Paz re-
consumption or dampen the popularity llenged in Evo Morales 2005 landslide lations as part of the U.S. agendapar-
of Morales, who won the 2005 and 2009 election victory. Even groups that are mo- ticularly the War against Communism,
presidential elections by a wide margin. derately critical of Morales concede that War on Drugs and War on Terror. After
U.S. State Department documents, the government has begun a process of the turn of the century, the crisis of the
made public by Wikileaks and available putting into practice a plurinational sta- regional neoliberal consensus marked the
on the website of Bolivias vice president te granting social inclusion and increased emergence in Bolivia of a radical political
(http://wikileaks.vicepresidencia.gob. rights for indigenous and peasant sectors. cycle with an ethno-cultural accent. This
bo), demonstrate that during Morales In other words, democracy has been ex- radical movement began with the 2000
first presidency, the United States did panded. Cochabamba Water War (the successful
not explicitly propose anything it could This article attempts to point out the upheaval that prevented water price hikes
not achieve. The documents reveal what U.S. governments difficulties in adjus- by a multinational company, replacing it
the United States was most worried ting to new times and, above all, to what with a cooperative) and reached a peak
about: the presidents anti-imperialist I call the Bolivianization of bilateral with the Gas War in October 2003 (the
rhetoric: Cuban and Venezuelan presen- relations (I first used this term in The rebellion against gas exports to the Unit-
ce and aid, the war on drugs, protection Bolivianisation of Washington-La Paz ed States via Chile that forced President
of U.S. investments in Boliviaparticu- Relations: Evo Morales Foreign Policy Gonzalo Snchez de Lozada to resign).
larly in the mining sectorand the erosion Agenda in Historical Context, in Evo Mo- These radical protests introduced a new
of democracy. rales and the Movimiento al Socialismo tone to the notion of national sovereignty

78 ReVista fall 2011 photo by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/

political processes

Echoes of Terrorism, Cold

War and War on Drugs
Foreign policy has also been Bolivian-
ized by how the Morales administra-
tion interprets the new U.S. intervention
in Bolivia in terms of domestic dynam-
ics, particularly the conflict between the
elites in the Santa Cruz area and the na-
tional government. The Bolivian govern-
ment asserts that the United States be-
longed to a broad coalition led by these
elites that are bent not on saving Bolivia
from Communism or terrorism, but
from the MAS government agenda.The
Morales government expelled U.S. Am-
bassador Philip Goldberg in September
2008, accusing him of being the leader
of the opposition headquartered in Santa
Cruz that seeks to overturn the govern-
ment. Although no definitive proof sup-
ports this accusation, the government
was able to create a narrative that enjoys
a broad social consensus in Bolivia, in
which the United States is seen as inter-
vening at the heart of national politics.
In the days following the expulsion
and control of natural resources, which In front of the U.S. Embassy, an indigenous of the ambassador, relates one cable,
proved to be crucial in redefining the rela- man waves the Bolivian Wiphala flag. then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleez-
tionship with the United States. za Rice and the Spanish ambassador to
The Morales administration has es- and MERCOSUR. It has also signed the United States concurred that Mora-
tablished a new domestic agenda stron- trade agreements with China and Iran, les was out of his league. Months later,
gly driven by these two wars, especially among others. in a confusing operation in Santa Cruz,
the Gas War, and by the cocaleros active The presidents anti-U.S. discour- Bolivian security forces killed a group
rejection of U.S. intervention with coca seyet another novelty in bilateral re- of hitmen allegedly contracted by mem-
crop eradication through the War on lationsis the most frequent complaint bers of the regional elite to defend Santa
Drugs. The government has significantly of State Department officials, according Cruz or to obtain its secession from the
reduced U.S. participation in the fashio- to Wikileaks. We also have to urge the country. The U.S. embassys version of
ning of public policyespecially in the Morales government to temper its rheto- the events, as revealed by Wikileaks, is
areas of economics, defense and security, ric if it is indeed interested in improved that the Bolivian government itself hired
and in the war on drugs. It has rejected bilateral ties, says one of the documents. some of these hitmen and tortured the
free trade agreements proposed by the In another, Ambassador David Green- two survivors of the operation. The sou-
United States and has proposed to Wash- lee warns Vice President Alvaro Garca rce, whose name was blacked out on the
ington a bilateral relationship based on Linera that anti-American remarks document, earned the confidence of the
the communal concept of reciprocity. may damage Bolivias chances for an officials, who titled their cable Gob [go-
The first symbolic step in this recipro- APTDEA extension. (APTDEA grants vernment of Bolivia] involved in Terror.
city was to require U.S. tourists to pur- trade preferences to Bolivia in exchange In this fashion, the Morales administra-
chase a visa (Brazil does the same). At for its commitment to the War on Drugs; tion received the label of terrorist.
the same time, the government has esta- formally, it does not include the issue of The role Venezuela and Cuba play
blished regional alliances with Cuba and rhetoric.) The cables maintain that Mo- in the Bolivian government also has a
Venezuela in the Bolivarian Alliance for rales anti-U.S. stance is being used to dominant place in the Wikileak cables. A
the Americas (ALBA), and with the rest cover up domestic problems, leaving out February 2, 2007 embassy cable is sub-
of South American countries through the any question about historic reasons for titled One Place Where We Are Not Big
trade agreements known as UNASUR such attitudes in Bolivia. Brother. The cable charges that Cuban

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bolivia: revolutions and beyond

and Venezuelan advice, interference, and union) of the considerable legal produc- demanding that aid be unconditional,
assistance continue to be of serious con- tion of coca leaf (a 40x40 plot of land accusing the officials of conspiracy, while
cern. Cuban doctors and newly inaugu- per family and 49 acres in total). It has at the same time thanking them for their
rated hospitals bring medical care to iso- allowed less participation by the United help during recent floods and alternately
lated communities. Venezuela has agreed States (in fact, the U.S. Drug Enforce- telling them that he has received thou-
to purchase Bolivian soy, has provided ment Agency was expelled on charges of sands of letters from all over the country
microcredit financing to small businesses, conspiring against the Bolivian govern- asking that USAID be expelled. It is a style
has donated tractors to Bolivian farmers, ment). The government strategy has not that tends to disconcert officials from the
and has funded community radio stations impeded the growth of coca leaf produc- United States and many other countries.
to broadcast the Gobs messagesThe tion (about 75 acres25 above the legal In a meeting with Assistant Secretary
Venezuelan programs receive frequent limit), but it has obtained good results in of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
public acclaim from Bolivias poor. the area of interdiction, a fact recognized Thomas Shannon in August 2008, Mo-
The presence of the supposed big in the U.S. documents themselves. rales asked for the extradition of former
brother who controls everything brings The United States subtly questions president Gonzalo Goni Snchez de
echoes of the Cold War. The twins the program of voluntary eradication, Lozada, who has been charged with res-
Cuba and Venezuelahave replaced particularly noting that Morales talks of ponsibility for seventy deaths in the Gas
the former Soviet Union as rivals to the counternarcotics as a shared responsi- War. Send us back Goni and you will
United States for big brother status. Ven- bility, and expresses its concern for the become the mayor of El Alto, he told
ezuela is seen as a guide and inspiration increased production of coca leaf and Shannon in perhaps the only joke con-
for Bolivian policy; a cable of August cocaine exports. At least in the cables tained in the documents. In November
2007 states, Evo seems to be following in revealed by Wikileaks, the United States 2009, Shannon became U.S. ambassador
Chvezs footsteps. As an example, it cites does not blame Morales for the drug to Brazil: everything indicates that the
a draft of the Bolivian constitution (fi- trafficking in Bolivia, as it alleged in the United States will not extradite Goni and
nanced by Venezuelan and Spanish advi- 1990s. It merely criticizes the govern- Shannon will not govern El Alto.
sors) that contains a clause for indefinite ment strategy.
reelection. In the document entitled Ven- The Morales government has looked Martn Sivak is the author of four books
ezuela-Bolivia: how much fire behind the for some continuity in the Washington-La about Bolivia, including a biography of
smoke, Morales is described as acting like Paz relationship despite significant ruptu- Hugo Banzer (El dictador elegido) and a
a smitten school girl when he appears in res. One example is an attempt to reclaim portrait of Evo Morales (Jefazo, pub-
public with the Venezuelan leader. Bolivian certification (tariff preferences lished in English as Evo Morales: The
Even though Chvez is Bolivias ally for Bolivian exports in exchange for pro- Extraordinary Rise of the First Indig-
and offers the country economic assis- gress in the so-called War on Drugs). But enous President of Bolivia [Palgrave,
tance, his influence in political terms is Bolivia was decertified a few days before 2010]. Sivak is completing a doctorate
much less than what people in Washing- the U.S. ambassador was expelled. in Latin American History at New York
ton and even Caracas think. The notion of The second continuity is that Bolivia University (NYU).
the mentor relationship, in any case, un- keeps receiving U.S. aid. The documents
derestimates Morales more than it over- show that some $90 million were funne- On Sivaks Evo Morales
estimates Chvezs powers. This mentor- led to Bolivia through USAID to further The best known Bolivian
ship tries to explain the trajectory of the social and economic inclusion of Bolivias since Bolivar, Evo Morales
is a political leader with a
Morales government through the lens of historically marginalized indigenous
difference.... Evos
Venezuelan and Cuban influence, com- groups and to support democratic insti- presidency is the product
pletely overlooking the domestic reasons tutions and process, including decentra- of mass struggle, but as
for the radical cycle that began in 2000. lized governance The details of how Martin Sivaks vivid study
The so-called War on Drugs is a cen- this money was distributed are unavaila- shows, the president is also
a remarkable man. Sivak
tral theme in Washington-La Paz rela- ble to both the Bolivian government and
has plainly gained unusual
tions since the 1980s. The United States U.S. taxpayers. access through winning Evos trust, and this is an
sees the eradication of coca leaf as indis- The Morales government has insisted understandably sympathetic study. But it is also
pensable and for several decades man- that the money should be channeled only independently-minded, insightful and attentive to
aged to convince Bolivian governments through the Bolivian state, rejecting the the details that do not flatter. This true insider-
account is indispensable for understanding 21st-
to share this point of view. The Morales possibility that local governments and
century Bolivia, and it will unsettle a good many
government has implemented a differ- non-government agencies receive these easy convictions on both sides of the fence.
ent policy: voluntary eradication of crops funds. In meetings with U.S. officials, as James Dunkerley, author of Bolivia: Revolution
and social control (through the cocalero noted in the cables, Morales seems to be and the Power of History in the Present

80 ReVista fall 2011

political processes

Beyond Caudillos
The Need to Create a Strong Multiparty System by Miguel Centellas

Driving through La Paz, Bolivias capital was well positioned to become the po- catchall alliance of anti-establishment
city, one sees signs of the remarkable litical leader of a broad coalition of social political actors and social movements. In
political transformation since the 2005 movements. His victory in the December fact, MAS does not consider itself a party,
election of Evo Morales, Bolivias first 2005 presidential election (with 53.7% of and Morales often relies not on the party
indigenous president. Eighteen months the vote, Morales was the first candidate structure (such as it is) but on CONAL-
after the December 2009 reelection to win a majority in the democratic era) CAM (Coordinadora del Cambio), a loose
which Morales won by a broad margin made him the undisputed leader of the coalition of social movements. Where the
(64.2%)and more than a year after the left-popular forces with a broad popular situation is particularly troubling is with-
April 2010 municipal and regional elec- mandate. Between 2005 and 2010, Mo- in the political opposition.
tions, campaign murals still line the thor- rales and MAS won a string of electoral By 2002, the party system was under
oughfares that bustle with packed mini- victories, demonstrating sustained popu- stress. Alongside MAS, two other new
buses ferrying paceos up and down the lar support for the new regimes demo- parties challenged the neoliberal estab-
length of city. Besides scattered slogans cratic and cultural revolution. lishment: a radical indigenous party led
for opposition candidates, most posters The October 2003 political crisis not by Felipe Quispe (Movimiento Indgena
support Morales and MAS. The name only delegitimized Bolivias neoliberal Pachakuti, MIP) and a conservative-
Evo is prominent, including on a mas- model, but shattered its political party populist party led by Manfred Reyes Villa
sive mural found between the middle- systemwhich was already described (Nueva Fuerza Republicana, NFR). MIP
class neighborhoods of San Jorge and as weak or inchoate. In 2005, only the became the countrys most successful eth-
Obrajes, with the slogan: One single historic National Revolutionary Move- nic indigenous party to date, placing fifth
leader, one single nation, one single proj- ment (Movimiento Nacionalista Revo- in 2002 with 6.1% of the national vote
ect (Un solo lder, un solo proyecto, un lucionario, MNR) contested the general and six legislative seats. However, MIP
solo pas). In La Paz, at least, Evo Morales elections, managed only a distant fourth- collapsed in 2005 and has since disap-
dominates the citys physical landscape. place finish with 6.4% of the vote; it did peared. Reyes Villa, despite virtually tying
Morales rose to prominence follow- not contest the 2009 elections. with Morales in 2002, sat out the 2005
ing a massive wave of protests that forced New electoral vehicles lacking sig- presidential contest, distancing himself
then-president Gonzalo Snchez de Lo- nificant institutional organization domi- from his own party and forming a new
zada to resign and flee the country in nate the post-2003 political period. This
October 2003. As leader of the largest includes MAS, which only emerged as A street mural reflects Bolivias remarkable
anti-systemic legislative party, Morales a political party in 2002, becoming a political tranformation.

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bolivia: revolutions and beyond

electoral vehicle (Alianza de Unidad Co- who support many (if not all) aspects of tween MAS and MSM shortly after the
chabambina, AUN) to campaign for the the new regimes process of change and December 2009 election. A small center-
Cochabamba prefecture. seek a sense of political stability. Morales left party with a strong presence in the
A pattern of disposable electoral ve- astutely uses government resources to city of La Paz (where it has controlled the
hicles is pronounced at the national level. secure support from leaders of local and mayorship since 1999), MSM loyally sup-
In 2005, anti-Morales figures from tra- regional social movements, undercutting ported Morales beginning in 2005, play-
ditional or systemic parties created the ability of new parties to consolidate ing a key role in expanding his appeal to
new electoral vehicles. Most flocked to their position. In short, MAS is hege- the middle class. After the party decided
Democratic and Social Power (Poder De- monic largely because it is the only po- it would continue its tradition of cam-
mocrtico y SocialPODEMOS), behind litical party with a truly national scope. paigning independently in municipal
Jorge Tuto Quiroga, a former president However, this poses two significant elections, Morales vindictively attacked
of the center-right Democratic Nation- problems for the long-term viability of the partys leader, Juan Del Granado, a
alist Action (Accin Democrtica Na- the new regime. First, the oppositions noted human rights champion who had
cionalista, ADN). Others joined former weakness facilitates personalist tenden- regularly appeared alongside Morales at
economic minister and Bolivian tycoon cies within MAS. Morales status as the public events, as merely another neo-
Samuel Doria Medinas National Unity partys dominant, charismatic figure is liberal and anti-popular conservative
Front (Frente de Unin Nacional, UN). evident. Not only had the constitution opponent. Other political figuresin-
Of the two, only UN is on the path to been modified to allow for his reelection cluding a growing number of MAS dis-
becoming a consolidated, institutional- in 2009, but recent statements by Vice- sidentshave faced similar fates.
ized political party, having consistently President lvaro Garca Linera indicate The irony, of course, is that the long-
contested every national or local election, the president may seek reelection in 2014 term fate of the new regimeincluding
beginning with the December 2004 mu- to guarantee the [process of ] change. its many important social and economic
nicipal elections. However, UN remains a But if only Evo Morales can guarantee reformsdepends on the ability of op-
minor party, never achieving 10% of the the continuation of his regime, one has position parties to buy into the basic
national vote in any contest. to wonder how widely Morales agenda is sociopolitical model. In an atmosphere
By the 2009 election, PODEMOS sharedeven within his own party. in which the type of party pacts (par-
which comprised the largest opposition Recent analyses suggest MAS is weak- tidocracia) of the neoliberal era are in
bloc in the legislature and even controlled ly institutionalized, hierarchical, and disrepute, acceptance of the need for
the Senateceased to exist. In its place, dominated by Morales, thus resembling multiparty alliances, coalitions, and ne-
another new vehicle, National Conver- previous systemic parties, dominated by gotiationsrather than winner-take-all,
gence (Convergencia Nacional, CN), powerful caudillos who made decisions scorched earth politicsis unlikely. Yet
emerged as the largest opposition party. with little input beyond a select inner the future of Bolivias new plurinational
This pattern repeats at regional and mu- circle. If so, MAS risks losing grassroots state depends on a broadly shared con-
nicipal levels. Only a handful of regionally legitimacy (evidenced by recent social sensus across the political spectrum. In
based minor parties show signs of consoli- movement mobilization against Morales the end, the fact that Morales and his
dation, most notably Movement without government). Unless MAS transforms inner circle do not trust any opposition
Fear (Movimiento Sin Miedo, MSM) in into an institutionalized party that does party or figure to continue his trajectory
La Paz and Social Alliance (Alianza So- not depend on the personality of Evo (despite programmatic differences) says
cial, AS) in Potos. But in many impor- Morales, it risks the same fate as the per- more about the tenuousness of Moraless
tant regions, such as Santa Cruz and Co- sonalist systemic parties. The concept own regime and its democratic character
chabamba, each election presents a new of a plurinational state is difficult to than it does about the aims of his various
constellation of parties (even if the faces sustain within the framework of a single- opponents.
remain the same). Moreover, these do not or dominant-party systemparticularly
coordinate across the country, municipal, one dominated by a single individual. Miguel Centellas is Croft Visiting As-
regional, and national levels. Without a vibrant, institutionalized, le- sistant Professor of Political Science at
While Morales opponents point to his gitimate, competitive multiparty system, the University of Mississippi.
authoritarian tendencies, the inability of its long-term viability remains uncertain. His dissertation, supported by a
the opposition to forge coherent, consis- The secondand perhaps most im- Fulbright grant, studied the party
tent and consolidated political parties fa- portantproblem facing Morales re- system dynamics of Bolivia from 1985
cilitates the hegemonic position enjoyed gime is the absence of a loyal opposi- through 2005. His current research
by Morales and MAS. In a highly frac- tion. Morales has shown limited ability focuses on the role of electoral rules on
tured and fluid political environment, to cultivate independent allies. One key the formation of regionalist movements
MAS is a tempting alternative to voters example was the recent bitter split be- in Bolivia, and elsewhere.

82 ReVista fall 2011 previous page photo by winifred parker, winifredparker@comcast.net

art and
When one thinks of culture in Bolivia, the image is often
limited to its exuberant folklore, native dances and music. But
art and culture in Bolivia also encompasses prominent classical
music and theater festivals, as well as world-class filmnot to
mention thriving culture activism emerging from the country's
political transformations.

n Art and Politics 84

n The Flowering of Culture in Santa Cruz 86
n International Theater Festival 88
n Crash Course on Bolivian Cinema 89

artist by
Photo credit
url drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 83
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

Art and Politics

Identity and the Art of Unbecoming a Colony By Maristella Svampa

Throughout Latin America, theatre, art Wayna Tambo (Wayna Tambo Youth Cul- intensification of social struggles, par-
and music are springing up as forms of tures House), which in Aymara means ticularly in regards to the citys Aymara
cultural activism linked closely with new meeting of youth, was received positive- ethnic identity. The arts took on the role
social movements. Bolivia is no excep- ly when it emerged in 1995 as an alter- of evoking the victims of the massacre
tion. Nevertheless, the strong presence of native cultural space combining a focus and demanding justice and reparations.
large social organizations, many of them on the Andean Aymara with a strength- Examples abound of the emergence of
ethnic in nature, makes the social and ening of cultural diversity. Another ex- new cultural and political activism, with
political role of cultural collectives and ample of this type of cultural activism is theatre works such as Pacto Telrico
organizations somewhat invisible. Yet, Mujeres Creando (Women Creating), a (Telluric Pact) in which various groups
these groups play an important role in very creative and provocative anarchist of artists and musicians got together, or
the creation of new political understand- and feminist collective that uses graffiti records like Canto Encuentro that pay
ings and in the reproduction and expan- to make the streets its principal stage. homage to the victims of El Alto, pro-
sion of social struggles. These women, considered street agita- duced by Radio Wayna Tambo and Ra-
The cities of El Alto and La Paz are tors, openly defend sexual diversity (in- dio Pachamama (which operates from
host to a variety of artistic expressions, dias, putas y lesbianas, juntas, revueltas the Gregoria Apaza Cultural Center), or
cultural collectives and artistic organi- y hermanadasIndian women, whores the cultural actions of the Federation of
zations that are permeated by a strong and lesbians, together, entangled and in Neighborhood Boards of El Alto, known
narrative about decolonization. Some of eternal sisterhood). Two of its founders, by its Spanish acronym as FEJUVE.
these groups are already quite firmly es- Mara Galindo and Julieta Paredes, have (Federacin de Juntas Vecinales de El
tablished thanks to funds from non-prof- been widely recognized internationally. Alto). In all these cases, the protagonists
it organizations and international coop- The relationship between art and pol- sought to build bridges between the long
eration. Teatro Trono, founded in 1989 in itics developed significant nuances after memory of indigenous struggles and the
El Alto, is an example of one such long- the so-called Black October massacre in memory of more recent events (the water
term and innovative project that stimu- 2003, which took more than 80 lives in and gas wars), establishing El Alto as the
lates collective work through experiences the city of El Alto. The massacre led to great symbolic city of resistance.
in the daily lives of youth, probing social the resignation of then President Gonza- Different forms of cultural activism
themes such as gender equity, poverty lo Snchez de Lozada and enshrined the have highlighted the fact that El Alto is
and globalization. Most of Teatro Tronos city of El Alto as a symbol of resistance. a city that hides several worlds; perhaps
founders were street children. These events demonstrated the need most importantly, it hosts a new urban
Likewise, the Casa de las Culturas to rethink history in the context of the youth culture which, because of its hy-

84 ReVista fall 2011

brid and plebeian nature, may find it ized through the involvement of interna- Theater, art and music are blooming in El
difficult to assimilate the concept of an tional financing and non-governmental Alto and La Paz as a form of cultural activ-
ism. Above, top: a musical group performs
Aymara-centric culture. Radio Wayna agencies (NGOs), as well as official sup-
Saya; all other images are of Teatro Trono.
Tambo reflects this diversity of interests port. For example, the Wayna Tambo rap-
clearlysince its creation in 2002, it has pers have participated in many govern-
provided a space of encounter for several ment activities such as the celebration of lines. Art in support of the open constitu-
youth groupswith their cultural and the nationalization of the hydrocarbon in- tional reform process in 2006 was indeed
expressive stylesand to feminist col- dustry, while other groups in La Paz have visible. But there has been a lack of pub-
lectives, which often are relegated to the made video clips to educate citizens about lic policies in the area of culture, as well
back burner because of ideas about col- traffic rules and noise pollution, with fi- as a lack of will on the part of the govern-
lective rights or complementary rela- nancing from the city and some NGOs. ment to promote a more anti-hegemonic
tions, a view fomented by the traditional, It is not only for the rappers of El historical-political narrative. And several
government-promoted indigenous cos- Alto that music is a starting point for the cultural groups and organizations con-
movision. The first expressions of Ay- reconstruction of identity. Another ex- sider that the discourse of decoloniza-
mara rap, hip hop, which in its Bolivian ample is that of the Afro-Bolivian asso- tion espoused by the government is sup-
form manages to mix the sound of putu- ciations, which are recuperating the tra- ported by a folkloric version of ethnicity
tus (bulls horns) with flutes and Andean ditional Saya from their African heritage and with a merely instrumental concept
drums and to rhyme Spanish with Ay- to reconstruct an ethnic identity that had of culture.
mara, were originally heard there. One been rendered invisible. Saya, which in-
of the great representatives of this genre, corporates elements of music and dance, Maristella Svampa is an Argentine
Abraham Bojrquez, and his Ukamau became the letter of introduction of the sociologist, writer and professor. She
y k (As es y qu/Thats the Deal and Afro-Bolivians (some 30,000 Bolivians) has published several books on political
So What?), died tragically in 2009. His to the rest of Bolivian society, and their and cultural processes in Argentina and
songs reflected the search for a remake of presence was affirmed in 2008 with rec- Bolivia. Her latest books are Minera
Aymara identity in the context of the new ognition in the New Political Constitu- transnacional, narrativas del desarrollo y
social and political process. tion for a Plurinational State. resistencias sociales (2009) and Debatir
But in the last few years, as the re- To conclude, in spite of all this activ- Bolivia. Perspectivas de un proyecto de
searcher Johana Kunin reminds us, the ity, a paradoxical situation has developed descolonizacin, co-authored with Pablo
rap of the altiplano in its different varia- under the government of Evo Morales. Stefanoni (2010).See www.maristellas-
tions has tended to become institutional- Political art is taking off in two parallel vampa.net

Photos by jai chowdhry beeman (top); ben achtenberg drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 85

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

The Flowering of Culture in Santa Cruz

Diverse And Mestizo by Alcides Parejas Moreno

Strains of baroque music waft from San When you think about Bolivia, you prob- came mixed race, mestizo. All Bolivians
Javier, one of the many colonial-era Je- ably think about an Andean country with can be viewed as cultural mestizos and
suit Missions in the Santa Cruz de la lots of indigenous people and an econo- most are also biological mestizos. How-
Sierra region. Musicians are practicing my based on mining. However, many of ever, in the past few years, some have
for the International Festival of Early those ideas are based on misconceptions. sought to characterize Bolivia as an In-
Music, which attracts music lovers and Bolivia is much more than an Ande- dian country, ruled by an Indian, erasing
tourists from around the world. What an country. Some 70% of its territory is in one fell swoop 500 years of history.
might surprise you is that much of this made up of flatlands that encompass the And in the mid-20th century, Bo-
music was composed by Bolivians them- Amazon basis and the Chaco region with livia stopped being an exclusively min-
selves. When the Catholic Church began its forests and jungles. ing country and became an agricultural
restoring Jesuit churches attached to the With the violence and death of the country, producing its own food.
old missions of the Chiquitos region in Spanish Conquest, America as a whole Bolivia is a centralized country, which
the 1970s, more than 5,000 sheets of sa- and the present Bolivian territory in par- is by no means a novelty in our America.
cred music scores were discovered, com- ticular ceased to be indigenous and be- Since the creation of the republic in 1825,
posed during the 17th and 18th centuries
by both Europeans and residents of the
zone. Until the mid-19th century, musi-
cians in the towns routinely performed
these pieces. Now, with the festival and
the creation of music schools through-
out the region, this traditiondrawing
on the historic blending of Spanish and
indigenous culturesis being kept alive.
Bolivia is well known for its rich An-
dean culturesthe Quechua and Aymara,
among others. Less known is that we have
been capable of creating a mestizo culture
that we can all identify with. The eruption
of Chiquitos onto the stage of national
history shows us that this culture, in spite
of poverty and neglect, still thrives, and
demonstrates that Bolivian culture is
much more than Andean culture.
Against all predictions, Santa Cruz de
la Sierra has not only become the eco-
nomic capital of the country, but also its
cultural capital. In addition to the Early
Music Festival, the city hosts an interna-
tional theater festival, a Latin American
film festival and several other Bolivian
cultural festivals.
This blossoming of culture goes
against popular perceptions of Bolivia.

Santa Cruz hosts an Early Music Festival in

the colonial-era Jesuit Missions.

86 ReVista fall 2011

art and culture

it has put into practice an Andean-cen- la Sierrawhich had about 60,000 in- ing townspueblos vivosand that the
tric policy that does not look beyond the habitants at the time and today has more people of the lowlands had a patrimony
mountains. That was true when the capi- than a million and a halfbecame the ri- worthy of this status. In 1990, UNESCO
tal was in Sucre, and is just as true now val of Andean politics, confronting deep- included six of the Jesuit mission towns
that the government rules from La Paz. rooted centralism to achieve the status in the Patrimony of Humanity list.
This obliterating centralism has led of it had been deprived for 400 years. But this was not enough for those of
to a dichotomy between the Andean and In this process of making itself visible, us who worked in cultural development.
lowland regions, creating two visions of Santa Cruz has not only fought to right There had to be a way for the local com-
our country, which have in the last few regional grievances, but also has contrib- munityand then the regional and na-
years appeared to be irreconcilable. uted to the national democratic process tional communitiesto make this patri-
As a result of this centralism, the his- by spearheading the democratic election mony their own. A small group of people
tory of the lowlands is a history of for- of mayors and prefects (governors) and (in a grassroots effort knocking on every
getting. Thus, Bolivia, which became a seeking departmental (state) autonomy, door for funding) launched on an adven-
republic in 1825 with its base in the ter- a struggle that is still ongoing. ture to create an International Festival of
ritory of the Royal Court of Charcas, was Santa Cruz de la Sierra has become Early Music. The response was very posi-
presented to the world in terms of stereo- prominent in national life, politically, eco- tive and in just a short time the festival
types that are very hard to undoboth at nomically and culturally. The city has cre- has become one of the most important
home and abroad. ated its own style that is completely differ- of its kind in the world, with the special
In the middle of the last century, ent from Andean centralism. It tries to do characteristic that it takes place simulta-
thanks to studies by art historians, Bo- things in a grassroots fashion, sharpening neously in many different sites; and mu-
livia began to take a hard look at itself in its wit and creativity. In the 1970s the sic groups from five continents partici-
the mirror, learning through plastic arts cultural institution known as the House pate. The festival has situated the music
and other art forms to discover another of Culture was set up as part of a local of the Chiquitos region in the panorama
identity, that of the mestizo. Art histori- initiative. It operated in an autonomous of universal music; it has become an im-
ans here, for example, coined the term fashion with local economic support, as portant cultural reference point that has
baroque mestizo to describe the Bolivian well as some international help obtained managed to elevate the self-esteem of the
architectural style that had been incor- through its board of directors. In just a regions inhabitants; it has stimulated
porating elements of both indigenous art little while, the House of Culture became tourism andthrough the music schools
and Baroque architecture since the 17th one of the most important and active cul- that have been created in the small
century. Although at first we did not like tural institutions in the country. And that townsbecome an alternative source of
what we saw in the mirror (the Europe- became the launching pad for the cultural employment for the regions youth.
anizers because there was too much In- development of the region. There is no need here for grotesque
dian in the mix; the indigenists because At the end of that decade, the Catho- costumes or for violence. The lowlands of
there was too little), bit by bit we began lic Church began the process of restoring Bolivia have learned to adopt their mixed
getting used to this concept and admit- the churches of the old Jesuit missions race heritage and to bask in their identity
ting our cultural and biological mixed of Chiquitos in the department of Santa through a socio-cultural process in which
race heritage. We began to assume that Cruz, until then completely off the radar European and indigenous people learn to
identity and to be proud of it. However, of both Bolivians and foreigners. In this see eye to eye without excluding the other.
as is the custom in this country, the focus process, as mentioned above, it was dis- And the creation and recovery of culture
was only on the Andean region; the low- covered that the inhabitants of these old has been a vital part of that process.
lands continued to be ignored. missionsknown as chiquitanoshad
Also in the middle of the last centu- preserved an enormous quantity of mu- Alcides Parejas Moreno is a Bolivian
ryin the 1940sthe mining industry sical scores from the 17th to 19th centu- historian who has written more than
fell into a crisis. The government con- ries. Two academics from the commu- thirty books, including works about the
tracted a North American consulting nity (full disclosure: I was one of them) history of Santa Cruz, several textbooks
firm that determined, in a report known prepared documentation for UNESCO and four novels. He has taught exten-
as the Bohan Plan, that mining had run to declare the mission towns of Chiqui- sively at universities and schools in both
its course and that if Bolivia wished to tos Cultural Patrimony of Humanity (up La Paz and Santa Cruz de la Sierra. He
be economically viable, it had to shift until then the only Bolivian site with this is one of the founders of the Internation-
its economy towards the lowlands. Thus status was Potos, which had achieved al Music Festival Misiones de Chiqui-
began a new and important stage of na- the title through the action of the central tos, the International Theatre Festival
tional history. The great protagonist of government). The dossier made the ar- and the Association for the Promotion of
this new stage, the city of Santa Cruz de gument that the Jesuit missions were liv- Art and Culture (APAC).

photo by Patricio Croocker/APAC drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 87

bolivia: revolutions and beyond

International Theater Festival

Culture in Action By Maritza Wilde

The challenge began at a caf in Madrid

on a cold morning, when two Spanish
colleagues dared me to organize an in-
ternational theater festival in Bolivia.
We were talking about Latin American
theater and how little promotion theater
was receiving in some Latin American
countries. My colleague and friend Luis
Molina, director of the CELCIT (Latin
American Center of Theater Creation
and Research), observed, You are the
perfect person to organize an interna-
tional theater festival in Bolivia; you have
the contacts and the experience. I evad-
ed his comment with something along
the lines of Its complicated.
Back in Bolivia a few days later, I
started to think about the idea. I fig-
ured the most adequate place to hold the
event was the city of Santa Cruz de la Si-
erra, capital of the department of Santa
Cruz, which shares a border with Brazil.
Although it is Bolivias most important the culture of our peoples filled me with La Odisea Teatro de los Andes performs in
city, I discarded La Paz from the begin- a deep satisfaction. the International Theater Festival.

ning because of its altitude: some 12,000 Six months after the challenge in Ma-
feet above sea level. Santa Cruz with its drid, the first International Theater Fes- Paz was the city I lived in, so it would be
increasingly prosperous society was ex- tival of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the first of easier to give continuity to the project.
periencing a demand for cultural growth. its kind in Bolivia, was inaugurated. The So, taking advantage of the fact that La
The reality exceeded my expectations. publics response was incredible; per- Paz had been named Capital Iberoamer-
Four months after my arrival from Ma- formance after performance, the people icana de la Cultura, we held the first In-
drid, I presented the project to three in- seemed amazed at the event and very ternational Theater Festival of La Paz, or
stitutions in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. emotionally receptive. It was a heteroge- FITAZ, in 1999.
It was 11:30 a.m. on another morning, neous public, made up of young people This second experience was very dif-
a hot and humid one, and I was leaving filled with an expectant curiosity and ferent from the first, and the altitude
the offices of a cultural institution in San- older people who seemed to be emotion- proved to be the least of our troubles. Al-
ta Cruz. It had been my third appoint- ally moved, especially by the internation- though we had the support of important
ment of the day, and the third institution al performances they saw. Every one of municipal institutions, we faced multiple
to offer financial support for my project. the international performances received financial problems that threatened the
It was not yet noon, and I already had the standing ovations. The tickets were sold success of the event. Yet the good qual-
financial resources and institutional sup- out for every single performance. ity of the plays drew highly positive re-
port to go ahead with the first interna- The success of this first experience in actions from the public and the media.
tional theater festival in Bolivia. This was 1997 encouraged me to undertake a sec- Headlines like The FITAZ dazzles La
nothing short of amazing. From my pre- ond project, this time in La Paz. At this Paz were common during those ten
vious experience as an independent the- point, I figured if people could play soc- days. Some people approached me on
ater director and actress, the knowledge cer here, they should very well be able to the street to congratulate me and express
that theater can find its rightful place in perform theater. Most importantly, La their gratitude with words like Thank

88 ReVista fall 2011 photo courtesy of maritza wilde

art and culture

you for this festival that filled us with

joy and optimism. Crash Course on
Although the festival had been
programmed to be held every two
years, the Mexican ambassador to
Bolivian Cinema
Bolivia advised me to hold another Going beyond Sanjins By Mauricio Souza Crespo
the following year. She said, Maritza,
dont let the audience cool off; dont
let them wait two years. After the
financial difficulties we faced, I was The most frequently asked question almost for the first timethis central
ready to give up on the project alto- about Bolivian cinema outside the coun- piece of our film history.
gether. But I thought of the enthusias- try is probably this: Bolivian cinema? Jorge Ruiz (1924) is, above all, a docu-
tic congratulations on the street and Huhh? And, usually, the quick and mentary film director. In his time, John
the supportive advice of the ambassa- somewhat angry response to this per- Grierson called him one of the six most
dor, I and decided to forge on for the plexity is simple: yes, there is such a thing significant documentary filmmakers in
year 2000the beginning of the new as a Bolivian cinema. No, we have never the world. With a work life spanning
century. hadand certainly not nowa film in- four decades, Ruiz completed more than
The festival has now been held dustry (this is the case with most Latin 20 films and received many awards, but
seven times. For my colleagues, espe- American countries save the big ones: a critical consensus considers Vuelve Se-
cially the young ones who are start- Mexico, Brazil, maybe Argentina). And bastiana (1953) his major achievement.
ing out in playwriting, directing and yes, our cinema is small, only capable of By some distance, the dominant fig-
acting, this festival has become a very producing a few movies a year, made in ure in Bolivian cinema is Jorge Sanji-
important platform for their own in- almost impossible conditions. Filming ns (1937). His overpowering influence
spirations and creation and an inter- a movie in Bolivia, the critic Pedro Susz (through both his films and numerous
national arena in which to present wrote some years ago, is equivalent to try essays and articles) is indirectly felt even
them. It is very gratifying to see that to build the Concorde airplane in a car today. For some time, every new Boliv-
I was not wrong to take the advice of garage. But despite all these difficulties, ian film was read as an attempt to go
the Mexican ambassador at the time. we have produced several classics of Lat- beyond Sanjins. Political in nature, his
Just as there have been difficul- in American cinema. Against all odds, oeuvre includes at least four classics of
ties, there are many names and faces Bolivian cinema exists, and it is alive and Latin American cinema: Ukamau (And
which, as a woman of theater, inspire well. It even has a history. So It Is, 1966), Yawar Mallku (Blood of
me and elevate me to what I believe is the Condor, 1969), El coraje del pueblo
one of the highest qualities of the hu- A history of Bolivian Cinema (The Courage of the People, 1971) and La
man spirit: gratitude. in a nutshell nacin clandestina (The Clandestine Na-
Fifteen years after that morning If we were to offer a historical outline of tion, 1989). (Sanjins is still active: he is
in Madrid, we see 2012 as a year full Bolivian cinema, we would need to men- now shooting a long-awaited new movie,
of new accomplishments for the the- tion three names: Jos Velasco Maidana, Bolivia insurgente).
ater community of Bolivia; the FITAZ Jorge Ruiz and Jorge Sanjins.
will be held for the eighth time in Velasco Maidana (1900-1989), who Origins of Bolivian
March 2012. I want to finish with the was also an important musician, direct- contemporary cinema
thought that has guided me through- ed some of the classics of Bolivian cin- In the second part of the 70s, when the
out my work as an actress and direc- ema silent era: among them, Wara Wara country was still painfully exiting the
tor, which is the belief that theater is (1930). Until recently, our knowledge military dictatorship of General Hugo
peace, even in war, and freedom even of this movie was vague, as it is the case Banzer (1971-1978), filmmakers were
in slavery. with most Latin America silent films. (If, said to confront a somewhat false choice.
as it is often claimed, more than 70% On the one hand, there were those who
Maritza Wilde is an actress and of all silent films have been lost to the wanted to continue making filmssuch
theater director who has studied in world, in Latin America that percentage as those by Sanjinsnot only openly
Spain and France. Currently she is probably higher.) In 1989, the nitrate political in terms of content, but also in
is the director of the International negatives of Wara Wara were discovered search of finding a new film language,
Theater Festival of La Paz and of in an old trunk. After a long process of different forms of production, and al-
the FITAZ Theater for Peace in the restoration and reconstruction, in 2010, ternative channels of distribution. On
World Foundation. seventy years later, we were able to see the other hand, a group of filmmakers

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 89
bolivia: revolutions and beyond

many of them formerly part of Sanjins

groupproposed a more lighthearted
social realism, descriptive in nature, that
reproducedwith some degree of origi-
nalitythe forms of a classic narrative
(commercial) style. This second option,
called at the time Possible Cinema, pro-
duced movies that, beyond their merits
(which are not few), would prove them-
selves fatefully influential in the next two
decades. We should mention two films:
Chuquiago (1977) by Antonio Eguino
and Mi socio (My Friend, 1982) by Paolo
Agazzi. Eguinos film constructs a social
portrait of the city of La Paz (Chuquiago
is the name of the city in Aymara, the in-
digenous language spoken by a consider-
able percentage of its population) with
an urban focus that already signals its
distance from Sanjins work, which has
been concentrated in rural indigenous
populations. Agazzi, in his bittersweet
road movie Mi socio, tries to do the same:
he describes not a city this time but the
different regions of the national territory
(Bolivia, the sociologist Ren Zavaleta
Mercado used to say, is a nation where
every valley is a separate country.) In
both the case of Chuquiago and Mi so-
cio, we could talk of a risky flirting with
various stereotypes (of classes, of regions
of the country), but they are, at the end,
movies that generally avoid this pitfall
and provide a useful model for future
generations. A poster collage at the Cinemateca. by outside factors. First, a considerable
number of young Bolivian filmmakers
Going beyond Sanjins received formal training in Cuba, the
If our contemporary cinema could be ral and spatial complexity. United States and elsewhere. This group
described as an attempt to go beyond Meanwhile and in the following years, is responsible for a modest but significant
Sanjins films, in 1989 we saw a first many Bolivian films returned, with some professionalization of our industry. The
step in that direction: with his La nacin luck, to the paths opened by Eguino and second outside influence was the arrival
clandestina, Sanjins himself seemed to Agazzi: their exploration of social real- of digital formats and computer-based
be going beyond Sanjins. Arguably the ism, allegorical in spirit, along with an editing. These changes explain, among
contemporary classic of Bolivian cinema, experimentation with genres, proved ir- other things, a sudden increase in our
La nacin clandestina transforms the resistible (for example, in 1995 Marcos production numbers: in 2010, for exam-
well-known politicization of culture Loayza would try his hand with an en- ple, we exceeded a dozen feature-length
of movies such as Yawar Mallku into a dearing road movie, Cuestin de fe, and, movies (our historical average had been
more nuanced culturalization of poli- in 2005, his El corazn de Jess could be one or two movies a year).
tics. Its deliberate, morosely self-con- deemed a variation of Chuquiago). Very recent Bolivian films could be
scious use of certain film language tools grouped in three main categories. First,
is also characteristic of Sanjins work: in The last two decades in variations of a classic social realism
this case, a series of beautifully planned In the last two decades, Bolivian cinema mode, films that try a direct denuncia-
sequence-shots create a sense of tempo- has been marked by transformations tion or description of social problems

90 ReVista fall 2011 photo by antonio surez, tsuarezbolivia@yahoo.com/

art and culture

is also quite uneven in quality. Genre livian flag. Although varied in styles and
cinema has produced mostly misses and themes, it displays a common aesthetic:
few hits; social realism has been alarm- an inclination for narrative ellipsis and
ingly bland and commonplace in its indirection, the frequent use of excruci-
social readings (and particularly blind ating very long long-takes, an expressive
to our current revolutionary process use of photography. It is also true that
of change). Auteur cinema has only a at least one common theme crosses the
few, though significant, achievements. three stories: lonely women, somewhat
In general, we could say that recent bad pushed aside by the world, experience in-
Bolivian movies have the same problem terrupted or arrested relations with their
that bad Hollywood movies have: no (departed) children. Is there an authors
matter the amount of money you spend, style in this collective project, one that
a lousy script is a lousy script. would give us permission to talk of a gen-
erational sensibility? Maybe. It is a film
Bolivian cinema right now that, contrary to a long tradition in Boliv-
A detailed overview of the last decade ian cinema, prefers a deliberate opaque-
of Bolivian cinema would be impossible ness, a reticent approach to storytelling
here (or irresponsible). We can, however, that is, at the same time, quite eloquent.
attempt a quick snapshot of the last two Lpez continues and enriches a tra-
years, commenting on three movies that dition that has been inexplicably ne-
are not only well-worth seeing in their glected in recent Bolivian cinema: the
own right, but also representative and, documentary. Like many contemporary
to a degree, emblematic. To wit: Zona world documentary films, his Inalmama
Sur (Southern District) by Juan Carlos (2010) aspires to a certain free style:
Valdivia, Rojo Amarillo Verde (Red Yel- Lpez himself defines his movie as a po-
low Green), by Boulocq, Bastani and Bel- litical, visual and musical essay about the
lot and Inalmama by Eduardo Lpez. coca leaf and cocaine in Bolivia. This de-
Zona Sur (2009) is, to date, Valdivias scription aptly characterizes how his film
best movie. Less concerned with narrative works: diverse threads and tones weave,
construction than in his previous movies in a non-linear logic, a complex under-
such as Jons y la ballena rosada (Jo- standing of the place that coca leaves
nah and the Pink Whale) and American have in Bolivian culture (a place vaguely
Visa, Valdivia constructs Zona Sur from sacred and crudely profane).
a series of observations or self-sufficient
(immigration to the First World, drug scenes that patiently complete a family Some final maybes
trafficking, corruption, class violence). and class portrait. The title of the movie Making a movie in Bolivia may no lon-
Second, films that demonstrate a de- already suggests that this portrait is orga- ger be the impossible adventure it was
sire to explore genres and commercial nized by an old claustrophobic metaphor: considered to be some years ago. Maybe
formulas: comedies, more road movies, rich people are depicted as trapped in a to make a movie in Bolivia is not equiva-
action movies, evenlast yeara gore zone of the city, or, more precisely, in a lent anymore to building an airplane in
movie. And, finally, there is an emer- house. As the film is allegorical in prin- a car garage. But as the recent uneven-
gence of films strongly marked by the ciple (and heavy-handed at that), it is no ness of Bolivian cinema suggests, maybe
voice and style of the director, what in surprise that the movie ends up propos- its future depends on some more modest
the 60s was called auteur cinema or ing a space (a house) as its main char- measures. Lets name one: go back to the
authors cinema. Maybe all these tenden- acter: a high-class slum, cluttered with desk, sit down, and start writing and re-
cies, thematically speaking, have forced consumer fetishes, as if memory were a writing stories that are worthwhile to tell.
that long-awaited move beyond Sanji- collection of souvenirs inventoried by a
ns. Not in one crucial point, however: camera that slowly circles them. Mauricio Souza Crespo is film critic
Bolivian cinema continues to be, right Rojo Amarillo Verde (2009), directed for the newspaper Pgina Siete and the
now, highly political, although not in the by three up-and-coming young direc- biweekly Nueva Crnica. He teaches
same manner as its predecessors. tors (Boulocq, Bastani and Bellot), is a literature and film and is the managing
Political in a different way, more nu- trilogy of medium-length films gathered editor of the publishing house Plural
merous and varied, this recent cinema under the pretext of the colors of the Bo- Editores.

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 91
making a difference

Historic Archives of
Santa Cruz de la Sierra
by Paula Pea Hasbn

Researchers interested in publican eras. The Archives of

investigating the history and the Archbishopric are mainly
anthropology of Bolivias ecclesiastical, containing all
eastern region will find two the information produced by
documentation centers in the Bishopric. These archives
Santa Cruz de la Sierra: the contain a wealth of informa-
Museo de Historia y Archivo tion about the regions diverse
Histrico of Universidad ethnic groups because the
Autnoma Gabriel Ren Church was dedicated to the
Moreno (the History Museum evangelization of the natives
and Archives of the Gabriel of the lowlands.
Ren Moreno University and The Museum of His-
the Archivo Histrico del Ar- tory and Historic Archives
zobispado (Historic Archives contain an abundance of
of the Archbishopric). Both civil documents. The Historic
centers contain historic, civil Archives concentrate on two
and ecclesiastical documents old archives: the univer-
dating from the 17th century. sitys historic archive with
The city of Santa Cruz de a small collection known as some of them. The Prefectur- 72,080 pages grouped in
la Sierra, the oldest city in Fondo Melgar i Montao, al Collection was catalogued 4,598 documents related to
this region of Bolivia, dates that brings together colonial thanks to the support of the the period from 1825 to 1910.
back to 1561. The citycon- documents and information Program for Latin Ameri- The effort was very
sidered the capital of the east- from the independence era can Libraries and Archives fruitful: they organized the
ern regionwas twice moved and Fondo Prefectural, which (PLALA) through the David information in 11 sections
from its original location, but focuses on documents from Rockefeller Center for Latin and 88 series, in 145 boxes of
has been in its current place the Department of Santa American Studies of Har- documents. Two new profes-
since 1622. During the co- Cruz in the first Republican vard University. In 2006, the sionals were also trained in
lonial era, the Governorship century. Since 2009, another Museum of History and the archiving. Likewise, progress
of Santa Cruz de la Sierra archive known as the Ar- Historic Archive requested has been made with other
included the current depart- chivo Histrico Departmental support to hire a senior collections. The catalogues
ments of Santa Cruz, Beni Hermanos Vasquez Mach- researcher and two young are available printed and
and Pando; this area, in turn, icado (Departmental Historic sociologists to prepare the online to researchers who are
was the territory of its Bish- Archive of the Vsquez catalogue of the documentary dedicated to the history and
opric. After Bolivias creation Machicado Brothers) is now collection that at the time was anthropology of the lowlands
in 1825, the Department of at the Museum of History. organized by year in folders. of Bolivia during the 19th
Santa Cruz was divided: the The documentary collections Since November 2006 and century.
Department of Beni was cre- of this archive belong to the for a period of one year, the
ated in 1842 and the Depart- Municipal Government and researcher trained the young Paula Pea Hasbn is the
ment of Pando in 1938. the Department Courts. sociologists in cataloguing, as director of the Museo de His-
The documents in both These documentary col- the career of library science toria y Archivo Histrico de
historic archives of the city lections are being catalogued; is not available in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz . Contact: Museo_
are from the Colonial and Re- there were only indexes for Together they catalogued historia@uagrm.edu.bo.

92 ReVista fall 2011

book talk

Revolution in Venezuela?

Ponniah and
David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University

The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University
works to increase knowledge of the cultures, histories, environment, and
contemporary affairs of Latin America; foster cooperation and understanding

A Review by Peter DeShazo among the people of the Americas; and contribute to democracy, social
progress, and sustainable development throughout the hemisphere.

The Revolution in Venezuela

How revolutionary is the Bolivarian Revolution? Have Chvezs policies re-shaped
systems of class, status, and power for men and women in Venezuela?
Are Venezuelas anti-imperial development projects successfully weakening
Latin Americas adherence to neoliberal economic programs? At last, there is a
book that answers these questions with careful and balanced scholarship.
The Revolution in Venezuela moves beyond superficial dichotomies of socialism versus
capitalism, or authoritarianism versus democracy. it highlights instead the underlying
logics in Venezuelan politics that unite an otherwise multi-dimensional, and at times
contradictory, transformation of social institutions. The result is a comprehensive
analysis of the consequences of the Venezuelan experiment for both individuals and
institutions. The Revolution in Venezuela is certain to become foundational reading for

to Chvezs record in office. He asserts that the evolution

the next generation of Latin American scholars, as they revise theories of revolution,

The Revolution in Venezuela: democracy, and development to fit the reality of the 21st century.
Jocelyn Viterna, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

one of the side benefits of the Chvez era has been the diversification of scholarship

Social and Political Change They deal with the presidents of the regime towards more
on Venezuela. in The Revolution in Venezuela, Ponniah and Eastwood bring together
veteran researchers and younger scholars from a range of disciplines and
political perspectives. Their empirical analyses provide much needed nuance to the
The Revolution
often abstract, ill-informed international debate on Venezuela. Some of the

under Chvez, edited by brief removal from power by radical positions occurred as in Venezuela
highlights are chapters on the logic of Venezuelas foreign policy and on the fate of the
womens movement, as well as Eastwoods introduction and Ponniahs Conclusion.
in these latter, the editors provide insightful discussions of just how revolutionary
the Chvez era has been.

the military in April 2002, Chvez came to understand

David Smilde, Department of Sociology, University of Georgia

Thomas Ponniah and Jonathan Social and Political Change under Chvez

DRCLAS/Harvard University
Eastwood. The David Rock- political polarization and the political value of link- ISBN 978-0-674-06138-5
Edited by Thomas Ponniah and Jonathan Eastwood

efeller Center Series on Latin relations between Chvez and ing polarizing rhetoric with
Cover Design: 2CommUniqU
Cover photogtraph: Meridith Kohut 9 780674 061385

American Studies, Harvard the opposition, the concept large-scale state spending The David Rockefeller Center Series on Latin American Studies, Harvard University

University, Harvard University of participatory democracy in aimed at uncommitted voters

Press, 2011, 338 pages the context of chavismo, an (mostly urban poor) through tional wisdom that predicts
analysis of the 2006 presi- the Misiones programs. For that it will sink under the
Much of what is written about dential elections, an examina- his part, Wilpert claims that weight of lower oil prices or
Venezuela since the elec- tion of womens rights under Chvezs electoral support mismanagement. He stresses
tion of Hugo Chvez in 1998 Chvez, and chapters analyz- and popularity stem as much the positive effects of social
tends to be highly polarized, ing the Venezuelan economy, from satisfaction with the spending in reducing poverty
often based on Manichaean health care (specifically the inclusiveness of direct de- and improving health care,
perceptions of developments Barrio Adentro program in mocracy as from the benefits hails the reduction of public
in that country, according poor urban neighborhoods) of increased social spend- debt (up to 2008) and claims
to one of the editors of this and foreign policy. ing. Wilpert also rejects a that the effect of high rates of
volume. At the extremes, Several articles analyze the common interpretation that inflation have been overstated.
Chvez is viewed as a social politics of the Chvez years. considers the concept of par- Venezuelas fine economic
revolutionary dedicated to the Two stand in stark contrast: ticipatory democracy in Ven- performance, according to
service of the downtrodden in Javier Corrales description of ezuela to be a smokescreen Weisbrot, should be contrast-
Latin America or as dicta- the polarizing tactics used by for the dismantling of checks ed with the unprecedented
tor who threatens regional Chvez to create a regime of and balances on executive economic failure of the rest
democracy and security. Most competitive authoritarian- authority, and the transfer of of Latin America in recent
academic observers tend to ism, and a far more benign resources by Chvez to the years owed to the application
occupy space in between these vision of chavismo by Greg- newly created mechanisms of of macro-economic policies
ideological bookends, but ory Wilpert asserting that local government (communal imposed on the region by the
nonetheless view Chvez and participatory democracy has councils, citizen assemblies) IMF and the United States.
chavismo in a decidedly nega- been institutionalized in Ven- as a maneuver to undermine The chapter on health care
tive or positive light. ezuela, replacing the flawed elected governors and mayors echoes this interpretation; the
The Revolution in Venezu- representative democracy of who oppose him. authors contend that large-
ela accepts that impartial- the so-called Fourth Repub- Contributions by Mark scale spending by the Chvez
ity regarding Venezuela is a lic (1958-1998). Ironically, Weisbrot on the Venezu- administration on health
scarce commodity and instead both authors agree on at least elan economy and by Carles specifically the Barrio Adentro
seeks to construct a narrative one central point, that Chvez Muntaner, Haejoo Chung, program staffed in part by
out of contrasting views. The and his supportersin the Qamar Mahmood and Fran- Cuban doctors and dentists
book consists of an introduc- words of Wilpertdominate cisco Armada on health care has greatly improved health
tion and conclusion written all branches of government highlight what they con- standards in Venezuela, in
by the editors, Eastwood and that Chvezs governing sider to be the successes of the stark contrast to former neo-
and Ponniah, respectively, style is authoritarian. Cor- Chvez years. Weisbrot asserts liberal approaches to medical
and eight articles by sepa- rales goes into detail on the that the Venezuelan economy care in the region (promoted
rate contributors evaluating steps taken by Chvez to con- under Chvez has performed by the U.S., the IMF, foreign
a variety of issues related centrate power in his hands. strongly and rejects conven- corporations, etc) that have

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 93
book talk

had ill effects on health and (Brazilian leaders would cer- remains a petro-state, utterly Ponniah in his conclusion is
equity. Barrio Adentro, the tainly disagree with Williams dependent on revenue from the sustainability of chavismo.
authors argue, should be a assessment that their country exportation of oil to fuel pub- Many of the chapters point
model approach to health care is in the regionalist camp lic spending and the economy. to the central role of Chvez
reform for other low-moder- along with Ecuador, Bolivia, Income from oil also provides in every aspect of Venezu-
ate income countries. and Nicaragua, of govern- the underpinning for the elan national life. There is,
In their zeal to condemn ments that are inspired by social spendingthe Misio- however, almost no mention
neoliberalism, the authors of Venezuela.) The Soviet Union, nes above all, that allowed of other chavista leaders,
both chapters ignore or reject Cuba and the Cold War Chvez to consolidate core little analysis of the parties or
the reality of the important notwithstanding, Williams political support. Venezuelas groups that support Chvez,
gains in health (infant mortal- considers chavismo to be the foreign policy is also powered and no discussion of institu-
ity, nutrition, life expectancy), most significant ideological by oil, the raw material for tions that exercise influence
economic growth, poverty challenge to U.S. hemispheric petro-diplomacy, above all over policy-making. Wil-
reduction, access to education, interests that Washington has the 100,000 barrels per day liams asserts that Venezuelan
literacy, and many other social faced in perhaps the last 50 provided to Cuba in exchange foreign policy is not a mere in-
and development-related years. for doctors and teachers for strument of Chavezs will, but
categories that have taken Many of the interpretations the Misiones but also the offers no other explanation as
place in Latin America since presented in The Revolu- economic aid extended to to how decisions are taken.
friendly regimesespecially One might argue that this is
Bolivia and Nicaragua. It is not an oversight but a reflec-
by no means an exaggeration tion of the indispensability of
This book provides balanced, thoughtful to say that future prospects Chvez to the entire system.
for the Chvez administration What then, is the future of
and provocative analysis of the situation remain closely linked to the Venezuela without Chvez and
in Venezuela under Hugo Chvez. oil industryand above all how sustainable are any of the
oil prices. The spike in prices reforms he has undertaken?
from 2003 to 2008 provided Ponniah points to destabiliz-
the 1990s. Grave problems tion in Venezuela cry out for the underpinning for the Mis- ing contradictions within
remainincluding the regions counterargument. Jonathan iones, which in turn helped chavismo that make for an un-
glaring inequalities in distribu- Eastwoods comprehensive ensure Chavezs victory in the certain future, but no one else
tion of wealth, but it should be introductory essay in part recall referendum of August offers predictions. The un-
possible to highlight gains in assumes this task, provid- 2004 and opened the door certainties involving Chavezs
health, poverty reduction and ing a vision of Chvezs rise to subsequent political gains. recent surgery in Cuba and
access to education in Venezu- to power and record in office Higher oil prices allowed him his announcement that he
ela without the need to claim that stands in contrast to that to increase the size of the pub- has cancer have brought the
they are unique to chavismo. presented by several of the au- lic workforce by 67% between sustainability of his rule into
A chapter on Venezu- thors. In echoing the descrip- 2002 and 2008, strengthen- sharp focus.
elas foreign policy by Mark tion of the Chvez regime (by ing his political base but with A final consideration,
Eric Williams asserts that a leading opponent) as being a big price tag. With Venezu- raised by both Eastwood
the Chvez administra- a quasi-dictatorship, he elan oil production currently and Ponniah, is whether the
tion has successfully used a strongly questions Wilperts at levels well below the peak Chvez regime constitutes a
soft-balancing approach to assessment of participatory reached in the mid-1990s, revolution. Eastwood claims
counter U.S. influence in the democracy and points out that however, and unlikely to that in terms of redefin-
hemisphere through initia- Weisbrots arguments on the increase significantly anytime ing class structure it is not
tives such as the Bolivarian economy are controversial. soon, Chvezs future is indeed revolutionary but could be
Alternative for the Americas While Eastwoods analysis wedded to oil pricesand to when examining percep-
(ALBA), oil diplomacy, and provides a useful, integrat- continued access to the U.S. tions of status and class. For
other measures to produce ing framework to the book, market, where a large share his part, Ponniah signals a
a region bifurcated into two several essential variables of Venezuelas crude is refined conceptual revolution in the
camps, one sympathetic to are not given enough atten- and distributed. thinking of Chvez and his
Chvezs vision of a multipolar tion. One is the all-important Another key issue little supporters toward the goal of
world, and another with closer oil sector. Venezuela since discussed in the book but ap- development and the linking
ties to the United States. the late 1920s has been and propriately raised by Thomas of new forms of democracy

94 ReVista fall 2011

book talk

with a radical redistribu-

tion approach. In the end,
The Panama Canal
however, he judges that
chavismo falls short of being A REVIEW BY FERNANDO BERGUIDO
revolutionary in the tradi-
tional sense. One might also
argue that rather than being
revolutionary, chavismo is The Big Ditch: How Amer- to the establishment of a
an amalgam of variables ica Took, Built, Ran and singular colonial enclave in
from Latin Americas past: Ultimately Gave Away the the Panama Canal Zone and
hyper-populism, caudillismo, Panama Canal, by Noel Mau- the handover of the Panama
appeals to nationalism and rer and Carlos Yu (Princeton Canal itself to independent
ethnic and class division, University Press, 2011, 420 Panama in 1999.
predilection for a larger state pages.) The authors quest is un-
role in the economy, the cult equivocal: whether a demo-
of the personality, and, of The creation of the Panama cratic nation like the United social rate of return, as well
course, anti-imperialismo. Canal was far more than a States operating inside the as military and economic
Before 1998, Venezuela vast, unprecedented feat of strictures of Westphalian impacts of the American
received considerably less engineering. It was a pro- sovereignty, was able to imperial adventure on
attention from the aca- foundly important historic leverage its ability to impose the Isthmus of Panama,
demic community than other event and a sweeping human military and economic sanc- not without paying proper
important countries in the drama not unlike that of tions into sustainable eco- attention to colonial times,
region. While the coming a war. Apart from wars, it nomic gains. Furthermore, to previous U.S. private
of Chvez has given rise to represented the largest, most why did the United States investment in the first inter-
a cottage industry of newly costly single effort ever before withdraw from its impe- continental railroad built in
minted experts and bloggers mounted anywhere on earth. rial commitment almost a order to capture traffic from
who fawn over or excoriate David McCullough, century later? the East Coast to California
chavismo, serious scholarship The Path Between the Seas: Panamas destiny has al- during the Gold Rush, and
on Venezuela remains in lim- The Creation of the Panama ways been linked to its privi- to the French failed project
ited supply. The Revolution Canal 1870-1914. New York: leged geographic location. of building a sea-level ditch
in Venezuela helps correct Simon and Schuster, 1977. Centuries before Roosevelts in the 19th century.
this imbalance with some endeavor, the Spanish Em- For Maurer and Yu the
provocative and thoughtful It was a question lingering pire was very much aware of cost of Americas venture on
analysis, making a useful for a century among most the strategic importance of Panamanian soil was small
contribution to a topic with Panamanians and many this possession. compared to the benefits
broad ramifications for the Americans: was the Panama After Vasco Nuez de obtained. It took ten years to
Americas and beyond. Canal good business for the Balboa discovered the build at a final cost of $326
Americans? There was a Pacific (originally named million (with an overrun
Peter DeShazo is Execu- military-strategic gain but The Sea of the South) by of more than double of the
tive Director of LASPAU economically, did the money crossing the thinnest stretch original estimate of $144
Academic and Professional invested yield a good return of landonly 50 miles one million). The project was not
Programs for the Americas, as a commercial enterprise ocean from the otherin only a great investment but
affiliated with Harvard and if so, how profitable was 1503, the city of Panama the United States became
University. Before coming it? was established as the first the main beneficiary of the
to LASPAU in 2011, he was Harvard Business School European settlement on the path between the seas (as
Director of the Americas professor Noel Maurer and Pacific coast. Ever since, David McCullough called it).
Program at the Center for historian Carlos Yu reflect Europeans first, and Ameri- It is well known that the
Strategic and International on the economics of a very cans later expropriated most Americans invoiced the new
Studies (CSIS) in Washing- singular case of American of the rents generated by republic dearly for their
ton, D.C. and taught at the imperialism: from Theodore Panamas geography by dif- backing of Panamas revolu-
School of Advanced Interna- Roosevelts involvement with ferent means. tion against Colombia. Not
tional Studies (SAIS) of Johns Panamas Revolution at the The book presents deep only did the United States
Hopkins University. turn of the 20th century research and analysis on the reduce its payments for the

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 95
book talk

use of Panamas geographic The American military the Panama Canal happened men Cara de Pia (Pineap-
assets, it succeeded in getting epidemiologist William to be Chile (minerals exports) ple Face), and not La Pia
Panamanian taxpayers to Gorgas ran the single largest and Japan (shipping industry (The Pineapple) as the book
subsidize some of the over- tropical public health effort and commerce). indicates repeatedly.
head costs of canal construc- in history until that date so After World War II the The transfer of the
tion and operation. In other that the labor force building Canal started to show signs of Panama Canal administra-
words, contrary to a large the Panama Canal would not stagnation and decline. The tion from the United States to
literature on the wages of the be decimated by disease, as it authors even found enough Panama has a happy ending.
empire, Theodore Roosevelt had during the private French evidence to conclude that the For the United States, the
managed to make imperial- attempt. American managed the canal Panama Canal in Panama-
ism pay. The dark side of the particularly poorly during the nians hands became more
The authors found out, for construction story was the postwar period. valuable to the United States
example, that the net present importation of the Jim Crow In the late 1970s, when than the Panama Canal in
value of the Canal Treaty system of racial discrimina- President Jimmy Carter American hands concluded
signed between the United tion, a legacy that reigned finally accepted to renegoti- the authors.
States and Panama (the Hay- in the former Panama Canal ate the treatiesat significant For Panamanians, the
Bunau Varilla Treaty) was less Zone for most of the 20th political cost to himselfthe peaceful transition from the
than a half the value of the century. Panama Canal was already a original Imperialistic Power
agreement previously signed Chief Engineer George relatively inefficient enter- of the North to the small na-
between the United States Goethals, the Panama Canal prise. The canals American tion in Central America has
and Colombia (while Panama Zones first governor, was managers lacked incentives to been a source of economic
was still part of that nation), blunt about his motives for increase its efficiency, market and psychological accom-
a treaty to which the United keeping the Caribbean black its services, or adopt new plishment.
States had already agreed two populationbrought from technologies. Once Panama took back
years before. the West Indies precisely to Upper management con- ownership of the canal, the
The use of military muscle build the Canal outside of the sisted of military bureaucrats waterway became phenom-
by the United States in favor territory of the Canal Zone. I at the end of their careers, enally profitable despite
of the new republic yielded did not care to see a popula- given a plum job as reward the growth of alternative
a significant additional tion of Panamanians or West before retirement. By 1979, transport routes and fuelled
return: in 2009 dollars, the Indian negroes occupying the the Panama Canal was barely a prolonged economic boom
authors estimate the United landhe wrote in 1915for making money. after decades of stagnation
States profited between 10 these are non-productive, With a remarkable ac- and relative decline.
to 32 billion dollars from thriftless and indolent. They cumulation of research and Maurer and Yu are not shy
the initial arrangement, an would congregate in small economic history it is a pity about their optimistic outlook
amount that would have settlements, and the cost of that some basic historical on the future of the Big Ditch.
been astronomically higher if sanitation and government facts were not accurate. The The Panama Canal entered
the Canal would have raised would be increased materi- inaccuracy will not, in my the twenty-first century better
tolls as a commercial opera- ally. opinion, change the main managed than ever before in
tion (the United States did As for tangible economic theme or any of the support- its history. No weak endorse-
not rise canal tolls until 1974 impact, according to Mau- ing arguments presented by ment from two well versed
as a result of strategic policy rer and Yu, U.S. producers, the authors. Any Panama- scholars.
of keeping a revenue-neutral consumers and transporters nian, however, will be taken
operation). were the main beneficiaries aback by any text asserting Fernando Berguido is
Digging the Ditch is a of the cost savings produced that on November 6, 1903, the editor of La Prensa in
chapter devoted to remind by shortening the distance Panama declared its Inde- Panama and a 2011 Fellow
readers once more of the between ports. pendence. Panamas Inde- at the Nieman Foundation
odyssey and marvels that They also found that pendence Day is November for Journalism at Harvard
American engineers achieved California and the Pacific 3. Other minor historical University. Before heading
over highly demanding Northwest benefited at the typos run along Panamas Panamas leading newspaper,
technological challenges in expense of the South. turbulent political history, all Berguido practiced law and
the disease-infested tropical Outside the United States, the way to General Manuel lectured Constitutional Law
isthmus between 1904 and the other two countries Noriega regime, a figure at University Santa Maria
1914. profiting significantly from nicknamed by his country- La Antigua School of Law.

96 ReVista fall 2011

book talk

Exploring The Jungle Cradle

A Review by Deborah T. Levenson

Maya Roads, One Womans covered as part of a cohort of city, to imagine its past and
Journey Among the People courageous journalists. Her to decipher what they find,
of the Rainforest by Mary Jo journey, as well as her book, with a crew from National
McConahay (Chicago Review, starts decades back in Mexico Geographic trailing behind
2011, 288 pages) Citys National Museum of on occasion. Accompanying
Anthropology, where diora- the renowned U.S. archaeolo-
The tropical forest within the mas of Lacandn men and gist Arthur Demarest through
southern Mexican state of women set her off to meet the slow excavations during
Chiapas and the Guatemalan real Lacandn. She goes south which fragments of pots and
northern state of Petn, what to Chiapas with the great other objects are carefully
Mary Jo McConahay calls esprit of those times: here is a brought to the surface, she
the jungle cradle of ancient young woman traveling alone, even follows him to the bot-
civilization in her remarkable improvising as she moves tom of a long shaft where he,
page-turning book, Maya along, hitchhiking, finding an playing Jim Morrison on a
Roads, One Womans Journey odd traveling companion for portable stereo, gently picks
Among the People of the Rain- a brief interlude, and haul- out and puts together the once vibrant village of Dos
forest, is today threatened with ing around packs of black bones of ruler Itzam Kawil. Erres. Deep in the Petn,
destruction by what can be Sobranies as gifts for the The unforgettable scene is Dos Erres was settled in
called the modern barbarism Lacandn who will host her. made more so because all the 1970s by pioneers, poor
of drug trafficking and defor- Full of curiosity, optimism and the while Demarest is deeply peasants from elsewhere who
estation. This is especially the anticipation of wonders, she troubled about ancient Dos built their community with
case in the Petn, which covers soon finds them, be these the Pilas relationship to the hope and worked the land
one third of Guatemalan ter- flight of flamingos, the density delicate natural environment they desperately needed.
ritory. Rich in human history of lush green forest or the surrounding it and what the Bernardi is watchful that the
and in natural resources that clutch of dead birds Lacandn digging will reveal about the bucket not tip and some-
include the gorgeous fauna women wear in their hair. wars this city-state waged. thing fall out. A bit of fabric,
and flora of carbon dioxide- McCarthy soon thereafter McConahay cannot help a rubber boot, after days of
trapping forests, it has become leaves the rainforest to spend have that dig and those ruins digging the bones start com-
a key route for narcotics pass- years reporting on the 1970s at Dos Pilas in mind when ing up to the surface where
ing from South America to conflicts in the Middle East she reaches the digs and they are lovingly placed on
the United States. Currently, and those of the 1980s in ruins of Dos Erres. In one the ground. Perhaps at least
the Petn is under a state of Central America. But in the of the books most moving part of a skeleton can be put
siege as a consequence of the 1990s, tired of wars and dead chapters, a young Argen- together. A priest bends over
massacre of 27 ranch workers bodies, she picks up the Maya tine forensic anthropologist tiny bones, trying to preserve
this past May by narcotrafi- roads again to breathe jungle named Patricia Bernardi what is left of children in a
cantes who are at war with the air and to satisfy her curios- pulls up buckets from a deep small piece of cloth. Village
ranchs owner. No book about ity about the ancient Maya. If dry well into which a villager survivors guard, help and
this region could be as timely only it were that simple. has descended to dig up the observe. Time is short; there
as this one. Ruins and digs are central dirt at the bottom and fill is little funding and no doubt
McConahay recounts the to Maya Roads. The first buckets with it. The year is army spies in the woods. Ber-
history of this Mexican/Gua- journey of her 1990s return 1993. Bernardi and others nardi feels under pressure
temalan rainforest through is to the site of the Maya city shift through the soil for to get more and more out of
the prism of her own travels, of Dos Pilas, founded in 629 remains of the 376 women, the earth because witnesses
which were set into motion AD. McConahay portrays the men and children massacred to the massacre have come
before the Central American colorful characters working in December 1982 by the forward to testify and the
wars that she subsequently to reassemble this long-gone Guatemalan Army in the bones and other fragments

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 97
book talk

of life now gone must be

analyzed and processed to
Whether exhumations,
excavations, the murals of
Copans Stone Puzzles
enter into a proceeding of a
possible trial. Do the bones
Bonampak, the special look
of the Lacandn milpas, or Come Indoors
tell if the as yet unknown the extraordinary ordinary
person died crushed by a people of the a region, such A Review by Eulogio Guzmn
rifle butt, or thrown against as the man who dieda
a wall? McConahay takes survivor of another mas-
hours of testimony to help sacreMcConahay depicts The Copan Sculpture Muse-
create what follows. In ad- all with eloquence and em- um: Ancient Maya Artistry in
dition to village witnesses, pathy, including the trees. Stucco and Stone by Barbara
two kaibiles, members of She writes beautifully. Her W. Fash (Peabody Museum
the militarys elite corps, book ends with her return Press, 2011, 216 pages)
whom McConahay and to Chiapas, decades after
human rights workers must her early 1970s adventure, Barbara Fashs recent publi-
personally protect, decide to find the same Lacan- cation, The Copan Sculpture
to step forward to testify in dn. She still hitchhikes, Museum, provides a personal
a case that will eventually quickly makes friends, asks account of ongoing efforts to
lead to arrests and trials. questions thoughtfully and document, examine, consoli-
In a different part of observes people and places date, study, and exhibit the
the Petn, near Tikal and with care and in detail, but large corpus of sculptures
tourism, McConahay comes this time she is anxious. from the ruins of Copan. This
across another kind of The Mexican army is attack- ancient city, set in the lavish
ruins. On her way to ruins ing Zapatista communities subtropical region of western
of Uaxatum, a city-state in Chiapas while the drug Honduras, was constructed and supernatural composites
that warred with Tikal in lords are building runways by a society of Maya peoples regaling these architectural
378 AD, she finds the town and roads distinct from the who were adept builders and structures presented impor-
of Uaxatum, founded in Maya ones. Yet she ends her who thrived there from AD tant narratives that scholars
the 1930s by the Wrigley book with concern, not dis- 426 until their demise in the have used to understand the
Chewing Gum Company. enchantment. Knowledge- ninth century. Copans inhab- Maya worldview.
Wrigley put in a railroad, able and politically savvy, itants filled the lush contours Copans abandonment by
built housing along it and she is uncertain about the of the land both in their the Maya in the ninth century
hired a workforce to tap future, but she is sure that dynastic center, known today enabled the jungle to reclaim
sapodilla trees for the sap the Maya paths of the past as the Principal Group, and the site with the surrounding
that was then boiled down and present offer spiritual in diverse settlements that luxurious subtropical forest,
to reappear as Juicy Fruits wisdom and the refuge of sprawled over the valley in a while sections that brushed
et al. When vinyl resins, Mc- beauty that her book gives network of carefully planned against the banks of the
Conahay explains, replaced us again and again. buildings and exterior spaces. Copan River actually disap-
this sap, grass invaded the The Maya are renowned peared. Natural disasters also
tracks and this Uaxatum Deborah T. Levenson is for their refined visual culture caused buildings to collapse,
became almost abandoned an Associate Professor of that appeals to the west be- toppling faades and burying
except for a few residents. History at Boston College cause of its realistic approach sculptures; this gave Copans
One of these is a remarkable and she works with the in representing natural forms. ruined condition a quixotic
local woman named Neria Asociacin para el Avance This graceful imagery dressed ambiance that brought many
Herrera, who protects hun- de las Ciencias Sociales in Copans architecture and nu- to visit and study its exqui-
dreds of pre-Conquest Maya Guatemala City. Her books merous free-standing monu- site corpse. Early explorers
piecesvessels, plates, jew- include Trade Unionists ments and was generally and archaeologists drawn to
elryfrom tomb robbers in Against Terror, Guatemala made of blocks of sculptured Copan documented what they
a locked room of her home City 1954-1985, Hacer La mosaic made of the local saw in writing, illustrations,
that she has converted into Juventud and the forthcom- volcanic tufa stone coated in and photographs. Some, un-
a museum, one she has ing Adios Nio, Death, a thin layer of plaster. The able to resist its allure, carted
registered with the Ministry Political Violence and the variety of symbols, hiero- sculptural keepsakes home,
of Culture. Maras of Guatemala City. glyphic blocks, human forms leaving gaps for scholars to

98 ReVista fall 2011

book talk

reconstruct. Curiously, out- faade. She is a puzzle-master sculptures and faades, some cites the most salient sources
side the reconstruction of the who has performed an intri- on exhibit for the first time. related to the subject at hand.
famed hieroglyphic stairway, cate analysis of the collapsed Each chapter includes The book provides a requisite
few other major consolidation piles of stoneplotting all self-contained sections that starting point for anyone in-
and restoration efforts took the fragments to document, sometimes read like museum terested in gaining familiarity
place before William and separate, and, when possible, labels. This stylistic decision, with Copans vast imagery
Barbara Fash created the Co- reconstruct this lost material combined with the authors and an essential foundation
pan Mosaics Project in 1985 culture. Her years of experi- comment on forty-seven mu- for any further, serious aca-
to analyze and conserve the ence and intimate familiar- seum exhibits on display, help demic study on the topic.
numerous faade sculptures ity with Copans sculptural achieve one of the books clear The Copan Sculpture
that remain. corpus have enabled her to aims as an essential com- Museum showcases the ex-
Barbara Fash first came to rematch fragmented sculp- panion to Copans Museum. traordinary reconstruction of
Copan in 1977, when William ture (through the use of The authors economic prose the colorful Rosalila structure
Fash invited her to illustrate casts)removed some time covers topics popular to Maya discovered by archaeolo-
the monuments uncovered ago and now in foreign muse- studies as well as new schol- gists in 1989 that contains an
during extended excavations um collectionswith recently arship. She correctly allows impressive array of supernatu-
at the site. Except for a couple reconstructed Copan building the range of sculpted imagery ral motifs including several
of short interludes, she has faades. Under the Fashs to dictate the direction of her green-feathered avian deities
never left. Her artistic and supervision, Copans ancient text, discussing familiar top- Karl Taube has identified
academic efforts have com- artistic program is visible ics such as ancestor worship, as references to Kinich Yax
plemented much of William once again in exhibitions at underworld symbolism, the Kuk Mo, Copans original
ball game, ritual sacrifice, dynast. These avian solar
warfare, and cosmology. deities, Barbara Fash tells us,
More nuanced concepts are honor the apotheosized rise
This tome leads the reader through a also discussed allowing her of this ruler. The real Rosalila
to explore the varied artistic is inaccessible and remains
tour of the two-story Copan Sculpture programs and socio-political hidden within the bowels of
Museum in Honduras. interests of communities one of Copans most impor-
outside of Copans center. tant temples, 10L-16 1st. The
Abundant historical, dramatic piercing of the mu-
Fashs distinguished career the Copan Sculpture Muse- archaeological, and exhibi- seums open roof by Rosalilas
at Copan (he is Harvards um, which feature sculpture tion photographs handsomely reconstructed temple cel-
Bowditch Professor of Central from eighteen structures and illustrate this book and are ebrates its facsimile presenta-
American and Mexican seven complete faades. essential to the text. Though tion to all within the museum
Archaeology and Ethnology). Comprised of twelve there are surprisingly few of and symbolically underscores
Over the years their com- succinct chapters, this tome the authors own illustrations, its visually important vertical
bined efforts have centered leads the reader through a and no plans of the acropolis axis. Choosing Rosalila as the
on reconstructing Copans tour of the two-story Copan or of the individual residen- physical center of this mu-
many three-dimensional Sculptural Museum. Chapters tial zones, the architectural seum resonates with the story
conundrums, but in this one and twelve focus on the drawings and illustrations of the fifteen subsequent kings
publication, Barbara Fash, creation and role of the mu- complement the photo- at Copan and one of many
now Director of the Corpus of seum as an educational tool graphs, clarifying content and theses presented in this book:
Maya Hieroglyphic Inscrip- that has helped reacquaint highlighting compositional the iconographic themes on
tions at the Peabody Museum the local community with its details. Nearly all of the structures made visible refer-
of Archaeology and Ethnol- fragmented past; Chapter chapters include the authors ences to the founding dynast.
ogy, Harvard University, takes two presents the history of pithy, sidebar sections that However, neither the book
the lead in presenting the im- archaeological explorations at highlight specific exhibits, nor the museum focuses solely
pressive sculpture rebuilt by Copan, while the remaining monuments, or concepts. on a single theme. For years,
the Copan Mosaics Project on nine chapters (three through The author mentions key Maya studies concentrated on
view at the museum. Her con- eleven) center on the fifty- researchers and some specific the ruling elite who arguably
tributions to Copan studies eight exhibits in the Copan works in lieu of internal cita- commissioned the bulk of
and the museum are consid- Sculpture Museum which tions and footnotes, while the palace constructions and their
erable in every reassembled showcase many reconstructed books concise bibliography accompanying Maya imagery,

drclas.harvard.edu/publications/revistaonline ReVista 99
reader forum
but Copan has always been popolna. Therefore she sug-
an exception to this rule. gests that this imagery may
From the early investiga- have identified a councilors journalism
tions by Sylvanus Morley or group representatives of the americas harvard review of Latin america

in the 1900s to those later abode. A number of specific journalism

of the americas

pursued by Gordon Willey water motifs on the archi- Just to set the record straight,
and several of his graduate tectural molding of outlying in reference to an article by
students (including Richard structures enabled Fash to Bob Giles in ReVista (Spring/
Leventhal and William propose that these may have Summer 2011): in 1980 the
Fash), activities outside Co- been the residences of im- Nieman Foundation received
pans site core have always portant local water resource its first Latin American
garnered attention. Accord- administrators. Niemans. We were two: my
ingly, both the museum As critical as the deci- dear friend Bob Cox, a British
and this book capitalize on sion to make Rosalila the journalist who did a precious spring | summer 2011

this tradition by presenting centerpiece of the Copan job in Argentina as editor

much imagery from outside Sculpture Museum (and its of the Buenos Aires Herald , To the Editor,
the core. In fact, the Muse- vibrant image the cover for and myself, Colombian-born, Monica Gonzalez is an
um houses only three of the this book) was the determi- who worked in El Tiempo outstanding journalist and a
many famed stelae found nation to give due impor- (Bogot). We promoted leader in investigative jour-
at Copan, and fittingly the tance to the impressively several Nieman activities nalism in Latin America, but
author devoted only one executed sculpture from related to Latin America and she misstates the facts about
chapter to discussing these outside the core. The wide gave a few talks to our fellow the creation of CIPER.
examples and their hypnoti- creation of structures with fellows related to that part of While I was in Chile as a
cally ornate imagery. complicated iconography the continent forgotten, until Fulbright professor in 2006, I
The useful color site plan and deftly executed imagery then, by the Nieman pro- developed the idea of an inde-
provided in the mono- in the periphery, Fash con- gram. Furthemore, I encour- pendent investigative journal-
graphs front endpaper tends, brought distinction aged some Niemans to visit ism center backed by funding
locates the many late settled to these places, ultimately Colombia, which they did. from private, university and
areas outside the dynastic empowering them. The Bob Giles only men- foundation sources. I drafted
center where sculptural presentation and examina- tioned Bob Cox as the first the project proposal and en-
faades have been found. tion of sculpture from areas Latin American Nieman, and, joyed many fruitful conversa-
The variety of themes and outside the dynastic center frankly, I dont want to disap- tions about it with Monica,
the wide distribution of reflect her many studies pear from the One Francis whose newspaper Diario Siete
sculpture especially on later that explore, among many Avenue records. had recently closed. In April
structures have informed other topics, a wider distri- Best regards, 2007, with Monica as my
much of Fashs insightful bution of power at Copan. Daniel Samper partner and co-signatory, I
suggestions. For instance, Ironically, it may well be (NF 1980-1981... The best submitted the proposal to the
the recurrent motifs and the that the very distribution of class ever: Jim Thomson Jr.) Open Society Institute Media
sculptural messages con- power that Fash emphasizes Program, which resulted in a
sistently presented on the in this work most likely con- Bob Giles replies: My confu- grant of $90,000 to sup-
molding of many structures tributed to Copans twilight, sion about Daniel Sampers port the creation of CIPER
led her to argue, as some leaving us today with ruins Nieman Fellowship grows and of a US based nonprofit
have for other Mesoameri- to decipher. from the fact that after return- CIINFO (Center for Inves-
can cultures, that archi- ing to Colombia and working tigation and Information),
tectural dcor emulated Eulogio Guzmn teaches at there until 1987, he was forced whose purpose was to raise
headbands worn by govern- the School of the Museum of by the narco-mafia to seek money for CIPER and other
ing elites. The presence of Fine Arts/Tufts University. exile in Spain. Our alumni investigative projects in Latin
motifs in structures outside He is currently completing records showed him in Spain America. Indeed, CIINFO
the dynastic center, the au- a book manuscript on the but didnt indicate that he obtained additional grants in
thor points out, are also vis- socio-political significance was a Nieman from Colombia 2008 totaling $235,000, the
ible on structures found in of portable sculptures in 1981. I appreciate having immense majority of which
Copans Acropolis, specially discovered at the Mexica Daniels note enabling us to set was intended for CIPER.
the Council House or Templo Mayor. the record straight. At the same time, Monica

100 ReVista fall 2011

Gonzalez obtained the fi- and in helping create and to read all of this one closely. country.
nancial backing of COPESA, lead it during its formative Congratulations. But more than ever
a corporation that owns a period. Edward Seaton before, violence is the topic
number of media properties in John Dinges editor-in-chief of conversation in Mexico.
Chile, including the newspa- Executive Director, Manhattan Mercury For the past several months,
per La Tercera. With majority CIINFO former president, IAPA Facebook profile photos have
funding from COPESA plus Godfrey Lowell Cabot been replaced with No ms
the OSI grant, CIPER had Professor of International I received the latest issue of sangre! (No More Blood) lo-
ample financing and excellent Journalism ReVista a day after Mexicos gos. Protests spread through
prospects. The original paid Columbia University nationwide peace marches 30 Mexican cities.
staff was five journalists, not calling for an end to criminal Your magazinepro-
four (as stated in the article). Dear June: impunity and a day before duced before the Cuernavaca
For the first year and a half, I have just finished reading the local PEN Club recog- homicides and protests
Gonzalez and I were co-direc- ReVistas last issue dedicated nized the Diario de Juarez that followedputs current
tors. I was listed as co-founder to Journalism of the Ameri- for valiant reporting in a city events into perspective with
and co-director on all CIPER cas. Congratulations! long plagued with violence. thoughtful reporting on jour-
publications until I resigned As always, you have done an ReVistawith a special nalism in Mexico and the rest
in December 2008. excellent job in analyzing and section on journalism in of Latin America. Thank you!
CIPER is doing wonder- reporting on a highly critical Mexicowas indeed timely Lindajoy Fenley
ful work. CIINFO (http:// subject matter. I have found and important. Former Mexico City
www.ciinfo.net) continues to Volume X, N2 on the Press Violence associated with correspondent
promote the model of inde- in the Americas particularly drug traffickers has escalated
pendent centers with a broad enlightening, instructive and in Mexico in recent years,
base of financial support to helpful to understand our re- changing the way people in Dear June,
do investigative journalism. gions multiple problems and many parts of the country Congratulations on a really
The two organizations parted the risks and intimidations live. Some of my friends in interesting current issue of
ways over issues involving that our journalists have to go provincial areas dont leave ReVista!
COPESAs exclusive owner- through every day in order to their homes at night and I wholeheartedly agree
ship and Gonzalezs exclusive inform their readers on the avoid doing things that might with you that journalism
control of CIPER. The refusal perils of living and working in in any way call attention to is likely the best job in the
of COPESAs flagship newspa- Latin America. themselves even in daylight world. It would be wonder-
per La Tercera to publish Once again, congratula- hours. I followed their lead ful to have the opportunity
CIPERs investigations, as tions, dear June, for tackling during a recent visit. How- to discover and uncover the
originally promised, was an the subject and for selecting ever, I continue to behave the truth for a living one day. For
early problem. such a group of distinguished same way as always in Mexico now, its a pleasure to write as
Such disputes over control contributors who have given City. Many of my friends brag a hobby.
are not uncommon in young us multiple perspectives on that the capitalwhich once David Daepp
organizations. I continue to these sensitive and relevant had the bad reputationis united nations office for
proclaim CIPER as a model issues. now the safest place in the project services
to be emulated and to admire Gloria Guardia
the investigative leadership PEN International FE ERRATA
of Monica Gonzalez. Indeed, The editor of ReVista apologizes for two small errors in Theodore
I had been instrumental in June, Macdonalds review of Mexicos Indigenous Communities: Their Lands
her nomination for two major Your spring/summer issue is and Histories, 1500-2010 by Ethelia Ruiz Medrano. :
awards, one of which resulted a tour de force on contempo- 1. The book review says Aztecs under Inca rule,but should read
in a cash prize exceeding rary Latin American journal- Aztecs under Spanish rule.
$100,000. ism. Anyone wanting to see 2. The book review says Guerrero and Chiapas, but should say
Nevertheless, I feel it is up close what journalists are Guerrero and Oaxaca.
appropriate to set the record facing today needs to read The mistakes are those of the editor and not Theodore Macdonald and
straight about my role in con- it. I usually skip some of the were caused by a rather absurd technical glitch. With apologies to both
ceiving the idea for CIPER stories in an issue, but I had the author of the review and the author of the book!

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