November 19, 2003

Re: The Anatomy of an Article

Lat-Am Central is a registered TM.

On the November 14th blog I listed some facts, which I called clues, related to the topic I am currently researching: Social Movements in Bolivia.

As I have stated before, I found these articles and the links listed on the November 12th blog through a Google search. Surfing through these sites and reading the material contained in them, left me with a very uneasy feeling. Some sites were very graphic and what I would say, extreme in their points of view.

There are various aspects of these sites' contents that give me an uneasy feeling. In the articles about the lives of Morales Aima and Quispe I found, if the articles are in any way a serious depiction of their lives, a characterization of their cause which could be an indication that these two leaders might not only be about bringing the voice of the poor to the barganing table. For instance, on the piece about Felipe Quispe, I found out he was the leader or at least one of the leaders of a terrorist cell, EGTK (Guerrilla Army Tupak Katari), which was active in Bolivia between the years 1989 and 1992. This group was born from the political arm of the indigenous organization Quispe led, the Ayllus Rojos (Red Ayllus). The EGTK was disbanded and the members, including Quispe, arrested and convicted. The mere membership in such extremist group makes one wonder what was a democratic political leader doing there. One clue as to why Quispe was associated with extremists can be read in a remark proudly quoted in one of the articles:

".....interviewed by a fierce and prominent journalist, who had left the light skinned members of the EGTK without arguments as to why the use of violence, Quispe fired back saying: "so my daughter won't be your maid."

Another paragraph states, what it sounds to me, racists feelings towards the light skinned and white skinned peoples of the country. In a quote from a statement expressed by Quispe to a governmental delegation meeting to establish dialog, he accused the government and the light skinned population of ethnic cleansing and having created an 'Apartheid' system:

"........what you (the whites) want is to appropriate the land belonging to the Aymaras and Quechuas......I am not going to engage in dialog here, if you want dialogue come to our territory, if you are really men, we will give you all the necessary guarantees..........our country is not free, because it is governed by foreigners".

Once again one can hear feelings of rebellion, resentment and hatred, which are clearly perceived on the prose. Some other statements outright separate the Aymara "nation" from the rest of the population, including people of mixed ethnicity (mestizos). Other statements re-ignite these feelings by bringing back historical facts about the dominance of the indigenous people by the white European.

I guess, what is alarming is not the way Quispe and his followers present themselves as being the victims. This, on many basis, is accurate and reasonable, however, the hatred behind the rhetoric and the feelings of revenge and struggle are an indication that thre is more to the revolution they advocate than just justice. I would venture to ask what is their real agenda?

Reading through the sites depicting Evo Morales and some of the speeches he has given, it is possible to find the same kind of rhetoric of hatred, separatism, racism, and call to action. On a speech given at the Third World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa on September 2001, Morales Aima expressed himself in these words:

".......The dominant class of whites and mestizos loudly call us racial slurs like lazy, dirty, primitive, savages, stone faces, ignorant, animals, and so on. The white oligarchic minority has not allowed us to develop our language, our history, our religion, our values, our laws and our society.............we believe that to expel racism, we have to liberate ourselves from the historic and contemporary colonialism. This land and this territory is ours, we have been expropriated and rendered powerless. We have to seize the political power and our sovereignty. We have to become an independent nation. An example of a nation that recaptured control and went back to its origins is Zimbabwe, where they expelled English colonialism and thus gained independence".

However, it is necessary to highlight, Morales Aima's rhetoric is softer than that of Quispe's. It tries to make the current neo-liberal system in place the focus of his struggle, but again the same feelings of hatred and revenge can be perceived ligering behind. It is valid to notice the people with whom he surrounds himself. People like Antonio Peredo, the younger brother of the two other Peredo brothers who sought to start a revolutionary movement with Che Guevara in Bolivia. And, Filemon Escobar, a well known Trotskyst, who is said to be the intellectual force behind MAS.

This issue of who surround the leaders will be explored later on another commentary.

These are but a few interesting facts to consider. A whole new interesting aspect of the matter comes up when paying attention to what some of the followers and sympathizers of this movements have to say about the problems being considered. For example, I would suggest a visit to this site, which eerily resembles a neo Nazi web site, complete with symbols and quotes.

Examples of neo-nazi sites (there are many more, but here I just take two in spanish as example).
Partido Nuevo Triunfo (Argentina)
Resistencia Aria