December 06, 2006

A Prayer from the Radical Front

MABB © ®

From all the Bolivian blogs in English I read, there are two who talk about politics in the country, Ciao! and Barrio Flores. Due to recent events, both have recently published posts that to me have one thing in common: They point to the authoritarian tendency of the current government.

In his post, Miguel from Ciao! concludes:

More than anything, the message Evo & his supporters are sending to the Bolivian public is simple: "Opposition to our views is not allowed, and will not be tolerated." Quite the democratic revolution, eh? (read more here)

While Eduardo from Barrio Flores tell us of his experience in the country:

What had happened was that some of the social movements, some belonging to MAS, had tried to “vigilar” (as in vigilantee) and prevent the meeting of 8 of the 9 departmental civic committees and several of the prefects. They were in town at the invitation of the Cochabamba prefect, Manfred Reyes Villa, to brainstorm about possible measures hoping to convince the government to support 2/3 majority in the Constituent Assembly for all of the articles. As it stands now, the government only wants simple majority for the articles with a 2/3 vote for final approval. (read more here)

The authoritarian tendency observable in the country might have deeper roots than just political motives. Historically, since the 1950s, Bolivia has developed a syndicalist and unionist culture. Throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the Bolivian Workers' Union or COB was one powerful organization being able to stand to the military tyranny. Due to these organizations and their demand for leadership, there was an indigenous intellectual elite created which developed its own ideology and identity, such as indigenism, katarism (among other currents). These indigenous intelectuals have been preaching a kind of anti-west identity, which has been taking hold in the new leadership.

But, rather than elaborating on this, and make it seem like a boring lecture, I want to share the following with the readers.

This is a prayer I came across with in one of my presentations about Bolivia. A Bolivian came to me, before the presentation, and without introduction, told me he was happy I was doing that and that he was going to say a couple of things. He handed me a piece of paper as well. Days later I took a look at the paper and found the following prayer which was part of an interview he had given with a magazine. In the interview he is being asked about his opinion on Morales and what has been going on in Bolivia. As the answer to a question on what he thought about whether Europeans could understand the problems of Bolivians and the extensive development aid being given, he gave the prayer. I won't give any names, but just say he made it sure to express the prayer spoke for all the indigenous population in Bolivia. Later I found out he is the representative of one of the unions. I will also post it in Spanish, because my translation hasn't been good anough. If anyone thinks he or she can do a better job translating it, please do.

Senor, protegeme de mis amigos
pues de mis enemigos , se cuidarme solo
militares y fascistas
Embajadores y consejeros
Conocen el valor de mis piqueteros

Senor, protegeme de voluntarios
y combatientes contra el subdesarrollo
sus cabecitas estan en otro rollo
de nuestra revolucion
nada comprendieron
de su condicion
menos, menos, menos

Senor, protegeme de etnologos y sacerdotes
y los cientos de Quijotes
que liberar a las gallinas quieren
y los mismos derechos exigen
para nuestras mujeres dicen
Como hacerles comprender,
que nuestras mujeres son reinas?
Mientras ellas en sus tierras
solas, munecas sin alma
rodeadas de mil leyes
en la soledad se pudren

Senor, protegeme de las NGOs
plagadas de buenas intenciones
y de gringos con problemas

Alla en sus tierras frias,
la frialdad del estado,
la maldad del vecino,
la envidia del propio bolsillo,
los ha dejado vacios
que donde bailan mil
no se acabara la esperanza

This simple prayer sheds light in the thinking and approach to life of those most radical members of the now called "social movements", which before were the powerful workers' unions.