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Something tells me that the Bolivia Information Forum will be publishing another of their excellent News Briefings very soon. Which is another way of telling you that I’ve just sent it to them and now will be getting round to that whole sleep thing I’ve heard about.

This one has been fun to write despite all the badnesses of the last couple of months, because of the wealth of crazy news stories, like alleged piranhas en Lake Alalay in Cochabamba.

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So, let’s imagine you have an elderly relative who was imprisoned and tortured during the years of dictatorship. (I hope for your sake that that’s not true). He doesn’t really have enough to live on, in a country where many people are, sadly, in the same boat. The government promises him some support, given what he went through, but he never receives it. He eventually dies destitute at 86, without even enough to pay for a funeral. Shameful. So what do you do? You smuggle his body out of the hospital, put it in a taxi, take it to the regional governer’s office and leave it on the floor there as a mark of protest. Obviously.

Edit: Apologies, I garbled that rather. The unfortunate Mr Canellas had no traceable family, and his mortal remains were used for political purposes by his associates at the Organisation for the Defense of Victims of Dictatorship, who are trying to get the government to comply with a resolution passed in 2004 offering compensation to survivors of repression.

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Vaya Bolivia


Photo by T’anta Wawa, please do not re-use without permission

Good luck today in the friendly against Mexico, boys! Shouldn’t worry, the match is in Denver and you’re used to playing at altitude, right? Also, who is this nobody coaching Mexico these days? Sven somebody? I hear the last national team he coached were shite.

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I Ate’nt Ded

…but somebody close to me is, and rather suddenly too, so blogging has been suspended for a wee while in favour of things like emergency plane trips and memorial services. Bear with the t’anta wawita: I’ll be bringing the snark to snarchaeology&anthropology again in no time. Have some Vichito Mamani in the meantime. Everybody loves Vichito Mamani, right?

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What’s cooler than four rappers from different countries having a head-to-head battle rapping in three languages, English, French and German?

That’d be one group who take turns rapping in Aymara and Quechua, together, in the same song. Step forward Wayna Rap.

Seriously, is there *anything* that sounds better than Aymara hip-hop? Wayna Rap can even make public health appeals sound good. Here’s an ad that the La Paz city authorities used to run on ATB trying to persuade people to make less noise pollution in the city. My Aymara isn’t good enough to understand most of it, apart from jani waliki – not good – but IIRC they’re saying, ‘All these people making a racket, night and day, honking their horns and that, it’s doing my head in, mate’. Something about it’s even catchier than the preceeding.

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Admittedly, I’ve been a S.R.C fangirl ever since I first read ‘Oppressed But Not Defeated’. But bearing in mind folk wisdom about heroes – never to meet them, they’ll only be rude and shorter than you expected, and that later in life they may disappoint you by authorising nakedly commercial album re-masters – I must say that despite the sometimes impenetrably academic tenor of her written Spanish, she’s yet to publish anything that didn’t make me sigh and be glad for her existence. Check out the poetics of this open letter published on Ukhampacha News, with its rich allusions to the daily niceties of Bolivian cultures, casual slinging of not-easily-translatable Aymara phrases into discussion and urge to go beyond the good start of laws which outline a new approach, and to start putting flesh on the bones by grounding the legal changes in a holistic re-connection with the environment and ancestral wisdom. Only in not such hippyish phrasing. Most of all, read it for her warning against the temptation to turn the multiple, overlapping and fascinatingly complex political processes in Bolivia into an easily reducible set of new models that fit neatly onto a page.

Community must be reinvented, made to live again. We Bolivians—unlike those in our brother countries—are lucky in that our communal strength has not yet been locked away in museums or reservations, or in archeological sites for tourists. It is this polymorphism, its diverse and ch’ixi character, that has allowed our indigenous community, from the Andes to the Amazon, to still be a dynamic force and a collective creation.

in the long-term context, which no doubt is a Pachakuti cycle (though many idiots confuse it with a millennium, and Evo as the new Indian Christ), the debate itself of the constitution is just an epiphenomenon. The whole world is part of this process; it is an emerging and multiplying clamor to LIVE WELL (not live better), of restructuring our relations with the world, with the land, with the universe and its multiple signs. How great is it that we don’t even talk about that whole “development” thing anymore? It’s fantastic that this shift resonates in the new constitution! But it doesn’t do anything to know those slogans by heart if we can’t grind our own llajwa (traditional Bolivian salsa), or if we waste water like idiots during Carnival or if we get drunk until we lose our dignity or if we don’t look into the eyes of those who talk to us or if we use hired domestic help to do something as simple as serve us water or if we are not saddened every day by the growth of the black stains of bare earth on Illimani.

Full text below, but do visit the UB News site, there’s much to see. (more…)

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One of the major rallying-points for those campaigning for a No in this referendum has been religion. A rather minor change of phrasing in the new constitution shifts the relationship between the Catholic church and the state from one of official support to detachment. In the previous constitution (which now looks to have been voted out of existence), the Bolivian state ‘recognise(d) and sustain(ed) the apostolic Roman Catholic religion’, while guaranteeing the freedom to practice other faiths. In the new constitution, the state is declared independent of the church for the first time, while religious freedoms are guaranteed, including freedom of religious instruction. But don’t take my word for it, let’s ask Xavier Albó, Jesuit priest, anthropologist, national treasure and one-man publishing industry:

(more…)

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