Day 30 – Waiting for the kids and translating discussions.

Day 30 – Waiting for the kids and translating discussions.

Pro Evo (Bolivian President) propaganda is popular in the countryside.

Pro Evo (Bolivian President) propaganda is popular in the countryside.

There was a strike in the city of Potosi and the roads were blocked for weeks. The people did not like the large, unfinished projects that the government had promised would be completed and were not. It seems the projects funds were paid but the work not completed. Whose fault was it – the government Ministers in charge of the projects, or the local state authorities? The people wanted to know. They asked President Evo Morales to figure this out, hold the delinquent people responsible and finish the projects. The President responded with silence, for two weeks, three weeks… The stand off grew in momentum. People were getting furious. They wanted a meeting, an explanation, and a plan to move forward.

Yesterday 1,500 miners, the president’s allies, descended from the Potosi mines in protest against the President’s inaction. They traveled 10 hours and came to the city of La Paz where the President stays, climbing onto the rooftops of the houses in the hillside neighborhoods ringing the vast city of La Paz below, lighting dynamite and scaring people. 40 miners were arrested. A group of indigenous leaders solemnly walked into the city, decorated in their traditional garb, carrying their vestments of authority, demanding that the President take responsibility and hold a meeting. College students at the state university in La Paz, San Andres, went on strike hollering for the President to take action. The main roads between Cochabamba Potosi and Sucre were closed. Parts of La Paz were closed too. I had to come to Oruro to fix my computer and could not get back out to Uyuni where some of my work was going to take place. And I was unable to get to Cochabamba last night to pick up my kids and bring them here for the Poopo running of he bulls festival today as we had planned. Things were coming to a head.

By morning all was fine enough. The president agreed to a meeting and the roads were re-opened. But the kids were still in Cochabamba four hours away, and I had a full day ahead of me with nothing planned. Their dad was going to bring them to Oruro, and they were going to be late. So I went ahead and entered the last of the Salinas survey data into the computer (that thankfully Lalo of OHM Electronics was able to coble together and get to work again) and translate a 30 minuet group reflection from the workshop I had conducted in Salinas a few days ago.

What I found was quite remarkable. My 2-hour workshop starts with an open monologue with about 12 to 20 participants, preferably women, with each participant speaking on a predetermined theme (by me). This theme was, Sustainable production, quinoa and the well being of the Andean women. The way it works is that after everyone shares their thoughts on the theme, we then discuss it as a group, analyze it and come up with advantages and disadvantages. This opens up space for new ideas and opportunities to form. It’s a research method I created five years ago for my doctoral research (and still needs a proper name) and one I have used many times since all with good results. More about it is published in my book, the cultural and political intersection of fair trade and justice.

Anyway, when I was writing the interview I had with Floninda, the Mallku, I noticed my notes were sparse and I had to relay a lot on memory. This was not like me, I am usually a really good note taker. However, when I got to Florinda’s part of the monologue (this workshop was done with the Indigenous Governors and invited guests) I realized why I had so few notes. Though she does not speak fast, Florinda covers such a gush of topics in a single moment it is difficult to capture on paper. Her 10 minute monologue is clear and follows a logical thought, but with so much brought into such a small moment, I was amazed. I called her to ask for her permission to share this on the blog. I hope she says OK. We will be meeting tomorrow. She is in Oruro now too.

 

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