One of these days, Machetera is going to remember to check the Internet first for English translations before she labors over them herself. She finished this one just in time to find that Yoshi Furuhashi had already done a fine job over at Monthly Review. She’ll leave this one anyway, because she’s too lazy to reformat everything and she had a different opinion about the word “ethnophagic.”
The video attached to this article is hard watching. But it is a clear display of the moral bankruptcy of the Bolivian oligarchy, whose era is ending.
Jubenal Quispe – Rebelión
Bolivia today lives under the most cruel and appalling xenophobic dictatorship of the “patrons” (landowners/oligarchs) with their wounded demented pride. If you haven’t yet seen it, take a look at this video. It was filmed on May 24 in Sucre, Bolivia’s capital and crucible of the failed attempt at Bolivian miscegenation.
Whoever believes that ignorant racism is nothing but a bitter memory in Bolivia is wrong. A white Bolivia, created and governed by the patrons, was and is fundamentally anti-Indian. In 1825, the patrons founded the Bolivian Republic in the Casa de la Libertad in Sucre, excluding and subordinating the indigenous people. Almost two centuries later, last week, outside that very legendary Casa, in front of the TV cameras, insubordinate indigenous brothers were flogged. It was a macabre act that symbolizes the essential ethnic dispersal of official white Bolivia.
Faced with this situation, several questions arise. Where is the state, with its legitimate monopoly on the use of force? Will it be completely diluted in Bolivia? And if that were to be, what will the government of Evo Morales do if there’s no longer a state to manage? Or could it be that the state is allowing the xenophobic violence of the patrons as a way to facilitate the self-defeat of its adversaries? These are questions that the state should answer. But the basic question is: why does white Bolivia hate the Indians so? There are many responses to this last question:
We are hated because we are the mirror that reflects failure and historical defeat. They had nearly two centuries, since Bolivia’s founding, to build a “modern” and mixed Bolivian nation, tailored to their interests and aspirations, but they failed intellectually and morally. Today Bolivia is neither modern, nor mixed. In two centuries of government, they only engendered a kleptomaniac bureaucracy that left the country in ruins.
They copied education reform, obligatory military service, and promoted public policies from the state to destroy our cultures, but they even failed in that. Now, as never before, Bolivian diversity drives them crazy even in private. Our presence pains them because it reminds them of their sterility and practically natural inability to achieve their aspirations.
They suffer from a chronic anomie (lack of identity) as they face the multiple and dynamic indigenous identities asserting themselves everywhere. They suffer from a profound existential insecurity because they can no longer assert themselves through the denial and annihilation of a different Other. This pathological situation unleashes their xenophobic behavior. But with such behavior, the only thing they gain is national and international repudiation. And so they are caught in a maelstrom of loneliness.
They flog our brothers in public squares, as they did with our fathers and grandfathers until they killed them, because our presence reminds them of their schizophrenic reality. They dream of being Western, but carry indigenous genes in their blood. They long to practice liberal morality, but their weak will drives them to the vices of the Indian they so despise. They are unhappy unfortunates who don’t even know who they are, and even less do they have, or have ever had, a clear vision of Bolivia as a country. It pains them to go down in Bolivian history as vile intellectual and moral failures. It hurts because from now on, delinquents will no longer go down in history as national heroes.
This shows that the indigenous are what they could never be: a stronghold and bastion of Bolivia rising. We’ve defended and recovered our national resources and peoples’ dignity against the multi-national corporations, monsters to whom the patrons of white Bolivia prostituted themselves. Our achievements for Bolivia hurt them because they accentuate their fate as failures. This is why they humiliated our brothers in front of the Casa de su Libertad.
The beatings borne by our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, pains our soul, but it is a fertile pain because it keeps and will keep alive our subversive historical memory. Together with our unburied dead who wander the fertile Bolivian plains demanding justice, we will fight to dignify the undignified life to which we’ve been condemned. We were not born to die in the attempt, nor have we begun only to surrender at dawn.
Jubenal Quispe is a lawyer, theologian, and writer in Spanish and Quechua. He is a university lecturer and researcher at the Maryknoll Center in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The original article in Spanish was published in Bolpress on 30 May 2008.
Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.