Interesting details about the indigenous aspects of the social change movement in Bolivia, which gained power with the electoral victory of Evo Morales. In this excerpt, Fernando Huanacuni, one of the most important Aymara intellectual references in Bolivia, highlights the difference of approaches with the traditional Latin-American left.
“Beyond the indigenous movement, do you not see a joint process of decolonization in Latin-America ?
There´s confusion now between socialists and indigenous peoples. When Evo Morales rose to power, Chavez said that he was his indigenous brother, in his speech for socialism of the twenty first century, in his “left” way of thinking, which is western. But in Venezuela, they have recently discovered indigenous peoples. Many think that the Bolivian movement is socialist, but it is an indigenous movement. Our model is not communist but community based.
But the party organised by the president is called Movement towards Socialism [Movimento ao Socialismo (MAS)].
Yes but the word MAS was bought, nothing else. It was registered in the National Electoral Court and it was lent to Evo could run as a candidate, it was circumstantial, you see? We think that socialism, communism and capitalism are all the same. Because they only think about humans, they are individualists, homogenizing and materialists. You will not see a communist involved in ceremonies, you will not see them honouring his ancestors, will not see him looking after his lhaminha. Or rather they will raise llamas because it is a good business to make money.
There are Marxists who profess a faith. In Brazil, for example, there are Marxists who maintain Christian religiosity. You can say that Christianism is also western, but there are Marxists who maintain Afro originated beliefs. Don´t you see some connection with Marxists?
We start from premises. When we talk about community, we are not talking about humans alone. Community is everything: animals, plants, stones. Not for sale. For example, there are Marxists in the Bolivian Government. Well, our country has very big reserves of Lithium and its prospection is the target of a lot of speculation. Lithium could make Bolivia powerful. But the indigenous world does not want to exploit Lithium. Marxists do, they only think in material terms. We prefer to exploit what is important for the balance of life. But Marxists don´t think that way. To change the course of a river, the Marxist would simply bring tractors. Indigenous peoples say “no, hold on, wait, let’s ask for permission from our ancestors and see if it is good”. A Marxist will say “of course it is good, we will produce here”. They do not see the importance of the spiritual, they do not feel it. That is why they do not understand.
And within those premises, what to do with life in the cities?
You must look for that answer in Europe. They are looking for alternatives. But the indigenous movement is not only from the countryside, it is a way of life and an invitation to live with respect. The mountains are melting. There will be shortage of water. And that will affect everyone, white, mestizos, indigenous people etc. That is why we need new political ways, the current ones do not allow for solutions. This is everyone´s responsibility. The west is seeking answers and indigenous peoples are giving those answers: is order for everyone to have food, we must produce along the cycles of nature, not with chemical elements, or abnormally or anti naturally. Original peoples are warning that the changes in history are also changes in the cycles of nature. Therefore, we must take advantage of this moment and return to the community paradigm and its pedagogical, juridical and government model. Here for example, in the communities, there are no elections. We do not want democracy, as it is known today, because the winner is the one that does more campaign, that has more money, and has more power to influence the media. Here, one is the authority for a year, the next year there is another one, in the next another one, nobody can do it again. Everyone must participate and everyone must develop themselves as an authority. Because if someone remains in power, something will go wrong in their mind and everything will become unbalanced. Therefore, in order for them to rest, it is transferred to someone else.”
Fernando Huanacuni, 43, was born in the Illimani Mountains, south from La Paz. He belongs to the community Sariri, a group of descendants and non-descendants from original peoples, who meet to study, live and spread the culture of the peoples who lived in the Andes before the Spanish colonization. He is also the director of the protocol of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Evo Morales administration and one of the people in charge of a TV programme in the Bolivian Chanel RTP, dedicated to discuss Andean culture and conjuncture themes.