Rare parrot draws in celebrities at ecotourism centre launch
Miss Bolivia 2006 was among those attending celebrations for the opening of a new ecotourism centre in the country.
The centre is part of a conservation program focusing on the Red-fronted Macaw Ara rubrogenys, being undertaken by Armonia (BirdLife in Bolivia). …
The Ecotourism Cabin is situated in one of the natural habitats of the parrot, alongside other endemic birds like Cliff Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus luchsi and Bolivian Blackbird Oreopsar bolivianus, both of which breed on the cliff face with Red-fronted Macaw.
The Cabin will offer visitors a chance to see and learn more about the birds and their habitats at close quarters.
Also from BirdLife:
Law enforcement fails Bolivia’s parrots
In a recently published paper, Asociacion Armonia (BirdLife in Bolivia) monitored the wild birds which passed through a pet market in Santa Cruz between August 2004 to July 2005, and recorded nearly 7,300 individuals of 31 parrot species, of which four were threatened species.
Bolivia-Brazil border area dam plans: here.
BirdLife Partners in the United States, Bahamas, Belize and Paraguay are clubbing together to promote ecotourism in places where poverty overlaps with Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), a pioneering project that will enrich these areas for both people and nature: here.
22 April 2007
Under the gaze of the counterrevolution
Bolivia is once again under the most formidable gaze of the Empire. Latin America needs to support president Evo Morales, because the symbolic significance of his presence is a revolutionary fact, and because he has the arduous task of once again raising Bolivia to its feet. This is not a simple task.
Those who do not understand that steps forwards are taken only when possible, particularly in circumstances where the United States has already outlined its geostrategic project for the re-colonialisation of Latin America, are spitting in the face of history.
And this is a very long history of looting and sacrifices. There is no other South American country with the same history of open looting and continuous resistance as that of Bolivia. During the times of Spanish conquest, it was said – an exaggeration, of course, but not that far from the truth – that all the gold that Spain took from Potosi could have built a bridge between Latin America and Europe.
Spanish colonialism destroyed much more in regards to the millenary culture, but that ferment never disappeared, instead it continued to live on through diverse cultures, in languages and in rebelliousness, many times hidden between rocks, but never dead.
Bolivian society was divided into castes: the campesinos and farmers, indigenous people, were called “indians”; the mine workers, rural workers and others such as the proletariat of the cities were “cholos”. On the other hand, in a marked division typical of a colony: the self-denominated whites, the owners of the haciendas and businesses, professionals and others.
But none of this was able to wipe out the memories of the anti-colonial struggle of Tupak Katari (1780-1782) and other heroes who continued to survive and continued being the ferment that has awoken Bolivia so many times.
This ferment that survived despite the other colonialisation, that new union of the mine owners, politicians and soldiers, the empire of the Patiño family, whom looted the tin from this country to hand it over to others outside. The “roscas” business owners and the dictatorships, one after the other. And if dictatorships existed, it was because there was resistance – and there was – and they were part of the most rebellious history of Latin America, with the miners there, with their famous entrance into La Paz, the campesinos always stubbornly hiding their rocks in each hand, and the eternal fighters.
But from of this history, too long to recount, and as strong as the faces of those who marked out the paths, have come the current ones.
The struggle for water, to not hand over gas: where would they have come from without this history? The new struggles at the end of the 20th century, when the savage dictatorship of Hugo Banzer had finished and, who began to be transformed – by that same empire that put it in power in 1971, in order to form part of the chain of South American horror – into a “democrat” of the market, of the new global, dictatorial form that devastated the country throughout the 90s and continued to throw massive numbers of poor people into the pits of misery.
The looting continued eternally, complying with the imperial law of ripping out resources until impoverishing and converting the countries of this extensive third world into a desert.
But Bolivia rose up across its roadways and mountains, in its cities, in the new struggles and there new leaderships were forged. From there came, at the end of 2005, the first indigenous president of Bolivia and the region: Evo Morales. A long await demand of the peoples and a nightmare for the colonizers who had always occupied that spot.
And so the history of destabilizations, of the dirty war, so well marked out by the empire in its counterinsurgency doctrines, or in the low intensity war, all its sinister chapters, are being put into action. They count on a new element. The disappearance of the best leaderships during the past dictatorships have left a gap and produced strong divisions in sectors who call themselves left.
They demand revolutions, where there isn’t any, but where instead there are the beginnings of paths and giant steps. Morales, in completely unfavorable conditions, due to the destruction carried out over the last few years, has made giant steps forward. He put his hands on the hydrocarbons – petroleum and gas to be precise – which as they say in Bolivia “are inserted into the collective imagination of the Bolivian people, associated with triumphs and historic defeats, inherited from parents to children, at least of the last three generations, and are national symbols”.
There have been two nationalizations prior to the one decreed on May 1, 2006, by Morales: that of the Standard Oil Company from which Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) originated, and the second at the beginning of the 70s when Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz as Minister of Hydrocarbons, nationalized the Gulf Oil Company. Quiroga Santa Cruz, in the middle of the 70s was assassinated by the dictators.
Evo regained the property rights over hydrocarbons for the Bolivian people “which had been handed over to the transnational petroleum companies, in the sadly celebrated “capitalization” [privatization], of the Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada government in the year 1996, via the most sinister maneuver of the last 30 years of neoliberal government, because he sold the country, and with this act, destroyed any possibility of growth and self-determination. More than capitalization, this political act was an sign of neo-colonialisation” wrote recently Maria Bolivia Rothe.
Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who was chased out of the country by the rebellion of the Bolivian people, had handed over all the companies to foreign capital. Or almost all of them, because the people put their body and hands and dead to impede the total handover.
Of all this – the entry into ALBA, the anti-hegemonic project that Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua make up, other almost incredible advances, the desperate race to provide education and health, all revolutionary acts – no one speaks off.
Nor is the story told of what the global power and its former and renovated internal accomplices are doing to raise walls in the path of Evo It is clear and transparent that the maximum has to be demanded of a president that got there due to the will of the people. But it is revolutionary to know what is the maximum that can be asked of in determined circumstances. Here it is valid to demand in terms proper to a real left, but the demands that assimilate those of the destructive power of the empire are not valid.
There are sociologists in the world that outline agendas for governments, far removed from these realties and the smelly feet of those who have walked bare foot. It is worth calling on them to have a sense of humility.
There are requirements and demands and warnings of errors that are key, precise, necessary. But there are also those that the empire stokes from the shadows, and we can not repeat them on our side, because the counterrevolution also comes wrapped in apparently revolutionary language.
If we make a list of all the steps taken by this counterrevolution, including before Morales assumed power, it would overwhelming prove how many were wrapping in the destabilization that precedes the final strike. Therefore there are no longer “innocence of value”. The discourse of those who demand to go further, should never line up with the discourse of the castes in power, or the embassy of the United States, always working to strike a blow against, and put obstacles in the way of, each step forward.
Many things still remain to be done and there will be those who do carry them out, and those who come with a fancy for power and the mechanisms of the past. But this is impossible to predict because the system has been effective in creating a culture of ferocious individualism. And if there are errors, there is a need to help correct them, and demand their correction, but never to use them to win others over politically, if those others have been fellow travelers, and if we are on the same path and in the same fight.
It is not enough to say that another world is possible; we need to know how to construct it. And this world is not constructed with slogans or fiery speeches, but rather with humility and revolutionary foresight. These are the times, and Bolivia should be accompanied by all. We know that unity is the only possibility for resisting the colonialism that has returned in this risky 21st century, of colonial wars. The empire has surpassed the neocolonial stage to move cruelly towards the rampant colonialism we see in Iraq. All we have left is our unity, in order to not lose another century.
All of this is well said and understood. However, the ‘Empire’ is unfortunately not only the US government,which is in effect the ‘costume’ of the real empire. The USA has been their clever shield in the latest historical rounds of divide and conquer. But the US too has been designed to fail,on purpose. This is starting to happen,and the colonization you speak of is is also seen in the ‘north american alliance’ current plans to create one country out of mexico, the US and canada. current plans means it is in progress as we speak,w/no oversight or direct knowledge by the us congress/senate.this is documented. so any conquering would be only to unify ‘regions’ to make them easier to ‘manage’ than individual sovereign countries would. it is imperative to understand how the larger world system works. a good place to start is http://www.freedomtofascism.com we are indeed an entire world owned by corporations. and animosity between ‘north and south’ ‘east and west’,first and third world,etc. is purposefully created,by these power elite,power brokers,as part of a divide and conquer strategy. and it is the individual people of the world who have fallen for this scam. so now you have sociologists dutifully ‘prescribing’,as you said,orders for something they know nothing of firsthand,as they have been schooled in these means subconsciously. what you describe is only one aspect of the greater ailment. i could go on and on,but this will suffice for now.
Hi lrm, do you use “Empire” as theoretically separate from US imperialism, in the sense of Hardt and Negri? And “power elite” in the sense of Wright Mills?
(from: Bolivia Rising)
On the verge of a racial revenge?
Ever since the inauguration of Evo Morales, the right wing have begun to raise the spectre of a “racial revenge”, supposedly promoted by the new government. Even Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa – who never loses an opportunity to attack “populisms”, both real and imaginary – wrote about the “demagogy” and “racism” of the Bolivian president. This “indigenous messianism”, together with the “totalitarianism” of Hugo Chavez, was putting democracy and the state of law at risk in Latin America. Alvaro Vargas Llosa, the son of the author of La ciudad y los perros [The city and dogs], went as far as dividing the Latin American left into “vegetarians” (Lula, Bachelet) and “carnivores” (Chavez and Evo). Some local journalists and analysts have run a similar line, denouncing the “reverse racism” emanating from the new indigenous and campesino elites.
This debate went beyond limits of absurdity during a televised discussion on PAT. Without flinching, Juan Claudio Lechín and Roberto Barbery, whilst speaking about the undemocratic character of the new government, tried to demonstrate, using an academic tone, that Evo Morales and the national socialism of Adolf Hitler both articulated in a similar way ethnic superiority (in this case Quechua-Aymara), corporativism, and charismatic leadership. The antidote to ending up with similar consequences was to recognise that, in the end, “in Bolivia, we are all mestizo[mixed blood]” and should therefore abandon this indigenist adventure.
But is any of this true: is the Evo’s government and indigenist government? Do they really exclude white-mestizos via an inverted segregation? Do the indigenous people act like the criollo [local-born white] elites did throughout the republican history?
The problems of “race” (a concept today discredited in social sciences), culture and mestizaje have accompanied Bolivia throughout all its history – like a permanent anguish – as well as the divergent visions through time, as corollaries of the hegemonic theories at the international level. If the positivists of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th – such as Alcides Arguedas, author of Pueblo enfermo [Sick people] – considered racial hybrids to be a kind of curse over Bolivian society, mestizaje – disassociated from an effective decolonialisation – came to be, for the Bolivian nationalism of the ’40s and ’50s, the precondition sine qua non for the construction of a truly Bolivian nation. By the ’90s, the Bolivian political and economic elites had appropriated the multiculturalist discourse promoted by multilateral loans organisations, the United Nations and non-government organisations (NGOs), having integrated it with the neoliberal postulates in vogue at the time (multiculturalism + free market).
Nevertheless, all these attempts to construct a “true” nation failed, whether through biological extinction of Indians, or through ethno-cultural homogenisation promoted by the state or by means of partial recognition of diversity, without eliminating the material or imagined structures of internal colonialism. Today we are witnessing a novel recuperation of the term “Indian” as a cohesive element for a broad popular and national identity, that articulates various memories: a long memory (anti-colonial), an intermediary memory (revolutionary nationalist) and a short memory (anti-neoliberal).
The Movement Towards Socialism and the leadership of Evo Morales emerged through the construction of this indigenised nationalism.
Faced with this, the elites have once again raised the flag of mestizaje as Bolivia’s reason for being. But if in the ’50s, mestizaje was conceived of within an anti-oligarchic and transformative discourse, today it has a defensive and conservative character – in front of the displacement, sometimes more illusory than real, of the middle classes from public posts, a principal space for its reproduction – and foreign to the egalitarian sense that came along with the idea of constructing a shared project for the country. The urban middle and educated sectors who today proclaim that “we are all mestizos” seem to forget that in Bolivia there exists both “white mestizos” and “indian mestizos” or , expressed in a more modern terminology, “criollo-mestizos” and “cholos”.
In this context, Evo Morales expresses the sentiments of these “indian mestizos”, who continue to be discriminated against and excluded from “legitimate” spaces of social life, and segregated into the periphery of the cities or the slopes of the hills, considered to be “dangerous neighbourhoods”. Nevertheless, one should not lose sight of the fact that this indigenous mestizaje, far from promoting a “return to ancestral times”, is inserted into the processes of modernisation, urbanisation, social differentiation, capital accumulation (fundamentally mercantile) and cultural hybridisation: today the majority of Bolivians (60%) live in the cities, despite the fact that they have not completely broken with rural life (many maintain their land), nor Aymara or Quechua culture. The fact that Indigenous hip hop is expanding in El Alto, a city where 82% of the population self-identifies as indigenous, speaks volumes of this complex articulation between the local and the global.
Despite the fact that in Bolivia “we are all mestizos”, the whiteness of skin colour, dress, economic and cultural practices and the origins of one’s surnames continue to constitute very real boundaries in the construction of social imagery and mechanisms of domination, today eroded – but not eliminated – by this indigenous political eruption and the arrival to power of MAS. All this poses a number of questions. Amongst them: How much does the proposal of indigenous autonomies take into consideration these diffuse boundaries between indigenous and mestizo? Is the proposal for autonomy – generally a demand raised by minorities, but in this case, by an indigenous majority – correct? Is there a need to make indigenous peoples autonomous or to indianise the state?
The Chapare, where Evo Morales migrated to with his family and began his trade union and political career, is one expressions of this cultural indigenous mestizaje. We can add to this the political mestizaje between campesino unions – consolidated in the ’50s in the image of, and similar to, workers’ unions – and communitarian traditions. The current president was formed politically in the coca grower unions and his indigenist revendication appears more like Nelson Mandela’s denouncement of apartheid – a demand of inclusion, recognition and possibilities to access power by a national majority segregated for ethnic reasons – that the revendication of a return to the ayllu.
On the other hand, the ethno-cultural reaffirmation that Evo Morales has promoted, traverses through the union culture’s own pragmatism and an energetic anti-imperialist position, whose material base was the struggle between campesinos and the police forces and military who attempted to eradicate the coca leaf with US support. To capture this double ideological dimension – articulation of the national-popular with the ethno-cultural, and with ruptures and continuities with the past – is the reason why we talk about MAS as a new “indigenous nationalism”, removed from the “communitarianist” romanticism of the NGOs and the illusory “mestizaje” of the illustrated middle classes.
Translated from La Epoca. See also: http://boliviarising.blogspot.com/2007/06/on-verge-of-racial-revenge.html
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