Bolivia: indigenous demand autonomy from state

Bolivia’s Aymara indigenous alliance CONAMAQ issued an open letter Jan. 27 to President Evo Morales, the official rights watchdog Defensoría del Pueblo, and the independent Permanent Human Rights Association of Bolivia (APDHB),  charging that the ruling Movement to Socialism-Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP) is seeking to divide their organization. The statement warned of the possibility for violence at CONAMAQ’s upcoming Mara Tantachawi, or annual gathering. “The MAS-IPSP government of Evo Morales…in the different suyus [regions] is organizing and mobilizing groups of confrontation led by ex-authorities suspended by CONAMAQ…to sabotage [hacer fracasar] this event and take over by force the CONAMAQ council for political ends,” the statement reads.

In the end, parallel CONAMAQ gatherings were held Jan. 29—one led by the organization’s council in Sucre and one by a MAS-aligned breakaway faction in La Paz. Both claimed to be the organization’s legitimate Seventh Mara Tantachawi. (Bolpress, Jan. 29 FM BoliviaEl Diario, Cochabamba, Jan. 27 Jan. 27)

One resolution to come out of the Sucre meeting was a decision to participate in the 2014 presidential elections in a new independent political bloc to be launched jointly with Bolivia’s principal lowland indigenous alliance, CIDOB. Days before the Sucre meeting, CIDOB and CONAMAQ leaders met in Cochabamba to cement a “pact of unity.” The alliance between the two groups was formed in the struggle to oppose the controversial highway through the TIPNIS forest reserve. (ANF, Feb. 2; CIDOB, Jan. 19)

CONAMAQ jilliri apu mallku (an Aymara honorific) Félix Becerra charged that Morales is betraying his own official declaration of a “plurinational state.” He said: “Up to now, neither the Bolivian people nor the social organizations have been able to govern; the government only uses the social organizations… [T]his cannot be… If this is a Plurianational State, then there should be a plurinational cabinet, because the ministers are now only from one sector and do not belong to the majority of the indigenous people.” (Erbol, Jan. 9)

  1. Bolivian education vice-minister charges ‘racism’
    Bolivia’s vice-mister for education, Benecio Quispe, stepped down July 23, accusing the Evo Morales government of “cruel, refined and hidden racism,” saying he had been subject to “humiliation and contempt” by his superiors at the Education Ministry. He said the “explicit racist discrimination” by the Ministry did not allow him to work, and his efforts to address the problem were met with “obstruction and harassment.” (La Razon, La Paz, Los Tiempos, Cochabamba, July 23; Eju!, Santa Cruz, July 22)