A fragile government in La Paz is further weakened as more and more
indigenous people rise up and take control of their villages.
SORATA, Bolivia - The police won't return to this village in the Andes
unless the peasants promise not to throw rocks at them.
The peasants rose up and chased the police out months ago, along with
the local representative of the provincial government, the judges and
even the army. The authorities fled Sept. 20 in the face of a crowd of
Aymara Indians armed with little more than sticks and stones, enraged by
an insult uttered by an army general hours earlier, and moved by
centuries of pent-up frustration.
Since the uprising, this corner of Bolivia - where the dry Altiplano, a
high plateau, around Lake Titicaca meets lush tropical mountains - has
become a kind of an Indian liberated zone......
"Before, they were the bosses. They made us work, they would run
everything," said Felix Puña Mamani, a resident of the neighboring
village of Viacha, referring to the people of European descent who have
dominated Bolivian society since the 16th century Spanish conquest. "But
people realize what's going on now. It's not like it was before."
As many as 1.5 million people - almost a fifth of Bolivia's population -
live in areas where indigenous authorities have replaced at least some
government functions, said Alvaro Garcia Linera, a university professor
in La Paz who has studied the popular movements of Bolivia's two main
indigenous groups, the Aymara and the Quechua.
"Since 2000, we have seen an enormous, continual uprising of indigenous
people, with a strong element of Indian nationalism," Garcia Linera
said. "In many places, the institutions of the Republic of Bolivia have
begun to fade away."
...........more [Héctor Tobar, Los Angeles Times]