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Letter: Again, They want to shut us up with guns and ‘The Word of God’

What’s happening in Bolivia is not isolated, it is a global phenomenon. It is the same colonialism, which feels weakened against the resistance and defense of our ancestral territories and rights. Colonialism wants to overwhelm us again, taking away our collective identity and eliminating our rights.

Just as the invaders in the 15th and 16th centuries arrived with the sword and the cross, to impose their kings, their language, their religion, their economic model. Today, after more than two hundred years, these fundamentalists unite to impose the systematic violation of human rights, denial of cultural diversity, and the union of church and state.

The wiphala flag, a symbol of resistance of the indigenous people for more than five centuries, has been burned and today, we indigenous people are again the obstacle to the “economic development” of the rich. It is no accident that Luis Fernando Camacho says: “La Pachamama will never return to the Burned Bolivian Presidential Palace. “Bolivia now belongs to Christ.” And in the streets they write, “Long live Bolivia free of indians.” Us indigenous people are no longer citizens and are not deserving of rights because we do not favor destroying our territories in the name of “development” and “democracy.” 

The goal of the extreme right and conservative religious groups is to undo all of the advances we’ve made in equal rights: between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, between men and women, in the care of the environment, in labor matters, and many others.

With the fall of the plurinational government of Bolivia, Argentina is left alone in Latin America, but there too these forces will lash out, because the economic recession makes Argentina vulnerable. Peru is no stranger to these political and economic crises promoted by neoliberal, fascist and religious fundamentalist policies. Our collective rights are being taken away, they persecute our female and male leaders. With the story of entrepreneurship and using doublespeak, they numb us and take away our territories and enslave our sons and daughters.

We recognize that in Bolivia, what is in danger is not a government or a leader, it is the process of the indigenous peoples to recover the autonomy and dignity that was taken from us. This process was born as a hope for emancipation and social reforms, especially for indigenous peoples, not only in Bolivia but throughout all of Latin America.

Courtesy: ONAMIAP

A process that, however, made many mistakes; Centralizing leadership around caudillismo, without respecting the processes of depatriarching the movements of indigenous and feminist women; Allowing the entry of members of the right into the government; Not breaking with extractivist economy. The TIPNIS project conflict (which involved the controversial construction of a road) was the breaking point and from there, the indigenous organizations were divided.

The caudillismo was the main error, which repeated the history of our continent: focusing on single leadership, without opening the way to renewal, to alternation, to collective responsibilities. It was this that opened the doors to the far right.

In the true processes of change, we are all important. We are all responsible. Only unity, the recognition that processes are built collectively and from the bottom up, guarantees real changes and universal respect for human, collective and individual rights.

That is today the task of the indigenous organizations of our continent. To build a Latin America where there is no classism, fascism, racism, machismo, religious fundamentalism, and that will allow us to decide our own way of life, which respects the Mother Nature and move towards reciprocity and good living. Not a development imposed by the powerful that destroys the Pachamama.

We call on the indigenous peoples of Latin America, all and all those exploited and marginalized by this system. We must unite to resist and promote the emancipation of our America. For our dignity, for that of our ancestors, for our Mother Earth and for the future of our sons and daughters.

The National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru (ONAMIAP) is an organization that fights for the full exercise of our individual and collective rights as women and indigenous peoples. 

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