It is a well known fact that the Latin America, until invaded by the Europeans in 16th century A. D. , was a vast continent inhabited by the nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes. This brief write up is a summary of the events that have unfolded in the past few decades in two important Latin American countries : Bolivia and Peru. It briefly analyzes the similarities and the contrasts in these events and tries to sort out the differences that account for in mobilization of class and ethnicity. Bolivia and Peru are geographic neighbors.
They share similar roots and have a sizeable population, which can be termed the ‘indigenous’. Both these nations share a history of past few decades, which is filled with frequent coups, military interventions and blood bath over assuming the supreme power. With the advent of ‘globalization’, in the post 1950 decades, the need to strengthen the economies became more crucial, and on the other side, the multi national corporations of rich countries, started eyeing the hitherto virgin natural resources of this sub continent.
IT offered huge mines of wealth to these multinationals, as the resources were almost untouched. The local rulers of Peru and Bolivia gave permissions to these corporations to explore the resources of their respective Countries, irrespective of the impact it would have on the aboriginals. In response, the local tribes organized themselves, for the cause of preservation of their interests and these are known as ‘ the indigenous movements’. Both these nations have seen many such movements, in the past few decades. This is the single largest similarity between the ndigenous movements of Bolivia and Peru.
Another striking similarity is that these movements have never gathered a momentum which is fierce enough to roll all the dust into one fire ball. Both, Bolivia and Peru have a history of scattered organizations, which are often short lived, and often bearing no solid consequences. ( Indigenous movements in Americas) The striking contrast in these movements is that the efforts have Bolivian movements have succeeded, if, having their own man as the President of the nation and hence the all owerful man, is any scale of measuring success. The movements of Peru have not yielded such results, so far. ( Zibechi Raul, the Bolivian cross roads, para 1)
Peru, is a country, perhaps, exceptionally underprivileged, with respect to mobilization from the top class and the ethnic tribes. Unlike Bolivia, no single person emerged as an unquestioned leader to fight for a common cause. Other possible differences are that Peru has almost 42 ethnicities, but are deeply divided into two. These are represented by two rganizations, which are backed by the Peruvian government and the worls bank. They work against the interests of the aboriginals. One more reason, is that in Peru, the aboriginals are facing double genocides, one from the armed forces and second from the ‘shining path’.
This alone has cost loss of almost 70,000 aboriginals!!! Moreover, Peru suffered from the lack of support from the ‘ indigenous intellectuals’, in their quest for their rights. It is said that out of 600 anthropologists in Peru, only eight support the struggle of the indigenous communities. Zibechi Raul, The Peruvian exception) Conclusively, it can be said that globalization and the never quenching thirst of huge corporate bodies to exploit all possible venues with the sole purpose of amassing wealth, is surely taking a toll on the lives of the indigenous tribes of Latin America. Those who were able to unify, like Bolivia, have succeeded in sharing the supreme power of the nation, while those who are not able to unify themselves, like the Peruvians, are still hoping for the best, despite bearing the brunt!