From the Mines to the Streets
A Bolivian Activist’s Life
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Texas Press
Title page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Acronyms
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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Books by researchers and academics typically are the culmination of years of thinking about a specific problem. They often grow organically as an author works through a series of theoretical, conceptual...
Introduction: Tiwanaku, January 21, 2006
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I remember January 21, 2006, a day that brought a close to one phase of the political work to which I have dedicated a great deal of my life. This was the day that Evo Morales, a peasant, a coca-producer of Aymara...
Introduction to Bolivia
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In the geographical heart of South America, landlocked and often isolated Bolivia has for centuries intrigued fortune-seekers, adventurers, and travelers alike. One of the most culturally, physically, and ecologically...
Part One. Growing Up in the Fields and the Mines
Chapter 1. Rural Life
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On April 30, 1946, I was born the fourth of thirteen children to an indigenous mining family in Maraq'a, the community of my mother, Lucia Poma, located in the Karacha ayllu, in the department of Potosí. Normally my family lived in Wila Apacheta, my father's village, part...
Chapter 2. Moving to the Mines
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After the 1952 revolution, previously employed mine workers were allowed to return to the jobs they had lost. As my siblings and I were growing up quickly, our parents worried about our education. But my father was reluctant to return to the mine because the work had been so miserable...
Chapter 3. The Army
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In 1964 I turned eighteen, and all around me young men from the mining camp, including some of my neighbors and juk'u compañeros [buddies or mates], talked all the time about joining the army. We perceived the army as a rite of passage; we always knew who had gone, and if someone knew how...
Part Two. The Mines
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After the 1952 revolution, the huge Catavi--Siglo XX mining complex located near Llallagua, some two hundred miles south of La Paz, quickly became COMIBOL's largest operation, just as it had been for Simón Patiño. The ratio of dependents to miners was very high--about...
Chapter 4. Joining the State Company
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Once the new government gained control of the Valle Alto [Cochabamba's upper valley], my discharge papers arrived, and I headed home. I was happy to leave the barracks. Military service had...
Chapter 5. Union Activist
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After the September Massacre, the regiment commander claimed absolute authority over the entire district and imposed a state of siege. We could not walk in groups even as small as two or three and needed special...
Chapter 6. Bolivia under Banzer
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At the beginning of my second year in university, Bolivia again plunged into crisis. J. J. Torres, whom we had backed as president, faced growing threats of a coup. Colonel Hugo Banzer Suárez, holed up in the Santa Cruz barracks with considerable local support, was the protagonist. He united...
Part Three. From Exile to Exile
Chapter 7. Exile in Chile: A "Guest" of Pinochet
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They stuck me in an isolation cell, but just a few minutes later an agent pushed open the door and told me politely, "We are letting you out to the bathroom and to visit other prisoners."...
Chapter 8. Exile in Holland
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We landed at Frankfurt's enormous airport after a long, tiring flight. I had never seen anything so large and modern in my life and was tremendously impressed. A Dutch government representative was waiting for us at the...
Chapter 9. Return Home
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I requested that the UNHCR authorize my trip home, and it agreed to pay my airfare. I arrived in La Paz on May 1, 1978, International Workers' Day. In Bolivia we celebrate every year with a huge march to...
Chapter 10. García Meza Coup: Back to Holland
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In early 1980, Valeria, Emilse's and my first daughter, was born at the COMIBOL hospital in Catavi. In Holland I had learned about the importance of physical exercise during childbirth, so we walked to the...
Part Four. Activist in El Alto
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El Alto--literally "the heights"--sprawls across the altiplano above Bolivia's capital city of La Paz. The twin cities have aptly been described as an indigenous urban center overlooking a colonial city. In 1950, El...
Chapter 11. Life in El Alto
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Three months after the 1985 Presidential Decree 21060, the key element in the New Economic Policy (NEP), was signed, I arrived back in Bolivia. The law embodied a neoliberal structural adjustment program just like those, having economic globalization as their goal, beginning to...
Chapter 12. Politics in El Alto
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As the neighborhood organizations promised a new opportunity for political activism in Bolivia's changed circumstances, I joined the one in Ciudad Satélite. In 1997, I ran for president and won almost 100 percent of the votes. According to the regulations, the ruling board of each neighborhood...
Appendix: Bibliographic Sources and Information on Bolivia
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Page Count: 263
Illustrations: 8 b&w photos, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2011