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133 cha p t er five Mobile “Indigenous” Citizenship Marching for a New Agrarian Reform Law We finally made it to the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba in the late afternoon hours, after fourteen days of marching from the lowland region of Santa Cruz to the upper valleys. The long line of protestors stopped for a short rest in the evening and began the journey again in the early morning hours from Sacaba into the Plaza 14 de Septiembre at the center of Cochabamba. While it was a short walk, it felt like an eternity; the hot sun beat down on our exposed necks, dried sweat and dirt stuck to our skin even in the wee morning hours, and the shoes we had worn for several days tightened with every step, rubbing against old blisters and sores. Despite the difficult conditions, everyone maintained perfect precision in the columnas (columns or lines),1 which were two or three people across (all members of the same mst núcleo) and many deep, each rank-and-file member walking half a foot behind the person ahead. The protestors, while dragging their bodies along the paved terrain, kept a rhythmic motion, following the feet and the beat of the people in front of them. Physical exhaustion and mental fatigue wore heavily on their dirtstreakedfaces ,yettheirspiritandenergywerehigh.Severalmst representatives , with tired and cracking yet powerful voices, screamed in unison, “¡mst, esta lucha es para vencer!” The crowd repeated, “¡mst, esta lucha es para vencer!” And the leaders again: “¡mst, esta lucha es para vencer!” The crowd followed in a melodic, “¡mst, esta lucha es para vencer!” “¿Cuándo?” asked the leader. “¡Ahora!” shouted the crowd. “¿Cuándo?” “¡Ahora!” Several hundred protestors, following the rhythmic chant of the leader, banged on their makeshift drums and made lots of noise. Others chose to march with flutes and wind instruments, gasping for breath as 134 symbolic citizenship and new forms of statehood they continued to play songs from the Andes and the Amazon. The musical mixing represented the fifth attempt to bring these distinct indigenous communities together in protest for rights to land, territory, and agrarian reform. mst flags bearing the slogan “Ocupar, Resistir, Producir” (Occupy, Resist, Produce) waved high above the heads of the demonstrators , alongside wiphala flags, representing the distinct native communities of the Andes, now an emblem of the new plurinational state. These tribes had unified their distinct claims for land under a broader framework of rights to territory. As the long lines of protestors approached the center of Cochabamba, city residents gathered on the street corners, clapping and cheering on the demonstrators. Some had brought small carts filled with plastic bags of water. They tied the bags and tossed them carefully to the demonstrators , trying not to break the columnas’ orchestrated steps forward (see Figures 5 and 6). Others tossed treats and delicacies through the air to fill the protestors’ empty stomachs. These flying objects created a circuslike appearance as people juggled and caught all kinds of commodities, quickly drinking and eating before arriving at their destination. figure 5. mst marching in columnas during the Fifth National March for Land and Territory, Cochabamba, November 2006. Photograph by Nancy Romer. mobile “indigenous” citizenship 135 Then, suddenly, the long lines of protestors crossed the last block of streets leading into the old city of Cochabamba and the productive spaces of economic modernization. Their destination was surrounded by the trappings of the West: fancy coffee shops, new and renovated government and municipal buildings, tourist offices, and hotels. The protestors stopped for a second to reconvene, and then they bulldozed into the plaza with collective might. Their bodies, once tired and weak, assumed new strength as they held their chests high and seized this space, infusing the main square with dynamic highland Andean cultural forms and practices. Some protestors danced in small circles, while others placed their wiphala flag in the center of the plaza. Others collapsed on the cement with their belongings, rubbing their sweat, dirt, and blood into the old colonial spaces of power and privilege. In the words of one mst leader, “The true mst performer is the one who brings from his breast the smell and color of his land, the mark of blood of the deaths that he has witnessed, so that the certainty of his struggle lives on.” Walking for days on this protest march with mst—from Santa Cruz to Cochabamba to La Paz—to support the...


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