Staff writer Sara Miller Llana's interview with Bolivia's Vice President Álvaro García Linera of the Movement Toward Socialism Party (MAS).
When I was in high school in the 1970s, Latin Americans were taking back democracy from military dictatorships. Practically everyone in my high school was on the left. I was a participant in the political awakening of those times. Back then, you couldn't excite people if you didn't talk about Lenin, Trotsky, Hegel, or Gramsci.
In 1979 I witnessed the first siege of the city of La Paz by Aymaras. It was eye-opening how the siege aroused, among the upper and middle classes, the fear of rebellious Indians. But I was most interested in how this peasant – indigenous – blockade didn't answer to the trade unions. It was a very different thing. Its social impact here in the city, and the power of its language, of its symbols, left a very deep mark on my intellect and on my commitments. That's when I took it upon myself to find out who [the Indians] were, where they came from, what was going on here.
Three things have fascinated me about the indigenous world ever since: first, the history of their struggle for equality, for Indians and non-Indians to be equals before the state and society; second, the question of how to create mechanisms for correcting mistakes in the management of our state and society that have done injustice to the indigenous world; and third, the communal component of indigenous social structures, which I consider to be a vein of a future postcapitalist society, a tiny, almost invisible vein that is nonetheless present.
I don't have a romanticized idea of the indigenous world: in the indigenous world there are social classes, personal appetites, personal interests, divisions and injustices, but deep down there is also a small, communal nucleus that could be strengthened.
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