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'I saw the rise of a fascist state'

Speaking to the Adelante Latin America Conference, MIRIAM AMANCAY COLQUE describes the racist counter-revolution against the elections in Bolivia

NOW more than ever conferences like this are crucial because we are seeing the vengeance of imperialism, attacking our progressive leaders and the most vulnerable in Latin America.

My name is Miriam Amancay Colque and I am an Aymara woman from Bolivia. I was there during the recent elections. I went there because I wanted to celebrate another victory for our people — and instead I saw the rise of a fascist state.

Bolivia flourished with Evo Morales. Our natural resources were under our control and the wealth gained from them was used to build schools, social housing, highways and much more.

There was a historical debt owed to the indigenous people, who after centuries of being dominated by an elite mostly made up of European descendants, were empowered by Morales’s presidency, with their dignity restored. For the first time I could see the real country in all its diversity — a plurinational state of Bolivia.

Seeing our people live in dignity must have always angered the elite and the imperialists. They despise our ancestral culture, our Pachamama (Mother Earth), our Wiphala flag — a symbol of our resistance.

Long before the elections, the opposition made it clear that they would not accept Morales’s victory. Before his resignation, paramilitary groups were actively encouraged by the opposition and civic groups to purge Morales’s followers from the low and high ranks, brutally attacking them, torching their homes, kidnapping their relatives and threatening to kill or burn them alive if they did not resign.

The police wre nowhere to be seen when these attacks happened, because they were part of the coup alongside the armed forces. In the hope that the violence against his supporters would stop, Morales was forced to resign.

Sadly we have a coup — with Luis Almagro, Jair Bolsonaro, Mauricio Macri, Ivan Duque and many others involved in it. Last week self- proclaimed president Janine Anez took power, holding the Bible in one hand like in old colonial times, giving the army and police licence to kill.

The situation has been aggravated since then. The police and the military — so absent when the fascist attacks that led to the takeover were happening — have now come onto the streets to violently repress the tens of thousands of people, mainly indigenous, who are flooding the streets to resist the coup.

In less than two weeks over 30 people have been killed, hundreds have been injured, over a thousand have been detained, tortured and many disappeared.

International solidarity is paramount right now with the Bolivian people who are resisting every day — and will keep resisting until Anez resigns and this de-facto government crumbles.

As our great ancestor Tupac Katari once said: “We will return — and we will be millions!” We are here and we are millions. And we refuse to hand over our lithium, our richness, our homeland over to the descendants of the colonial invaders and the Yankee imperialists who attack out lives with destruction, displacement and exploitation.

For our dignity, freedom and self-determination, long live the Bolivian people — long live the indigenous people — and long live Latin America!

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