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Moments of the World March

Blessings in Tiwanaku, Bolivia

World March in Tiwanaku video (by the WM Base Team) Item Link












On Dec. 23 2009 the World March arrived at the sacred site of Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Tiwanaku is a pre-columbian archeological site near the capital of Bolivia, La Paz. The site served as spiritual and civic center for the Tiwanaku empire, one of the most important pre-hispanic civilizations in the Americas and precursor of the Aymara civilation. The first indigenous president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, celebrated hi inauguration at the site for his first and second terms, in 2006 and 2010 respectively.  The Amautas (Aymara sages) of Tiwanaku welcomed the March with a blessing ceremony that corresponded with half year celebrations in the Aymara calendar.  Here we feature the testimonios of Omar, Diego, Pacha Kuti, Montserrat, Mariela, Lourdes, Richie, Andrei, Ale, Elizabeth, and Jair, which they shared before and after the ceremony.  Together, they represent local organizers and activists, and marchers from Europe and North America. The beauty of the altiplano and the meaning of the site provide a special context for this set of testimonios, which thread intimate experiences and widening historical horizons, as they touch upon hope and despair, local indigenous politics, social change and private lives, social justice and peacebuilding, among other themes.


In line with its history as a civic and spiritual center, the site inspired testimonies that focus on the spiritual/existantial dimensions of the March as much as the political. While organizers in New York focused on politics, and organizers in  Arica focused on the existential dimension of the March. The organizers, international marchers, and local supporters that converged at Tiwanaku shared testimonies that moved between these dimensions of their experience or that focused on one or the other.  Pcha Kuti's testimony focuses on explaining the meaning of the blessing ceremony held by the Amautas:

For the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the great craddle of Towanaku this day is the great day of the half-year for all of us. This is why we are here to greet you, to you a big hug, the hug of the great Tiwanakuta sages and to give you loe and brotherhood to all the brothers and sisters that came from [around] the world in defense of the Pachamama [Mother Earth or Mother World], in defense of nonviolence, and for the valuing of love, to your fellow people, and not only them, but also everyone who inhabits the Pachamama [under] the Father Sun. Thanks to all of you. I am here to embrace you.  A great jayaya! [hurray]. 

Pacha Kuti's testimonies  is grounded in the meaning of the celebrations at Tiwanaku and the spiritual significance of the March's visit during the half-year celebration. As he decribes it, him and many other sages of Tiwanaku were there to welcome the Marcher's, include them in these important celebrations, and bless the initiative. Elizabeth, who chose to share to Memoscopio a conversation among Antonia (Memoscopio, Montserrat (base team), and herself, is much more concerned with the relationship between the March and the political complexities of Bolivian's nonviolent revolutionary process that has led to a new contitution and to the first indigenous president  in a country who's population is over fifty percent indigenous and nearly thirty percent mestizo. Elizabeth, an indigenous social worker, expresses her frustration:

It is nice  to say [good] thing but the other day there was the human rights congress and the congress had 15 to 18 people, and everyone was appointed, none of them from El Alto, and how had they been brought? with a glass of wine... and when we wre coming here, in La Trance, they asked us for documents, and Carmelo tells them ' You see, we are going to a march for world peace and nonviolence and we are with brother Evo [Morales].' 'Oh, with Evo? Ok, go ahead.' .. It is very sad. You can say that politiqueros [politicas operators] use us as ladders. Just one anecdote. I am asocial worker, and we were in the marches with Evo. So many marchers. and now, does he isten to us?  No. So where is justice? 

For Elizabeth the March is just another instance in her activism where she encounter the problematic nature of politics and organizing in Bolivia ans weher she finds herself in an ambiguous relationship to the president. For younger marchers from La Paz, these problems are not at the cneter of their testimonies. Romina, who is a student and member fo the humanist movement, explains that "the March is a means to raise consciounness [conscientizar] among people about the contemporary world in which we live, about all kinds of violence thatw e are living, [such as] violence within the family, and in everything else."

Together, these testimonies illustrate how a single event during the March at one specific location was experienced and describied in a wide range of ways by its participants. The meaning of this initiative, just as the knoeledges and struggles that ifomred were not one, but multilple.  The actvated many threads, many lines of thought, emorions and experience, and what took place that day was certainly mucho more than the sum of these experiences. 


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