Alarm clock meant to wake me up at 9. Didn't ring. Got woken up by Bictor's phone call ('where are you?' - 'Sleeping, why? Is it already 10?') It was 10.50. I was supposed to finish editing some texts, meet him at 10 to prepare some questions for our 11 o'clock meeting with the creator of the Madidi Park. After I'd put down the phone, I picked some clothes which lay on my suitcase, got dressed, and went out running (do I have to say that I'm still living in a city located at 3600 metres above see level?). I crossed part of the city, and we finally got there ten minutes later than expected. It's now 6pm and I still haven't eaten so I hear a voice in my mind and I think it's time to release it! Here's what it say:
I'm not sure which version I like best so here's the alternative one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gU2c5BdSg9M
On 26 February, a mega-landslide struck 14 zones of La Paz, leaving thousands of people without a home. Not only did it affect the living but also the dead: the clandestine cemetery Valle de las Flores, said to be the resting place of about 2000 souls, was split in two, leaving dozens of bodies in the open. In the following days relatives flew to the premises to try to 'save' their dear ones, exposing themselves to the dangers of the ground as well as to the various infections likely to spread because of the decaying bodies.
A few weeks later, the city hall announced that the small hill where the cemetery was located was to be 'flattened' given there was a risk of further slides. Thus, anyone who had relatives buried in the necropolis had the possibility to come and remove their bodies until the 17th May, with officials supervising the massive exhumation. When we arrived with Victor on the morning of the 16th, a date we'd chosen by chance, we were surprised to see so many people, busy with shovels, pickaxes and others. The remains of the bodies were either inhumed in other cemeteries if the relatives managed to get an agreement, cremated at the Cementerio General, or buried in communal graves for those left after the 17th May.
Note that clandestine cemeteries are said to be visited by gravediggers, especially medecine students who are looking for fresh bodies to anatomize. Many people turned to us, grief-stricken, to tell us about their fears as they couldn't find the bodies they'd come to unearth.
On a more personal note, while being there, I felt a bit the same as what I felt when visiting the Machu Picchu: I totally understood why they'd decided to bury their dead on that hill; so close to the sky, so peaceful and with such an amazing view of the Illimani. If I'd been a believer, if I'd died around here before 26 February and if I'd gotten to choose where I wanted to be buried, that's the place I would have chosen - and that's a lot of 'if'.
On one of my previous posts about the Aymara collective wedding, I mentioned that the activist/feminist María Galindo had been taken out of the coliseo where the wedding was taking place, by force. The order was given by the Minister for Culture, Elizabeth Salguero, to the police, which seized Galindo as she was interviewing Chibi (not sure of the name and I cannot find it on the internet but he's somehow related to the vice-ministry of decolonization I mentioned on the previous post). Many people witnessed, at least partly, this abusive act. Amongst those witnesses was a journalist, who was later invited by the Minister for Culture. The latter supposedly wanted to impart a scoop to her but her real purpose was different: during the interview they had, Salguero tried to pressure her.
Apparently, what happened was that this journalist had witnessed that Morales, Salguero had seen Galindo's brutal arrest but hadn't done anything (which sounds pretty obvious if they were the ones who'd given the order). Salguero threatened the journalist claiming that, if she stuck to those facts, she would then have to contradict Morales' and hers at court - “tu palabra estará contra la mía y contra la del Presidente”.
The day after, it was all in the news. That was such a silly thing to do.
Here's the link to the article (in Spanish) http://www.paginasiete.bo/2011-05-14/Cultura/Destacados/36Al-00114.aspx
Después de la mítica iglesia maradoniana donde la gente se puede casar reproduciendo el gol legendario de Maradona, he encontrado un chico que cree ser la rodilla de maradona. Espero un artículo que me tiene que mandar con su relato.
Stay tuned for more
Last Saturday, that is Saturday May 7th, I attended the first collective Aymara wedding to be celebrated in La Paz: 355 couples, from 11 different indigenous communities, got married according to the Aymara tradition and with Evo Morales as godfather of the event. The whole thing was supposedly part of a 'decolonization' process (I've just found out that there was a vice-minister of decolonization, though when I google it, I cannot seem to find any ministry for such a thing... I'll try to find out more), something you hear a lot here as well as 'despatriarcalización'. In brief, the celebration arose from the desire to go back to indigenous traditions and shun the Catholic ceremony introduced and imposed by the Spanish conquistadores. It was claimed to be the way to establish a new family model, one which would not be patriarcal and would make it possible to build a Plurinational State.
After attending the rite with my friend Victor, we couldn't help but discuss the whole celebration and the meaning it was supposed to convey and although we really enjoyed it, we found it hard to believe it would actually change the fact that the Bolivian society, like many others, is still a really machist one and that most people will still celebrate their union under the eye of a Catholic God.
Another anecdotic fact to mention is that María Galindo – reknown extremist La Paz feminist and leader of Mujeres Creando – went to the wedding to, as she claimed, cover it, and was expelled. For those of you who might be interested in this, here's a link to a webpage in Spanish with more information (however, be aware that this info might be biaised since it was written by some member of Mujeres Creando): http://www.facebook.com/notes/mujeres-creando/matrimonio-no-gracias-ni-por-curas-ni-por-amautas/223630184321184
María Galindo is hated by many people because of her extreme ideas and actions and in spite of what she claimed, it's possible, though not certain, that she was not only there to simply cover the event. I'd honestly be curious to know what her intentions were and though I know where to find her and she would probably answer my questions if I went there, I'm not sure I feel like interviewing her again when I remember how hard it is to discuss with such a woman (she told me several times I was stupid if I thought that the condition of women was different according to the country and that the woman was indifferently considered as an object everywhere in the world. So basically, there's no difference as to status or condition between an Afghan woman who has to wear a burka and German lawyer who goes to vote). Las Mujeres Creando are famous for, amongst other things, the graffiti's they paint all over the city, one of those reading as follow:
'No hay descolonización sin despatriarcalización'.
For your information, I've been writing this post while having lung at a German bakery, listening to a music selection consisting of 9 different tracks (which they, by the way, play everyday; I don't quite understand how the employees can survive it), three of those being
_ 'Quit playing games with my heart', by the Backstreet Boys;
_ 'Knocking on heaven's door', sung by Avril Lavigne, and it ruins this wonderful song;
_ the Titanic song by Céline Dion.