Allillanchu from Tiquipaya!
The students have been attending some amazing academic “charlas” (lectures/workshops) during our time in Tiquipaya, learning about all different kinds of resistance movements in Bolivia and in Latin America more broadly.
On Tuesday we went to visit a school in Cochabamba that works with La Fundación Abril, Oscar Olivera’s NGO. Olivera was a very important lead activist during Cochabamba’s Water Wars in 2000 — the height of which was in April 2000, hence the name of his organization. In the Water Wars, the people of Cochabamba rose up against the government to protest raised prices on water in communities because of multinational privatization, and their protests were eventually successful. Today, Olivera’s NGO works to educate as well as provide alternative water treatment systems and community gardens in 18 different schools in Cochabamba. On Tuesday the students toured one of these schools, learning about its water treatment system and its gardens.
On Thursday, we had another charla from Chantal Cuellar, a prominent trans activist in Bolivia. Chantal was involved in Bolivia’s 2016 LGBTQ hunger strike, which led to the passing of Bolivia’s gender identity law at the end of 2016. Because of this law, Bolivians can now easily change their name and gender identity on their official state IDs and their birth certificates in a simple process that only takes a few hours — easier than in a lot of states in the US! However, there is still a lot of work to be done. For example, because of Bolivia’s retrograde and pathologizing biological interpretation of its gender parity law, trans people are not allowed to vote. Yesterday, during Bolivia’s primary presidential elections, trans people could not participate. The students enjoyed learning a bit about sexual diversity and trans rights in Bolivia, and comparing it to what they know about trans rights in their communities at home in the United States and Canada.
This upcoming week, the students will have a charla with a member from Bolivia’s Afro-Bolivian community and also a charla about the conflict over TIPNIS, an Indigenous reserve in the Cochabamba and Beni departments. There is so much to learn. Onwards and upwards!