"Throughout Latin America, there's been a sea change in indigenous peoples' perception of how their identity fits into the larger social and political picture of their societies. Historically, the "white" ruling minority in Bolivia used the "creole-mestizo identity" to marginalize indigenous groups and keep them passive while they sweated and died in the country's notoriously dangerous tin mines.
By the early 1990s, that began to change. The traditional pro-labor parties had been crushed in the previous decade, the price of tin had bottomed out, and new social movements -- far more radical than those that preceded them -- started to gather around ethnicity, somewhat like the black identity movement in South Africa that gained strength in the 1970s. The indigenous majority began to see cultural identity through the lens of social and economic marginalization (and vice versa). It was a genie that, once out of its bottle, couldn't be contained.
And it's not enough to say that Bolivia is one more domino falling in the revolution against the neoliberal policies pushed in Washington and Geneva, although that's true. In Bolivia, like everywhere else, racial and ethnic stratification is tightly interwoven with economic class.
The fact is everyone running for office in Bolivia in recent years has been a foe of neoliberalism -- at least on the campaign trail. Of the 2002 campaign, Carolyn Shaw, a Latin American scholar, wrote: "The most distinguishing aspect of elections in Bolivia was that virtually all the candidates lashed out to attack neoliberal strategies." Even Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who instituted the despised, IMF-dictated "El Plan de Todos"in the mid 1990s, renounced the "Washington Consensus." "I don't believe in neoliberalism, I believe in an open market economy," he said, somewhat enigmatically. "This stuff about the invisible hand, it just doesn't work that way."
And while all of Latin America is strewn with the wrecked promises of "development experts" from the U.S. and Europe, the pain brought by the Washington Consensus hasn't fallen equally on all Bolivians."
It's a powerful and beautiful thing when all of the people rise up after centuries of oppression and lies. The article is concise and a good read. Enjoy.