Translated by Jane K Brundage.
For an explanation of terms, see the Translator’s Notes at the bottom of the article.
Original Spanish version: “Por una conjunción ecomunitarista de vivencias en Abya Yala” in Aporrea, August 25, 2020

For An E-communitarian Union of Experiences in Abya Yala [1]

The coup at the end of 2019 in Bolivia had a clear racist anti-indigenous component (in addition to and together with the oligarchic ingredient, combined with the interventionism of the Yankee and its allies in the country and in the region). Thus, in the coup mobilizations, for example, were attacks on indigenous women wearing traditional dress. Further, the coup activist who proclaimed herself President entered the Presidential Palace carrying a Bible, saying that she wanted to exorcise it from the Indian witchcraft that had found shelter there under the governments of Evo Morales.

Banner of the Qulla Suyu

Banner of the Qulla Suyu, official variant flag of Bolivia.. By Huhsunqu (2006) Via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Banner_of_the_Qulla_Suyu.svg

The Wiphala[2] flag was also discarded, and then formally put back in response to popular outrage. In August 2020, numerous blockades barricaded important highways throughout the country with demands that elections be held on September 6 (after they had already been postponed twice) and that the coup leader resign.  Ministers and coup leaders then characterized the indigenous people, peasants and mobilized workers, as “savages” and “beasts”.

(Elections have been set for October 18, 2020). Now, in that period the indigenous claim resurfaces in such a way that Felipe Quispe (El Mallku)[3] defends not Bolivia, but the Qullasuyu[4], demanding that the indigenous people govern themselves and, in a kind of inverted racism responding to oligarchic and pro-imperialist racism, characterizing as invalid everything that is not native,.

University professor Dr. Simón Yampara, of Aymara origin, gives profound arguments in favor of this position, in the first half hour of the video “Felipe Quispe (El Mallku) Conversatorio Quillasuyu o Bolivia“, available on YouTube (recorded in the third week of August 2020). I summarize in the following way its two most important arguments:

  1. For native peoples, Time is conceived in the form of a cyclical spiral, such that the present and the future always feed on the past, while in the mestizo-Creole culture imported from Europe, Time is linear and is governed by the motto “what is past is past”;
  2. The native peoples feel that they are part of the whole of the Pacha Mama | Mother Earth; in that sense they take “bien vivir” | “living well” as their goal, which differs from the Western notion of comfort that uses Nature as a simple exhaustible resource and glorifies technology.

Yampara says that there are two aspects to that second experience [i.e/, Pacha Mama]: the liberal-bourgeois and the socialist (or supposedly socialist that would have prevailed in the Morales governments).

In works that we published during these governments, we criticized the fact that their economic policy, with the supposed purpose of distributing social aid, instead made a pact with extractivism (including that carried out by multinationals), compromised with capitalism, and collided with the way of life and expectations of various indigenous-native-peasant groups (who progressively moved away from Morales). These governments chose this path rather than be aligned with the ideal of “living well” anchored in the ancient communitarianism of native peoples. Now this criticism does not mean that the E-communitarian proposal is limited either to defending a space or to a crippling return to that native tradition.

The proof that not even the defenders of Qullasuyu can dispense with the contribution of Western-white culture is shown, for example, by the fact that Dr. Yampara defends his thesis by using terms from European Philosophy (such as the concept of “horizon” as explored by Gadamer). Moreover, both he and Felipe Quispe use Internet resources (which is not exactly an Aymara or Quechua invention) to spread their ideas and attract followers. This is why E-communitarianism — based on the three fundamental norms of Ethics (which require us, respectively, to fight to guarantee our individual freedom of decision, to realize that freedom in the search for consensus with others, and to preserve-regenerate the health of human and non-human nature) — claims an intercultural theoretical and practical construction of the new socio-environmental order. This construction moves toward overcoming capitalism (especially in our lands, and especially in the countries of Abya Yala where the native populations today have a significant demographic weight, even though it might be in only one of its regions.

This intercultural dimension must be transverse to all the constitutive dimensions of e-communitarianism, the:

  • Ecological economy without masters;
  • Politics of all (based on direct democracy, with local communal roots);
  • Socially generalized e-communitarian environmental education (in both formal and non-formal education, from the communal and maternal to the University), which includes
  • Sexual education of free and healthy consensual pleasure, overcoming machismo and homophobia, which exist both in native and Western cultures, and, also,
  • Physical education (that promotes non-individualistic-competitive and non-individualistic sports training);
  • Symmetrical communication (that puts in the hands of communities the media today used as instruments of capitalism), and an
  • Aesthetic of liberation (that allows each person to create and enjoy beauty in life, art and human and non-human nature, instead of beauty reduced to the simple consumption of mass pseudo-culture).

For this, a constant dialogue will have to produce a union between what Western culture contributes as theoretical and practical instruments for overcoming capitalism and moving toward e-communitarianism, and the Native, Black and Asian traditions and experiences that have always opposed capitalism in the name of a caring integration between people and respect for Pacha Mama. The latter means (as in the cyclical-spiral view of Time) the renewed and expanded recovery of the original technological-productive practices that reduce, reuse and recycle inputs and waste, and use clean and renewable energy.

With this union, e-communitarianism overcomes both colonial racism, very much alive today in Latin American states, and the inverted racism that tries to renounce the positive contributions for overcoming capitalism made by Western culture and other non-Indian cultures.

Finally, we consider the construction of this union. The Plurinational State, which prior to the coup in Bolivia had begun to be erected (with the defects inevitable in any pioneering trial), is a mirror in which our countries must look at themselves (in order to adapt and correct the union according to each reality), while moving toward the constitution of a supportive and sovereign Abya Yala.  The Abya Yala is then to be lived as a Great Homeland, open to supportive and ecological cooperation with all the peoples of the world. In this context, each community and State will provide each person and family with a frugal “living well” (as required by the third fundamental rule of Ethics), trying to move closer to realization of the principle that reads “from each according to their capacity and to each one according to their need, respecting ecological balance and interculturality”. The Popular Militias will be the instrument of defense of that State against any coup attempt by the racist oligarchy and the Empire.

Translator’s notes:

This article assumes familiarity with the rich culture of Bolivia’s native people. The following notes hint at its deep complexity.

[1] Abya Yala, in the Guna language means “land in its full maturity”, or “land of vital blood”, which suggests a space or territory that comes from the Great Mother.  The Bolivian Aymara leader Takir Mamani says, “placing foreign names on our villages, our cities, and our continents is equivalent to subjecting our identity to the will of our invaders and their heirs.” Thus, use of the term “Abya Yala” rather than “The Americas” or “America” indicates support for indigenous rights. [Sources: Wikipedia; EcoPortal | ABYA YALA, el verdadero nombre de este Continente | ABYA YALA, the true name of this Continent.]

 

[2] The Wiphala is a square emblem commonly used as a flag to represent some native peoples of the Andes, including today’s Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and parts of Argentina, Chile and Colombia. [Source: Wikipedia]

The wiphala represents the complex cosmogony of the peoples of the Tahuantinsuyo [Inca Empire]. It symbolizes two fundamental values of the Andean ethnic groups: the Pachakama, a principle of Universal order, and the Pachamama, which refers to Mother Earth and the cosmos. Everything links to values of solidarity, unity in diversity and community.

The colors of the wiphala come from the rainbow, which refer to the ancestors. Each color carries a specific meaning:

  • Blue: cosmic space and its influence on the earthly world.
  • Yellow: strength and energy, linked to moral principles and values of solidarity.
  • White: time and transformation process that brings intellectual and work growth.
  • Orange: symbol of culture and society, as well as the preservation of the species.
  • Red: represents the planet.
  • Green: economy, linked to land and territory.
  • Violet: political and ideological order of the culture itself.
[Source: Bandera Wiphala (Spanish), in Significados |‘Meanings’ (literary reference tool in Spanish)]

 

[3] Felipe Quispe is an Aymara historian and political leader in Bolivia. His honorific name, Mallku, means “peak” both in geography and in hierarchy; it refers to the spirit of the Andean mountains that surround and protect the People, and therefore is the source of life. [Source: Wikipedia]

 

[4] Qullasuyu (Qulla a people, suyu region, part of a territory) refers to the four regions that formed the “southern region” of the Inca Empire. The Incas annexed most Aymara territories — now largely incorporated into the modern South American states of northern Chile, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia — in the sixteenth century. [Source: Wikipedia]

 

Top image: Wiphala flag against a luminous sky by Haylli (2005). Via Wikimedia Commons:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Waving-wiphala-01.png

Center image: Banner of the Qulla Suyu by Huhsunqu (2006). Viai Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Banner_of_the_Qulla_Suyu.svg