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Bolivian doctors fighting for socialism (4)

By Andre Vltchek (People's Daily Online)

15:18, June 18, 2012

National medical programs (People's Daily Online/ Andre Vltchek)

Then I recalled one of the greatest novels ever written -The Plague(La Peste) - of Albert Camus, and the unforgettable phrase “And unable to become saints, they became doctors”. I thought about the main character, a simple doctor named Bernard Rieux, who when the plague began ravishing the Algerian city of Oran, stood against unimaginable horror and destruction, and against all odds fought the illness with all his knowledge and might, losing his wife, losing everybody he loved in the process, but at the end winning the battle and saving his city. As I watched the doctors working in the center of Cochabamba, it was evident that they, as was Dr Rieux in The Plagu,e were not only fighting diseases, they were fighting fascism! In Cochabamba and in Oran, they were struggling for the entire humanity.

Then I looked around some more. I realized that I knew these women well. I had covered the civil war in neighboring Peru for more than a year in the 90s, I had driven through Bolivia - this poorest country of South America - from North to South, and from East to West so many times I could not even count. They were always ‘there’, these women in colorful dresses and black hats - silently watching, standing by the side of the roads, selling fresh fruits and cheap imported goods on the sidewalks: the indigenous women of Peru, of Ecuador, of Bolivia.

The women of Altiplano used to appear to me as some incarnation of pain and stoicism, of a once tremendous and now destroyed culture, of hopelessness and the miraculous ability of human beings to survive the worst that life can serve on its dirty and cracked plates.

In the past, I always tried to avoid their eyes, because I felt shame and because I did not know how to help them. In Bolivia, for decades, a revolution had been postponed indefinitely. The country was silently bleeding, governed by shameless and Euro-centric elites. It was a man’s world, but in which, even the men – or more precisely their great majority, were going through a dehumanizing and constant humiliation. A decisive revolution appeared to be the only act capable of offering some hope; capable of overthrowing the feudal fascist system.

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