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Bolivian doctors fighting for socialism (5)

By Andre Vltchek (People's Daily Online)

15:18, June 18, 2012

Inside one of the mobile clinics (People's Daily Online/ Andre Vltchek)

Decades ago, Che Guevara died for this country; one of the greatest revolutionaries of all times had fallen alone here, helpless, abandoned and betrayed. But for him not to fight in Bolivia and for Bolivia would have been like not fighting at all; it would have been a thorough hypocrisy. Because it was precisely here– in this cold, inhospitable but endlessly beautiful mountains, in the clay huts of Altiplano, in the hot, humid and predominantly feudal settlements lost in the middle of selva – jungle – that more than 500 years of colonial and post colonial brutality and madness showing its most terrible face had stripped of all humanity and humanism.

This is where Potosi’s veins were opened, this is where she was stripped naked and robbed of everything, her children dying in the mines for the glory of European civilization. The richest city on earth, the city of silver, with its people forced to die likes animals for the Crown, and for the brave and glorious European culture!

The plight of these women was hidden. Many of those journalists who were writing in Bolivia and Peru were paid, directly or indirectly, not to expose the harsh realities of the local people.

Of course there were some sparks of outrage, of fury, like those in the films by Francisco Lombardi, the greatest Peruvian filmmaker. He directed his “La boca del lobo” (‘Wolf’s Mouth’, 1988), depicting the ‘Dirty War’ in the Peruvian Andes, which I had covered and which changed me forever, and the terror the indigenous people had to face. There, he showed a rape of a simple indigenous girl. It was a rape that was not even considered a rape by the soldiers who committed it, because the girl was indigenous – and in the eyes of city folks hardly human. Lombardi shows half-mad soldiers believing they were on the mission to get all local women pregnant.

And then he dared to show the horror of extra judiciary execution, a mass murder of the villagers killed simply for being there, and at the end, he showed a boy called Vitin Luna; a boy who joined the army to serve his country as his father had done in the past. He showed Luna drunk, shattered and disillusioned, suddenly risking his career and his life, challenging the lieutenant who oversaw the rape and the killing to a game of Russian roulette in one of the greatest and most powerful moments in Latin American cinema. Waving the gun, smashing the door of the house in the middle of the night, screaming in the darkness: “Come down, lieutenant! Come down if you really have balls!”

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