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Bolivian doctors fighting for socialism (7)

By Andre Vltchek (People's Daily Online)

15:18, June 18, 2012

Government teaching about nutrition (People's Daily Online/ Andre Vltchek)

The music erupted. Many women spontaneously moved towards its source; the provisory stage. Until then, most of them had known only hard work; they had no opportunity to learn how to dance, but they wanted to be included, they wanted to live. They moved their feet clumsily, they smiled apologetically, and they kept trying and trying to dance. Some outsiders may have found their movements ridiculous, but here, nobody was laughing. It was their square, their city and their country. They were testing and tasting the first steps of their own hard earned freedom, not the freedom prefabricated and pushed down the throats by the West.

For some of them, their new life was starting at the age of 18 or even sooner, but many were well into their 60s. It did not seem to matter much. They were all learning how to walk, how to take the first steps – the steps of the people who suddenly realized that the country and the society in which they lived now actually belonged to them, and not the other way around.

I travelled throughout the country and I heard the voices of those in favor as well as those who were against the revolution, as I did earlier in Venezuela and elsewhere. I spoke to the medics who were throwing red paint on their clothes, opposing the reforms introduced by the government. I spoke to those who were deeply involved in the protest against the new highway that was being carved through the jungle.

I disagreed with the protesters, because many were using the indigenous card for their own commercial and political interests, or more precisely the opposing local media and international media were using these cards. It was also clear that there were striking similarities between the protests that were antagonistic to progressive changes in today’s Bolivia and the protests that have been rocking Venezuela since Chavez became the President, as well as in Allende’s Chile before the US-sponsored military coup on 9-11-1973. Many of those protests were orchestrated and sponsored by the right wing and by those who, as Eduardo Galeano once said to me, “were paid by somebody, but would not tell by whom”.

I do not want to go to the details of my investigation –the details are disturbing, often appalling. In this essay I am simply offering a glimpse to those few moments that I lived on one of the squares of Cochabamba - the moments that by their simplicity and epic beauty made me, once again, refuse impartiality. After those few moments, in my own way I joined ‘the Process’, offering my full support to the Bolivian revolution of Evo Morales.

As I was leaving Cochabamba for La Paz, a military transport BAE-146 jet encountered great difficulties gaining altitude. It was obviously overloaded and taking off at great altitude, its four engines seemed to be roaring in vain, unable to pull the airplane up. After the takeoff, it had frozen at extremely low height, almost licking the roofs of the houses. The mountains were directly in front of us and I knew enough about flying to realize that either we would be managing to go up or we would crash. I was clearly aware of the fact that if the plane would make an attempt to make a turn to avoid the mountain range, it would slide to the side and lose the altitude sharply, as it was flying too slowly through the air that was too thin at this altitude.

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