Rodrigo’s posts

Threats to Natural Reserves

Freddy could only advise them to return to the illegal 5 meter whole they were extracting the stones from and cover it again. He had to get back to the station to inform his superiors about this issue and wait for further and accurate instructions. Read the rest of this entry »

Kaa Iya National Park and the Yande Yari

This fragile ecosystem holds one of the biggest biodiversity inside Bolivian soil and is also one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. Its vastness covers from highly dry zones to large wetlands which represents the source of life, food and spirituality for the Guaraní-Isoseño people. Read the rest of this entry »

Permaculture in Bolivia

Mr Daniel Arce is one of the most prominent cow breeder in the country, he has not the profile of an alternative mind that is constantly looking to do things contrary to the mainstream; all the opposite. But since two years ago he got in contact with the concept of permaculture and he was amazed by the possibilities and by the simple, yet holistic and complete, process of creating sustainable habitats. Read the rest of this entry »

By the Pilcomayo River

Those days along the Pilcomayo River were all together the hottest days I've survived. I’m really happy that I can be here to write about this. Read the rest of this entry »

To change or not to be: Last Chapter.

As long as we keep on understanding ourselves as individuals in terms of the superficial characteristics that makes us different to each other, instead of conceiving our individual selves in terms of what makes us same and equal, we are bound to be doomed. Read the rest of this entry »

Gardening Lesson 2

We don’t express what we feel because we think that what we think is enough to go by and get what we want. And what we want is destroying the planet and ourselves without us being able to see it and to avoid it. Read the rest of this entry »

Gardening Lesson 1

I will be moving slowly from speaking to gardening and I hope that by the time I am 80 I will only speak beautiful words and say only important and relevant things at the correct moment and with the necessary intention. Read the rest of this entry »

To change or not to be X.1

It depends. If we asked our selves: Lets rise our hands if we want to live in a planet where growing our own food is illegal….
Now, rise our hands if we want to live in a planet where growing our own food is basically the only way to survive…

There was this era when images were ruling the planet, and messages triggered our interests and our attention. A time when crowds of people and milliards of eyes looked back to find a lost message, an image or an idea that gives meaning to life. Then Marketing arose. And the meaning of life came in plastic packages. And all turned segmented and every action became measurable. And all sorts of traditional spontaneous stimuli and usages of commerce and production were first dimmed out-cast, then declared illegal. And soon after any thing any body did started to be exact and predictable, but still nothing really inspired anyone.

In the meantime, the brothers and sisters IX March for the TIPNIS camped in La Paz for over two weeks without being received by the government. Instead they were intimidated, water was thrown to them and tear gas to dissipate the crowd gathered close to the main square. The leaders decided to go back to their communities, as they were categorically rejected by the authorities whom were busier organizing the consultation, the same consultation these walkers and heroes wanted to avoid. Because its illegal, because it should be done years ago before the project was signed, because now the whole process lacks of justice and its evident that the official plans for Bolivia do not take into consideration the voices of those who have been systematically ignored for the last hundreds of years.

Because we don’t really see the difference, we can’t find the relation between a lost dog and a missing child. We need to be inspired. Which in the most basic terms is translated into a more conventional form like – What is there for me? Which might be developed into: What do I expect from my inspiration? or How does the thing should go in order that I can call it an inspiration?

Wrong questions. People who are not dragged by a more collective way of organizing and protecting themselves will have a very bad time sooner or later. That is not an inspiration; it’s just an amateur prophecy of what is going on right now.

But the idea is strong. Rise our hands if we are encouraged enough to do what we do for the good of all living beings?

Are we ready to be changed the way we say we all should change?

To change or not to be 4 – TIPNIS case II

Community means the good for everyone. There is only as much “I” as I can contribute with for the whole. Mine is the responsibility. We are the only thing we have.

When everybody means, everybody counts. And all would be irreplaceable.

As I write know I read that two of the Brother from the IX March of the Indigenous Peoples of the TINIS have died in a car accident. Some more are injured. News did not speak about this. But social networks do. At that point irreversible, unpreventable and sad. Two lives accidentally gone after the whole column of people confronted the menace of a group in Coroico, who threatened the IX March with not letting them stay the night at their premises. But the comrades arrived and passed the night safely in Yolosa, Municipality of Coroico. The next advanced move ahead was interrupted by a night accident that took two lives and injured 7. Some babies.

Before reading the cold news, I was saying that according to some ancient traditions, the way of communitarian life is the way of human organization that is most adaptive and balanced with Nature, as opposed as the “individualistic” way. And I was thinking that when “I” is too important, “we” no longer exists.

The March continued two days after I left it last Saturday. When I got there, I saw the extension next to the road filled with tents and plastics providing shadow and protection from the heavy sun. Every thing was abrupt and exterior. I was no one who wanted to be some one there. I remained aside for a while, taking some photos from the far. Dust and danger were all over the place. As I took the camera of photos out and took some warming up shots, kids from all ages started to gather around me, shouting and pulling the camera strip or my sleeve down. I turned to make pics from them. A sudden stroke of familiarity ran trough my bones for some seconds, but I didn’t feel that sensation again until the last interviews I shot, the morning after, when I could access into some of the people inside the camping site. Then I left, because they were resting.

The key is that constantly and expressively everyone starts thinking in the whole of the community. Not in ourselves. Not in our families or our properties, but the wellness of all beings instead.

The issue here is that for minds like ours this needs a good deal of disposition, meditation and some other available techniques, but for a daughter of a family that has been raised like that for the past six generations, who looks outside and sees and feels that her neighbor and his neighbor also feel and act the same, for her it is all too easy. She doesn’t even need to think about it. She knows. And under that knowledge, there are innumerable things that are western-logical, which she would never even imagine.

This “Returning to the Earth” thing means a lot more than only getting your hands filth with dust and watch some tomatoes grow. It has to do with behavior, has to do with the simplest understanding of how we interact with each other. It has to do with recognizing the distance between us and do our best to shorten it.

Tonight, some of the few that are still defending their life co-existing with Nature are mourning the souls of two community strugglers. They will be named heroes. They are to become signs and flags. They will arrive in front of their community to the streets of La Paz in a few more days.

To change or not to be 3-The TIPNIS case.

A strong but terrifying truth has emerged over a deep discussion we had at Italaque, Bolivia, when I was shooting the music of the Sicuris:

The most irrational actions against our planet have been perpetrated by the supposedly most rational driven countries.

Are we all really aware of this? or Do we still blame the “undeveloped” minds who “keep on failing to understand” the “Western way”?

It’s been already one year that I’m living and reporting from Bolivia. And I have really leaned A LOT! Not only what anyone would have to learn in order to adapt his/her behavior and likes to the new “status quo” of the new culture and society. Even involuntarily, although there is a fair share of willingness from my part, I have been plunged into the magic and depth of the ancient Bolivian worldview. The Andean way of understanding their relationships amongst them, with nature, with cosmos and with all living beings might qualify perfectly to be the exact antithesis of the new-liberal model followed in the west.

Although it is clear that these ideas are rarely seen put in action while in the cities, where life tends to be westernized, modernized… globalized; one only needs to drive a couple of hours outside La Paz and everything will start to become solemn, mystic and very difficult to cope with for a “developed western mind” And please, do not misunderstand me, even local Bolivian people, who have been raised in the cities, who have studied at the college and have had the chance to travel around the world, for them also is close to impossible to completely acquire the logic of the Andean way of thinking. Might be Bolivians and they might have studied from the outside their ancient history and culture, but their minds are westernized. And a western mind will face several big problems to catch the spin when discussing life with one of these grandpas.

So what does this has to do with anything anyway…????

The highway project through the heart of the National Park and Indigenous Territory Isiboro Securé. TIPNIS for short and in Spanish.

As I’m typing now, there are about 1000 people representing 3 of the 36 indigenous original nations that are present in the Bolivian territory, marching towards La Paz. They come from Trinidad, the capital city of the department (state) of Beni, in the west Amazon side of the country. They have been walking for more than one month and they will make a total distance of more than 800 km to reach La Paz. They demand that the highway project that is aiming to cross the heart of their territory is aborted. They are not demanding that no highway should be built, they only ask the highway doesn’t cross and divide their ancient and sacred land.

The paradox here is that the main pusher of this project is the President of the Pluri-national State of Bolivia. Who is himself indigenous. He is Aymara, the biggest original nation from those 36 present in Bolivia.

The whole issue is super complex and very difficult to brake down here. It has a deep political component, international commerce and economics involved, there is an actual historical debt and conflict among the different original nations, there is this progressive concept of the pluri-national state that hasn’t yet reach its complete implementation, and so on and so on. But for our interests, I will focus on two basic notions that are at stake here: Civil and indigenous peoples rights and the nature rights, all recognized by UNESCO and signed by a large bunch of countries, including Bolivia, which by the way was one of the strongest promoter of these international agreements.

So after some difficulties to find a way in that is reliable, next week I’m finally going into the march. I will walk along with this people and will learn for me and for you what they really want, what idea of progress and development they have in mind, why they reject the only development model the rest of the world knows, what is, again, their relationship with nature, how they live and how they want to live in the near future. And some more issues regarding the historical confrontation between development and sustainability.

Why now?

Lots of highways have been built over the last century in Latin America (only to be specific), and lots of them have displace lots of peoples from their original territories. Not only highways have been built, but also oil and mineral reserves have been sold to foreign exploitation companies with the same displacement of complete towns away from their ancestors lands and obliged them to find a new place and a new way to live. All in the name of progress and development. The thing here is that today, as never before, the information runs over parallel channels and the rest of the world can access a wider truth. We are no longer confined to the official media that hides uncomfortable facts to suit those in power. So maybe today there is a slight chance to change and correct the course of our development.

This TIPNIS highway project is, at this precise moment, the perfect example of what has been going on in our planet since the colonial era, going through the western industrial revolution and ending up with new-liberal globalization of our times.