Bolivian Secession


Some Indian villages are driving out the central government in Bolivia, according to this Los Angeles Times report (as reprinted in the no-reg Florida Sun-Sentinel:

The police won't return to this village in the Andes unless the peasants promise not to throw rocks at them.

The peasants rose up and chased the police out months ago, along with the local representative of the provincial government, the judges and even the army. The authorities fled Sept. 20 in the face of a crowd of Aymara Indians armed with little more than sticks and stones and moved by centuries of pent-up frustration.

Since the uprising, this corner of Bolivia, where the dry altiplano, a high plateau, around Lake Titicaca meets lush tropical mountains, has become a kind of an Indian liberated zone.

"Before, they were the bosses. They made us work, they would run everything," said Felix Puna Mamani, a resident of the neighboring village of Viacha, referring to the people of European descent who have dominated Bolivia since the 16th century Spanish conquest. "But people realize what's going on now. It's not like it was before."

As many as 1.5 million people, almost a fifth of the nation's population, live in areas where indigenous authorities have replaced some government functions, said Alvaro Garc?a Linera, a university professor in La Paz who has studied the popular movements of the two main indigenous groups, the Aymara and the Quechua.

"Since 2000, we have seen an enormous, continual uprising of indigenous people, with a strong element of Indian nationalism," Garc?a Linera said. "In many places, the institutions of the Republic of Bolivia have begun to fade away."