NCCR North-South Dialogue No. 50

by Monika Hess, Sabino Ruiz Flores
Bern, NCCR North-South 2014

Seven years after the coming to power of the first indigenous president in Bolivia, Evo Morales, this study looks at indigenous peasant rganisations’ strategies, expectations and visions based on their aspiration to pursue local-level development for the grassroots. We explore how indigenous peasant organisations’ influence on the state at the national, departmental and municipal level has increased the leverage of the marginalized rural population’s concerns. In our case study region, the North of Potosí, we listened to what organisation leaders and grassroots people had to say about their expectations of “development” and “vivir bien” and their experience of the process of change, with a specific focus on the interplay between the grassroots, indigenous peasant organisations and the state. Insights indicate that among the indigenous peasant population, the coming to power of “their” president has spread a new sense of being recognized by the state. However, there is disappointment and growing disillusionment with the limitations of the processes in addressing material needs in the comunidades. While there have been some improvements in housing, education, health, or water supply, people affirm that life in the comunidades has not improved, basically because of lack of support for production. This lack, in turn, emerges less from peasant movements’ political visions than from multiple and interwoven problems such as competition between the movements, challenges faced by representatives who are now part of a local administration, and the persistence of complex bureaucratic regulations and procedures.

Hess M, Ruiz Flores S. 2014. Searching for the ‘True Process of Change’: Consent and Discord Among Indigenous Peasant Movements in Northern Potosí, Bolivia. NCCR North-South Dialogue No 50. Bern, Switzerland: NCCR North-South.


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