Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bolivia in Peril?

We had just finished our evening meal, and stepped out of the community dining room to be greeted with the sounds of bass drums pounding, the earthy sounds of Andean flutes tonally whistling, and young voices chanting. Intrigued, we followed the sounds to the sparse town square, little more than a few benches and palm trees. There, we saw Bolivian adolescents, accompanied by younger siblings, practicing native dances and songs. They marched and sang and practiced as a group.

What struck me, as a parent and former Brookside Soccer coach, was the utter absence of supervision. Nobody was there to yell at Carlos for a missed step, or to correct Juan's drum line. This was obviously something that had been passed down from generation to generation, and, while the teenagers were perfecting their dance, the 6-year-olds running alongside in the town square were soaking up the rhythm and the dance steps, so that they would be able to carry it on in a few years. We stood on the side of the square, enthralled, watching an activity that stretched back generations.

I was struck by the innocence and the history. These kids weren't learning new ways of making out from MTV or drinking Natty Light in a pick-up truck. They were out, by themselves, perfecting a dance their parents had done, and, God willing, their children will do.

But maybe not. Today, Bolivians went to the polls, and what they did there may have angered a powerful nation that has demonstrated that it is willing to wage wars of aggression.

Evo Morales appears to have won the popular vote, and may be elected by the Congress to be President. Evo believes that socialistic policies could help his people, and he objects to the United States' efforts to eradicate the cultivation of coca leaf.

Coca is the base ingredient of cocaine. It is also a beneficial crop in Bolivia. I myself, a taxpaying, upstanding, tie-wearing member of American society, drank coca tea every morning I was in Bolivia, to help me avoid altitude sickness and work to make schoolrooms. It's true that Americans have developed sophisticated means of misusing this traditional crop, but it's also true that coca leaves have been a part of Bolivian culture for generations - far more generations than the D.A.R. families of Virginia can claim for their cancerous weed. Imagine if Bolivia were demanding the eradication of tobacco in America because Bolivians could not control their use of the weed your tax dollars go to support . . .

But America has a problem with coca, and so we must interfere with someone else's culture.

And, to make it worse, Bolivia sits atop of a massive bounty of natural gas. Enough natural gas to expose ANWAR for the petrochemical chump change it really is. Enough natural gas to expose Bolivia to the unwholesome attention of people who are the property of companies like Halliburton. People like Bush and Cheney.

Will another generation practice its dances in the town square? Will the little brothers and sisters I saw running beside the dancers get their opportunity to participate?

Or will we Americans feel the need to put boots into that town square?


Blogger Brahm said...

is there anywhere in the USA/Canada that we can get Coca leaf tea?

7/11/2006 2:06 PM  

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