Bolivians in El Alto persist

I wrote about Greenpepper magazine in the context of the “Precariat,” but I didn’t mention a great article in that issue about the social movement in El Alto, a city of 800,000 that controls all the access roads to La Paz in Bolivia… well, yesterday on Narco News there appeared an inspiring account of the past few months’ effort to throw out a French-owned water company Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, the government’s various tactics to halt the popular movement and finally their acquiescence before the patient, militant and dedicated mass mobilization in the city of El Alto.

“…Imagine this place, encircled by snow-capped peaks and and a vast grassy plain, where the people grow potatoes and herd llamas. We are surrounded by red brick houses. The streets and plazas, poor but proud, are populated by these men and women armed only with their own bodies, with nothing holding them together but their own poverty. Many of them, 60 percent, barely survive on two dollars per day. More than half lack potable water and sewage facilities. They are craftspeople, construction workers, bus drivers, domestic servants, street vendors; they are the people of this part of the world, giving lessons in strength with each step they take.”

The prose is a bit purple, but well worth reading. Similar to the story of Cochabamba where the people rose up and threw out Bechtel and its absurd privatization of the water system, now they’ve thrown out the world’s second largest water company, and the government of Bolivia is teetering before an unstoppable revolutionary upsurge… or so it seems. Read it! And send NarcoNews some dough!

One Vast Winter Count

“History is the continuance of the biological evolution of homo sapiens by other means.” So says Eric Hobsbawm in a cogent essay appearing in today’s UK Guardian.
I have been enjoying some long books lately, and just finished another impressive opus, One Vast Winter Count by Colin Galloway (Univ. of Nebraska Press), the first volume of a new History of the American West Series. This book covers the “native american west before Lewis and Clark,” and as you might imagine, it’s really broad and sprawling.
Essentially this book recasts the history of North America in terms of Indian agency, through the prism of specific nations and regions and their own development over hundreds of years.

Galloway is a supple writer, his prose never tires, and though there is a preponderance of detail about hundreds of civilizations, “tribes” and cultures, he manages to keep a certain regional focus present. This helped me read the book through the narratives of New Mexico and the northern edge of the Spanish empire, the Great Lakes and the battles between Iroquois and Huron (actually most of the familiar Indian names are weird bastardizations of European labels, and Galloway provides the “real” self-referential names for dozens and dozens of groups), the movement of the French inland across the lakes, the British through their allies in the Iroquois confederation. But his story is not about the Europeans, it’s about the numerous Indian tribes and their choices with respect to contact, trade, technology, war, agriculture, settlement, land ownership, and more.

Continue reading One Vast Winter Count

Death Squad Summer Camp 2005!

Billmon does a nice job of referencing this heinous new development… we anticipated this as soon as we heard Negroponte was the new “ambassador” to Iraq, and made this back cover to the new Processed World . Concentration camps, death squads, and our pleasant lives go on as though nothing’s wrong…

Nobody reading this can doubt it, but folks, things have gone WAY off the rails here… how long til the war criminals face the music? will they ever?