It was a great honor to be invited to participate in the III Indigenous Communications Summit in Bolivia this past 15-19 of November. More concretely, I was invited to be a part of a motivational panel called “Alternatives from the peoples, concrete paths to strengthen resistance and autonomies from indigenous communications.” I don’t think having done this grants me with any kind of special legitimacy in attempting to contribute to the largely sad circumstances in which the Summit took place.
The clearest of which was the evidently open political, strategic, and even human fissures between participating organizations. I stress that it is sad, for these circumstances will cause some practical weaknesses for the indigenous communications processes in all of Abya Yala for a somewhat long time; but also to the global processes of demanding and exercising all of the rights that belong to the peoples of that continental territory and more specifically the process of transformations in Bolivia. Whether we agree or profoundly disagree with the defeatists of all of these processes, I believe we can agree that what took place at the Summit debilitates them in one way or another.
I reiterate that I do not consider that legitimacy as automatically granted by the fact of having participated in this great meeting of the indigenous communications processes (over 1700 participants from 23 countries). However, I do believe that the participation, and the result of the ample preparatory process of the last two years, grants a possible right and validity to the contribution that I now pretend to make. At least, that is the intention.
Let’s be clear and honest. In any political phase, circumstance, or moment, not everything will be white or everything black; to the contrary, the grey spectrum is enormous and tends to be the dominant one in every political occurrence. Following the end of the 3rd Summit there have been numerous articles, declarations, or simple comments published in the Bolivian press and specially on social media. In the first of these with the dominant intention of wearing away the government of that country. And on social media with the objective of feeding all kinds of doubts about the Summit itself. And social media is being used en masse for this purpose.
These are the networks that prove to be more and more useful every day for communication and denouncements, but are possibly not that valid for the construction of proposals and alternatives, much less for serene discussions and argumentation. Furthermore, it is becoming more common that these networks are used as weapons to use against opponents (which we sometimes confuse with our brothers and sisters) and which we idealize as opinion trends to praise our own positions in contrast to those offered by friends who respond to what we share through these platforms.
This is how the diversity of texts about the Summit are being read. The majority have not had an analytical or argumentative intention to identify errors and successes to thus strengthen the political and communicational processes. Instead they are used to confront and enlist complaints, exclusively disqualifying, that mainly pretend to reinforce previous positions.
The possibility of being convinced – or revising and questioning our perspective after reading others’ - is prematurely eliminated. It’s not necessary to underscore what a disfavor we are doing for the construction of the story, to the act of reflecting, and to the agreements that are needed to advance towards the needed unity from diversity. At the end of the day, we already have strong and unified enemies and do not need to be creating more adversaries amongst us, which only weakens our efforts and struggles in favor of the system and dominating powers.
At the 3rd Summit some people argued that there was an excessive presence of the government which manipulated and appropriated the Summit in detriment to the autonomy of the peoples. Others, instead, argued for the particular characteristics of the Bolivarian process which favor social organizations and their protagonism, accusing the former of not respecting the process and working to make the summit little more than a popular anti-government act. I won’t pretend to be in the center of these positions as that would be tremendously difficult, but it does seem necessary to abstract ourselves a bit from these situations and give them their rightful importance within the political discussion.
It is feasible that both sides were largely correct and have reasonable political basis. It surely both sides also hide, between the lines, less noble and more petty reasons for those position such as aspirations to political leadership, the absolute dominance over their own narrative and even personal ambition. We must also add to this the lack of listening that occurred and misunderstandings that helped to augment the break that was opening in those days and that concluded in everything we have already read on social media. All this is grave, but we are calm; this is unfortunately not exclusive to the political event of the Summit, but is characteristic of an entire struggle which at times arises and is vital to defeat so that we can move along.
Nonetheless, if we are able to and want to recognize it in an exercise of auto-criticism, folks were not as supportive of the government line and manipulative as claimed and the others were not as autonomist or believed they possessed the only truth in respect to the authentic struggles of the peoples.
The fortunate truth lies on the hand that the elements that coincide between this side and the other continue to reside within them even if they don’t want to see each other at the moment. On the other hand, the truth lies in the inexhaustible dialogue and consensus that indigenous peoples have always sought to have until we could do so no longer. And as the Summit had as its goal to advance in decolonization and depatriarchalization, we men should recognize (necessary auto-criticism) that an important doses of “macho”, patriarchy, took place and that the conflict resolution of our compañeras (who tend to work towards conflict resolution and not deepening), if it had played a more protagonistic role, surely there would have been valuable contributions and an important possibility for consensus.
In summary, the title of this short writing (which is grand in intention) is a call to reflect and recognize the other, of the organization which was at the forefront, which was doing the impossible to strengthen the process of our own communications within the content and perhaps did not wish to understand itself as doing so. This cannot happen right now, as there is still a lot of resentment and pseudo-analysis. But it is a necessary process in the medium and long term; when the well cools down and we can review, once again, the objectives of the struggles that unite us and the abundance of enemies and blockages that the dominant system creates for us day after day in their dominant ambition.
The continent, Abya Yala, is once more surrounded, almost cornered, by the system, and this time it desires vengeance. The indigenous peoples, each in their own circumstances within their territory and nation-state have advanced enormously in the last decades, but have done so from the recognition that the diversity of struggles and circumstances is great and makes our path harder, but this same diversity is of great value for the achievement of our goal of liberation and self-determination.
I reiterate what I pointed out at the beginning of the text, the legitimacy of the piece may be rejected, but this is not meant to be a lesson for anyone. The text is born form the absolute respect for the sovereignty of all the organizations and peoples and only wishes, from a solidary and political commitment, to call on necessary reflection to strengthen the particular processes (communicational) and global processes (social and political) of the indigenous peoples of Abya Yala.
Jesus González Pazos. Mugarik Gabe. 2016/12/01