Este artículo también está disponible en español en el sitio Blogs de Bolivia
Commemorations and anniversaries were on the minds of a handful of Bolivian blogger this week. Twenty-six years ago on July 17th, politician and writer Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz (ES) was kidnapped and murdered by the dictatorship government of Luis Garcia Meza. What he left behind was a legacy of defending the country and his name has been invoked by the recent MAS government. The proposal for the Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz law calls for increased governmental transparency and investigations in the fortunes of past and present public servants. Javier Rodríguez, the blogger at Diario de un Demente Frustrado (ES), provides homage to the man and includes one of his quotes, “No hay peor enemigo que una conciencia culpable.”(There is no worse enemy than a guilty conscious”)
A day earlier in the capital city of La Paz on the 16th of July, it celebrated the anniversary of its independence. Throughout the city, parades, celebrations and various public events took place on the public holiday. However, in Santa Cruz, which is located in the eastern part of the country and is one of the fastest growing cities in Bolivia and the home of many internal migrants, many still celebrated in their own way. The blogger by the name of Ron del Día described his 16th of July in his post “Llegó La Paz a Santa Cruz (ES),” (La Paz Arrives to Santa Cruz) complete with usual events such as hymns, folkloric groups and music, as if he were in La Paz. His entry was tainted by a commenter who chose to use racist and other demeaning language.
Rolando Lopez, a proud Paceño (resident of La Paz) and author of Rocko Weblog (ES) pieced together a homage to his hometown, with colorful descriptions of downtown scenes, as well as the sights and sounds of a famous corridor near the city center.
Mas abajo, en el centro mestizo de La Paz, la catedral de San Francisco es testigo de la unión de lo religioso y lo pagano, en plena calle empinada y empedrada se encuentra “la calle de las brujas”, el refugio alternativo de los médicos dubitativos, las parejas inseguras, los enfermos adoloridos y comerciantes ambiciosos buscan en ella hierbas que le pondrán remedio a sus males, acabarán con sus miedos o harán realidad sus aspiraciones.
La catedral de San Francisco no solo es testigo de la unión entre lo religioso y lo pagano, también es testigo del mestizaje en pleno donde el indio, gringo, blanco, negro y todos buscan el remedio alternativo contra los males o buscan también otros medios para el éxito. Los nombres de las plantas suenan a misterio: tojlolo, huayruru, curucuru, coa, huillca, lampaya, tillicoa, pupusa, tikacoa, entre otras que con ese halo de misterio también van cargadas de poderes ocultos que causan o liberan de lo males. Juntos con las hierbas, los fetos de animales son buenos para la suerte, la salud, el amor y el dinero.
Farther down, in the mestizo center of La Paz, the San Francisco Cathedral is testimony to the union of the religious and the pagan. In the middle of the cobblestone road, one can find the “Witches’ Street,” the alternative refuge of the dubitative doctors, insecure couples, those in pain and ambitious vendors that all look for the herbs that will cure their ills, end their fears or make their dreams come true.
The San Francisco Cathedral is not only a testimony between the religious and the pagan, but also a testimony to the mixture where the Indian, foreigner, white, black and all look for an alternative medicine for the cure. The names of the plants have a mysterious ring: tojlolo, huayruru, curucuru, coa, huillca, lampaya, tillicoa, pupusa, tikacoa , which also have hidden powers that can cause or free them from all ills. In addition to herbs, the animal fetuses are also good for luck, health, love and money.
This seemingly peaceful co-existence between the Roman Catholic Church and traditional pagan beliefs has become a topic of controversy in the debate over education in Bolivia. The government is sending mixed messages whether religious teachings should be eliminated from the public schools. President Evo Morales has self-professed himself to be Roman Catholic and respectful of the church. However, a recent educational congress led by Bolivian Education Minister Felix Patzi (ES) has attracted a lot of criticism, as many of the participants are not directly involved in the educational system of Bolivia and are pushing for the elimination of any religious teachings.
Fabricio Loayza Puch, a Bolivian living in Japan, studied in a Catholic school. Even though the majority of Bolivians are of the Christian faith, he believes that there should be no discrimination or preference of one faith over another. He also fails to see the logic that a state that considers itself pluralistic to be in the business of teaching religion. He also compares the system in Japan, where the majority of Japanese professes one faith, but the schools still do not include any religious teachings. His blog is called El Pit (ES). Martin P. Gutierrez, Vitrina de Realidad Boliviana (ES), wonders about Morales’ rhetoric of “decolonizing” Bolivia’s educational system, coupled with his double-speak about not eliminating religious teachings from the school. “Between these incongruencies, exists the double talk, supporting one idea and at the same time, sending a Minister to do the opposite.” Finally, Bolivia Eclipse’s (ES) Briegel Busch believes that the country would gain a lot by the resignation of Minister Patzi because of this uneven and mixed messages. However, the one bright spot, according to Busch, was when Patzi opposed the Bolivian Foreign Minister’s suggestion that schoolchildren should be given coca leaves for breakfast.