Bolivia Fights Back

When Tupac Katari, the Aymara leader of an 18th century anti-colonial insurrection, was condemned to death by Spanish colonialists, he prophesized: “I may die alone, but I will return and I will be millions.” Some Bolivians consider the indigenous-led rebellions of 2000-2003 to be a fulfillment of that prophecy Katari's words resonated most forcefully in October 2003 when the country's predominantly indigenous social movements converged in mass mobilizations, breathtaking in their scale and determination, to transform the country's political landscape. Bolivia's past-its histories, official and suppressed-are tangibly present in the current efforts of Bolivians to command their future. “Today, these histories explode with a fury accumulated over centuries,” observes one of our authors, recounting the oppressive bonds that Bolivians now strain to break.