Bolivia: Anarchy in the Andes

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Sociopolitical Documentary hosted by Hamida Ghafour and published by Channel 4 broadcasted as part of CH4 Unreported World series in 2007 - English narration

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Image: Bolivia-Anarchy-in-the-Andes-Cover.jpg

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Hamida Ghafour finds that President Evo Morales's policy of land reform in favour of the indigenous people has led to confrontation with the land barons.

Bolivia's indigenous peoples are exercising political power for the first time since the Spanish conquest, following the election of President Evo Morales. But his pledge to redistribute land and resources in a country where seven percent of the population own ninety per cent of the land has rapidly led to confrontation between whites and indigenous groups.

Reporter Hamida Ghafour and producer Ed Watts begin their journey in Cochabamba, the centre of the country and the dividing line behind the two competing cultures: white descendants of Spanish colonialists and indigenous Bolivian tribes.

More than 2,000 police officers and soldiers are stationed in the town following a demonstration by indigenous groups against the regional governor alleged to be biased against them. One local claims that a peaceful protest turned into a street battle when police allowed white militants to descend on the demonstrators. An indigenous farmer was killed and a white teenager strangled, slashed with machete and then left hanging in the street.

The team visit the teenager's family. They tell Ghafour that the whole family were out on the streets because they were angry that so many indigenous people were marching through their city. They say that the President is only interested in looking after the indigenous peoples and is dividing the country in two.

Ghafour and Watts move on to El Alto, the slum district of La Paz which is home to 800,000 indigenous Bolivians and a power base for President Morales. Javier Limanche, President of the Residents' Association tells them that now the indigenous groups finally have power they want their share of the country's natural resources. And he threatens violence if the whites who control these resources stand in their way. The foreigners - as he calls them - will have to be kicked out of the country.

This is no idle threat. In Achicaci, the team meet members of the Ponchos Rojos - the armed wing of the indigenous revolutionary movement. Their leader Roberto de Quespe says that he can call on 90,000 members to defend the rights of the indigenous people against their white oppressors.

To get the other side of the story, the team travel to Santa Cruz, and the centre of the country's oil and gas reserves. Ghafour attends a meeting of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, a powerful political movement backed by landowners and business leaders. Their newly elected leader tells Unreported World that the people of Santa Cruz want more control over the money and resources their region produces. The movement claims to be peaceful, but Ghafour finds that a quasi-fascist movement blamed for attacks on local indigenous people is based in the same offices. A human rights activist, Dr Aldaberto Rojas, claims that the big landowners in Santa Cruz are arming themselves, hiring mercenaries and trying to provoke a civil war.

Back in the old capital, Sucre, a constituent assembly is attempting to write a new constitution for the country. But after six months, the two ethnic groups have been unable to agree on a single article. As Ghafour and Watts leave the country, it's unclear what will happen next, but the most likely outcome is yet more suffering for the poorest members of society.

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Image: Bolivia-Anarchy-in-the-Andes-Screen0.jpg

[edit] Technical Specs

Video Codec: XVID
Video Bitrate: 872 kbps
Video Resolution: 640x352
Video Aspect Ratio: 1.818:1
Frames Per Second: 25.000
Audio Codec: MP3
Audio Bitrate: 133kb/s VBR 48000 Hz
Audio Languages: English
RunTime: 24 mins
Number Of Parts: 1
Part Size: 174MB
Subtitles: NO

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