Bolivia, a Second Evangelization by Blood and Fire

Ollantay Itzamná
https://ollantayitzamna.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/segunda-evangelizaciocc81n-en-bolivia.jpg?w=640&h=427Police with crucifix in hand go out to repress in Bolivia

“Bolivia for Christ. Never again will Pachamama return to the Palace”, was the triumphalist sentence of Luis Camacho (one of the main visible local actors of the civic-Christian-military coup d’état) when he imposed the Bible on the Bolivian Creole flag in the hall of the Government Palace, in the city of La Paz, on November 10.

The promising continuous 14-year government of grassroots movements, headed by Evo Morales, was one of the most prominent endeavors of the symbolic self-emancipation of indigenous peoples in Abya Yala throughout this time. In no (Christian Creole) Republic had (indigenous) NON-citizens undertaken such a daring venture. Much less with the enviable results. That is something they feel strongly about.

From the ritual perspective, what bothered the Catholic and evangelical hierarchs most, from 20/01/2006 to 10/11/2019, was the incorporation of indigenous symbols, rites and iconographies in the Government Palace, “ignoring” the ritual and religious services of Catholic Christianity. This daring involved the loss of the privileges of religious hierarchies.

The U.S. government, and its local Bolivian accomplices, at different times tried to defend the “heretical” indigenous government of Morales, but did not succeed. Until they resorted (perhaps by historical intuition) to the most effective instrument of the first invasion/colonization: the Bible and its Christ.

We and they know that indigenous resistance to the European invasion was “subdued” not by firearms and horses, but by the Bible and doctrinarians. Since then, Spaniards and Creoles imposed themselves on the Indians, installing in their minds “sacred” iconographies with European physiognomies. Imposing ethical “values” such as meekness, obedience, humility. And censoring rebellion and liberation.

A brief and immediate synchronic approach to the public acts of the process of civic, Christian and military coup d’état is the constant use of evangelical Christian symbols, gestures and oracles. Religious leaders asking for the resignation of the indigenous ruler in the name of Christ.

Exaltation, bible in hand, cívic, military and poliíce kneeling on the ground, adoring the unknown God. Shouts of joy for “victory” in the name of Christ.

During and after the coup d’état, murders and massacres were committed in the name of the Bible and Christ. Selective persecution, public torture and denigration of the leaders and public officials of the “heretic” government.

The entire process of the civil-Christian-military coup was inspired and legitimized by the collective conviction: “This is what God wants for Bolivia”. There is a collective and individual awareness on the part of the coup plotters and the current dictatorship: “God has sent us to Bolivia to evangelize for the second time. For the first evangelization (XVI-XX century) failed to allow the “resurgence of the plebeian indigenous power in Bolivia”.

This second evangelization, to resubmit the indigenous people to the “power” of the Bible and their Christ, is as bloody as the first evangelization. Now, in less than a week, more than 20 indigenous people have been shot and killed in public events. They do so with full conviction and fidelity to God’s will, because they believe they are “persuading”, “teaching” indigenous heretics to never again dare to challenge the “Almighty”.

These Christian coup plotters, crazed by their false consciousness of being “heralds of Christ “, were never able, nor will they ever be able, to subdue us, neither with invasions, nor with coups d’état. They can continue to use their guns, their Bible, their Christ, but they will always have Our repudiation.

Neither with the sword, nor with the Bible, nor with their Christ, could they subjugate us throughout more than five centuries of permanent colonization. Nor will they be able to do so. What humiliates them most is that they cannot defeat us democratically at the polls. Therefore they resort to weapons, their God and their Bible to “legitimize” themselves in power and try to evangelize (humiliate) us for the second time.

Unlike the first bloody evangelization, evangelizers now have neither spiritual/moral hegemony, nor political/military hegemony, much less control of truth or communication. A situation that makes its mission more difficult.

Our constant task is to use our own symbols as well as Christian themes to advance our self-emancipatory commitment as peoples. We are not only engaged in an unequal political-military struggle (between patrons and subordinates), but in an unequal “sacred” war (between the children of God and the children of the Earth), but in different conditions.

Translation by Internationalist 360º