Saturday, February 6, 2010

Potosi, Sucre, Uyuni...

"Only ghosts of old wealth haunt Potosi & Sucre" - Eduardo Galeano p. 36 Open Veins of Latin America

Potosi yielded colonial charm. The buildings had defied the ravages of age. If anything they had become more aesthetically apealing. The strong faces of stone, brushed with earthern colours, where the wide jaws of windows jutted out above our heads. The subtle curls of smoke, like morning breath, flowing from chimneys. All this overlapping of concrete, suggested a desperate lack of space. Yet the wholeness of the sky and the impending mountains proved this image to be illusory.

To the ordinary traveller who sought cheap beer and glossy surfaces, it was a paradise, reminiscent of European glamour. However, if you looked through the reflections, a different reality bore its teeth. The glossy facades of colonialism were cracking like carelessly applied make-up. Walking the streets in the drowsiness of dawn we saw the stoic faces of Potosi, still breathing after centuries of Hispanic opression. Before the world had stirred from its slumber, this long string of faces, wrapped in coloured blankets, awaited charity. The cracked hands of bread and mate (tea). Huddling beneath the overhang of roofs to escape the rain. It was an image of incongruency. How could such poverty exist in this epicentre of colonial wealth? If you glanced at the Cerros, you understood...
The mines bore down on the city like a broken tooth smile. A maze of dust and machinery that swallowed all consciousness. It is these silver and tin extraction pits that are the cause of Indigenous poverty in Potosi. Whilst the Spanish and other colonial powers profited off the resourses, over 8 million Indigenous workers were condemned to early deaths.

Being in Potosi merely reinforced my awarness that the struggles of Indienous peoples worldwide are the same. Barrack Gold, Rio Tinto.... We gotta stop these fuckers before its too late!!!!