David-Choquehuanca
Steve Brett

Steve Brett

Steve is the co-founder of 3rd Space.

David Choquehuanca – A New Pachakuti in Bolivia

As we enter 2021 there are heartening signs to be found, if we can look below the surface. Only barely registered in global mainstream media, filtering quietly beneath the swirling crisis of Covid 19, and the grinding register of politics as usual, Teutonic plates are shifting.  Here we find a different voice, an old voice, quietly reconstituting itself after millennia of oppression and exile to the margins, reaching once again deep into the roots of the earth and the heavens, to meet the mighty challenge of the task ahead—the decolonisation of the world. This is one such voice, that of David Choquehuanca, leader of Pacto de Unidad, representing indigenous, native and peasant peoples in the Movimiento al Socialism’s (MAS) binomial, in Bolivia:  

“Today Bolivia and the world is experiencing a transition that repeats itself every 2000 years, as part of the cyclical concept of time. We go from timelessness to time, giving rise to a new dawn, a new Pachakuti in our history; a new sun and a new expression in the language of life, where empathy for the other or the collective good replaces egotistical individualism.”

The notion of dialogue and reciprocation has a long history in the western world, although it is hard to see evidence of it today. In the era of culture wars, cancel culture, ideological warfare, identity politics and super-subjectification, accessing the space for cultivating curiosity, dialogue and reciprocation has never seemed less accessible, and more important. Our attention in the western hemisphere has been captured by a hyperreal present, removed from any understanding of time that includes the past and the future, of everything that has come before, as inseparable from who we are. In other civilizational ontologies, such as in Asia, South America and Africa, what has come before is never lost sight of. This is not about dogmatic ideas to uphold, but recognition and respect for our intimate interconnectivity with the past, and for the interpenetrating wisdom and experience that comes with age, and with our inseparability from the natural world.

What is essential in dialogue and reciprocation with the ‘other’ is the shared experience of the ‘space’ in which dialogue is taking place. In Sanskrit this space is called akasha. It is one of, and the most subtle of, the five elements in India. Every ‘thing’ exists and arises out of this space. This space is on one hand, a non-differential and unified space, and yet, simultaneously, being connected to this space allows difference to freely be. In this space past, present and future are contained in something that we have entirely lost sight of in the modern world: eternity.

It is only in the experience of the eternal that we find the capacity to think in curiousity. When we meet in curiousity, all things become possible, because we are aligned with the mystery of creation itself. The understanding of time in other civilisations, where the present does not exist apart from the past and future, is an understanding that allows a natural connection to the eternal. Perhaps this was a universal human understanding at one time before Christianity and the Age of Reason dominated the world. Even after the success of Christian prostelisation following colonialism, indigenous cultures have managed to an extent to reconstitute Christianity within their own ontology, within a living whole. Perhaps it is only now, in our devastated era, that the lost voice of the eternal will be heard and recognised once again.

“The idea of ​​the encounter between spirit and matter, heaven and earth, of Pachamama and Pachakama, allows us to think that a new woman and man can heal humanity, the planet and the beautiful life that it harbours and restore the beauty of our Mother Earth. We will defend the sacred treasures of our culture from all interference. We will defend our peoples, our natural resources, our freedoms and our rights.”  David Choquehuanca, December 1st 2020.      

Steve Brett

Steve Brett

Steve is the co-founder of 3rd Space.

December 1st, 2020

After a decade as Chancellor of Evo Morales, David Choquehuanca was the leader chosen by the Pacto de Unidad to represent indigenous, native and peasant peoples in the Movimiento al Socialism’s (MAS) binomial. Following the victory by 55% of the votes, in his speech, the Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia called for reconciliation and dialogue among the Bolivian people. Regarded as a wise Aymara, for his knowledge of the worldview of “Vivir Bien” (Living Well), he called upon the indigenous peoples of Abya Yala, to the complementarity of the Chacha-Warmi and to the Andean solidarity of the Ayni.

With the permission of our Gods, our older siblings and our Pachamama, our ancestors, our achachilas spirits, with permission of our Patujú, our rainbow and our sacred coca leaf. With the permission of our peoples, with the permission of all those present or not in this chamber. Today I’d like to take a few minutes to share our thoughts. Our duty to communicate, the duty to dialogue, is a principle of living well.

The peoples of millennial-old cultures, through the culture of life, we maintain our origins since the dawn of time. As their children we have inherited a millennial-old culture that understands that everything is interrelated, that nothing is divided and that nothing is on the outside. Because of this, we are told to continue together, that no one stays behind, that we all have everything and that no one lacks anything.

And that the wellbeing of all, is our own personal wellbeing, that to help is a reason to grow and be happy, that to resign for the benefit of the other makes us feel strengthened. That to unite and recognize ourselves in the whole is the path of yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever, a path from which we have never strayed.

The ayni, the minka, the tama, the tumpa, our colka and other codes of millenary cultures are the essence of our life, of our ayllu. Ayllu is not only a societal organization of human beings, ayllu is a system of organization of life, of all beings, of all that exists, of all that flows in equilibrium on our planet or Mother Earth.

For centuries, the civilizing standards of Abya Yala were disintegrated, given new semantic meaning and many of them, exterminated. Indigenous thought was systematically suppressed by colonial thought.

But they didn’t manage to extinguish us. We are alive, we are from Tiwanacu, we are strong, we are like stone, we are kala wawa, we are cholke, we are sinchi, we are rumy, we are jenecherú, a fire that can’t be put out. We are from Samaipata, we are jaguar, we are Katari, we are aínos, we are mauríes, we are comanches, we are Mayans, we are guarani, we are mapuchesmojeños, we are aymaras, we are quechuas, we are jopis, and we are all the peoples of the culture of life that awaken our larama, Iaramaas in rebellious with wisdom.

Previously invested in his position, Choquehuanca took the oath of President Luis Arce. Photo: Vice presidency.

Today Bolivia and the world is experiencing a transition that repeats itself every 2000 years, as part of the cyclical concept of time. We go from timelessness to time, giving rise to a new dawn, a new Pachakuti in our history. A new sun and a new expression in the language of life, where empathy for the other or the collective good replaces egotistical individualism. Where we Bolivians view ourselves as equals and know we are worth more together. We are in times of returning to Jiwasa. I am not I, we are us.

Jiwasa is the death of egocentrism. Jiwasa is the death of anthropocentrism and of Eurocentrism. We are returning to being Iyambae. Yyambae is a code protected by our guarani brothers and Jambae means a person without an owner. No one in this world must view themselves as the owner of anyone and anything.

Since 2006, we have begun the arduous task in Bolivia of connecting our individual and collective roots, to return to being ourselves, return to our centre, to the taypi, to the pacha, the equilibrium from the wisdom of one of the most important civilizations of our planet emerges.

We are in the midst of a process of recovering our knowledge, the cultural codes of life, the civilizing standards of a society that once lived intimately connected with the cosmos, with the world, with nature and with individual and collective life, to build our sumak kamaña, of our aillincausay, of our symajakalle, which is to guarantee the individual wellbeing as well as that of our collective or community.

También, Arce y Choquehuanca participaron de una ceremonia a cargo de chamanes aymaras en Tiwanaku. Photo: Vice presidency.

We are recovering our identity, our cultural roots, our sake. We have a cultural rooting, we have a philosophy, a history, we have everything. We are people and we have rights.

One of the unwavering standards of our civilization, is the inherited wisdom surrounding the Pacha. To guarantee balance at all times and in all spaces means understanding how to administrate all complementary energies; the cosmic one that comes from heaven, with the earth that emerges from below the ground. These two cosmic and telluric forces interact to create what we call life, visible as a totality in Pachamama and the spiritual Pachakama.

By understanding life in terms of energy, we have the possibility to change the course of our history, seeing matter and life as the convergence of the forces of chachawarmi, when referring to how opposites complement each other.

This new age that we are beginning will be upheld by the energy of the ayllu, the community, consensus, horizontality, complementary balances and the common good.

Historically, revolution is understood as a political act to change a social structure, thereby transforming the life of the individual. No revolution has ever succeeded in changing the conservation of power in order to keep control of its people. The nature of power was not changed, but instead power distorted the minds of politicians. Power can corrupt, and it is very difficult to change the nature of power and its institutions, but it is a challenge which we take upon ourselves with the wisdom of our peoples. Our revolution is the revolution of ideas, it is the revolution of balance. Because we are convinced that in order to transform a society, the government, bureaucracy, laws and the political system, we must first and foremost change as individuals.

We are going to encourage oppositional agreements to find solutions between the right and the left, between the rebellion of the youth and the wisdom of the elders, between the limits of science and relentless nature, between creative minorities and traditional majorities, between the sick and the healthy, between the governors and those governed, between the cult of leadership and the gift of serving others.

The traditional ceremony in the pre-Inca religious complex of Tiwanaku was initiated in 2006 by former President Evo Morales. Photo: Vice presidency.

Our truth is very simple, the condor takes flight only when its right wing is in perfect balance with its left wing. The task of shaping us into balanced individuals was brutally interrupted centuries ago and we have yet to complete it and the era of ayllu, community, is already among us. We need to become free and balanced individuals to be able to construct harmonic relationships with others and our environment. It is urgent, that we become beings capable of sustaining our own balance and that of our community.

We are in the era of the brothers of apanaka pachakuti, brothers of change, where our struggle was not simply for ourselves, but also for them and not against them. We seek brotherhood, not confrontation. We seek peace. We do not belong to a culture of war or domination. Our fight is against all forms of subjugation and colonial thought, patriarchal thought, wherever it may come from.

The idea of ​​the encounter between spirit and matter, heaven and earth, of Pachamama and Pachakama, allows us to think that a new woman and man can heal humanity, the planet and the beautiful life that it harbours and restore the beauty of our Mother Earth. We will defend the sacred treasures of our culture from all interference. We will defend our peoples, our natural resources, our freedoms and our rights.

We will return to our Kapakñan, the noble path of integration, the path of truth, the path of brotherhood, the path of unity, the path of respect for our authorities, for our sisters, the path of respect for fire, the path of respect for the rain, the path of respect for our mountains, respect for our rivers, respect for Mother Earth, the path of respect for the sovereignty of our peoples.

Choquehuanca with Morales when he was Minister of External Affairs. PhotoComunidad Andina.

Brothers, sisters, to conclude, we Bolivians must overcome the division, the hatred, racism, discrimination among compatriots. No more persecution of our freedom of speech, no more judicialization of politics.

No more abuse of power. Power must serve to help, power must circulate. Power, just like the economy, has to be redistributed, has to circulate. It has to flow like blood flows through our organisms. No more impunity, justice, brothers and sisters.

But justice has to be truly independent, let us bring an end to intolerance, to the violation of human rights and our Mother Earth.

This new era means listening to the message of our peoples, that stems from the bottom of their hearts. It means to heal wounds, observe ourselves with respect, retrieve our homeland, dream together. Build brotherhood, harmony, integration, hope to guarantee peace and happiness for future generations.

Only then can we reach wellbeing and govern ourselves.

Jallalla Bolivia.

Jallalla.

With thanks to debatesindigenas.org where this article was originally published.

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Comments 1

  1. Avatar

    Dear Mr. David Choquehuanca, I am very moved by your words. Bless you. I wish you much success in your new function.
    The world is in dire need of leadership that expresses the kind of wisdom and holistic views that you express. What a rich and wise culture you have inherited!
    May you have much success!
    Bless you,
    Harry Dijkshoorn

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