We have some basic information about Bolivia here. Below, find further resources so that you can research this beautiful and fascinating country before coming, or during your time here!
• ¡Gracias! A Latin American Journal by renowned spiritual writer Henri Nouwen recounts his year discerning a possible missionary vocation, including his time studying Spanish here at the Maryknoll Mission Center in Latin America, and living and working alongside Maryknoll missioners in Lima, Peru. • Evo’s Bolivia: Continuity and Change by long-time Bolivia scholars (and Bolivia lovers!) Linda Farthing and Benjamin Kohl, an accessible account of Evo Morales’s first six years in office, offering analysis of major issues as well as interviews with a wide variety of people, resulting in a valuable primer on Bolivia and Morales’s “process of change.” • Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano is an excellent overview of the history of the region, including the lamentable role often played by U.S. interventionism. See, too, this article about Bolivia, written by Galeano at a key moment in recent Bolivian history.
• Juan de la Rosa: Memoirs of the Last Soldier of the Independence Movement, by Nataniel Aguirre is a classic Bolivian novel and an excellent piece of historical fiction. • When Invisible Children Sing. Dr. Chi Cheng Huang tells his moving story of time among the street children of La Paz. From the publisher: “The doctor soon realizes that to truly help these children, he will have to follow the example of Jesus: live among them, love them in spite of their brokenness, and cling to his faith in God’s goodness, even when it appears it is nowhere to be found. A true story that will inspire and challenge readers to greater faith and action.” • Dignity and Defiance: Stories from Bolivia’s Challenge to Globalization. Jim Shultz and the Democracy Center team bring you stories of the bold and innovative ways Bolivians have challenged the dominant model of economic globalization in recent years. (Also available in Spanish.) • The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia, by Benjamin Dangl, tells the story of the popular social movements that have driven recent political changes in Bolivia. An insightful book and an important reminder that Evo Morales didn’t begin these changes, but rather came to power as the result of the struggle of thousands. • Impasse in Bolivia: Neoliberal Hegemony and Popular Resistance. Another good resource from Farthing and Kohl – explores the economic models imposed on Bolivia by Northern powers, and the people’s resistance to them in this excellent book. • Whispering in the Giant’s Ear: A Frontline Chronicle from Bolivia’s War on Globalization, by William Powers, rounds out this foursome of top-notch accounts of recent Bolivian political resistance movements. • Many missioners in Bolivia are never without their Agenda Latinoamericana dayplanner. Available in English and Spanish, this handy agenda has a different theme each year, and includes essays from around Latin America on that theme. Each day lists important events from that date in the struggle for peace in justice, as well as the saints and liturgical readings for the day – and plenty of room to write down your appointments. It is printed by the Franciscan Justice and Peace movement in Bolivia, but had different publishers in different countries. • Llamas, Weavings, and Organic Chocolate: Mulitcultural Grassroots Development in the Andes and Amazon of Bolivia, by Kevin Healy is a bit dated, but still relevant in its analysis of economic development and Bolivia’s small producer/exporters. • Culture Shock! Bolivia: A Survival Guide to Customs & Etiquette and Lonely Planet are both decent guide books. • Let Me Speak!: Testimony of Domitila, a Woman of the Bolivian Mines is the firsthand account of Domitila de Chungara, a Bolivian woman who led a small handful of other miners’ wives and a couple of Jesuit priests in the 1978 hunger strike that brought the brutal dictatorship of General Hugo Banzer to its knees. • I Am Rich Potosí: The Mountain That Eats Men by Stephen Ferry tells the tragic story of the Cerro Rico in Potosí, Bolivia – home to the richest silver deposit in history, and site of unfathomed violence and death as Indigenous miners were used as disposable labor by European colonizers. Videos: The following films offer insights into various elements of Bolivian life and reality.
• The Corporation: This Canadian documentary on corporate abuse around the world features a chapter on Cochabamba’s “Water War” in the year 2000, and interviews with Bolivian organizer Oscar Olivera, a frequent speaker here at the Maryknoll Mission Center. • Our Brand Is Crisis: A documentary (not the Hollywood adaptation) showing how Bill Clinton’s political campaign team came to Bolivia to run the successful campaign of Bolivian president Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada, whose term would later be cut short after he ordered the massacre of 67 Bolivians protesting a shady gas export deal. He fled the country, and is currently living in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Goni is wanted in Bolivia for murder, but the U.S. refuses to extradite him. A family of Maryknoll Lay Missioners were in the neighborhood where the worst violence occurred, and the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns has been a leader in the movement to tell the truth and bring Sanchez de Lozada to justice. • The Devil’s Miner documents the lives of children working the mines of Potosí, Bolivia. • Even The Rain is a drama centered around the Water War in Cochabamba, starring Gael García Bernal. • Bolivia also has several excellent filmmakers of its own. Seek out Bolivian movies from your favorite source for DVDs or streaming. On the Web:
• The CIA World Factbook: No cloak-and-dagger stuff here. Just good, basic, up-to-date factual overviews of every country in the world, including Bolivia. • The BBC has a good country profile on Bolivia. • The Andean Information Network (AIN) does human rights research and analysis of current events in Bolivia. Co-founded by Maryknoll Lay Missioner Cathy Breen and originally dedicated to shining a light on the impact of the U.S. War On Drugs in Bolivian coca growing communities, AIN’s work now covers a variety of important topics. • The Democracy Center was founded by Jim Shultz in San Francisco, but it has been based out of Cochabamba for nearly two decades. Supporting world-wide efforts at building “democracy from below,” the center is also a global leader in using technology to mobilize international grassroots activist campaigns. See their excellent first-hand reporting on the Water War that took place in Cochabamba in 2000. From public budget processes to international trade agreement enforcement mechanisms, to their current emphasis on global climate change, the Democracy Center’s team of Bolivian and international researchers report from Bolivia on issues affecting the whole world. • The Bolivian Information Forum is a London-based resource providing regular updates and analysis of current events in Bolivia. • CEDIB is a Bolivian documentation center with some excellent resournces including monthly news digests (Spanish). • BoliviaBella has all kinds of information on Bolivia, from restaurant reviews to articles on culture to volunteer opportunities. • Noticias Bolivianas is a regularly updated portal for all of Bolivia’s major news sources (Spanish). • There is another clearinghouse of Bolivian news outlets (mostly Spanish) here. • For information, news and analysis on Latin America more broadly: The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) and theWashington Office on Latin America (WOLA) are both good, U.S.-based resources on Bolivia and the entire region, and have often collaborated with the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns. And Latinamerican Press is an excellent newspaper originally founded by Maryknoll. See also their Spanish edition, Noticias Aliadas.