In Bolivia, CAFOD and Christian Aid share an office, and work in partnership on issues such as indigenous rights and sustainable livelihoods. So when Cecilia Cordova, a Christian Aid worker from Bolivia, visited North Wales for the ‘IF’ campaign, Michael Richards, one of our CAFOD Great Generation, requested the day off school to hear what Cecilia had to say about life in Bolivia. This is what Michael had to say about the day:
“On Monday 22nd April 2013, I had the opportunity to have the day of school to meet Cecilia from Bolivia. Bolivia is a land locked country in South America. It is small but is 4 times bigger than the United Kingdom. Cecilia has been a Christian Aid worker in Bolivia for 4 years. In Bolivia they have a mountain that is 15,000 feet above sea level. Cecilia gave us many facts during the day, she told us that in Bolivia, the Amazon Rainforest takes up a larger percentage of the land. In 1956 Bolivia had a land reform because a few families owned most of it and indigenous people had no titles for their land.
Cipca is one of the main projects that is in Bolivia. There is 2 projects in the North of the Amazon Rainforest, these mainly focus on the land rights of the rainforest communities. There is 36 different ethnic groups living in Bolivia. Christian Aid and CAFOD are both working for indigenous right, which is the right for Bolivian residents to have land, and the agro forest resistance which is to grow crops without using chemicals. Christian Aid have found the money to build a factory that will process the cocoa beans into chocolate.
When the Bolivian government want to implement a new law, they have to ask the indigenous people their opinion on it. Some of the projects currently being worked on in Bolivia are:
- climate change platform, this brings together indigenous people. The main message that the indigenous people in Bolivia is ” we are all responsible for climate change, instead of spending time arguing with each other why don’t we try to resolve a solution to this.”
- the CEDLA project, focuses on the workers rights
not being respected and that the tax system in Bolivia is failing the
- Iseat, focuses on working with indigenous people in the Amazon Rainforest, on their spiritual side.
In Bolivia they chose their parliament members the old-fashioned way. The Bolivian government say that there is no reason for woman to own land. ‘Agua sustentable’ (sustainable water) works on the climate change side of the campaigning. A lot of people in Bolivia didn’t have access to water but thanks to Christian Aid and CAFOD they now have water everyday. The community is choosing which abandoned projects should be restarted. Projects they are focusing on:
- Resilient and thriving communities.
- Tax injustice: through joint action with international networks, social movements and unions Bolivia have perceived the need for a tax reform in the country.
In 2003, the Bolivian president thought that it would be a good idea to sell Bolivian gas to Chile. However the Bolivian residents weren’t happy with this. They protested outside the gas plant, so the president of Bolivia sent the army to disperse the crowd, during this process the army killed 60 Bolivians. He left Bolivia soon after so the Vice President became the president of Bolivia. Through a referendum, he asked the Bolivians do they want to sell their gas to Chile, which the Bolivians said no. 10% of the Amazon Rainforest has now been cut down. It is now illegal to cut down the trees in the Amazon rainforest so they burn it down and blame it on other people. Some communities in the amazon now get flooded because of the deforestation in the amazon rainforest. Bolivia is very rich in minerals they used to have a lot of silver, there is even gold in the Amazon rainforest!”
In Bolivia due to the increasing heat this means that the sheep in the Amazon in Bolivia don’t have any wool. Some of the small communities in Bolivia fish for their food in the rivers and in small lakes, however this is dangerous as people are extracting gold with mercury which is leaking into the lakes. In Bolivia 80% of the food is potatoes. (-Which is why the CAFOD North Wales annual Youth event is called ‘Potato Day’)
“With the ‘Enough Food For Everyone IF’ campaign, CAFOD, Christian Aid and 170 other charities are fighting for an issue that needs to be ended.
The way that we live has an impact on the rest of the world.
“It is a scandal that 1 in 8 people are going hungry each day”
-Thanks Michael for sharing all that you learnt from Cecilia about the work with indigenous people in Bolivia.
If you would like to find out more about CAFOD’s work in Bolivia please visit our website: