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Table of Contents   - Piledriving the Patriarchy   - Risk and Respect   - Turned Away   - United in Sisterhood   - The Defeated "Master of War"
Table of Contents   - A Messy Success   - Tuned Out   - Daybreak   - A World of Difference   - Small Loans Big Difference
Table of Contents   - Growth From Tradition   - Rooted in Controversy   - Lithium Rush   - Sticking Together   - Landlocked


The rising sun revealed the crowds on hillsides who had been waiting in the dark chill of a South American winter. The light illuminated their silhouettes, their faces and the wiphala, a rainbow-colored symbol of the Indigenous people who are the majority in Bolivia.

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   This was sunrise on the winter solstice in Bolivia, the dawn of the Indigenous new year. It was a day to start anew, to reflect on what the people could make of their future.
   The country itself is in the early stages of a new chapter in its history, one in which the majority finally rules. Like the United States, Bolivia is a post-colonial country. The U.S. cast off England and rules itself now. Bolivia wants to do the same, but even after winning independence from Spain in 1825, it has been run by the descendants of the colonial elite and has been stuck under the thumb of world powers with more money and international sway. In both Bolivian political speech and graffiti scrawled across walls of homes and businesses, cries against imperialism are directed at the U.S. in particular. There, we are called el imperio, the empire.
   But Bolivia and the United States are linked by history, by current politics and even by some common ideals among their people. Especially that pursuit of self-rule.
   Bolivians want their government to reflect who they are and what they need. President Evo Morales is the first Indigenous person in that office, and his election is the product of years of Indigenous political movement
Now, Bolivia is fighting to be recognized on the world stage — both economically and politically — as a country that can make its own decisions, without interference in its internal affairs. How Bolivia runs itself, how it uses its natural riches, such as lithium and natural gas, is something Bolivians — more than 10 million citizens of South America's poorest country — want to determine themselves.
   Journalism students and professors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln traveled to Bolivia in June 2010 to report on the current cultural and political evolution there. That situation includes Bolivia's relations with the U.S., the social change in motion now that the Indigenous majority has finally achieved fair representation in politics, the economic potential of natural resources, the historic disadvantages not yet resolved and the beautiful diversity of a place where something as simple as a person's hat — be it a round bowler, a flatbrimmed hat made of straw or a colorful, tasseled, knit cap — is a testament to where they come from and who they are.
   We wrote the following articles for readers outside Bolivia — who perhaps know nothing about it — with the hope that reading through them will provide insight on a newly refounded country trying to make its way in the world. But the magazine and accompanying website — and the months of work put into them — are dedicated to the people of Bolivia, whose resolve to take control of their destiny is nothing short of an inspiration to us all.

Rachel Albin visits Lake Titicaca, the world's highest lake. Albin, who is from Lincoln, Neb., was a reporter, photographer, videographer, translator and copy editor for this project. [kate veik]

   Daniel Mason-D'Croz, an international development specialist, spent three years in Bolivia as a member of the Peace Corps and witnessed the effects of slash-and-burn. He said slash-and-burn does more than erode the soil; the smoke produced during the burning process degrades the quality of the air and the lives of the people living in and around areas where slash-and-burn occurs.
   "People and the Bolivian economy suffer in a myriad ways from the high levels of smoke, which lead to increased cases of asthma, eye infections, and upper respiratory infections, in addition to severe injuries and deaths due to fires that get out of hand, and the costs of increased traffic accidents due to limited visibility," he wrote in an e-mail.
   Rodriguez said the Bolivian government has no intention to outlaw slash-and-burn agriculture. Instead, the government plans to focus on educating farmers about better land-use practices and organic farming methods.
   "Since many years ago farmers have been using chemicals for production," Rodriguez said. "We will recover the natural sowing by sheep and llama guano. We have to respect the Pachamama, the Mother Earth."
   Rodriguez said the goal is to work toward the way agriculture used to be.
   "It does not mean that we are in reverse," she said. "It means that we will get an economic growing, but considering what our ancestors, grandmothers and grandfathers used to do. They did not use any chemicals."

nonprofits
   Pamela Cartagena has spent more than 10 years helping Indigenous farmers develop sustainable farming practices. She works for an organization called the Center for Campesino Research and Promotion, or CIPCA, which assists Indigenous farmers in seven different regions of Bolivia. CIPCA teaches regional representatives how to focus on producing products that are economically viable for their communities and ways to make those commodities more valuable.
Helping farmers turn commodities into commercial products is an important part of the economic proposal CIPCA develops for each region, Cartagena said.
   "In the [high plains], milk is a star product," she said. "The process of transformation in the [high plains] is all pertaining to the production of milk. Then it is made into cheese and yogurt."
    Daniel Mason-D'Croz, an international development specialist, spent three years in Bolivia as a member of the Peace Corps and witnessed the effects of slash-and-burn. He said slash-and-burn does more than erode the soil; the smoke produced during the burning process degrades the quality of the air and the lives of the people living in and around areas where slash-and-burn occurs.

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  • Story by Carrie Brauer
  • Photos by Patrick Breen

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