“Fu**ing Indian son of a b**ch.” or “fu**ing Camba son of a b**ch” are expressions as grotesque as they are aberrant, although they are quite common in Bolivia. Unfortunately, people use them with total disregard of their-impact because everything they say is protected by “freedom of speech.” Nevertheless, those expressions are not only humiliating, but are also used with the deliberate intention to take advantage of the situation, by degrading the human quality of another person.
“If we allow this fu**ing law to pass, we will be all screwed. They are going to f**k us all. Any mother f**ker Indian, or any Camba son of a b**ch could put us in jail for life,” said a fellow Bolivian in a state of panic.
“All is too general, I responded, making him notice that not all in Bolivia belong to the culture of denigrating people; those who though educated, gush denigrating insults from their mouths when they are angry. “Camba son of a bi**h” in the east lowlands of Bolivia, and “Fu**ing Indian son of a bi**h,” in the plateau. In part I was sorry for him, because his fear was well founded. If the law against racism and discrimination is approved, individuals like him would be in serious trouble, because every five out of ten words that leave their mouths are such insults.
Analyzing the situation, I realized that this pathological behavior is of ideological origin, a left-over from the colonialist culture in which our grandparents grew up. Theirs was a world made of white and superior people who owned the means of production and the peripheral world made of native and inferior people who were only good to work for free. Now the times have changed, but the ideology of the conservatives is so rooted in the past that they cannot stop seeing the natives as inferior people.
Some years ago, during a visit to Bolivia, I was horrified when seeing up close what really is in the soul of a Bolivian conservative. This particular one was a professional, well educated, and also very religious. He stopped his five -year old Isuzu jeep at a gas station. The attendant, who was a boy, immediately connected the hose. While the pump was fuelling the tank with gasoline, he proceeded to clean the windshield of the Jeep.
“I do not have change, son. Get away from my car,” said the man with a tone of voice that contained the more genuine scorn than I have ever heard from a human being. “It´s free sir,” answered the boy without knowing what to do. “You are dirtying my car, son. Don’t touch it,” the man said with a tone of voice that seemed ruthless to me. For God’s sake! Wow can you speak like this to a boy who is working so hard and so honestly,” I asked, surprised. He had a thousand justifications for his attitude and ended up saying that I had lived too many years already abroad and had forgotten how it was that life worked in Bolivia.
“You can not treat a Camba as an equal, because they would rebel,” he said, and I gave up my efforts to humanize him. I realized his racism, as it happens with his classicism, was so rooted in his world view, that his soul lived in a world totally disconnected from humanity, and was so protected with false identity, that he was practically beyond repair. His mind resided in a remote world to which I could not venture, not even to its periphery.
Racism exists in alarming proportions in Bolivia, and this law to begin to solve the problem is an urgent necessity. I believe there is no logical argument against this law, and that this is exactly the reason why the defenders of the status quo have used “freedom of speech” as pretext to boycott it. The only problem is that their entire argument for this campaign is based on a lie because the press to which they refer has never been free.
At the beginning of the 20th century, J.P. Morgan in the United States and the tin moguls in Bolivia had already seized the mass media to impose the idea that the “news” was in fact, the defense of their interests and to demonize everything that attempted to move against their disloyal advantages. This continued growing in aggressiveness, camouflaging its origin by means of different corporative associations, until today nobody remembers that they are companies created only for profit, and that have influenced the public opinion to corrupt capitalism, politics, democracy, religion, armed forces, market economy, education, and by all means, the freedom of the press itself.
Today, we only have to watch, for example, the Fox network in the United States and read El Diario in Bolivia to realize that the right uses the mass media as a most efficient factory of public opinion. Ironically, “freedom of speech” is what allows them to infuriate their audience with distortions of the truth, to capture their reactions, to publish them, and then to publish more infamies in the well known vicious circle of deceptions, reactions, more deceptions, and more reactions to forge a public opinion that turns citizens into terrified and infuriated zombies willing to do anything to destroy the left. Unfortunately, that is the state of collective hypnosis and denial of the truth in which a great part the population lives in Bolivia as in the United States.
The ones who defend “freedom of speech” in this conflict did not make use of it during the dictatorships of the right, as for example, did Father Luis Espinal, Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, and Juan Jose Torres, who were killed in Bolivia for daring to do so. And in the United States, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Kennedy brothers did so in the long fight for equality in defense of the black minority and for human rights in general.
For the commercial press to use “freedom of speech” to boycott a law against racism and discrimination is as repugnant as the church‘s using the name of God to request consensus with the opposition, with the hidden objective to boycott a law that protects the weak as Jesus did.
The Bolivian people must realize that the mass media, being private, has always been a defender of the status quo that has taken Bolivia to the worse levels of plundering, misery, and inequality. Unfortunately, they only remember the consensus when they have the numbers against them. Bolivians and North Americans must remember that the press never requested consensus among the parties in congress when coincidently, the right controlled the senate in both countries and decided to block all the laws in defense of the people that executive branches, in the hands of the left, tried to approve. Bolivia is now a world-wide example of change towards the humanization of life, and we have to have the courage to take the necessary steps, even though as history demonstrates, this has never occurred without resisting the fierce battle presented by the power of money.
If there is something I can criticize regarding this law, it is Article 24, which keeps the door open for the possibility of making indefinite the social service sentiency, based on the evaluation made on the conduct of the sentenced by the doctor or personnel of the social institution, which in this case would become “punitive.” With the objectivity that I always try to have, I must use my freedom of speech to say that, although this law is necessary, this article is it´s Achilles’ heel, because it goes against several fundamental principles of justice, and turns doctors and nurses into judges, correctional guards, and educators.
Article 24 is a disqualifying error, and the majority in congress must, very intelligently, eliminate it and otherwise approve the law. The whole humanity is waiting anxiously for the next historical step to be made by the government of President Evo Morales towards the construction of a more just society.