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Bolivia, December 2019, three weeks after the fascist coup. It is devilishly cold. My comrade's car is carefully navigating through the deep mud tracks. Enormous snow-covered mountain peaks are clearly visible in the distance.
The Bolivian Altiplano; beloved, yet always somehow hostile, silent, impenetrable.
So many times, in the past I came close to death here. In Peru as well as in Bolivia. More often in Peru.
Now, what I do is totally mad. Being a supporter of President Evo Morales from the beginning until this very moment, I am not supposed to be here; in Bolivia, in the Altiplano. But I am, because these mud huts on the left and right, are so familiar and so dear to me.
My comrade is a Bolivian farmer, an indigenous man. His hands are red, rough. He usually does not talk much, but after the coup, he cannot stop speaking. This is his country; the country that he loves and which has been stolen from him, from his wife and from his children.
We can both get screwed here, but if we do, that's life; we know the risk and we are happy to take it.
Carlos (not his real name), my driver and a friend, explained:
"I called them, the elders, and they said it is ok that you come. I sent them your essays. You know, people here now read, even in the deep villages. After 14 years of Evo's government, the entire country is covered by the mobile phone network. They read your stuff translated into Spanish. They liked what they read. They agreed to give you a statement. But they said, 'if he is not really a Russian-Chinese left-wing writer, but instead some Camacho crony, we will break his head with a stone.'"
Camacho; Luis Fernando Camacho, a member of the fascist, U.S.-backed Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, and the Chair of the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz since 2019. A major adversary of Evo Morales, a man who during the 2019 Bolivian general election, sided with the West, with the treasonous Bolivian military (trained in the United States), and demanded Evo's resignation, on 5 November 2019.
I am fine with what they say. We are going.
We drive up, and then, at approximately 4,100 meters above sea level, we level up.
A new, wide road is being constructed. Of course, it is a project from the days of Evo's presidency.
But it is not only the road building that can be detected all around us. There are water towers and water pumps and faucets in every village. Water is free, for all. There are schools, medical centers as well as sport facilities, and carefully attended fields.
The drive is long, tough. But at one point, we see a few buses and cars parked on the top of a hill.
There is a small plateau, and a giant white speaker sitting in the middle of the field.