The Struggle of the native, indigenous and peasant women of Bolivia – Miriam Amancay COLQUE, Bartolina Sisa Resistance

“Opening spaces particularly for indigenous, native, peasant women is not an easy task, but they are ready to continue challenging machismo and patriarchy.”

By Miriam Amancay COLQUE

On my recent visit to La Paz, Bolivia, I had the great pleasure of talking with Sister Flora Aguilar, top executive of the National Confederation of Native Indigenous Peasant Women of Bolivia – Bartolina Sisa, a woman of firm conviction, very representative and most importantly a charismatic leader who knows how to communicate with the people.

The National Confederation of Native Indigenous Peasant Women of Bolivia – Bartolina Sisa (CNMCIOB-BS), also known as the “Bartolinas,” was founded in January 1980. It bears the name of our Aymara heroine Bartolina Sisa, who fought alongside our hero Tupak Katari against the Spanish invaders  centuries ago and was viciously tortured and murdered.

CNMCIOB-BS is the principal organisation of Bolivian peasant, indigenous, native women fighting to achieve changes for a dignified life, understanding that only the organized can participate in the political arena and in decision-making spaces.

The Confederation participated in great transformations of the country such as the Constituent Assembly of 2006, where for the first time the plurality of indigenous peoples were recognised under a new Constitution and the foundation of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

I have found sister Flora Aguilar working, carrying her one year old little girl on her back, as the vast majority of indigenous women do, be it in agriculture, commerce, etc. So, we repudiate the racist and discriminatory attitude of the Peruvian Minister of Education when he compared our sisters from Puno ‘with the animals’, because they took part in mobilisations with their little ones on their backs, against the dictator Dina Boluarte,

Born in the Oropeza Province, Chuquisaca, sister Flora Aguilar was Councillor of the Sucre Municipality 2005-2010, Plurinominal Member of Parliament, main representantive of the MAS-IPSP and 1st Vice-president of the Chamber of MPs, Chief Executive of the Federation of peasants, indigenous, native women Bartolina Sisa-Chuquisaca.

Now, at the end of her term, she is focused on carrying out the Bartolinas National Congress to be held in Tarija on March 21 and 22. There, they are scheduled to present a bill called ‘How to Revolutionize Justice’.

It is not news to anyone that there is in-fighting in the MAS-IPSP between “renovationists” who give voice to disqualified and expelled elements of the political instrument, such as the nefarious Rolando Enriquez Cuellar, who dedicates his daily time to attack brother Evo Morales and to those who show loyalty to our historic leader.

Opening spaces particularly for indigenous, native, peasant women is not an easy task, but they are ready to continue challenging machismo and patriarchy. We knew for some time, that Deputy Abelardo Colque, President of the Potosi Brigade, has been frequently committing political harassment against the Northern Potosi Bartolina sisters, claiming that “they were illegitimate leaders…” when the truth is that they were elected organically and democratically by the grassroots and in Congress.

And on the eve of International Women’s Day and nearing the date of the Congress, our sisters Zenobia Huarayu with their 3-month-old baby, Ada Vargas, both Executives of the Northern Potosi Bartolina Sisa Federation, have been arrested and falsely accused of incidents that occurred in the Potosi Departmental Brigade.

The top executive of the Confederation Flora Aguilar concluded that this whole incident was a provocation and said: “We gave birth to the MAS-IPSP, it is ours and it belongs to the Bolivian people. We women suffer frequent attacks from some authorities who do not respect and recognise to our democratically elected leaders in Congress. She continued telling the splitters: stop doing more damage, renewal is constant, not by imposition. We will defend our political instrument and this process of change that has cost us blood, pain and mourning”.

On his recent visit to the Yungas region, brother Evo Morales and his companions suffered an attempt on their lives by far right elements in conjunction with some “renovadores,” when the vehicle in which they were travelling was violently intercepted and ambushed by shock groups armed with dynamite and firearms.

Will the judicial authorities investigate and punish these terrorist acts?

Flora Aguilar calls on all the elected authorities of the MAS IPSP and all the militants to unite: “only united we will be invincible against the attack of the racist and fascist right,” Aguilar emphasized.

Let us hope that her words are echoed for the sake of the unity of the MAS-IPSP political instrument.

We wish the Bartolinas sisters success in their Congress and that they continue the fight against capitalism, imperialism, in defence of their land and territories and for social justice, with the active participation of native women in the continuous and historical construction of the process of change.

For the sake of the MAS-IPSP unity, Jallalla Bartolinas sisters!


  • Miriam Amancay COLQUE is a Longstanding indigenous Aymara activist and Bartolina Sisa Resistance spokesperson in the UK.
  • You can follow Bartolina Sisa Resistance on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured image: Miriam Amancay COLQUE meets with Flora Aguilar, top executive of the National Confederation of Native Indigenous Peasant Women of Bolivia – Bartolina Sisa. Photo credit: Miriam Amancay COLQUE

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