June 19, 2021

A look at one of the most important peasant worker insurrections in Latin America | Culture

A look at one of the most important peasant worker insurrections in Latin America | Culture

The Bolivian revolution of 1952 marks the entrance of this country to the 20th century. It is a period during which the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement ruled. In that time, from 1952 until the 1964 coup d'état, one of the greatest fundamental transformations in the citizen participation of this Andean nation took place: the establishment of an agrarian reform that changed the prevailing landlord regime and the control of the Executive over the natural resources. It also incorporates, for the first time, into the national political scene the indigenous majority and women, by establishing the universal vote. It was an uprising equated to Mexican Revolution (1910) and predecessor to the Cuban (1959). In 24 revolutions per second, directors Carlos Asseph and Marcos Cabero offer a look and review the events that unfolded in one of the most important peasant workers' insurrections in Latin America.

The interest of Asseph and Cabero to address this issue was born after revolts as the so-called War of Water, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in the year 2000 – against the privatization of water resources-, or the Argentine economic crisis of 2001. As of the new millennium, Latin America was involved in a series of rebellions that questioned the order that had ruled since the military dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and other regions, Cabero explains via email. In the middle of this process, the two filmmakers began to shoot a series of documentaries about social experiences that were proposed as "alternatives to capitalism."

The final trigger for the focus of attention towards the Andean country by the Argentine filmmakers, were the facts of Black October in 2003, a military repression in which 60 people died and resulted in the fall of the Government and flight from the country of then President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. "Bolivia remained a permanent center of labor and popular insurgency processes, of which we participated by documenting and reporting on alternative journalism and workers. This country showed in its living experience the latency of its previous processes, its political tradition. And everything always led to the founding of the Central Obrera Boliviana and the role of the miners in the revolution of 52, "affirms Asseph.

The great social revolutions of Latin America during the 20th century they were the Mexican (1910), the Cuban (1959) and the Nicaraguan, at the end of the seventies. The most overlooked of this list was the Bolivian one, despite the fact that it was the first and, until today, the only successful peasant worker insurrection in Latin America, according to various historians and political professors. "Certainly this process, the revolution of '52, was disparaged and misunderstood, to the point that there is little informative, documentary or literary material about it. It seemed very important to us to rescue this tradition, to try to understand it and explain it, since without understanding these facts, it was impossible for us to understand the present, "Cabero reveals.

An alternative version

The filmmakers relied on unpublished material from the period that was restored especially for this documentary. An agreement was reached with the Cinemateca Boliviana to recover these historical audiovisual tapes. The process was in charge of Stefano Lorusso and the collaboration of the technicians of said institution. To complement the images of the film archive of the time, Cabero and Asseph also obtained the testimonies of some of the workers protagonists of the rebellion, as well as a couple of specialists.

"The archival material is intermingled with the stories in a free or non-associative direct way. Our influence as filmmakers of the 1968 documentary tradition throughout the world and in Latin America makes us feel closer to surrealism or magical realism. We believe that between the original stories, the captured cinematographic sequences and the archive a non-linear narrative sense is constructed that is closer to the reality of the events of 52, than if we had looked for a more conventional narrative criterion, to put it in some way " , says Cabero.

The film also seeks to constitute itself as an alternative version to the "official story" that the governing party of that time, the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR), has counted over the years, along with liberal or nationalist intellectual sectors. The challenge for both filmmakers was to empathize and connect with an imaginary linked to the Andean world, indigenous and peasant, very different from what they were accustomed to in their native Argentina. "Understanding and feeling the syncretism of these sectors led many years of research and militant experiences with the Bolivian working class and its trade union and political organizations. [La versión del MNR] Do not settle with the facts narrated by oral history and the own understanding of the individuals with whom we approached to talk about these facts, "adds Asseph.

The preview of 24 revolutions per second It was made during the first version of the International Documentary Film Festival, organized by the Documentary Association of Argentina, which took place in Buenos Aires last November. "We received important suggestions from friends and colleagues and we want to go out and show this powerful story around the world, which for the current days has a validity as much more than a museum piece," Cabero concludes.


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