Bolivia is deeply fragmented: opposing paradigms for the country’s political, social and economic development have led to deep divisions. At the same time, conflicts over natural resources and land rights touch on the fault lines of ethnicity and central versus regional power. Repeatedly, there have been politically motivated outbreaks of violence.
When Evo Morales and his Movement toward Socialism (MAS) came to power in 2006, the profound changes they initiated created further tensions. After the difficult process of drafting a constitution and negotiating autonomy and electoral legislation, MAS could still consolidate its majority in elections in 2009 and 2010. More challenges still lie ahead: to continue reforms in an inclusive way and agree on a legal framework for constitutional provisions, while respecting the rule-of-law.
Indigenous organisations have been crucial social and political actors in recent years: Not only because most were initially members to or supporters of MAS, but also because after becoming disenchanted by the way the MAS handled their interests, these organisations are more and more insistently demanding that their voices be heard.
The experiences indigenous community leaders and their organisations make with conflict and conflict transformation lie at the heart of the processes we support. To learn more about them, we interviewed a number of community representatives, asking them about their perspectives and how they perceived advantages both of confrontational and dialogical approaches.
The ongoing regional capacity-building workshops take these experiences, perspectives and approaches as a starting point, complement them with additional models and concepts, and provide the space to apply them in practical exercises. Between the training modules, participants share what they have learned with their organisation and community.
Aims & Outcomes
The space to discuss their own experiences, share examples of how conflict analysis open new opportunities and explore how mediation and dialogue do make a difference is expected to change the participants’ individual approaches to conflict, to sensitise their communities and to enable them to successfully act as internal facilitators or mediators on behalf of their organisations.
Currently, more than 150 individuals and their organisations benefit from our capacity-development activities and trainings. They will plan how to apply their skills in the future, and how to institutionalise them in their organisations. Already, thanks to their training, they are mandated by their organisations to mediate in conflicts.
The insights of these participants and their organisations, as well as insights from mediators and dialogue facilitators from other parts of the world, will be discussed at an international meeting in 2014.
We work with 16 indigenous (sub-)organisations in four regions across Bolivia.