One of the objectives of the de facto regime in Bolivia (one that was buried by the people in previous elections), was to foster suspicion and distrust between the South American country and Cuba through media campaigns and political pressure.
This aim was not achieved, however, thanks to Bolivian solidarity organisations that held firm in maintaining their friendly relationship with the island.
This strength comes from the long-lasting solidarity movement between Bolivia and Cuba, which has solidified over three generations through multiple actions. Manuel Robles spoke with representatives of each of these generations.
The army of white coats
“As the first graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), we always say that we are married to Fidel,” says doctor Alidson Gómez, explaining why the leader of the Cuban revolution gifted a keepsake ring to each of the graduates.
She recalls that Fidel Castro “gave us a stethoscope, a blood pressure monitor and, ultimately, everything we needed to leave the institution and get to work.”
There were 60 Bolivian students at that graduation, and today the number of Bolivian doctors who graduated in Cuba reaches approximately 5,000.
When we interviewed Gómez, on 15 November, it was the 21st anniversary of what she calls “Fidel’s dream”, the Latin American School of Medicine, which was inaugurated by him in 1999.
Gómez represents the Association of Bolivian Graduate Doctors in Cuba in the process of organising activities to promote solidarity with the island, which she considers of utmost importance for those who were trained “as part of the army of white coats.”
In Cuba, she emphasises, she learned that health is a universal right and must be provided with warmth and to a high standard.
She also highlights the great work carried out by the doctors of the Henry Reeve International Contingent in Bolivia, whose activity has reached heights that a doctor had never reached. “And of course they deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, it would be very fitting for them to receive it.”
María Isabel Vizcarra’s family have sympathised with the Cuban Revolution since its victory in 1959, and her solidarity activism dates back almost half a century.
In addition, she received a strong education in solidarity at home from the time when she was a young girl, which is supplemented by the legacy of brotherhood that exists among ancestral Andean cultures.
“For those of us who feel part of the “Patria Grande” (“the Great Homeland”), we consider solidarity with Cuba to be a duty,” she says, “in particular the country’s admirable dignity and exemplary collaboration in areas such as healthcare and education, which demonstrate its activism for life.”.
She adds that this solidarity must be extended to all revolutionary processes, and that it is vital to spread the truth about them, which is often distorted by the mainstream media.
María Isabel Vizcarra is a member of “Café Semilla Juvenil”, a centre for cultural, social and political irradiation run by Catholic followers of Liberation Theology, which received strong support in Bolivia, including from the priest Luis Espinar, who was assassinated by members of the military coup in 1980.
For her, the recently defeated de facto government in Bolivia was just a bump on the road, and now that President Luis Arce has been elected, “the river has returned to its course.”
Camilo Marca is a young Bolivian economist who also studies sociology and runs Mujuta Tarpuna (“Let’s Sow Seeds”), a self-financed publishing house and an insurgent ideas movement that has presence in La Paz and in the city of Santa Cruz in the East.
The editorial promotes anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-patriarchal and anti-colonial stances, as well as a respectful relationship with nature.
According to Camilo, his participation in Bolivian solidarity activities with Cuba is part of a shared fight for a better world, in which young people play an important role. (PL)