INDIGENOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS:
THE POLITICS OF CONSERVATION
JOSHUA M. McDANIEL
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2000
The people of Lomerio are recognized first for their patience, grace, and
selflessness in helping rie to complete this study. Families opened their homes and their lives to me, and allowed me to catch a short glimpse into what it means to be an indigenous person in contemporary South America. I will be forever grateful. I would like to thank the directors of CICOL especially for taking me in and showing me the ropes. Without them, I would have never learned as much as I did. President Juan Soquere was always willing to explain anything to me, and never tired of my questions. Secretary Agustin Chore worked with me in the CICOL archives. Vice-President Juan Chuve helped me with the survey, and also let me work with him in his fields.
In the community of San Lorenzo, the alcalde Sr. Lorenzo Soquere and the
corregidor Sr. Esteban Chore are recognized for helping to get the community behind the project. Sr. Mario Suarez and Sra. Rosa Parapaino were always willing to help with any problem that arose. I would also like to send a special acknowledgement to Sr. Juan Surubi and the rest of "Los Chivos:" Sr. Pedro Salvatierra, Sr. Lucas Salvatierra, and Sr. Nicolas Chuve for sharing a lot of laughs and chicha with me. Sra. Maria Masai should be thanked for helping us make a new life in San Lorenzo. Sra. Maria Gausace deserves a special thanks for helping me with the survey. She was a great companion and a sharp observor of life in Lomerio. I would also like to recognize some of the other people from Lomerio who helped with the study: Sr. Juan Chuviru, Sr. Pablino Parapaino, and Sr. Miguel Garcia. Sr. Esteban QuiviQuivi taught me about the politics of indigenous life.
I would like to thank BOLFOR in general for making this study possible.
BOLFOR gave me funding, a house to stay in, transportation, and access to Lomerlo. Without this inspiring organization, this study would not have been completed. First, I would like to thank Todd and Nell Frederickson who always had a beer and a laugh waiting at the end of those bus rides, and who gave us a wonderful place to stay in the city. I would like to thank John Nittler, Raul Lobo, and Cristian Vallejos for helping with anything I needed, and all of the drivers technicians, and secretaries who worked tirelessly. From APCOB, I would like to thank Dr. Jurgen Riester, Leonardo Martinez, and Bemardo Rozo for answering any questions I brought to them. My discussions with Leo and Bemardo were some of the most valuable that I had during my fieldwork.
Dr. Ricardo Godoy helped immensely with the project in terms of money, as well as suggestions on how to do fieldwork. My advisor Dr. Allan Bums provided an example of how to make anthropology meaningful to the people that are its subjects, without which I would have never kept going. I would like to thank Dr. Irma McClaurin for helping to make my dissertation more than I thought it could be. I thank Dr. Allyn Maclean Stearman for her inspiring work in Bolivia, and for her advice on fieldwork strategies and dissertation assistance. I would also like to thank Dr. Marianne Schmink and Dr. Clyde Kiker for helping to improve the writing of my dissertation.
Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Debbie Kennard, for her love, support, and mean peach cobbler during our time in Bolivia. Just trying to keep up with her made my work better and more enjoyable. Also, I thank Mom for giving me unconditional support through all of these years of graduate school.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A CKN OW LED G EM ENTS ................................................................................................. i
AB STRACT ........................................................................................................................ v
I INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................... I
Theoretical Perspective .............................................................................................. 7
Analytical M ethodology: Institutional Analysis ....................................................... I I
Development in Bolivia: From Top-Down to Community-Based ........................... 13
Ecopolitics and Indigenous Politics ......................................................................... 19
The Rise of Indigenous Political Organizations .............................................. 20
Non-G overnm ental Organizations ................................................................. 26
The Study ................................................................................................................. 28
Conclusion ................................................................................................................ 37
2 LOM ERIO A N D THE CHIQU I[TAN OS ..................................................................... 39
Population ................................................................................................................ 40
The Land ................................................................................................................... 41
San Lorenzo: A Chiquitano Com m unity .................................................................. 43
The Past .................................................................................................................... 47
The Jesuit M issions .......................................................................................... 47
Secular Control Under the Crucenos ................................................................ 52
The Rubber Boom: The Beginning of El tempo de esclavitud ....................... 53
The Twentieth Century ..................................................................................... 54
Recent H istory: The Struggle for Autonom y ................................................... 56
The D aily Routine .................................................................................................... 58
Seasonal Round ........................................................................................................ 63
Conclusion ................................................................................................................ 71
3 CICOL AND DEVELOPMENT AGENTS: ORGANIZATION AND
INTERA CTION ................................................................................................. 72
CICOL: A Grassroots Indigenous Organization ...................................................... 74
The CICOL D irectorate .................................................................................. 80
Institutional Objectives: Norm s and Philosophy ............................................ 86
APCOB : An Indigenous Support Organization ....................................................... 90
O rganization and Structure ............................................................................. 93
Institutional Philosophy ................................................................................. 95
The Unavoidable Trap of Paternalism ............................................................ 97
BOLFO R ................................................................................................................ 102
O rganization and Structure ........................................................................... 106
G oals and Objectives .................................................................................... 107
Organizational Interactions: CICOL, APCOB, and BOLFOR ............................... 109
K ollas and Cam bas, ....................................................................................... 109
Facade-building ............................................................................................ 112
Styles and Philosophy .................................................................................. 115
4 COMMUNITY-BASED FORESTRY AND ECOLOGICAL CERTIFICATION IN
LO M ERIO ........................................................................................................ 117
Forestry M anagem ent ............................................................................................. 121
M anagem ent Activities ................................................................................ 123
Com m unity Benefits ..................................................................................... 125
The Saw m ill ........................................................................................................... 130
The "Transfer Problem .. ............................................................................... 132
Production Problem s .................................................................................... 134
Indigenous Management and the Market Economy ..................................... 138
Tim ber Certification ............................................................................................... 141
Philosophy .................................................................................................... 142
Procedure ...................................................................................................... 143
Standards ...................................................................................................... 144
Lingering Questions ..................................................................................... 145
Certification in Lom erio ................................................................................ 147
Conclusions ............................................................................................................ 153
5 An Institutional Approach to the Lom erio Forestry Project ....................................... 156
Institutional Analysis of Resource M anagem ent .................................................... 156
Lomerio and the Design Principles of Resource Institutions ................................. 160
Comm unity Forestry in Latin A m erica .................................................................. 171
Conclusions ............................................................................................................ 177
6 Conclusions ............................................................................................................... 181
Indigenous O rganizations ....................................................................................... 182
Non-Governm ental Organizations ......................................................................... 184
Conununity-Based Conservation ........................................................................... 186
Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 188
LIST OF REFEREN CES ................................................................................................ 190
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................................................................................... 203
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
INDIGENOUS ORGANIZATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS: THE POLITICS OF CONSERVATION By
Joshua M. McDaniel
Chairman: Allan F. Bums
Major Department: Anthropology
In the past few decades Latin America has encountered a couple of related
developments that are transforming: 1) the relationships between indigenous peoples and the state, and 2) indigenous peoples ownership, use, and management of land and resources. The first development has been a wave of political organizing among indigenous communities. International linkages, national and regional confederations, and local, inter-communal organizations have proliferated across Central and South America. Secondly, there has been a swift rise in the number and influence of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), which have brought unprecedented financial support and political leverage to the struggles of indigenous people for land and autonomy.
This dissertation concerns development, natural resource management, and ecopolitics in the Chiquitano communities of Lomerio in the eastern lowlands of Bolivia. I present findings from fieldwork from July, 1997, to August, 1998, on one grassroots indigenous organization, Central Intercommunal de Comunidades Orginarios de Lomerio (CICOL), that has been involved in an internationally funded forestry project for over ten years.
Indigenous leaders are faced with the challenge of building organizations based on indigenous forms that are capable of advancing their interests in the non-indigenous world. I examine the relations between CICOL and a number of different development organizations that are working with the organization, focusing on the structure of indigenous organizations and the dynamic interplay between the institutions. I use a political ecology framework to examine the interactions between CICOL and the development organizations, linking these discussions with the analysis of institutional dynamics and development in Lomerio. I present conclusions regarding the foundation and nature of organizational conflicts in Lomerio, and provide recommendations to improve forestry project management.
This dissertation concerns development, natural resource management, and ecopolitics among the Chiquitano Indians of the southeastern Bolivian lowlands. In it, I take up issues of continued importance in applied anthropology: the strengths and weaknesses of community-based conservation, the rise in influence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the growth and resilience of indigenous political organizations in South America. All of these issues are presented in the context of an internationallyfunded community forestry project that the Chiquitanos have been involved with since 1986.
The Chiquitanos are descendants of Indians who lived in the Jesuit missions of the 1600s and 1700s. They make a living primarily from farming, raising cattle, and hunting and collecting in the forest. They have been affected for centuries by the boom and bust nature of Bolivia's relation to the global economy. They have been taken to the Bolivian highlands where they mined silver for colonial Spain, to the Amazon to harvest rubber in the Amazon, and to Paraguay where they were forced to fight a bloody war for control of oil fields. Today, they are at the center of an international effort to promote the sustainable use of forest resources. In exchange, they receive unprecedented levels of financial and political support in their efforts to secure title to their land and promote the long-term economic development of their communities.
This study focuses on that point of interaction between the national and
international agents of conservation/development (e.g. the NGOs) and the Chiquitanos. Organizations, both indigenous and western, are the focus of much of the following discussion. I wanted to know how the Chiquitanos are organizing their political institutions to confront new opportunities and challenges. Typical political culture in indigenous communities is part of a seamless continuity between represented and representatives. Decisions are made based on consensus, and authority figures have little individual power (Kearney 1996). Political authority is often embedded in communal religious rituals and symbolism. These new organizations, however, have to work with government agencies, NGOs, and other political forms that use Western, European organization: parliamentary decision-making, chains of command, and division of labor (Kearney 1996). Indigenous leaders are faced with constructing organizations based on indigenous forms that are capable of advancing their interests in the non-indigenous world.
I wanted to see how the Chiquitanos were approaching this problem. Did they
attempt to confront the other institutions with a mask of Western organization? Did they create a synthesis of forms, or did they just attempt to mimic the organizations that they were trying to influence? Indigenous groups throughout South America are becoming much more politically astute in how they assert themselves and their interests. Understanding the process and the shapes that these efforts are taking is essential to creating political and cultural space for indigenous peoples in the coming decades.
I also wanted to know what role the non-governmental agencies were taking in the development process. One of the key factors in the growth of community-based
conservation projects throughout the tropics, has been the complimentary growth in NGOs that provide technical, financial, political, legal, and organizational support. After decades of public mismanagement and corruption, international donors have increasingly turned from public agencies to NGOs as more effective agents for conservation and development (Meyer 1993:192). For the year 1994 in Central America, around 4,000 NGOs received $350 million in reported funds (L. MacDonald 1995:3 1). This shift in funds began in the 1 980s, and since then aid to NGOs has grown five times the growth in aid to government led development projects (L. MacDonald 1995:3 1). The sheer number of NGOs and the wealth of aid funds they are receiving begs our attention.
My research questions focused specifically on the exact nature of changes that are being produced by this shift in development strategy and focus. Grassroots organizations that begin to work with NGOs can become dependent on them for resources and funding (Esman and Uphoff 1984). This dependency can lead to impositions on the part of the NGOs: new organizational structures, increased internal conflicts, and expenditures of time and energy on NGO objectives rather than their own (Silberberg 1997; Bratton 1990). 1 wanted to know how Chiquitanos have responded to the growth in the complexity and funding of the project that they have been managing. Have the goals of the funders and their agents, the NGOs, become the objectives of the organization? If not, how have the NGOs managed to avoid the trap of paternalism that has become the norm in so many development projects? Are the NGOs accountable to the Chiquitanos, the people that they are supposed to help? How have the Chiquitanos managed to maintain their autonomy in such a financially unequal relationship?
Development has a long, checkered history in Bolivia, and I was observing in what was supposed to be a new era: participatory methodologies and decentralized funding and planning. I wanted to know how the new ways of talking about development were translating into action at the ground level. Was it new rhetoric camouflaging old habits, or had a fundamental shift in philosophy, strategy, and organization occurred? Also, if a change had occurred, was the new style effective? I spent a great deal of time "studying up" as Robin Wright (1988:384) has termed research oriented to evaluate bureaucracies and development ideologies. Understanding how development and NGO policies affected the Chiquitanos necessitated time spent with the NGOs attempting to clarify the aspects of their structure, methods, and philosophies that were the most important.
A definition of development and my perspective on anthropology's role in the process is needed at this point. Development in the modem era has been an attempt to replicate the conditions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that have supposedly already occurred in more economically advanced nations: industrialization, increased dependence on technology, urbanization, and the adoption of principles of individuality (Escobar 1997:498). The goals of development have actually produced the exact opposite of their intention--increased poverty and environmental destruction (Wright 1988:382). Since much of the work of anthropologists takes place in a development context, it has become a problematic issue for the discipline. On the one hand, anthropologists and other social scientists have been instrumental in designing development projects that are socially relevant and culturally appropriate (Cemea 1995; Horowitz 1995). On the other hand, anthropologists have been severely criticized for their role in promoting the worst aspects
of development and actually working within what, in light of its results, can only be viewed as a manifestation of neo-colonial ideology (Escobar 1991, 1997; Crush 1995). For anthropologists working closely with local communities the "dilemma" of development is whether to get involved or not. Do you reject development entirely as Arturo Escobar (199 1) has suggested, or do you work from within to change how development is practiced?
For me, the question is answered by people at the community or local level and their acceptance or resistance to development goals and practices. Most Chiquitanos are clearly in favor of development. They are actively seeking development funding and projects. They want improved health care, educational opportunities, and increased productive potential from their resource base. This is not dissimilar to what many development practitioners are trying to accomplish. In cases where people are looking to development as a means to improve their lives, the role of anthropologist can become that of "culture broker," translating back and forth between those with the needs and interests and those with resources.
Ethnographic inquiry can elicit types of information unavailable from survey,
questionnaire, or rapid rural appraisal. Participant observation can also reveal the internal dynamics of a community, provide the type of information that can determine the best ways to strengthen local institutions, and uncover traditional resource management techniques (Anderson 1996). Participant observation can be used to gather local knowledge. This infori-nation has the potential to be a valuable asset in empowering the community and in reviving traditional resource management patterns (DeWalt 1994). Infusing contemporary models of resource management with traditional resource
management techniques creates a system that more clearly fits the local context (Zemner 1993; McDaniel 1997). Anthropologists can help in exploring the complementary nature of indigenous and scientific knowledge systems (DeWalt 1994).
My personal view of anthropologists' role in development is as promoters of selfdetermination. In most cases this involves seeking to understand how cultural traditions can be the basis for new, more locally relevant models of development (Redford and Padoch 1992; Reed 1997). Anthropology should promote development that uses local knowledge and natural resources in a way aimed at gaining long-term self-sufficiency and autonomy (Posey 1996). The anthropologist can play a vital role in defending the legal rights of local people to their land and resources. Obstacles to development are immense, but as long as development is proceeding in a manner that at least attempts to respond to local needs and desires, anthropologists can and should play an active role.
I introduce Lomerio and Chiquitano culture in chapter 2. The chapter describes the historical background of Lomerio, and attempts to capture the important aspects of daily life for the Chiquitanos. This chapter provides the foundation for discussion of development in Lomerio, and an exploration of ways that it can be more closely grounded in Chiquitano culture. Chapter 3 introduces the major players in Lomerio development, CICOL and the NGOs, and focuses on the organizational culture of CICOL and the NGOs. I outline the structure, norms, and interactions of the different organizations. I also detail CICOL's effects on local political organization, and describe the political struggles that have shaped decision-making in Lomerio in the past decade. Chapter 4 describes the forest management project. Each of the different components-administration, commercialization, certification, production, the sawm ill, extraction, and
community relations--are analyzed and recommendations are given as to how the project could be altered to better match local and outside NGO concerns and needs. Chapter 5 analyzes data presented in chapter 3 and 4 within a common property resource institutional model (Ostrom 1990). I also present generalizations and lessons that can be taken from this study to examine development in general, and the ways in which indigenous people throughout South America are responding.
The theoretical approach taken here emphasizes the links among the landscape, people, and the economy, and is positioned within the theoretical approach known as political ecology. The approach is heavily indebted to the ecological approaches to culture developed by Steward and Rappaport. However, political ecology rejects the ahistorical and culture-as-island approach that Steward's (1955) culture core concept and ethnographies, such as Rappaport's (1966) Pigs for the Ancestors employed (Bates and Lee 1996). Today, the world is dominated by population increases, and transnational flows of people, commerce, organizations and information (Kottak 1999). Older ecological approaches ignored local-global articulations, and links between the community and the nation-state (Biersack 1999). With an explicit political awareness and an emphasis on policy concerns, political ecology focuses on issues of power in human/environmental relations (Peet and Watts 1994). It seeks to understand the causes of environmental degradation (Costa et al. 1995), movements to promote "environmental rights" (Johnston 1995), and the ideological underpinnings of international development institutions and their efforts at the local level (Escobar 1995, 1996).
The cultural ecology approach developed by Steward (1955) was the first to clearly delineate the field of human\environment interactions. Moving beyond the generalities and restricted functionalism of environmental determinism, Steward proposed a research method that linked the environment, social organization, and human resource use through his concept of the "culture core" (Steward 1955).
Identifying the culture core involves uncovering a number of fundamental
characteristics about the social system in question. The problem lies in the deciphering of whether the adjustment of human societies to their associated environments demands specific types of behavior or whether there is range in human responses (Steward 1955:36). The method involves three tactics: 1) analyzing the relationship between a subsistence system and the environment; 2) analyzing the behavior patterns associated with a certain subsistence technology; and 3) determining the extent to which the behavior pattern found in a subsistence system affects other aspects of culture (Steward 1955:40-41).
Steward considered social institutions as having a functional unity that expressed solutions to subsistence problems (Moran 1990: 10). However, Steward's use of functionalism was concerned with the operation of a single variable in relation to a limited set of variables, not in relation to the social system as was current in the then current British functionalism (1bid:1 1). Steward (1955) steered studies of human\environment interaction toward a concern with how social systems change through time, and how a limited set of causal relationships within that system can initiate and direct the change.
Operationalism of Steward's cultural ecology approach resulted in a modifications of the basic strategy. Geertz (1963) argued that the basic model of the culture core ignored the complexity of social and environmental systems. He rejected the idea that the part of culture most closely related to subsistence activities and economic arrangements is the "core", while relegating the rest of culture as "secondary," "indeterminately shaped by the accidents of random innovation and diffusion" (Geertz 1963: 10-11). In the early cultural ecology of Geertz, the ecosystem became the basic unit of analysis. Bringing a much more explicitly biological concept such as systems theory into anthropology meant a much broader framework of analysis, and resulted in a focus on material interdependencies and interchanges of energy in communities (Geertz 1963:3-4). The ecosystem approach contributed greater holism to the study of human societies through a focus on the biological basis of productivity, and it became a valuable complement to the cultural ecology approach (Moran 1990:15-16).
The development of an ecological approach in anthropology was greatly impacted by Rappaport's work in the New Guinea Highlands (1967). Rappaport explicitly utilized the systems theory model to place humans within the ecosystem. His study related the ritual cycle to cycles of pig population growth, the fallow cycles of swiddens, and cyclical patterns of warfare and peace. Rappaport emphasized holism, but at the same time focused on micro-variables that affected relationships between humans and the environment. The study successfully ignored macro-level influences, and allowed an intensive concentration on data related to subsistence systems, and the impact of those systems on the environment as well as the social system.
Rappaport's study provided a definitive example of the advantages and limitations of using ecosystem concepts in ecological anthropology. Vayda and McCay (1975) described the problems that they saw as existing in ecological anthropology. Most importantly, they argued that ecosystems approaches are "equilibrium centered," that the focus on negative feedback processes ignores nonhomeostatic changes, systems disruptions, and unbalanced relations between people and their environments (Vayda & McCay 1975:294). The authors also state that ecosystem approaches are unable to explain cultural phenomena. They state that describing how traits or institutions work in relation to environmental problems does not provide an acceptable explanation of those traits or institutions Jbid:294). Another criticism is that there is an overemphasis on energetic efficiency and the "caloric obsession" Jbid: 296-97). Lastly, the authors argue that the actions of individuals have been ignored in examining how groups respond to environmental conditions.
Despite these criticisms, these authors and others have stated that ecological anthropology should not be abandoned. There has been a shift from single variable studies involving calories to more multivariate approaches to causality in human societies (Smith & Winterhalder 1992). While rejecting the past environmental reifications that characterized much ecological anthropology, contemporary researchers argue that ecosystem approaches are heuristic tools that encourage systemic thinking and inclusiveness in examining social systems (Moran 1990; Rappaport 1990).
The attention in policy circles to the human dimensions of global environmental change has renewed interest in ecological approaches, and, particularly, in the late 1980s
and 1990s researchers have become interested in resource management and systems of production and conservation (Posey & Balee 1989; Denevan & Padoch 1988).
Along with the increased emphasis on analysis of resource management, is increased awareness of macro-level factors affecting local level production systems. Political ecology focuses on the key variables that constitute the "socioeconomic matrix" of resource management at different scales of analysis (Schmink 1994:258). This approach emphasizes the interactions among various resource user and interest groups, and "how their actions are shaped by, and may affect the socioeconomic and political context over time" (Schmink 1994:258). Each user or social group has a rationale for their resource use patterns, yet these uses are often in conflict. Users respond to particular situations based on their own objectives, constraints, and perceptions. These characteristics are defined by access to the resources in question and by particular characteristics of the user group (ethnicity, education, social class, etc.). Access is, in turn, controlled by socioeconomic structures of the society, including property relations, market systems, and macroeconomic policies (Schmink 1994:258). The matrix of forest and resource management decisions in general is composed of these socioeconomic structures.
Analytical Methodology: Institutional Analysis: Bromley (1989) has provided comprehensive theoretical explanations of
institutional change. He argues that systems of resource use and economic behavior are constrained by the norins and rules that define choice domains, the relations among .individuals, and the criteria which indicate who may do what to whom (Bromley 1989:49). Since institutions determine the choices available to individuals or groups they
are the foundation of particular choices and behaviors (Bromley 1989). At any particular moment institutional arrangements determine economic conditions for certain individuals or groups. The outcomes of economic behavior are continually judged by the members of a group to be good or bad. If the conditions are seen as inappropriate or, as in market economies, inefficient, there will be a response through political channels to change the institutional arrangements that define choice sets (Bromley 1989). The challenge is to construct an institutional structure that sets boundaries and establishes order, but at the same time is flexible and capable of responding to new conditions. The work of Bromley will provide the theoretical background for the analysis of institutional process in Lomerio, and the work of Ostrom (1990) will provide the analytical framework.
Ostrom has focused her research on field settings where resource users have successfully created and maintained their own institutions to control the use of natural resources, and she has concentrated on identifying the factors that have allowed these systems to survive for long periods of time (Ostrom 1990, 1992). She has detailed eight "design principles" in operation in a wide range of robust natural resource institutions. These provide the primary domains of inquiry in the analysis of institutional organization in forestry management among the Chiquitanos. The eight domains are listed below with a brief summary of each (adapted from Ostrom 1990 and McGiness and Ostrom 1993).
1. Clearly Defined Boundaries. Individuals, households, or communities that have rights to extract forest resources must be clearly defined as well as the boundaries of the resources themselves.
2. Congruence between Rules and Local Conditions. Appropriation rules restricting time, place, technology, and/or quantity of forest resources are related to local conditions and to provision rules regarding labor, materials, and/or money.
3. Collective-Choice Arrangements. Most individuals affected by operational rules can participate in modifying operational rules.
4. Monitoring. Monitors, who actively audit forest resource conditions and participant behavior, are accountable to the participants or are the participants.
5. Graduated Sanctions. Participants who violate operational rules are likely to be assessed sanctions (depending on the seriousness and context of the offense) from other participants, by officials accountable to these participants, or by both.
6. Conflict Resolution Mechanisms. Participants and their officials have rapid access to low-cost, local arenas to resolve conflict among participants or between participants and officials.
7. Minimal Recognition of Rights to Organize. The rights of participants to devise their own institutions are not challenged by external government authorities.
8. Nested Entefprises. Appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance are organized in multiple layers of nested enterprises.
Development in Bolivia: From Top-Down to Community-Based
At the heart of this dissertation is a forestry project that reflects an effort at
economic development and ecological conservation. The approach taken in the project is the latest in a long history of development in Bolivia and throughout the "Third World." It is a community forestry project based on the principles of community-based conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. The project is designed
to create economic benefits for the local communities through the long-term use and management of timber resources on local lands. The project is designed so that the local communities harvest timber at a sustainable rate, meaning that only a percentage of the trees are cut and damage to the forest is minin-lized to allow for the regeneration of commercial species. The harvested trees are milled in a locally owned sawmill, and the timber is sold to national and international buyers. The profits are then distributed through the participating communities. On the ground, this process does not work out so clearly and evenly, and that is what this dissertation seeks to explain. In this section, I will briefly contextualize, the project in terms of the history of development in Bolivia, and explain some of the basic principles of community-based conservation.
According to James C. Jones (1995, 1997) the entire history of development in Bolivia has been controlled by a "racist elite" and driven by a "mining mentality" (1997:116). Jones says that development agencies have ignored the control "economic and power elites" have maintained over the Indian majority in the country. They abuse the Indians for cheap labor and control their political participation by manipulating Indian leaders (Jones 1997:116). This system has been in place since colonial times and has led to the plunder of mission wealth (once the Jesuits were kicked out of the country in the eighteenth century), rubber, wildlife, cattle, and now, tropical hardwoods. Each political regime takes its turn "mining" the natural resources of the country during its time in office in a self-serving fashion (Jones 1997:116). He argues that the Bolivian elite has taken the neo-liberal policies of free enterprise and deregulation to the extreme, sanctioning greedy and savage economic behavior. Support from agencies like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank strengthens the sanction (Jones 1997:116).
Aid from these organizations increased in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1952 and the accompanying agrarian reform of 1953. These events established the framework in which development takes place (Gill 1987). The revolution was essentially a highlands event, and agrarian reforrn was based on conditions existing in the highlands. It was not well-designed for the Oriente, or lowlands. Land distribution proceeded slowly in the lowlands, and elites manipulated the process in their favor, creating large ranches, and pushing peasants and Indians into more marginal lands (Sanabria 1973;Gill 1987).
The lowlands were viewed as a peripheral area in the national economy. They
opened up lands from the Chapare in the eastern foothills of the Andes to the city of Santa Cruz for colonization by dispossessed Quechua and Aymara farmers from the highlands (Stearman 1978, 1985). The numbers of migrants quickly swelled and many encroached onto Indian and campesino lands, creating pressures to secure land tenure.
Development policy of the 1960s and 1970s was dominated by top-down, capitalintensive aid projects. In the Santa Cruz area, development aid was designed to increase agricultural exports (Gill 1987). Almost all of the credits, technology, extension, and price supports benefited the large-scale producers of export crops such as soybeans, sorghum, and cotton. Little attention was paid to small-scale food crop producers. Development policy aimed to satisfy foreign exchange requirements for industrial development (Gill 1987:218-219). Hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest were cleared, and soils quickly depleted in a frontier-style land grab. New settlers cleared forest, harvested, and quickly moved to clear new areas (Gill: 1987:5)). The drug war has dominated US-Bolivian foreign relations in the 1980s and 1990s. James C. Jones (1997) says that interdiction, or police and military repression of coca production, is
emphasized more than development alternatives to coca growing. This involves using American and Bolivian soldiers to capture drug traffickers. This has been a sensitive issue in Bolivia, and the US had to get the consent of local elites. They have granted this consent in exchange for important and lucrative positions in the new US funded forestry projects (Jones 1997:115). And, while the same elites control the flow of development aid into the nation, the development agencies constantly change their people, projects, and approach to development.
James Wilkie (1982), critical of the past role of US foreign aid in the
underdevelopment of the Bolivian lowlands, asserts that the bureaucratic culture of organizations such as the World Bank and USAID has almost guaranteed a lack of results. He claims that the organizations are project oriented. Career advancement comes through developing new projects, rather than completing old ones. There is a tremendous turnover of personnel, and new officers are encouraged to come up with their own projects rather than to follow up the work of their predecessor. He calls USAID an "agency without a memory." (Wilkie 1982:107)
After the development disasters of the 1960s and 1970s, many academics and
development practitioners began to argue that the poor, who were the targets of aid, should "participate," in the development process, meaning that they should work with developers in the design, implementation, and evaluation of the project (Chambers 1983). "Participatory development," or "corrimunity-based development" views local conservation and development as a collaborative process, rather than as simply a product of top-down policy-making. These new approaches recognize that rural communities are dependent on the sustainable use of resources such as soil, water, and forest products
(Cernea 1985), and that existing local organizations and institutions provide the proper context for management (Western et al. 1994).
In the 1970s and 1980s conservation moved to the forefront of public attention (Western et al. 1994). The world witnessed the disasters of three mile island and Chernobyl, scientists confirmed the acceleration of greenhouse warming and the expansion of the ozone hole, and the destruction of the tropical rainforests increased in intensity. A strong conservation movement in the industrial world began to demand that politicians address conservation issues in their local areas, and in more remote tropical regions. With the end of the cold war, environmental issues became high priorities on international agendas. The collapse of communism decreased political tension in the many developing nations and allowed many groups in developing nations to begin demanding equitable resource allocation and a local voice in conservation (Western et al. 1994).
At the same time that historical and experimental events were laying the groundwork for community-based conservation, research into common property institutions demonstrated that local communities can manage "open access" resources without private property institutions or state regulation. Conurion property theory provided a basis for approaching the relationship between property systems and resource use. Research conducted at the community level provided case studies of groups who have organized institutions to manage fisheries, forests, irrigation systems, pastures, game, and myriad other common property resources (Acheson 1989; Bromley 1989; McCay & Acheson 1987; Ostrom 1990; Richards 1997). Much of the research on the commons has explored the issue of institutional sustainability, examining the ways that
communities have overcome obstacles to collective action. Common property theory concentrates on identifying forms of social organization that are most effective in managing resources in particular situations. This body of work provides the theoretical framework on which much of the community-based conservation projects are structured.
The Chiquitanos' forestry project is an excellent case study of community-based conservation because it reveals the general strengths and weaknesses of the strategy. Common property theory argues that people will invest in developing institutions to manage resources when the benefits exceed the costs of doing so (Ostrom 1990). The Chiquitanos often debated this very question. Another basic tenet of community-based conservation is that incentives to conserve and manage resources must be embedded in the interests of local communities if conservation is to flourish as a voluntary rather than a coercive effort (Western 1994). The success or failure of the project of the Chiquitano really hinges on the types of incentives that the Chiquitano leaders are able to offer their communities.
Two other factors have greatly influenced the growth of community-based
approaches to conservation. First, ever since the early 1980s, indigenous organizations have arisen demanding land rights, political autonomy, bilingual education programs and new forms of political participation, among other things. These organizations have become powerful actors on their own behalf, and many have demanded more participatory approaches to development and conservation (Conklin and Graham 1995). A second factor involved the human rights, environmental, and indigenous peoples support movements (i.e. Cultural Survival, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Amnesty International, Conservation International). All three have drawn
attention to the plight of rural and indigenous people throughout the tropics, and also provided links between political, technical, and economic resources of the developed world. Overall, since the early 1980s there has been a tremendous shift in development aid from public agencies to the non-governmental organizations spawned by these movements. Both of these movements will be the subject of the next section.
Ecopolitics and Indigenous Politics
The rise in indigenous organizing, the importance of eco-politics, and the growing role of NGOs have all caught the attention of anthropologists over the past two decades. This is primarily because NGOs have become such important political agents in the domain that anthropologists claimed as their own--the rural community (Brosius 1999). Many researchers have looked at geographic regions, such as the Andes or the Amazon basin, and attempted to explain the phenomenon in general terms (Clay 1984; MacDonald 1984;Yasher 1997; Brysk and Wise 1995; Kearney and Varese 1995 ). Most have theorized that broad socioeconomic and/or cultural factors can explain the emergence of the indigenous organizations. Scholarship dedicated to the study of environmental movements has critically examined how NGOs and development institutions construct and contest nature (Escobar 1999; Zerner 1996), and explored the transnationality of environmental movements and discourses (Conklin and Graham 1995; Sundberg 1998; Brosius 1999).
In 1982 the Central Intercommunal Campesina del Oriente Lomerio (CICOL) was founded by a group of Chiquitano communities as one of a series of ethnic organizations that were spreading across the Bolivian lowlands. CICOL was formed to protect Chiquitano lands and resources from outside logging companies that were trying to move
into Chiquitano territory. Through the years they have expanded from a focus on territorial protection to economic development and political participation. The organization has taken over many of the political roles held at the community level, and has in effect become a new institution that combines traditional authority with new roles. The authority of the organization was reinforced by a series of victories against the companies who were moving onto Chiquitano lands, and the securing of international funds for a forestry management project. They have proved themselves effective in promoting Chiquitano interests in engagements with the Bolivian government, and through linkages with international organizations. Almost from its inception, NGOs have worked closely with the organization, providing financial resources and technical assistance on the different projects that CICOL has implemented. It is this relationship that has been most instrumental in the direction that the organization has taken in terns of political engagements with the national society, and in its efforts at economic development. The relationship is problematic, however, and demands attention. NGOs are often paternalistic and create dependency in their relationship with indigenous organizations.
The Rise of Indigenous Political Organizations
Organizations such as CICOL arose out of a movement begun in the 1 960s to link the struggles of indigenous people throughout the world. In 1964, the Shuar Federation was created as an association of Shuar communities in the Sucua region in southeastern Ecuador (Smith 1984). The Amuesha of the central Peruvian Amazon established the Congress of Amuesha Communities in 1969 (Smith 1984). Both of these organizations formed under similar conditions. Agrarian reform in the Andean regions of Peru, Bolivia,
Ecuador, and Columbia led to programs to direct landless peasants and Indians to lowland eastern forests, which were billed as an empty frontiers and future centers of agricultural production (Smith 1984). Most of these migrants came into direct conflict with groups, such as the Shuar and the Amuesha that had been living in these "empty frontiers" for centuries. The assault on the land base was the primary reason for organization for these groups and the organizations that came after.
Robin M. Wright (1988) says that indigenous intellectuals began to meet in
international conferences such as the Port Alberni Conference of 1975 and the Barbados Conference of 1977 to create alliances with other ethnic groups, classes, labor unions. These conferences also promoted solidarity among such movements throughout the Third World (Wright 1988:377). The conferences promoted the idea of indigenous identity as a viable and long-term strategy for liberation, making it viable, but distinct from class consciousness (Wright 1988:377). Indigenous leaders left these international conferences and went to work in their home countries. Networks of native organizations began to arise, varying from small inter-communal organizations to national and international confederations (Yasher 1997:2). Most of the smaller organizations focused on specific local issues of land tenure and resource control, many of these in opposition to situations created by development efforts.
All of these organizations have struggled to reconcile Western forms of political organization with ideologies and practices taken from the native experience. Janet Hendricks (1991) argues that the Shuar Federation of Ecuador has maintained a firm sense of Shuar identity and beliefs even while instituting major changes in the Shuar political organization and modes of economic production (1991:54). The Federation has
strongly promoted cattle raising among the Shuar, and has adopted a Western-style organization with a hierarchy of elected officials, and a system of commissions structured to match the various ministries and agencies of the Ecuadorian government. However, they have created a successful resistance movement that is strongly critical of national policies and local efforts at economic development and migration into their territorial lands (Hendricks 1991:55). Hendricks says that their success is a result of fierce opposition to government programs and policies that threaten traditional Shuar values, but restrained acceptance of programs that benefit the Shuar and reinforce Shuar belief systems. They have linked government efforts to promote sustainable forest management with traditional Shuar values and beliefs concerning human/land relationships. They have also transformed government bilingual education programs into efforts designed to preserve the Shuar language and promote awareness of traditional knowledge systems (Hendricks 1991:56).
CICOL, the Chiquitano organization, has had a similar experience. They also have structured their organization to match the relevant Bolivian government ministries with whom they interact. According to Hendricks, the Shuar Federation maintains a strong, anti-development position. CICOL consciously attempts to promote development, but according to their own terms. They have sought their own funding for projects, and are selective in choosing the organizations they will allow to work in their territory. The forestry project has been slow growing, and it is only recently that it has reached a scale that could change the economic structure of the area through increased income and forms of labor organization. CICOL struggles to make sure that the direction the project takes is consistent with Chiquitano interests, and that it does not threaten to
transform Chiquitano values and beliefs. Later, I discuss how CICOL leaders constantly reaffirm their authority through appeals to a return to traditional values and fierce critiques of the development agencies that are working with the forestry project. Organizations such as CICOL and the Shuar Federation have now matured and many of their original goals of territorial protection and increased political participation have been accomplished. Still, they have shown resilience in expanding their core issues to include cultural autonomy and economic development (Urban and Sherzer 199 1). The continued strength and growth of these organizations represents a new phase in the history of relations between indigenous peoples and nation-states, and may finally signify a truly indigenous response to the encroachments that have been made into their worlds.
In general, class-based organizations and political movements, such as the
agrarian and labor syndicates, have never captured the interest of indigenous people of the Amazon basin, as in other areas such as the Andes. This is mainly a function of isolation. In the Bolivian lowlands, road-building is still in its initial stages. Travel and communication are difficult even between areas that are relatively close. In the highlands, long-distance communication among rural and indigenous people has allowed communication and political organization for a much longer period of time. Michael Kearney (1996), in an analysis of the rise of ethnic movements among indigenous peoples, argues that class identity, because of its abstract nature, is not easily taken up as a part of an individual's subjective identity. He says that ethnicity is more capable of concretizing ideas of sameness and difference, and doing so in an emotionally charged manner, giving it more potential to mobilize groups (1996:179). In addition, ethnicity
more clearly resonates with kinship, making it a powerful conceptual and organizational tool among indigenous people.
Kearney says that he uses ethnicity to mean the cultural construction of person and community (1996:179). The strength of the concept as a basis of identity and political organization is that it is not dependent on means of production, making it an ideal aspect of identity for marginalized peoples and the dispossessed, of which many indigenous groups certainly qualify (1996:180). Since it is not tied to specific nationalities, it is also well suited to the types of transnational communities that have been created among indigenous peoples throughout the world (1996:18 1).
Since the late 1950s the Chiquitanos have created a series of agricultural syndicates, modeled on the strong, politically powerful syndicates of the Bolivian highlands. The syndicates, however, were always short-lived. Once they had achieved their immediate objective, be it the expulsion of rancher/patrons, or the securing of agricultural loans, they disbanded through lack of a central organizing focus. CICOL, in fact, was a direct descendant from the syndicates. Many of the original founders of CICOL, and the leaders to follow were members of the same families as the syndicate organizers. CICOL has already lasted much longer than any of the previous labor organizations. Finally, CICOL, as a political movement, has drawn its support from a wider base with its philosophy of promoting Chiquitano cultural autonomy. This has also allowed it to gather ideological strength, information, publicity, and support internationally from the global indigenous movement as a whole.
Yasher (1997) focuses more on the political and economic structural factors that have affected indigenous people in South America. She sees the root of the indigenous
ethnic movements as a general response to the structural adjustment policies--wage freezes, price hikes, public-sector layoffs, currency devaluation, and an end to price subsidies on food and fuel--that most South American states implemented in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In general, these economic policies imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on developing countries meant decreased government funds in rural social services and education. The national governments' need for foreign currency resulted in efforts to increase exports. In rural areas, this took a toll on natural resources through the national promotion of logging, mining, and cattle ranching in indigenous territories ( 1997:8). This meant increased threats to precarious land tenure arrangements that had protected the communal land holdings of indigenous communities. Increased state pressure to bring lands into productive use in indigenous territories also challenged local forms of political organization which had been informally allowed to exist though rarely officially recognized (Stroebele-Gregor 1996:77). Prior to the 1980s, independence of local political institutions and land tenure has been more related to isolation than government policy, but beginning in the 1980s it has become increasingly difficult for indigenous groups to remain isolated. Political squeezing has led to increased rural organizing and protest with a uniquely indigenous flavor because of the challenges to indigenous authority and property at the local level. The result was the national political expression of a local politicized identity of Indians as Indians (Yasher 1997:24).
Both of these analyses are helpful in understanding the reasons for the emergence of CICOL, but to comprehend the continued strength and resilience of the organization
another factor should be considered: the rise of human rights and environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Non -Governmental Organizations
In Bolivia, NGOs have provided a tremendous amount of technical support and money to indigenous organizations, and have underwritten most of the legal battles for land titling. They have also become effective in influencing government policy towards indigenous people through international publicity campaigns that have brought the relationships between indigenous people and the state into the global media spotlight. With declining in faith in state-led development strategies, international aid donors are increasingly turning to NGOs to implement development strategies (L. Macdonald 1995). According to the United Nations Development Program, total aid funneled through NGOs increased from $ 1.0 billion in 1970 to $7.2 billion in 1990 (L. Macdonald 1995:3 1). During the 1980s the growth rate of official aid to NGOs was almost five times higher than the growth in governmental development assistance (L. Macdonald 1995:3 1).
The popularity of NGOs for channeling development and conservation funds has led to the creation of what have been termed quasi-NGOs, or "Quangos" (Price 1994). Quangos are publicly sponsored affiliates of government ministries that look like and function like NGOs, even though they receive government funds (Price 1994:53). In Lomerio, the organization BOLFOR is a Quango, associated with the US Agency for International Development (USAIID) and the Ministry for Sustainable Development and the Environment (MDMSA) in Bolivia. These organizations possess enormous potential for reforming environmental policy at local, national, and international levels, and their strengths and weaknesses need to be analyzed.
Development practitioners have pointed to some of the general characteristics of NGOs: participatory, commitment/dedication, and flexibility, that make them particularly suited to rural development/conservation projects (Vakil 1997). Donors and development agencies in Northern countries began to view the national "indigenous" NGOs as vertical intermediaries between local, village or community organizations and the financial, technical, and political resources of the donor agencies (MacDonald 1995; Meyer 1993). A few authors have described the growth in NGOs as an economic response to the demand for institutional change in the developing world (Meyer 1993). There is increasing demand for the NGOs to receive development funds that would normally go to the public sector (Meyer 1993:192). While the interest in and approval of NGOs has been growing in the development community, the roles of NGOs and the relationships between NGOs and the base or grassroots is poorly understood.
The wide array of NGOs, with different institutional configurations, memberships, orientations, funding sources, and specializations, necessitates some preliminary clarification. First, there are distinctions between northern NGOs (such as OXFAM, Conservation International, and the World Wildlife Fund) and those of developing countries (Bebbington and Farrington 1993). Secondly, Carroll (1992) distinguishes between membership and non-membership organizations. These differ in social and ethnic composition, their relations to grassroots groups, their origins, and management styles and skills. Non-membership organizations tend to be staffed by middle class, nonIndian, professionals, and are administered through formal bureaucratic procedures (Carroll 1992). Membership groups are generally composed of the rural poor, Indian and non-Indian, and are managed through more informal procedures (Carroll 1992). This
study analyzes the relationship between a membership-based organization formed among the Chiquitano (CICOL), and a non-membership organization that works closely with the Chiquitanos (APCOB: Apoya para Campesina Indigena del Oriente Boliviano). Additionally, I examine the role of a US government sponsored quasi-NGO, or Quango, (BOLFOR: Bolivian Sustainable Forestry Project) that has begun working with the Chiquitanos.
My fieldwork, began in July, 1997, and lasted until August, 1998. It focused on the communities of Lomerio, an area encompassing 28 Chiquitano communities south of the town of Concepcion in the Department of Santa Cruz. I came to Bolivia hoping to study a community-based development/conservation project. I wanted to use development as a springboard for exploring how indigenous people are responding to the challenges and opportunities placed before them through the globalization of political and environmental movements.
The choice of the Chiquitanos came through circumstance and serendipity. First, my wife, a forestry ecologist, received research funding to work with BOLFOR, a USAID (United States Agency for International Development) project promoting sustainable forestry management in the Bolivian lowlands. I contacted the project administrators about the possibility of doing a study in conjunction with their project. They suggested that I work on the Chiquitano forestry project in Lomerio. It turned out to be exactly the type of project that I was seeking.
I arrived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in July, 1997. The first few weeks were spent talking to researchers who had worked in Lomerio. The Chiquitanos have been actively
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involved in an internationally funded development and conservation project for the past 18 years. There has been a great deal of research conducted in the area: ecological studies, economic analysis of forest use and logging operations, hunting and wildlife studies, gender studies, a variety of household surveys and censuses, and ethnographic projects. The two major NGOs that work in Lomerio both employ anthropologists, and in the case of APCOB (Apoyo para Campesino Indigena del Oriente Boliviano), three or four. Many of the NGO personnel have worked in Lomerio for years, some for over a decade, developing the sustainable forestry project. Their insights, knowledge, and observations helped me throughout the fieldwork period.
The Chiquitanos of Lomerio have had experience with foreigners, such as Peace Corps volunteers, biologists, anthropologists, and missionaries. My strange habits and constant questions were not entirely new. Soon after I arrived, one of the older residents came to my house in the early evening and told me that he wanted to tell me a story. I sat down to listen, figuring that note-taking or recording might be taken as rude on our first visit. He, however, insisted that I use my tape recorder to fully record what he had to say. Many families showed me maps and kinship charts that had been drawn up with other researchers who had come through the area. Often, I felt that informants had more experience answering anthropological questions than I had in asking them.
Chiquitanos constantly asked me why I was doing my research, and how would its results be relevant to their daily lives. I always responded that I was hoping to improve the ways that development was being done in Lomerio, making development more integrated into the values, political institutional structures, and economic patterns of the Chiquitanos. I think that they accepted this, but I was never sure if I did. I felt that I
could stay in Lomerio for 10 years and never fully understand the complexities and depth of Chiquitano culture. I was only scratching the surface, and I felt uncomfortable making my conceptions and ideas about life in Lomerio the basis for real, powerful policy measures that deeply impacted peoples' lives.
For me, fieldwork began with a small, basic set of research questions about indigenous political organizations and NGOs. Quickly, the set of research questions expanded. The more I learned, the more questions presented themselves. The longer I was in Lomerio, the more I had the feeling that I really did not understand what was occurring. The vastness of what I had to comprehend left me feeling that my observations, questions, and interpretations were inadequate. It was only after I left the field and began reading over my earlier field-notes that I realized I was learning more than I thought while I was doing it.
I really did not have trouble finding informants who were willing to answer my questions about Chiquitano culture, many of them with an astuteness and insightfulness that I can only try to replicate. However, my main obstacle was a constant guilt that I was intruding, and had no business being where I was. I felt that I was taking much more from Lomerio than I was capable of returning. I wasn't sure if my study would help, and this feeling has not left even through the writing process. I mention this because I believe that it affected the type of study that I did.
Because of my misgivings about research, I did not rely heavily on formal
methods. Power differences in the relationship between researcher and subject are more apparent to me in more formal methods. Admittedly, the use of informal methods may only be an attempt to ignore issues of power, but I was more comfortable using them, and
1 was more effective in gathering information informally. I did not neglect the use of formal methods, however. I conducted structured interviews and even did a survey, but most of the data presented here comes from more informal methods. I listened to people as closely as possible. I tried as best as I could to participate in the normal conversations that people had with one another in carrying out their daily lives. When a topic of particular interest arose, I tried to pursue it through questioning. I asked informants to follow up a previous conversation and explain some topic to me in detail. Admittedly, this does influence the type of data that I was able to collect since it is restricted to the small group of people who were willing to talk to me and speak openly when I was around.
The use of informal methods raises questions of reliability and validity in datacollection. Kirk and Miller (1986) embrace the subjectivity that is necessary in ethnographic research, and incorporate personal interpretation as one of the valuable tools in the ethnographer's kit. The authors accomplish this conceptual meshing by defining objectivity as the realization "of as much reliability and validity as possible." (Kirk and Miller 1986:11)
There is no such creature as perfect validity in ethnographic interpretation. Again, relativism is the usual context of any observation. However, validity can be "maximized" in the sense that interpretations can become more powerful, clear, and reliable. One way that this is accomplished is by approaching a question from a number of different angles and/or a variety of methods. An interpretation that is reached from a diverse array of perspectives and methods can be said to be more valid than one reached from within a single perspective or single method (Kirk and Miller 1986). Interpretations of group
opinion based on conversations with all group members can be said to be more valid than interpretations reached from conversations with one or two members. I participated in many group conversations, and I tried to identify the areas of consensus and disagreement. I then followed up these discussions with conversations with individuals. I tried to separate what people said in groups from what they said in private.
Reliability is controlled by the detailed documentation of the context of observation (Kirk and Miller 1986). What are the factors affecting ethnographic observation and interpretation? How do emotion, physical condition, language, gender, age, and other particular circumstances become relevant variables? Objectivity is impossible without contextualization. Interpretations of a particular situation may be more related to extraneous conditions than to interactions that were the subject of observation. I tried to detail the conditions under which my observations were made and interpretations developed. I was concerned that my prejudices and biases, and my daily changes in mood affected the lens through which I was interpreting life in Lomerio. I countered this by asking the same questions over and over, under different conditions, and different mental states, hoping to reduce bias through replication.
Since there was so much research being conducted in Lomerio, CICOL was given authority by the communities to regulate who would be allowed to work in the area, and what types of research could be conducted. I do not know of an instance where CICOL prohibited someone from working, but they did use the power in their constant negotiations with the NGOs who sponsored the research. They occasionally threatened to expel all researchers from the area if certain compromises were not made in their favor.
1 arrived in Lomeric, shortly after one of these threats, and I was worried that I had picked the wrong time to present my proposed project. I went to the CICOL office and explained the project that I wanted to do: an ethnographic study of the forestry management project and the interactions between CICOL and the associated NGOs. They agreed, on the condition that I worked in the CICOL office. They needed someone to organize their growing library and archives, and to train the directors to use the computers that had recently been donated to the organization. I gladly took the "position" of office assistant, and soon found myself in the middle of the daily workings of CICOL.
Organizing the archives gave me the opportunity to find out a great deal about the history of the organization and the forestry project in a short period of time. I created files and logs of all of the correspondences between CICOL and the development organizations. Reading a chronology of correspondences that reached back as far as fifteen years allowed me to identify themes and patterns that have dominated the relationships through the years, and provided a deeper understanding of the interactions that occurred during the relatively shorter period of fieldwork.
I also participated in many of the daily meetings that took place in the CICOL
office. Most of these meetings were informal discussions among directors, but there were often more formal meetings with local community representatives, and highly charged planning and crisis-resolution meetings of CICOL directors and NGO staff. My role in the office was always that of a BOLFOR representative and, perhaps more importantly, a non-Bolivian outsider, but I believe that my day-to-day presence quickly broke down the barriers that the institutional association carried, and made me privy to much of the gossip, jokes, and complaining that are a part of office worklife. My opinion was often
sought during planning meetings, and I tried to be helpful if I thought I had something to contribute.
The CICOL office, however, was in Puquio el Cristo Rey, and I lived in the
community of San Lorenzo, about 5 km away. BOLFOR maintained a research station that was located on the central plaza. The building was used primarily by forestry technicians on short term assignment in the field, or by other persons traveling through the area. The community allowed my wife and me to use one of the rooms as a semipermanent home. I commuted to the office via foot, bicycle, or one of the logging vehicles that act as public transportation for Lomerio.
Working in an office is not the experience of most Chiquitanos. Daily life in a Chiquitano community revolves around work in the fields, forest, and home, and is marked by the activities and obligations of the family and the community. I tried to divide my time evenly between the CICOL office and San Lorenzo.
One of my most important research activities was joining a work group, an
association of men who rotated between each others' fields, sharing the heavy labor. I did not have a field to work in the rotation, but I had many questions, and the men in the group became my most valuable informants. Participating in the full range of activities in the agricultural cycle gave me a richer understanding of the seasonal rhythms in the community, and helped me to establish trust with the men and the community in general. My lack of skill with a machete and ax was a source of innumerable jokes at any community gathering.
I also attempted to participate as fully in community activities as possible,
attending formal organized activities, such as Mass and the regular community meetings,
as well as the more informal fiestas and household visits. Perspectives within the
communities on Lomerio history, Chiquitano identity, and the forestry project were much
different from that of the CICOL directors, and made for a valuable contrast.
I also conducted a region-wide survey of the communities of Lomerio.'I The
survey collected a comprehensive array of data about health, education, resource use, and economic activities. Some of these data will be presented in the next chapter as a part of
a general description life in Lomerio. In recent years there have been a number of surveys
and censuses done in Lomerio (Toledo Gutierrez 1995; Zarzycky 1992; APCOB 1996;
VAIPO 1997) by a variety of NGOs and researchers. The frequency has generated
complaints from many community leaders. In a General Assembly that brought together
the CICOL directorate and community representatives, the diagnosticos were cited as one
of the major problems in the relationship between the people of Lomerio and NGOs.
Residents said that they were tired of the endless questions and long workshops that took
away valuable time needed for work in the fields and home. Many of the survey
participants complained that the surveys were disrespectful and invasive, and they
questioned the surveys' necessity and usefulness. The Assembly decided to require all researchers proposing surveys to justify their research in terms of benefits for the local
After consultation with CICOL, I decided to do my survey between March and
May, a relatively light period of work for men and women in the agricultural cycle. I also
held a meeting in each community to explain my intentions and reasons for doing the
The survey was part of a project of Dr. Ricardo Godoy, measuring variables affecting rates of deforestation among indigenous peoples of the Bolivian lowlands (Godoy 1999)
survey. Despite this, there was much resistance to the surveys. Many families were concerned about how the information would be used, and some refused to participate.
The survey was lengthy, taking between 2 and 3 hours with each family. With the assistance of a Chiquitano student, I surveyed 220 families in 20 communities (There are approximately 840 families in the 28 communities of Lomerio). The community leaders selected the families to participate, mainly based on the family's willingness or not. This has possibly led to some bias in the data towards those with more favorable attitudes toward development and the forestry project, but with the prevailing attitudes towards surveys at the time, I had little control over who would be surveyed.
Besides the data collected in the actual survey, the conversations with families and communities about the surveys and the work of NGOs in general, yielded a wealth of data on community attitudes toward the forestry project, and other smaller projects in Lomerio.
What I present here comes out of thousands of conversations and observations. I lived with the Chiquitanos and listened to and watched the patterns of their lives. This dissertation represents my construction of that experience, and in no way makes a claim to authority in understanding of Chiquitano culture. I can only claim that it comes out of careful attention and an honest attempt to learn.
In an introduction to the book Indigenous Peoples and the Future of Amazonia, Leslie Sponsel (1995) says that for anthropological research to remain relevant to indigenous communities, it must move beyond documentation of traditional environmental adaptation patterns. He argues that anthropology should focus more on:
1) the ways that indigenous societies have adapted to the environmental and cultural impacts of western society, and 2) the application of research to the needs, interests, priorities, and rights of indigenous societies, such as in providing information to them, supporting intellectual property rights, and promoting self-determination (Sponsel 1995).
Overall, I believe that this dissertation, as a case study, contributes to the
understanding of the cultural and economic dynamics underlying the relationship between indigenous organizations and NGOs in the present context of international development. While it is difficult to generalize from single case studies, the issues raised by the relationship between CICOL and the various NGOs in Lomerio, paternalism, dependency, facade-building, are present in all similar contexts throughout Latin America. This case study shows how those involved have created their problems and how they are attempting to solve them. This can hopefully provide lessons for others facing the same challenges.
LOMERIO AND THE CHIQUITANOS
Lomerio lies in the center of the former Jesuit mission region of the southeastern Bolivian lowlands, an area that extends from Santa Cruz east to the Brazilian border, between the tropical wetlands of the Llanos de Moxos to the north and the Gran Chaco desert of Paraguay to the south. Lomerio takes its name from its gentle, rolling hills (loma means hill in Spanish). Seen from above, the region is a mosaic of savannah, and low, dry forest, broken by large, rounded granite outcrops termed lajas, and by streams and rivers that cascade through the hills in the wet season, and lie stagnant and still in the dry season. There are only two roads in and out of Lomerio, and only one is passable by bus service for the entire year. It is an area that the Chiquitanos fled to trying to escape the rubber barons in the late nineteenth century, and the area gives the impression of isolation.
Jurgen Riester's (1976) En busca de la loma santa (In Search of the Holy Hill) is the only major anthropological description of the Chiquitanos. The book is meant to be an overview of the culture and condition of all of the lowland tribes. He provides a cultural sketch of the Chiquitano, describing the productive system and the cabildo political structure. He also describes religious sincreticism among the Chiquitano: the combining of ideas and symbols from the Jesuit period of Chiquitano history with Chiquitano beliefs about the spirits that inhabit and control aspects of the natural world, 39
such as rivers, corn fields, and forests. This chapter is meant to update the work of Riester, specifically focusing on the Chiquitanos of Lomerio. I provide a historical background to the present condition of the Chiquitanos, and also describe the daily and seasonal activities that make-up Chiquitano life. I describe the environment of Lomerio, the layout of Chiquitano villages, agriculture, education, fiestas, and wage labor activities. One of the greatest changes in Chiquitano life has come in the area of political organization. The cabildo system described by Riester has since lost almost all of its traditional authority among the Chiquitanos of Lomerio. I leave a discussion of political organization until the next chapter where I discuss the role of CICOL, the organizational manifestation of the recent Chiquitano struggle for land and autonomy.
Lomerio is unique in that it is essentially a Chiquitano enclave. Over 99% of the residents are self-identified as Chiquitano (VAIPO 1997). Outside of Lomerio, the majority of Chiquitanos live in or around major regional towns, such as Concepcion and San Ignacio, and are more integrated into the national economy and society. In Lomerio, close to 80% of the residents speak Besuro, the Chiquitano language, compared to 10% in Chiquitano communities outside of Lomerio (VAIPO 1997).
According to the 1992 census there are 220,000 indigenous persons found among 36 different groups in the lowlands of Bolivia from the Amazon to the north and the Chaco desert to the south (APCOB 1996b). The Chiquitanos are the largest group in the Oriente, or lowlands, with a population of around 72,500, 34% of the total for all indigenous people. Half of the Chiquitanos live in the province of Velasco, a quarter live in Nuflo de Chavez, and the rest are spread out in the provinces of Angel Sandoval,
Chiquitos, and German Busch (INE Census 1992). Within each province the Chiquitano populations are concentrated in certain cantons. For example, in the province of Nuflo de Chavez, the canton Santa Rosa del Palmar, also known as Lomerio, is almost 100% Chiquitano. In the canton of Concepcion, 82% of the population is Chiquitano (INE Census 1992). In other cantons the Chiquitano population numbers are much lower. There have been numerous population censuses conducted in Lomerio, the research area for the study presented here, with widely varying results, probably due to temporary labor migrations, but the most likely population estimate is between 5500 and 6000.
Lomerio lies in the transition zone between the humid tropical forests and
savannahs of the north, and the dry savannahs of the Gran Chaco to the south. This area is a patchwork of savannah grasslands and wooded areas. However, compared to the Llanos de Moxos to the north, the forests here are much drier. The forests located on the Chiquitos uplands drain in the north to the Rfo Mamor6, and so, are a part of the Amazon drainage basin. To the south of Lomerio the uplands drain to the Rfo Paraguay part of the Pantanal drainage system. Lakes are not a common feature of the landscape as in the Llanos.
Seasonality is a defining characteristic of the dry, deciduous forests (Parejas &
Suarez 1992). There is a pronounced dry season between May and October when there is practically no rainfall. Being deciduous, forest trees shed all of their leaves during the dry period. There is also a pronounced flowering and fruiting period in which fruits are dropped at the beginning of the wet period of November to April. In comparison to areas to the north, the forests are relatively species-poor. Trees are generally smaller in
diameter and shorter in height in comparison to wet forests, leading to a much lower canopy than the wet forests (Bullock et al. 1995). These forests are dominated by leguminous tree species as well as species in the Bombacacae and Anacardicaceae families (Bullock et al. 1995). The soils are deep, weathered, leached, and acidic.
The savannah, or pampa, generally develops in poor, shallow soils, and areas of frequent fires, set by the Chiquitanos in the dry season to produce more edible grass for grazing cattle. The trees are short, thick-barked species that can survive the fires, and the grazing pressure of cattle. Grasses are an important resource of the pampa. They are important roof-thatching materials.
There are marked dry and wet seasons in Lomerio. Generally, July to September is the driest period of the year, and January to March is the wettest period. In Concepcion, there is on average about 30 mm of rain in July and about 235 mm of rain in January (Navarro 1995). In general, there is a gradual decrease in average yearly rainfall from Concepcion, slightly north of Lomerio, to the San Julian River at the southern limit of Lomerio (Navarro 1995). The average annual precipitation for Concepcion is 1165.4 mm. The average annual temperature is 24.2 C. June to August are the coldest months when fronts of cold air, named surazos, charge up from the southern regions of the continent. October to December are the hottest months. There has been a drought in Lomerio and throughout the Bolivian lowlands from 1997-1999. During the study period, the drought intensified due to climatic conditions brought on by the El Nino phenomenon. The drought has resulted in many failed crops.
San Lorenzo: A Chiquitano Community I lived and did the largest part of my research in the community of San Lorenzo, a community of about 250 people, almost in the middle of Lomerio. The community sits on a low hill that is nestled into a bend of the Rio Zapoc6. A larger hill sits to the north of the community, and the dirt road coming from Concepci6n climbs that hill, giving a view of the layout of the community. In the center of the plaza sits a large, ornately carved cross, made from the hardwood cuchi (Astronium urundueva) tree. Rural Chiquitano communities are reflections of the urban layout of the mission centers, such as Concepci6n and San Javier, and this can be plainly seen in San Lorenzo. The church building is the social and political center of the community, placed prominently on one side of the large, central plaza. It is not an imposing building, one story with whitewashed concrete floors and walls and a tile roof. It does, however, provide a focus point for the community. The church normally functions as a communal meeting place, school, and fiesta site, in addition to its role as a religious center. One community member in San Lorenzo told me, "The church is where we pray, where we dance, and where we fight."
Around the plaza, space is strictly marked into quadrants. Each family plot uses on average 1300 m2, in which are located the house and the household garden. When new households are established through marriage or in-migration, the alcalde politico, or mayor, assigns the family a new quadrant. Streets and trails through the community are linear between neatly fenced household spaces. San Lorenzo is known throughout Lomerio for its oranges, most of them grown in the household gardens. In season, the community smells of oranges and looks as if it was built within a large orchard.
in Nvvv, -8VILT Wse 00
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Figure 2. Dia-rarn of the community of San Lorenzo
Two types of housing construction are found in San Lorenzo: an older form that utilizes locally-found materials and a more recent form that was part of an early 1990s development program of the local priest that uses materials such as concrete and tiles. The former consists of a simple wood construction with mud or adobe walls, earthen floors, and a thatched roof made from the motacu (Attale phalerat ) palm. Most housing compounds separate the kitchen from the house in a smaller adobe or wood building in which the cooking is done. The church houses consist of a frame of n-iilled timber, white washed concrete floors and walls, and tile roofs. The materials for these houses were subsidized by the church, but still represent a considerable economic and labor investment in an area with few opportunities for cash income. The total cost of the church house is 5000 Bolivianos, or about $1000 US, including labor. The church supplied the materials and the family was only expected to supply or pay for the labor, under trained church construction supervisors. The church built hundreds of these houses in the early years of the decade and now builds several per year.
Contemporary local politics can be read in the approaches to materials and design in housing construction. Less than half of the houses in the community of San Lorenzo, the primary site of research, were church houses. On first appearances, the two types of houses seem to represent two economic or social strata in the community, but it is more of a political division. The beneficiaries of the housing program were selected by the priest, and depended as much on the relationship between the fan-tily and the priest as on community standing. The Catholic Church has had a strong presence in Lomerio since 1958 when a large church was built in the community of San Antonio. Since that time the Church has been the largest provider of health and education services in Lomerio.
They have also held a great deal of control over the distribution of public funds. When the Chiquitanos formed their own representative organization, CICOL, and began to directly contact development NGOs, the Church, and one priest in particular, saw this a threat to their own development program, and more specifically, their control over local politics. The priest actively tried to discredit CICOL, and an open competition emerged between the priest, together with a small group of authorities from San Antonio (the largest village in Lomerio, 1039 residents), and the directors of CICOL for the right to political leadership in Lomerio. The priest attempted to win the Chiquitanos support by, among other things, building houses for families in the largest Chiquitano communities. The wealthiest family in San Lorenzo lived in a traditional home, and told me that they would never accept help from the priest. The Church houses, however, have acquired a certain status identification, and most families living in traditional homes are in the process of building their own casas de materiales, but using their own financial resources to acquire materials, for principle or political sake.
Of all the regional Chiquitano centers in the lowlands, only in Lomerio is
Chiquitano, or Besuro, the native language, spoken on a large scale. Most adults are bilingual in both Besuro and Spanish. Increases in literacy and education in Lomerio among the younger generation have been mirrored by a subsequent loss in the native language. Many younger people in Lomerio only understand Besuro, but do not speak it. Many Chiquitano leaders are worried that the language will be lost in a few generations if more effort is not taken to teach younger people the native language.
Besuro was the linguafranca of the Jesuit missions, as there were possibly
hundreds of different languages spoken among the tribal groups gathered in the missions.
The language is related to other Arawak languages, but is considered an independent and isolated language family (Metraux 1942; Reister and Suaznabar 1990). Today, the Besuro of Lomerio contains a growing number of Spanish words and structural grammatical characteristics.
The Jesuit Missions
Before the arrival of the Spanish, the area of eastern Bolivia was populated by a heterogenous array of cultural groups. Chiquito, aruak, tupi-guarani, bororo, zamuko/chamakoko, yaracare, and guato are the linguistic families to which the preColumbian groups are thought to correspond (Metraux 1949). The first Spanish to enter the area of Chiquitania proceeded from expeditions out of Asuncion beginning in 1535, culminating in the establishment of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in 1561. During this time thousands of lowland Indians were taken to work as slaves in the highland mines, such as Potosi, and many more died from the waves of old world epidemic diseases brought to South America by the Spanish (Sanabria 1973). From the founding of Santa Cruz until 1691, however, there were no Spanish settlements in the area of Chiquitania, and despite the great social and demographic transformations produced by disease and slavery, the different cultural groups of Chiquitania remained relatively autonomous (Parejas and Suarez 1992). However, in the 18th century European politics and the growing rivalry between Spain and Portugal for control of South America would soon affect Chiquitania profoundly.
In the late 17th century the tribes of eastern Bolivia became the target of slave
hunters from Brazil (mamelucos or bandeirantes), looking to supply labor to the growing
plantations on the coast of Brazil. In 1691 Spain assigned the Jesuits the mission of pacifying and bringing Christianity to the tribes of the eastern lowlands in an effort to consolidate the Spanish colonial effort in the face of increasing Portuguese expansion from the east.
The ethnogenesis of Chiquitano identity and culture can be traced to the policies of the Jesuit reducciones that were established in eastern Bolivia between 1692 and 1767. With the increasing pressures being felt from slave hunters and military expeditions from both the Spanish and Portuguese colonial centers, many of the lowland tribes voluntarily opted for the lesser of evils which was the Jesuit missions. Notably, many groups, such as the Ayoreo, simply moved into more remote areas, and never settled onto the Jesuit missions (Riester 1976; Riester and Suaznabar 1990).
The indigenous groups that came to the missions brought their distinctive cultures: their languages, religions, political, and economic systems. However, the systematic process of acculturation implemented by the Jesuits required the concentration of the different populations in the missions and the sharing of one language. The name Chiquitano is taken from the one language that was selected by the Jesuits as the lengua franca of their politico-religious mission organization. What is known today as the Chiquitano culture is the result of an intense intercultural mix, as well as a strong effort in evangelization and assimilation on the part of the Jesuits.
The Jesuits founded 10 missions in the Chiquitania. There were around 37,000 Indians living in the 10 missions in 1767, the year of the expulsion of the Jesuits from South America (Parejas and Suarez 1992). Within the reducciones each ethnic group occupied their own space and was allowed a degree of autonomy in self-governance.
However, each group was represented by a cacique, or chief, appointed and educated by the Jesuits, who was integrated into the political religious hierarchy of the mission. Together the caciques formed a counsel of authorities, or cabildo (Albo 1966). According to Riester and Suaznabar (1990), the goal of this system was to weaken and replace the religious and political roles of the traditional leaders, the Mercurr, and to replace native religious rituals with catholic rituals. The Chiquitanos had to place all political and ritual power in the hands of the Catholic religion as the Jesuits implemented a rigid system of sanctions regarding participation in and administration of the Catholic masses.
The Jesuits also instituted a new economic model, aimed at converting the
Chiquitanos into sedentary farmers, concentrating more on agriculture and cattle-raising, and less on hunting, fishing, and forest collecting (Parejas and Suarez 1992). They also introduced rice, sugarcane, and citrus crops.
The Jesuits controlled and directed work in the missions. Three days of each week had to be spent working for the mission, and the other three days were spent on individual lands (Albo 1966). The surplus produced on the collective lands was redistributed by the priests, and was used primarily to acquire materials for the construction of the missions and the ritual fiestas that were a strong part of mission life. According to the Jesuit writers, surplus was only transferred out of the mission when it was used to acquire tools and materials that could not be produced within the mission (Albo 1966).
On the one hand, the Chiquitanos were forced to recognize the authority of the Jesuits in the political and religious spheres of the missions. On the other, some
ethnohistorians have noted that the Chiquitanos were not completely passive in accepting the colonial model imposed upon them (Krekeler 1995; Schwarz 1993). The Chiquitanos continued to look for a level of adaptation between the colonial order and their way of life before the missions, and they developed strategies to adapt the new model to their own interests. Here I want to briefly sketch a few of the ways in which indigenous autonomy was expressed and maintained within the missions. This is important for illustrating that the system of acculturation imposed by the Jesuits was not all-encompassing, and that the resulting Chiquitano culture cannot be viewed as solely a Jesuit product.
The new economic model introduced by the Jesuits did not completely substitute for the need for hunting, fishing, and forest collecting. Even with the new cultigens and cattle, part of the mission population was allowed to leave for 2 or 3 months to pursue game and fish, and to collect forest products (Schwarz 1993). Jesuit sources report that there was considerable resistance to the newly imposed rice-based diet, and that fish and game persisted as much more valued foods compared to domesticated meats (Schwarz 1993).
Hunting, fishing, and collecting were activities that were not under control of the Jesuits, and as such, allowed the reproduction of a cultural identity based on ancestral beliefs and social patterns as part of cazas sacrales. On these treks and hunts the traditional authority figures, the Mercurr, reasserted their position in the social and political spheres of Chiquitano society (Schwarz 1993). This dual life, part in the mission, and part in the forest, allowed the Chiquitanos to reinterpret the Catholic religion, and to create a synthesis between ancestral religions and the ideas and beliefs
promoted by the Jesuits. The reproduction of this duality and synthesis was the process of ethnogenesis for the culture Chiquitano.
Much of the organization within the mission was based on a dual system of
collective labor and common lands, tools and resources, as well as individual parcels, tools, and production (Albo 1966). This was similar to pre-mission patterns, and allowed the continued practice of using kinship as the organization of labor and the distribution of produce, game, and domestic meat. The produce from collective fields, the Cultivos de Dios, was distributed based on directions from the Jesuits. This was done mainly at the level of the cabildo, so that the Chiquitanos had a great deal of control over distribution at the level of the parcialidades, represented by the individual caciques in the cabildo (Schwarz 1993).
The above discussion is by no means an attempt to downplay the drastic changes brought to the indigenous peoples of Chiquitania during the time of the Jesuits. This was not a slow process of cultural reinterpretation and adaptation. It was a rapid, forced change in lifeways, and much of their previous society and culture was lost forever. Catholic religion became, and continues to be, a dominant force in Chiquitano life and society. In fact, most ethnohistorians agree that along with the imposition of one language, the rituals and the beliefs of the Catholic religion catalyzed the cohesion and solidarity of the dozens of cultures that were brought together in the missions (Albo 1966; Parejas and Suarez 1992). The cohesion was complete to the point that all previous tribal identities have been lost, and the dispersed peoples that represent the descendants of the 10 missions all identify themselves as Chiquitano.
Secular control under the Crucefios
With the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, the missions passed into the control of Spanish colonial administrators and they opened the door for the increased penetration of the national society. "Crucefios," or people from Santa Cruz, dominated the mission centers and quickly moved to appropriate the labor of the Chiquitanos who were moved spatially from the center to the periphery of mission (Balza Alarcon 1994). The mestizos introduced the encornienda de servicios personales in which they took control of all decisions regarding the freedom, the land, and the work of the Chiquitanos. Communities and the individuals in them were integrated into the ranches, and they were considered property of the patrons (Riester and Suaznabar 1990).
Superficially, the mission economic system was maintained. The Chiquitanos were still forced to work three days a week without compensation, but unlike the system of redistribution under the Jesuits, surplus was not distributed for the use of the indigenous population or for fiestas, it was used to increase the wealth and economic power of the elite.
The response of the Chiquitano population was to move away from the mission centers into more remote areas. In these forest communities they reproduced the spatial organization of the missions with a central plaza, church, and surrounding houses (Schwarz 1993). The mestizos, or Crucefios, followed them into these more remote areas with the intention of expanding ranching and farming lands, and also to take advantage of Indian labor. So, not only did the Chiquitanos lose control of the mission centers, they also began to lose control of the land and the use of natural resources as more and more
of their territory was appropriated by the whites (Riester 1976; Riester and Suaznabar 1990).
The cabildo system of the missions was maintained in the Chiquitano
communities even though the state did not recognize their political legitimacy. The state set up a local political system of appointed governors and mayors, corregidores and alcaldes, creating a dual system, one officially recognized and the other only recognized in the community. The Catholic ritual system was maintained as well as the Jesuit influenced production system: farming and ranching complimented with hunting, fishing, and forest collecting (Balza Alarcon 1994). The Rubber Boom: the beginning of el tiempo de esclavitud (the time of slavery)
Between 1880 and 1945, the duration of the rubber boom in the Amazon basin, thousands of Chiquitanos were forced to move to the north in the Amazonian sections of Bolivia. There they worked the rubber forests under slave-like conditions for the national elites and international companies. The life expectancy of the Chiquitano workers was between 3 and 5 years, and very few actually managed to leave or escape the work and return to their communities (Schwarz 1993). Amazonian diseases, which they had not previously contacted, quickly killed many of the Chiquitanos, and returning or escaping workers spread many new diseases through their home communities, creating another wave of epidemics.
The economic wealth generated during the rubber period resulted in another expansion of farming and ranch production in Chiquitania (Sanabria 1973). More landholding elites moved into the area, taking land from the Chiquitano, and once again they appropriated labor from the Chiquitano. Chiquitano men and women were forced to
work two weeks of every month on ranches for a pittance and a little food. The patrons used the traditional martial leaders of the Chiquitano, the caciques, to enforce work requirements. Caciques were paid by the patrons to ensure that community members were fulfilling their "service," and infractions were dealt with harshly, in most cases with the whip. Lomerio was founded by Chiquitanos who came to the area to escape the rubber labor "recruiters" and the abuses of the patrons in the larger towns of Concepcion, San Rafael, San Ignacio, and San Miguel. The present day residents of Lomerio refer to this time as the el tiempo de esclavitud.
The Twentieth Century
The War of the Chaco (1933 to 1936) between Bolivia and Paraguay also had a profound effect on the Chiquitanos. Most directly, thousands of men died fighting the war. Indirectly, they lost territory as landlords took advantage of the men's absence to expand the size of their holdings (Riester and Suaznabar 1990). Many of the returning soldiers were forced to move to remote areas such as Lomerio in order to resume farming'. During this time several new communities were formed in Lomerio. Lomerio, however, was not isolated from the patron system. A number of ranches were established in the 1920's and 1930's, and the Chiquitanos were again forced to work two weeks for the patron and two weeks in their own fields. Many older residents stated that the Chiquitano experience in the Chaco War initiated the process of transculturation as many of the men came in contact with people from different areas in Bolivia. This same period
1 Much of the information concerning the history of Lomerio in the twentieth century was taken from interviews with older residents.
is also said to be the beginning of the abandonment of the Chiquitano language, the importance of kinship, and the native rituals.
If the Chiquitano participation in the Chaco War initiated a degree of
westernization in the Chiquitano communities, the agrarian reform of the 1950s completely assaulted indigenous communal values with the concept of western property rights. Elites in Santa Cruz attempted to use Agrarian reform to dismember Chiquitano territory by dividing traditional community territory into individual parcels (Riester and Suaznabar 1990). In Lomerlo, the patrons used legal title to not only expand their ranches and fields in unoccupied space, but also to appropriate land that was directly held by communities.
The Chiquitano response, as throughout their history, was to move to more
marginal areas. In Lomerio, more than half of the communities were founded in the late 1950s and early 1960s as Chiquitanos were pushed aside by land hungry ranchers. The community of San Lorenzo, which was the focus of this study was founded during this period by a group of young families that were moving away from abusive ranchers.
The Chiquitano survival strategy had always been to move into more marginal areas when threatened by outsiders, but beginning in the 1960s two things occurred that began to change the Chiquitano strategy. First, the scale of migration into Chiquitania by different groups had increased to the point that there were few remote areas left into which they could escape. Second, many Chiquitanos had acquired at least a minimum of education, and many more had traveled to other parts of Bolivia, either for work or through the obligatory military service. These people brought back some weapons that the Chiquitanos could use to fight the threats to their land and identity.
Recent History: The Struggle for Autonomy
After the revolution of 1952 there was a dramatic increase in unions and agrarian
cooperatives and syndicates in the Andean areas, but these organizing efforts did not
begin in earnest in the eastern lowlands until the late 1 950s and early 1 960s (Reister
1983). The Chiquitanos of Lomerio used the syndicate to fight the patrons and end the
service requirements throughout Lomerio. One of the syndicate founders described the
conflict as follows:
The patrons lived in Totoca and Holanda. They would come and ask us
"What are you doing in your house?"
We responded, "Working my little field."
"This is worthless," they said. "Come with me to work."
In my house I had chickens, cattle, and pigs, but I had to abandon them to
fulfill my work requirement.
"No use," he said. "It is better with me." This is how my patron was.
But in '50 and '511 went to my military service and when I came back the patrons
called me. I went to work for two weeks. I traveled by wagon to San Jose. I
carried supplies from here. Today it has changed from Santa Cruz they bring
rice, sugar before, from here they carried sugar, rice, peanuts, corn each wagon
loaded. For the patrons I had to carry 120 bags of cargo to San Jose and
afterwards return here. I didn't like it. No. I fled and went to Cotoca to live.
After some time I came back to look for a wife. I did not like how the
patrons bothered everyone here. If you didn't do what they said they gave you a
whipping. I was gone for six years. For six years I was there. And because I had
cattle here I came back.
I came to this place to live, it was pretty savannah, no more. There were
only 5 small houses here. I built my house here and afterwards the patrons
followed. They came with the whip again.
We formed a syndicate. I was secretary. I said to the people like I had
learned in Santa Cruz, "Come here and lets form a group of 200 people." They
came from San Antonio, La Asunta, Puquio, Palmira, Santa Rosario, and Florida.
We made 29 hectares near the riverbank and 11I hectares on the other side of the river. We planted 2 tareas 2for each person with peanuts. Afterward we went to Santa Cruz to get orders to gain freedom for ourselves. After that the authorities
came from Santa Cruz and gathered all of the patrons together and asked them
why they treated us so badly. And the patrons said that they did not treat us badly they gave us things and paid us a salary. But the authorities saw the money and
2 1 tarea = 1/10 of ahectare
the nice clothes of the patrons and they gave the patrons a whipping like they gave
to us, right there in front of everyone. And from then on the patrons could not
take the campesinos away like slaves again. (Bruno Suarez, San Lorenzo, August
While the abuses of the patrons ended in the early 1960s, the presence of the state increased in the mid-1960s and accelerated rapidly in the early 1970s. A basic school system was established in Lomerio and a series of development projects were initiated. At the same time more young men and women began to migrate out of Lomerio in search of work, and the local economy began to increase its dependence on remittances. The traditional authority system of the Chiquitanos, the cabildo, was almost completely destructured by the state through the process of municipalization and cantonization that replaced traditional leaders with a new political-administrative system. Older residents point to this period as the beginning of an intergenerational rupture that resulted in less use of the Chiquitano language among the younger people.
In 1982 the Central Intercommunal Campesina del Oriente Lomerio (CICOL) was formed. In its eighteen years of existence CICOL has won some notable victories in the fight for Chiquitano interests, but most importantly they have transformed the relation of the Chiquitanos to the dominant society from a passive to an active resistance.
The Chiquitanos view their recent history with pride; their defiance and victory over the patrons, and their successful expulsion of the timber and mining companies. CICOL sees its own survival in the face of political challenges from the church and local state-appointed politicians in this same vein. The identity of a defiant and resistant people is one that is heartily embraced and projected to outsiders.
Visitors are common in Lomerio, as the forestry management project has garnered a great deal of publicity as a model for indigenous development/conservation projects in South America. Groups hoping to start similar projects in other areas often come for a tour of Lomerio. These tours are led by the CICOL directors and always begin with a history of CICOL and the Chiquitano fight for land and control over the forests. They stress their struggle to overcome the domination of the patrons, their battles with timber and mining companies, and their efforts to promote self-determ-ination and the value of Chiquitano culture.
The Daily Routine
The day begins in San Lorenzo with the sound of wood-chopping. Women rise early to get the day's cooking fire lit. Men and children rise shortly after, busying themselves with preparing for school or the day's work in the fields. The cattle, horses, donkeys, and pigs on the plaza awaken, and the air comes alive with the sounds of animals. Radios blare from the houses, and the men call to each other from house to house, organizing work crews for the day's tasks. The morning meal is quick and light, usually leftovers from the previous night's meal, maybe rice and meat, or some yuca and plantains washed down with some chicha dulce, a thick, sugar-sweetened corn drink, that is the staple of the Chiquitano diet. In its fermented form, it is the center of Chiquitano social life.
The men and older boys head off to the fields with tools in hand: axes, hoes, and machetes. Everyone carries a plastic jug of chicha to quench his thirst. The Chiquitanos practice swidden agriculture, sometimes referred to as slash-and-burn cultivation. A single field is cleared, burned, and planted. Each year a new planting regime is used to
take advantage of the natural recovery of the soils and regeneration of vegetation. In San Lorenzo, com and rice are planted in the first year or two, and then fruit trees are planted in later years. Families have different fields in different stages of cultivation spread around the community. Most are within an hours walk or less, but some are 2 hours away.
The children, scrubbed, combed, and dressed in bleached white uniforms, file through the lanes of the community as the teachers ring the bells calling them to class. San Lorenzo has three teachers. Two of them are natives of the community who were taken to a teacher training school by missionaries in the 1970s. The church and another building serve as the community schools up to fifth grade. Almost all of the communities in Lomerio have a primary school (grades I 5), but to continue past the fifth grade students have to either go to El Puqio el Cristo Rey (up to grade 8), or San Antonio (up to grade 12). In San Antonio, communities have built houses for the students from their communities to live in while completing their studies. Most of the teachers are from Lomerio, and have been trained either by missionaries or by the bilingual teacher training program in San Antonio. Throughout Bolivia teacher strikes are common, and educational resources are scarce, meaning that classes are often suspended for weeks at a time, and when there are classes, few books or basic supplies are available. The rural teachers often have a difficult time getting paid, and may ask local families to help supplement their small salaries.
A 1992 census found that 38. 1 % of the residents of Chiquitano communities
(Lomerio and Concepcion) were illiterate. In the same census, the illiteracy rate for the Department of Santa Cruz as a whole was 11. 1 %, and for the province of Nuflo de
Chavez, in which Lomerio and Concepcion are located, the rate was 26.9% (INE Census 1992). These statistics show the huge differences between rural and urban education, and more pointedly, indigenous and non-indigenous educational services.
Despite the problems in education in Lomerio, an increasing number of young people are graduating from high school. The Church has begun to sponsor scholarships for high school graduates to enter the universities in Santa Cruz and Cochabamba. Table I shows the dramatic differences in literacy rates between males and females and in older and younger generations in Lomerio. In persons 15-29, the illiteracy rate is only 4.9%, and the difference
Table 1. Literacy rates by age groups and gender in Lomerio. Age Group Literacy Rate Males Females
15-29 95.1% 97.1% 92.8%
30 -44 69.2% 80.6% 55.9%
45 -59 35% 47.3% 21.8%
60+ 18.1% 25.4% 8.4%
ALL 7.%79% 66%
Source: VAIPO 1998
between males and females (males 2.9%/females 7.2%) is not pronounced. However, illiteracy rates rises to 30.8% for persons aged 30-44, 65% for persons 45-59, and 8 1.9% for those over the age of 60. In the older generations, literacy rates for females is significantly lower. These statistics show that there has been tremendous improvement in education in Lomerio within the last two decades. Most residents point to the efforts of
the Catholic Church and missionary groups, rather than to the national government, for these improvements. While this is certainly true over the past 30 40 years, recently the national government has made some improvement in expanding educational programs to rural areas.
By eight o'clock in the morning, the streets of San Lorenzo are deserted except for women and the young children. From the schools comes the sounds of singing and children repeating their lessons. The women begin their daily tasks: going to the river to wash clothes, cooking lunch, tending the ever present pot of chicha, collecting firewood, and caring for the children. Some even find time to produce crafts that are sold in a cooperative in Santa Cruz. At certain times of the year, they also work in the fields, but the daily tasks are constant, year-round activities.
At lunchtime, wives or older daughters take meals to the men in the fields. They carry pots of rice and meat to the men, and return to their homes loaded down with firewood. The men work until late afternoon, and then return to their homes before nightfall, unless they are going to stay in their fields to hunt.
Chiquitano informants are quick to point out that hunting has declined in
importance in Lomerio as a protein source because wildlife has become more difficult to find in sufficient quantities. Some of the older men attribute the scarcity to the logging activities. They say that the chainsaw, trucks, and bulldozers have scared away the game. Others point out that game densities were declining from overhunting long before the logging began. A number of areas some distance from the main population centers still are rich hunting grounds, and men from the community make multiple day trips in
search of deer, peccaries, and tapirs, but primarily hunting is done in the fields near home where armadillos are easily found.
Within the family, males do the majority of the hunting. The most common
weapon was the .22 rifle, and most hunters use dogs. Dead-fall traps were also common. Rifle and dog owners often lend their weapons to other hunters from the community. They are paid with a share of any meat taken. Guinart (1997) found that in one Lomerio
community, the average amount of game meat consumed was 48 g/person/day Ruiz et al. (in press) found that 32 different species were hunted in Lomerio: 24 mammals, 6 birds, and 2 reptiles. Armadillos (Dasypus novemchintas) were the most frequent prey taken, but gray brocket deer (Mazama gouazoubira) (40%) and collared peccary (Tayassu taacu) (13%) accounted for the most biomass. Species such as the tapir (Tapirus terrestris) and the red brocket deer (Mazama americana) are believed to be rare due to overhunting (Ruiz et al. in press).
For those not staying out in the fields to hunt, the evening is a time to relax with the family. After darkness falls, the men and women go to the stream to bathe. The stream near San Lorenzo is rocky and made up of a series of waterfalls. During the rainy season it can be swift-moving and dangerous, but most of the time it is gentle and slowmoving, if not stagnant. After dinner, neighbors visit, and children do their homework. Electricity has not come to San Lorenzo yet, but many families have propane lamps, and these have extended visiting hours until much later than was previously common. Radios play until about ten o'clock at night, and then the entire community settles in for the night.
3 Western et al. (1979) found a range of 18 g/day to 72g/day among indigenous groups in South America.
Church service is held every Sunday. The priest occasionally makes visits to the communities to conduct Mass, and his position as a religious authority gamers deep levels of respect. He must divide his time between his large parish church in the community of San Antonio, and the other 28 communities of Lomerio, so visits are not common. Masses conducted by the priest were always followed by energetic fiestas. When the priest is not there, community members conduct services. Persons responsible for conducting the service are trained in workshops at the main church in San Antonio, and the Church sends materials and instructions weekly to the communities throughout Lomerio. In San Lorenzo, the church leaders were all younger people who were good speakers and could read the materials sent from San Antonio.
Agriculture in Lomerio follows the swidden, or slash-and-burn pattern, using ash as fertilizer. Each field, or chaco, that is opened can be used for three to five years, depending on the soil. To avoid impoverishing the soils, crops are rotated. The general pattern for the richest soils is that rice and corn are inter-cropped the first year (occasionally with beans). Manioc and plantains are planted the second year. The third year com and rice are replanted among the manioc and plantains, and in the fourth year manioc or sugar cane is planted. Fruit trees are often planted after five years. After a field is abandoned, around fifteen years are needed before the land can be brought back into production.
The agricultural cycle in San Lorenzo begins in June at the beginning of the dry season soon after the last harvests of the previous cycle. The dry season is "winter" in eastern Bolivia. Cold fronts, named surazos, roar up from Antarctica, bringing strong
winds and temperatures that drop below freezing. In the dry season water becomes scarce. The stream ceases to flow, and the water becomes unfit for drinking. Families send their children loaded with plastic jugs to a spring located about half a mile from the community. The spring water is silty, and foul-tasting. Everyone eagerly awaits the slightest rains. They set rain barrels for capturing drinking water at every comer of the house.
In June and July, the field sites are selected and the boundaries marked. Next, the underbrush is cleared with machetes, and the trees are felled with axes. Mingas, and other forms of cooperative labor are an important aspect of Chiquitano agriculture. There are few chainsaw and no tractors available for land clearing, nor are there mechanized harvesters. Fanning technology is limited to axes, machetes, shovels, and hoes, meaning that site preparation is a labor intensive and time consuming process. Chiquitanos rely on a variety of labor sharing systems to accomplish many of the tasks in the agricultural cycle. Mingas are used most commonly to clear underbrush from new sites, to weed second-year or third year fields called barbechos, and to harvest rice. On these occasions up to 40 or 50 men and women, depending on the task, may participate, and a job that would take weeks if undertaken by one family, is completed in a few hours. In return the workers are fed dinner, and the host family provides two pots of alcoholic chicha for a fiesta.
Preparing two pots of chicha involves a great deal of work. The pots have to be boiled for almost two complete days. Firewood has to be collected, and the pots need almost constant stirring. This job is normally the responsibility of the teenage or adult women in the family. Dinner for 40 or 50 is also a large economic investment since meat
is an essential part of the meal. Minga workers expect meat. A pig or a large number of chickens have to be killed for the meal. A minga is not just a fiesta, it is a serious economic and social investment made by families, and it works because of reciprocal obligations. Families know that they have to participate to ensure that other families would come if they called a minga.
Work groups are often used in the site preparation phase of agriculture. These
groups are temporary and vary from two or three members up to six or seven. In the past, these groups were organized along kinship lines, for example, a group of brothers would work together, but in recent years group members are just as likely to not be related. Everyone attributed this to evangelico converts who formed non-kin based work groups. The converts have since left the community, but the tradition of non-kin based work groups has remained.
The group rotates daily among each of the members'fields, clearing underbrush and tree felling. The leader of the group changes daily depending on whose field the group is working. The leader is responsible for directing the work, and is obligated to supply a meal for the workers. The composition of the group may change, but once a worker has the group work their field for a day, the worker is obligated to spend a day in each of the other members' fields.
After the trees are felled and the underbrush is cut and piled up, the field is
allowed to dry for at least two months and then it is burned. A good, thorough bum is absolutely essential, so often there is a second bum in which remaining brush is piled up and burned. The end of August or beginning of September is traditionally the most favorable time to bum, but in recent years a series of droughts have made it more difficult
to predict the optimum time to begin the bums. Grazing lands for cattle are burned at the same time as the fields, so a great deal of smoke is produced. The bums tinge the sky with a gray haze night and day.
Planting begins after the first couple of rains when the soil has begun to retain moisture in the top 6 or 7 centimeters. This time usually occurs between October and December. In general, com is planted first, then rice, and then peanuts.
Peanuts are the only Chiquitano crop raised solely for sale. In recent years the price for peanuts has dropped dramatically and few people are planting the crop. My survey of Lomerio found that 92.3% of the families planted com, 76.4% planted rice, and only 26.8% planted peanuts. Of the families who planted the crops, they planted on average 7.4 areas of com, 5.1 areas of rice, and 4.4 areas of peanuts. Manioc and plantains are important secondary crops. Sugar cane and beans are also important in some areas. In the community of San Lorenzo, citrus production has become an important income source, but this is rare in other communities in Lomerio. Other fruits such as papaya, watermelon, and pineapple are found in small quantities, as well as pumpkins, squash, and sweet potato. One NGO, in an effort to diversify the diet and improve nutrition, has promoted a horticulture system for household gardens, specializing in tomatoes, onions, and potatoes, but they have found only limited success in persuading families to adopt the crops.
The few months after planting are the most relaxed in the yearly work cycle. Weeding has to be done, but not everyday. December to March is traditionally a time when there are more fiestas including the week long celebration for Carnival, and young
men released from daily work in the fields leave the community to look for wage labor jobs.
Chicha parties are an essential part of community life in Lomerio. Chicha is
brewed for birthdays, special visits, national holidays, the community patron saint fiestas, and cooperative work parties, or mingas. Beer and aguardiente, or cane alchohol, are also consumed in Lomerio, but because of the cost they are usually only drunk in small groups. Chicha is always drunk in large groups according to a standard ritual.
The host or hostess, called "el duen c/la duena de la chicha," the owner of the
chicha, makes a speech regarding the occasion of the fiesta, and selects a person to be the honorary server. This person makes a short speech and then selects a small group to accompany them to another room where the clay chicha pots are stored. The server stirs the pots, fills a bucket with a gourd, and then invites each of the people present to a drink. The server covers the pot and carries the bucket back to the main party where they in turn serve each of the people present at the party. The server's duty is to serve everyone present one time from each bucket, and to refill the bucket, always accompanied by a small group which takes a drink in the room where the chicha is kept. Other people serve each other from the bucket also, and the server is often invited to drink after they have served someone, but no one is allowed to serve himself or herself.
Music and dancing are important parts of the fiesta. Chiquitano music is a unique blend of indigenous drums, lowland campesino folk songs, and European baroque music and instruments. During the 17th and 18th century the Jesuits taught the Chiquitanos how to make and play cellos, violins, guitars, and woodwind instruments. In the mission centers these instruments are still common. In the rural villages it is rare, but not
impossible, to find cellos or violins. Most music is played with drums and reed flutes. Different flutes, as well as their corresponding songs, are played at different times of the year, with religious holidays, such as Carnival, Christmas, and Easter marking the musical seasons.
Musicians march in a tight circle and the dancers circle them. Man and women both ask each other to dance, but only when contemporary popular songs are played do dancers pair off. Everyone holds hands high in the air and marches around the musicians until a signal is given from the musicians to change the direction of the dance. At the end of each dance, the dancers all invite each other to a drink of chicha.
When a chic/ia pot is finished the host and the honorary server both give a speech thanking all of the guests for sharing the chic/ia with them. If there is another pot, the host announces it, and selects another honorary server. If there is not another pot, the party breaks up and moves to another house where there is more chicha waiting.
Chic/ia parties are an important factor in the strength of community bonds in
Lomerio, but chicha plays a much more important role than that of social elixir. The corn used to make chicha is the central aspect of Chiquitano agricultural production and the minga system of reciprocal labor sharing.
There are numerous sources of wage labor in and around Lomerio. There are a
number of non-Chiquitano ranches inside the territory of Lomerio, and these occasionally hire local people on a temporary basis. Ranches near the town of Concepcion are also common sources of employment. In January and February many of the men look for temporary wage labor while they are waiting for the harvests to begin. Many of the younger, un-married Chiquitanos move on a semni-permanent basis to the city of Santa
Cruz to work. The young, unmarried women work in domestic service, and the men most often work in menial, low-paying jobs on construction sites, though some have received training through the forest management project and work as heavy-equipment operators, chainsaw-operators, mechanics, and truck drivers in other areas of the Bolivian lowlands. The young women who move to the city normally do not return to live in Lomerio. Most often they marry and live permanently in the city, only coming to Lomerio for visits. The young men travel back and forth between work in the city and on the ranches, helping with the family fields, and work on the forest management project, either in logging or in the sawmill. The forest management project and its role as a source of employment will be described in detail in chapter 4.
Table 2 shows the breakdown of employment in Lomerio based on my survey of male and female household heads. Of the household heads, 63.6% worked outside of their communities for wage labor in 1996. These were all men. None of the female household heads worked outside of the communities. Of the household heads, 25.9% worked within the community for wages or a salary. This included teachers, a few jobs in forestry management, and a variety of jobs with the church for those who lived in San Antonio.
By late March, the harvests of corn and rice begin. Harvests continue through April and into May. Mingas are common during this period especially for rice harvests. Mingas during harvest time are as much a reflection of the desire to celebrate and gather the community together, as they are a technique to harvest quickly. Most families food stocks from the previous harvest have dwindled, and everyone is ready for new com.
Table 2. Comparison of days working for wage labor for the communities of Lomerio.
Community # of fams. % work out Ave. # days % work In Ave # days
surveyed of commun. work commun. work
San Lorenzo 20 35 48 25 217
Coloradillo 10 40 68 10 2
San Pablo 9 78 64 11 30
Fatima 10 70 62 30 29
Florida 10 90 23 40 13
Santa Anita 8 71 19 0 0
Todos Santos 10 100 81 20 11
Las Trancas 10 100 39 30 4
Puesto Nuevo 9 67 35 22 104
El Cerrito 10 20 81 20 44
San Martin 6 33 120 17 3
Palmira 12 33 176 50 94
Surusubi 12 50 126 17 121
Santo Rosario 11 46 20 18 2
San Simon 10 80 48 0 0
Monterito 12 100 139 50 9
San Antonio 21 19 149 67 189
La Asunta 10 70 40 70 16
San Jose Obrero 10 100 30 10 14
Salinas 10 70 76 10 22
Average 11 63.6 72.2 25.9 46.2
Chicha made from the first corn harvested is said to be an elixir of renewal, a tonic that returns youthfulness. Coming near La Pascua, or Easter, harvest-time is a completion of the yearly cycle, but to the Chiquitanos it is viewed more as a beginning a time to strengthen community ties through celebration and sharing. Soon after, the cold surazos arrive, and the cycle begins all over again.
As I explained in the first chapter, I tried to divide my time equally between the community of San Lorenzo and the CICOL offices in Puquio. These were contrasting experiences. In San Lorenzo, I participated in and observed the activities described in this chapter, and I have tried to relate that experience in a way that provides a glimpse of what life is like for most Chiquitanos living in Lomerio. In Puquio, I worked in an office and studied an aspect of Chiquitano society that is not part of life for most Chiquitanos. The CICOL directors are not people from the city who have come out to the countryside to organize the campesinos. The directors come from communities like San Lorenzo, in fact, the President is from San Lorenzo. They also clear and plant fields. They send their children to schools in Lomerio. They dance and drink at chicha parties. However, they also find time to work for CICOL, and participate in all of the activities that keep the organization going. The next chapter describes the organization, and begins a discussion of how indigenous people are beginning to engage the wider world on their own terms. In this engagement, CICOL is not separated from the aspects of life that make-up the Chiquitano experience. They are firmly rooted in the cycles described above, and it informs and guides their work.
CICOL AND DEVELOPMENT AGENTS: ORGANIZATION AND INTERACTION
The community of Puquio El Cristo Rey (The Christ King) is about 5 kilometers from San Lorenzo. Puquio has become the locus of a large part of Chiquitano political life. CICOL, the Chiquitano political organization, has built its offices there, and a sawmill, purchased by the Chiquitanos with Dutch funding, has set up operations in the community. The community acquired its standing not solely because of its central location in the region. Many of the families in Puquio have been active in fighting for Chiquitano autonomy for decades. They have been the fiercest opponents of the ranching patrons, the "pirate" timber companies, the priest, and government-appointed officials. Many of these families were instrumental in organizing CICOL, securing international funding, and establishing the organization as a legitimate and recognized political institution for the Chiquitanos of Lomerio. The people of Puquio have acquired a closed, cold, and conflictual reputation by the non-Chiquitanos who work in Lomerio. It is this stubbornness though, that has made their efforts at political organization so effective.
CICOL represents a new level of political organization for the Chiquitanos. The Chiquitanos have never had inter-communal political institutions. Prior to CICOL's establishment, traditional political organization stopped at the level of the community. CICOL is, however, a distinctly Chiquitano organization, maintaining a purely consensusbased decision-making style that can be found in community political decision-making.
The organization has overcome many opponents and mistakes to become the main center of political authority in Lomerio. It still has many problems, however, and the people of Lomerio have become increasingly critical of the organization in recent years.
The rise of CICOL is not disconnected to events outside of Lomerio.
Organizations like CICOL have become common in other indigenous communities throughout Bolivia and the rest of South America (Yasher 1997; Macdonald 1998). In the past few decades Latin America has experienced a couple of related developments that are transforming: 1) the relationships between indigenous peoples and the state and 2) indigenous peoples ownership, use, and management of land and resources. The first development has been a wave of political organizing among indigenous communities. International linkages, national and regional confederations, and local, inter-communal organizations have proliferated across Central and South America. Secondly, there has been a swift rise in the number and influence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as international donors have shifted funding from public to private sources. Environmental and human-rights organizations have brought financial support from international donors and unprecedented political leverage to the struggles of indigenous peoples for land and autonomy. Both of these trends have had a great influence on the direction of Chiquitano sociopolitical organization.
This chapter introduces the major actors in local politics and development within Lomerio. I describe the organizational culture of the different institutions working in Lomerio; CICOL, an NGO named APCOB (Apoyo para Campesino Indigena del Oriente Boliviano), and a governmental agency BOLFOR (Bolivian Sustainable Forestry
Management Project), a joint project of the United States and Bolivian governments. I begin by discussing the history and role of CICOL within Chiquitano political life. I describe the structure of each of the three organizations in terms of the different roles, division of responsibility, the activities, history, and sources of funding. After this initial description of the organizations I enter into an analysis of the guiding perspectives and philosophies of each, delving into the norms and values that guide action. This invariably leads to the conflicts in philosophy and action between the organizations. I examine how the groups interact with each other: areas of conflict, cooperation, and the process of "facade-building" that characterizes their relationship.
CICOL: A Grassroots Indigenous Organization
The office for the Central Indigenas de Comunidades Originarios de Lomerio (CICOL) is a non-assuming whitewashed concrete building at the entrance to the community of Puquio. It has one large meeting room in which most of the organization's activities are located. It also has a small communications room with a solar-powered short-wave radio and three donated solar-powered computers. Another small room contains the organization's archives made up of files full of correspondences with other organizations, government agencies, and international funders.
The officers who make-up of the CICOL directorate come from different
communities in Lomerio. They arrive most mornings by motorcycle or one of the NGO trucks that serve as an unofficial bus service for the region. CICOL meetings are always open affairs and local townspeople move in and out of the office all day long, many stopping by to participate, or just to watch and listen to whatever subject is being
discussed that day. Residents of communities all over Lomerio travel to the offices to discuss problems that they are having. They often complain about church or government officials in San Antonio, or problems they are having with NGO personnel. Often they are seeking payment for work that they have done for CICOL..
CICOL represents 28 Chiquitano communities (about 1200 families or 5500
residents). It was founded in 1982 at the same time as CIDOB (Confederacion Indigena del Oriente Boliviano), a regional organization that has tried to link the influence and efforts of indigenous peoples and their individual political organizations throughout the lowlands. From the beginning, CICOL has shared the institutional dynamics and structure of CIDOB.
The initial impetus of C1DOB and other tribal organizations was the struggle to defend and gain title to communal lands. As the land issue began to be resolved in the late 1980s, at least partially, CIDOB began to focus on political, economic, and cultural development, facing problems related to production, education, health, language, and culture. These same issues and policy demands were reflected in the intercommunal organizations, such as CICOL with a more locally specific focus. CIDOB's influence over organizations such as CICOL has waned through time as the smaller organizations have received development funding independent of CIDOB.
In the first years of its existence CIDOB attempted to coordinate with well
established organizations of Andean farmers. As such, the organizational structures of CIDOB and the associated grassroots indigenous organizations are modeled on the older and more well-established agrarian and labor syndicates of the Andes with positions that
match issues of concern to the organization. Through the years this structure has been adjusted as interactions with governmental agencies and national and international NGOs have become more important than alliances with Andean organizations.
While ethnic political organizations, such as CIDOB and CICOL, looked to the unions initially, there are important differences. There is little interest and little understanding of the ideological concerns that pervade the union movements of the highlands (Smith 1984). While unions have been controlled by urban elites who have tried to dictate policy to their base, the ethnic federations have kept control at the community level, especially so with the grassroots organizations, and to a lesser degree with the regional federation CIDOB (Smith 1984). There has also been an overriding distrust of alignment with political parties. The indigenous organizations generally have a rigid, basic set of political goals and these positions are seen to be incompatible with the perpetual compromises, shifting coalitions, and flexible party ideology that pervade Bolivian politics.
CIDOB, CICOL, and the various organizations share certain general structural
features. Power emanates from a General Assembly that meets yearly and at other times when important decisions arise. Delegates from each of the member communities meet to make the major decisions about goals and activities of the organization and to elect the directorate. In Lomerio the delegates consist of five representatives from each of the 28 communities, or 140 voting delegates. The five delegates from each community are the alcalde politico (a position not recognized by the government, sometimes termed the native mayor), the president of the OTB (Organizacion Territorial de Base the official
government recognized community representative), representative of the Mother's Club, representative of the Comite Comunal (Communal Committee -an official CICOL community representative), representative of the Junta Escolar (School Union body which oversees issues of education in the community). In addition, other community representatives and members of organizations such as CIDOB are invited to participate in discussions, but not allowed to vote. Church, government, and NGO officials are invited to attend as observers, but are not allowed to participate in discussion unless their opinion is specifically requested. Decision-making in the General Assembly is an open and participatory affair. The expression of opinions is encouraged, and discussions usually continue until it is agreed that a certain level of consensus has been built. Votes are normally a formality since decisions are not put to the vote until agreement has been established.
The General Assembly lasts up to three days. All of the delegates have to be transported, housed, and fed for the entire time--all at CICOL's expense. The organization is expected honor the community representatives as the real heads of the organization. The General Assembly is viewed as the time when the organization is not made up of just the officers and directors, but all of the residents of Lomerio. The meeting is as much about expressing unity as it is about solving problems. However, problems are solved. It is when the officers are selected, budgets and proposals are approved, and the entire course for the organization is set for the year with the complete approval of the people of Lomerio. Any topic is discussed at length to make sure there is unanimous support for any resolutions that are made.
In the 1997 General Assembly, discussion was especially heated concerning the selection of a replacement for one of the eight positions that make-up the CICOL directorate. One of the candidates was from Puquio, where the CICOL office is located. The other candidate was from a community farther out. This exposed a common critique of CICOL, that it only served a few communities such as Puquio and San Lorenzo in the center of the region. Representatives from some of the peripheral communities demanded more representation. The discussion lasted for most of one day. Supporters of each candidate argued their points repeatedly. Finally, the supporters of the candidate from an outer community conceded that the candidate from Puquio should be elected, but they hoped the CICOL directors would heed their complaints about paying attention to the outer communities. A vote was taken, and the Puquio candidate received all 140 votes.
Much more was communicated in the discussions than a straightforward election debate. Later, when the budget was discussed, there was a pointed effort on the part of the CICOL directors to direct money and projects to the outer communities. In the weekly community meetings of San Lorenzo that I attended, this same style of decisionmaking existed also. The alcalde politico directed the meetings, but more as a mediator. Everyone in the community was encouraged to express their opinion, and most did. Any decisions had to be made with almost complete agreement. When an issue arose that generated strong disagreement, it might be discussed for an entire night, literally until the sun rose, and then put aside to be discussed at the next meeting. I was told that
Chiquitano authorities are given power to discipline when someone goes against the will of the community, but they are not to dictate rules on their own accord.
The traditional authorities of the Chiquitano communities were the caciques. Each community had one cacique with 3 or 4 consejeros, or advisors. Together, the cacique and the consejeros made up the cabildo (Riester 1976). Today, the authority of the caciques has been replaced by an alcalde politico elected yearly in each community, accompanied by 2 to 4 caciques in each community. This arrangement is no longer referred to as the cabildo. These officials direct meetings, meet with visitors, and direct community work projects. State power is represented by a corregidor and 4 assistants appointed by the sub-prefecture. Their office is located in San Antonio, and they are the state-recognized authorities for all of Lomerio. Recently, with the passage of the Law of Popular Participation a new state-recognized system of OTBs (Organization Territorial de Base) has been created to give communities a voice in the distribution of municipal funds. OTBs are recognized by the mayor of the municipality, but have little power in their home communities. Within communities, the president of the junta escolar, or school union, organizes community decisions and discussion concerning educational issues. The president of the club de madres represents women's voices in community decisions.
Authority and political structure in Lomerio have changed dramatically during the 1990s due to legal developments at the national level and power struggles at the local level. Like many indigenous peoples in the Americas, the Chiquitanos have struggled with dual systems of authority, one recognized by the people and the other put in place by
the state. Then, the organization CICOL was created and Lomerio soon had a three-level political system: the community level, the government/Church level, and now the intercommunal level, which had never existed previously. From late 1980s and through the
1 990s these groups have all grappled for power. CICOL has emerged with a tenuous hold on political authority in Lomerio, and its system of community representation has created a new inter-communal system of decision-making. The inter-communal system has worked by bringing the community recognized leaders listed above together with the leaders recognized by national law together into the governing body, or the Asamblea General of the organization, distributing authority equally. The CICOL Directorate
At the top of CICOL are the 9 directors. The directors are divided into
administrative positions and specific coordinators of issues in which CICOL is working. There is a president, vice-president, secretary-general, treasurer, secretary of land and territory, secretary of environment and natural resources, secretary of gender, secretary of education, and secretary of health.
Juan Soquere is the President of the organization. Don Juan lives in the
community of San Lorenzo. He quit his job as a teacher to take the position of president in 1996. He was selected after a group of directors were accused of corruption and removed from office. He was chosen because he was seen as an honest person who did not have a financial stake in the development project.
Being selected as director, especially as president, is a prestigious position, but it is also a liability. A director's standing increases in the community, but they also become
the targets of rumors of corruption. From the moment I arrived in Lomerio, I heard forrn community members the constant rumors about corruption among the directorate. The directors were not paid a salary, and they have to spend most of their available work time in the office. Any petty corruption that occurred only amounted to small compensations that kept their families fed. Being a director is difficult financially, and most have to get help from their extended family in clearing, planting, and harvesting their fields. Don Juan told me that he would be indebted financially and labor-wise for years after his four years as president are finished.
There are a group of older men who provide guidance to the organization. These men were trained in labor union organization in the 1970s, and many participated in the founding of CICOL. They have since stepped down from director positions, but they are heavily involved in the organization, and at times exert a dominating influence on decisions the organization makes. They are always unofficial directors of the organization.
Most of the directors are men, but three women have served as directors. Most are young, at least under the age of forty. The duties of the directors require that they are literate, and most have graduated from high school. A few, like Don Juan have received some professional training past high school. According to informants, directors are chosen based on their perceived ability to work with outside agencies, and to communicate ideas from the Chiquitano communities to the agencies. They are expected to express Chiquitano values and ideals, and at the same time, "capture" projects (wording used by an informant) that promote economic development in Lomerio. This
requires a special flexibility. I was told that good directors can translate the interests and ideas that are found in Chiquitano communities into forceful and uncompromising terms of negotiation with outside agents. They can also explain those negotiations in meetings with Chiquitano community leaders. The directors have to present a strong, inflexible face to the outside, and carry a humble, subservient attitude in the communities.
The directors get to travel as a part of their jobs. Most travel regularly to the city of Santa Cruz, and occasionally to the capital of La Paz in the highlands. In the past, directors have traveled to international conferences in other parts of Latin America, the United States, and Europe. The directors are generally people that are curious about the world outside of Lomerio, and are relatively skilled at dealing with outsiders. Don Juan and other directors said that travel, and meeting so many different kinds of people is one of biggest attractions of the job.
The president is by far the most important position in the directorate. The primary responsibilities of the president include the convocation and organization of the General Assembly and other regular meetings. The president represents the organization in local, regional, national, and international meetings. The president signs all contracts, agreements, and financial documents of the organization, and is in charge of supervising all of the programs in which CICOL participates.
The president is selected based on the person's astuteness in the structure and behavior of the governmental bureaucracy and national and international funding and technical support agencies. A good president has strong communication skills in reporting to the member communities the goals, accomplishments, and failures of the
organization, establishing and maintaining contact with outside support agencies, and in representing the needs and interests of the people to government agencies. Of course, this is a rare person who can combine these talents, and most of the past presidents have excelled in one of the areas, but suffered in the others. In one case, the president became extremely skilled at attracting international attention to CICOL and the struggles of the Chiquitanos. Because this leader spent a good deal of time traveling to international conferences, internal communication suffered and the communities lost confidence in the ability of the organization to take on and accomplish concrete tasks that affected their daily lives. In contrast, other presidents have proven inept at navigating the complex Bolivian bureaucracy and this has brought many of CICOL's projects, such as the progress of land titling, to a complete standstill.
Once, explaining the difficulties of being the leader of CICOL, Don Juan told me that he has to have two faces; one that he uses to meet with his people, and the other for when he has to "face the jaguar." The "jaguar" refers to all of those outside of Lomerio: government officials, international project financiers, and NGO personnel. This dilemma summarized the precarious position of CICOL. All of the directors were caught between the expectations of their fellow Chiquitanos for representing their needs and interests, and the interests and requirements of NGOs and government agencies, which largely determined the availability of funding and resources for the different projects that CICOL wanted to implement. In many cases the difference in expectations between the community members and the outsiders is marked.
While the president provides the direction and motivation to the organization and is the primary representative of CICOL to outside interests and individuals, it is the actions of the individual secretaries and the directorate as a whole that determines if CICOL moves forward in accomplishing the tasks it has set out for itself in Lomerio. Within CICOL, leadership is fluid and any director may take charge of certain issues and push his or her own agenda. Decision-making is based on consensus building, so, normally action is not taken until all of the directors are more or less in agreement. All of the directors have their special responsibilities, but all of the directors are usually involved to some extent in every activity in which CICOL is participating. This makes the organization extremely united. This is important for a group whose authority and decisions are constantly being challenged and attacked from many different directions: from individuals in the member communities, government agencies and officials, the Church, and workers from the various NGOs. At one point in early 1998 there was a strong effort by some of the community leaders to have the president replaced. This was actually accomplished in a mini-General Assembly, but the rest of the directorate rallied support for Don Juan, called another General Assembly, and had him reinstated.
Of the other administrators in the directorate, the secretary is in charge of keeping minutes of all meetings, maintaining the organization of the archives, and producing the letters, circulars, and other documents produced by CICOL. The treasurer's main responsibility is keeping track of all of the funds being used by CICOL and providing a proper accounting at the end of the year with all of the appropriate financial documents.
Besides the president, one of the most important directorships is the Secretary of Land and Territory. This secretary works specifically on all of the issues relating to the Lomerio land demand. It is a difficult position that requires knowledge of the Bolivian legal system and the complex idiosyncrasies of the government bureaucracy. This secretary spent a good deal of time in Santa Cruz working in the offices of INRA (Instituto Nacional de Reforma Agraria). While I was in the area, this secretary helped government consultants produce a report entitled Identification of Spatial Needs in the Lomerio Communal Land Demand. This report provided historical, demographic, economic, and cultural arguments for the titling of the 300,000 hectare area being demanded. It was one of the required steps on the way to full titling of the demand.
The Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources was a position that was created when the responsibilities of the Secretary of Land and Territory grew with the expansion of the forestry management project, a project which initially was directly just a part of the strategy to promote the land demand. The largest responsibility of this secretary is the Communal Plans that are the basis of the joint APCOB-CICOL project in Lomerio. The communal plans are strategies to match the resources, personnel, and skills of the Lomerio project with the needs, goals, and interests of the communities. The secretary along with a counterpart in APCOB directs a series of participatory meetings in the communities to see how the forestry, agricultural, animal husbandry, health, gender, and education programs can be implemented within the community.
Both the Secretary of Health and the Secretary of Education have limited formnal responsibilities in the organization, mainly because of the lack of funds and resources in
these two areas. Their primary responsibility is to lobby government agencies for improvements in services: school and health post construction, health training, teacher training, equipment, books, and above all financial resources. Since there is little money to support large-scale lobbying efforts, these two secretaries spend the majority of their time assisting other secretaries and in participating in the daily office meetings.
Finally, the Secretary of Gender is perhaps the most ambiguous position in the
directorate. The position was created as a result of the financiers' requirement that gender issues be included in all aspects of the Lomerio project. The position is held by a woman (the treasurer is also a woman), and her participation was more symbolic than actual. Her primary activity was to accompany the gender extension agent of APCOB to the various meetings and workshops she held with the Mothers' Clubs in the communities. By her own account she has little responsibility in the organization. She attended most of the meetings in the CICOL office, but did not take an active part in the decision-making. In fact, she only spoke when someone directly asked for her opinion on an issue, and this Was more likely to be an issue concerning her home community, one of the largest in Lomerio, than an issue concerning gender. Her position and the entire issue of a gender project was controversial in Lomerio, and I will discuss this in more depth ahead. Institutional Objectives: Norms and Philosophy
CICOL presents itself as an institution created by and maintained by the people of Lomerio. Their goal is to promote development and to protect the culture and interests of Lomerio. This orientation has produced an organization that has actively sought avenues for economic development while at the same time fought for legal protection from
outside intrusions into their territory. First and foremost, their founding objective is to obtain legal, communal title to the territory of Lomerio. They are in the final stages of achieving that, but it has taken years to wade through the slow, Bolivian bureaucracy.
The organization was founded because of timber companies that were moving
into Chiquitano territory. The initial objective was clear--get those companies out! They were successful. Since then, the objectives of the organization have not been so clear-cut. CICOL began as a small organization, and has since grown. They have become managers of a large development project with international funding. In many of the members' opinion, the organization is having to spend too much of its time trying to secure funding, and justifying the funds that it presently has. These requirements are leaving too little time or resources to accomplish the larger, overall goals that are the basis of the organization. Many people in Lomerio complain that the objective of the organization has become economic survival and expansion rather than action at the ground level.
CICOL's statutes detail the specific objectives, functions, and obligations of the organization. According to the document, the organization is dedicated to improving the productive capacity of the members through improving transportation services, obtaining fair prices for products, obtaining credit, and training members in technical skills. There is also considerable emphasis on the need to improve the ability of the organization, the member communities, and individuals to participate in the local, regional, and national political processes and institutions.
Buried within the statutes (that were written twenty years ago) is an objective that states that the organization should obtain a forestry concession to provide a permanent defense of the territory against invading companies and colonists. When the Chiquitanos received the forestry concession, they also discovered that they were required to manage the forest and submit management plans. They contacted some NGOs for help, and this led to international attention, funding, and a much larger logging and forestry operation than they originally thought they were starting.
The change in this objective from a small part of the strategy to receive land title to a large-scale profit-driven enterprise has created conflicting opinions regarding CICOL. Some communities have resisted giving CICOL control over their forest resources. Some community members, and even some of the CICOL directors, see this as outside of CICOL's original range of functions and responsibilities. So far, this view has been outweighed by those who see the project as a valued source of jobs and income, and they are unwilling to dispense with the project, no matter their possible misgivings about its growing scale. This point is a constant source of discussion within CICOL, as it is the one area in which the organization is unsure of how much authority the communities are willing to grant.
There are a number of objectives in the statutes that speak of CICOL's role in defending the "identity and ancestral culture," or the "cultural integrity" of the Chiquitanos. In this case, CICOL is validating its authority by claiming to be the true protector of Chiquitano "customs, religion, economy, and politics." However, the structure of the organization is unlike any existing or traditional political structure. The
organization is modeled after Andean syndicates and unions, and the secretary positions have been created as reflections of the government agencies and NGO organizations with whom they interact. The claim of being cultural defenders is important, however. Speeches given in CICOL meetings are often begun with exhortations for the directors to fight for "ancestrales derechos consuetudinarios," or ancestral customary rights. In a series of early 1990s political struggles between CICOL and government-appointed officials in San Antonio, a number of documents were distributed to the residents of Lomerio, stating the case of each particular side, and accusing the other of certain deeds. These documents nearly always begin with a list of accomplishments that support claims as the true defenders of the cultural values, rights, and interests of the people of Lomerio, and the actions of the other group that undermine and weaken cultural integrity and unity.
The political victories of CICOL's early years, and the expansion of funding have led many to believe that the organization can quickly raise incomes and the standard of living in Lomerio. The organization is trying to accomplish that very thing, but the obstacles to wealth and economic improvement in Lomerio are large and complex. Many former directors said that the organization has been most effective when it is most threatened, especially by outsiders. Now the organization lacks strong identification with a concrete cause or objective founded in terms of the resistance to outside intrusions or struggle for Chiquitano autonomy. This occasionally leads the organization to create conflicts with the NGOs and government organizations working in Lomerio. In the absence of real enemies, they take on the organizations and their policies in an effort to assert their autonomy, and to show their potential militancy. I will now turn to looking at
two of the development organizations that work in Lomerio: APCOB, an indigenous support NGO, and BOLFOR a government financed sustainable forestry project.
APCOB: An Indigenous Support Organization
The organization APCOB arose out of the anthropological research and activist activities of the German director, Dr. Jirgen Riester. After conducting research in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dr. Riester formed APCOB to work in the defense of indigenous rights for the different groups living in the Oriente of Bolivia. One of APCOB's projects was the start-up of a regional indigenous organization, Central de Pueblos y Comunidades del Oriente Boliviano (CIDOB). Through APCOB's influence, CIDOB was able to bring all of the indigenous ethnic groups of the Oriente into the federation. APCOB has played a mediating role between CIDOB and primary grassroots organizations of the different groups within the federation. Through their contacts with financiers, they have been instrumental in securing financial resources for the organizations since the early 1980s. In the case of CICOL and Lomerio, APCOB was instrumental in convincing the people of Lomerio to start a forest management project, and then found the funding agencies to support the project.
In Lomerio, APCOB has a wide-ranging set of projects. They work closely with CICOL on the forest management project. They provide technical forestry assistance, share in the administration of the sawmill, conduct gender workshops, animal husbandry training, a native seeds project, loans for agriculture and animal husbandry, an agroforestry nursery, legal aid, and institutional capacitation.
All of these projects mean that APCOB has a permanent presence in Lomerio. In fact, they have constructed a field station in one of the communities, and a varying number of field workers rotate through the station on two week shifts. There are 11I staff members assigned to work in Lomerio on an on-going basis, and a number of other staff members who came to the field for specific workshops or meetings. The permanent staff included the field manager, two forestry technicians, an agronomist, the nursery supervisor, a veterinarian, two sociologists (including one gender specialist), a sawmill mechanic, the sawmill administrator, and the sawmill accountant.
The APCOB staff lives in a field station constructed in the community of Fatima. Most of the staff are young, recent university graduates. Almost all of the staff are Bolvivian, but there have been German anthropology students who have worked for the organization while doing research in Lomerio. The composition of the staff belies one of the central problems in Bolivian NGOs--turnover. The field manager changed three times in the thirteen months that I was working in Lomerio. The other positions are also constantly changing. This is mainly a reflection of the amount of development money in Bolivia. There are so many projects that development workers use them as steppingstones. They work for a few months with one organization, and then take a higher position with another organization. This creates problems for CICOL and the people of Lomerio. They have to constantly adjust to new people in the same role. There is little continuity. It also creates a level of distrust. The people of Lomerio do not see the NGO workers as dedicated or committed. They say that they are only looking for a paycheck.
One of the APCOB field managers, Carlos, explained many of the difficulties of the job to me. He was one these young, recent university graduates. He was from the highland city of La Paz, and had been working for APCOB for a few years when he came to Lomerio. Previously, he had worked on projects in the city. He said that many of the NGO workers have tremendous difficulty adjusting to working in rural communities. They are from the city and not used to many of the hardships that have to be endured while in the field. According to him, APCOB required their staff to be in the field much more than other NGOs (2-3 weeks per month). Many quit because of family obligations.
Carlos himself quit after a few months in the position because of disillusionment with the direction of the project. He saw the field operations through two evaluations: one by an ecological certification team that was to determine whether the Lomerio project could continue exporting timber certified as sustainably managed, and another by APCOB's financier from the Netherlands. He said that he saw those evaluations as a critical time to illuminate the problems in APCOB and in the Lomerio project, and to look for possible solutions. The APCOB directors, however, saw the evaluations differently and put tremendous pressure on Carlos to try and hide the problems in the project. He said that he realized that the main goal of the NGOs was to stay alive financial-ly, the secondary goal was to complete their objectives in community development. He decided to leave APCOB, and immediately began working with another organization in the city of Santa Cruz.
Outside of development, there are few employment opportunities even for college graduates in Bolivia. The development boom has tremendously increased the number of