The Guaraní people of Bolivia resisted 400 years, with their culture and with their arms, the Spanish colonization first and the domination of the Bolivian State later. In 1892, the national army put an end to this, for the people in power, anomalous situation: with guns and rifles, it faced the Guarani people armed with arrows and sticks. The result was a massacre from which the Guarani people never recovered. In the Kuruyuki battle 3,000 of their young people died and their dignity was destroyed.
Advocacy keeps in focus the poor and marginalized people, and can be done for them, with them or by themselves. Advocacy concerns change, values and beliefs, seeks to empower people, especially the marginalized people who are excluded from the political process. It aims to build strong and democratic organizations that strengthen their confidence, make them aware of their power, to deepen their self-conscience as subjects of rights and responsibilities.
This is the so-called active citizenship that rebuilds the dignity and the identity of a people.
To this aim, commemorations of central events of a people’s history is an effective instrument, provided it is not reduced to celebrations but brings to analyze the concrete situation offering perspectives, critiques, ideals and values. A good example is the address Mgr. Juan Pellegrini offered on the Kuruyuki battle centenary. It was January 28th, 1992.
Today, he said, we are invited “to reflect and we all must reflect: the Karay and Guarani, the Government and the Church. The Karay – whites, settlers and ranchers – must convert, recognizing the injustices they have committed against the Guarani people: the Guarani people were dispossessed not only of their land, but also of their human dignity. Nowadays, there are places in a territory where Guarani people do not have a peace of land, and often their employers settle the accounts with them only once a year. The Karay must convert and ask God and the brothers for the forgiveness of the sins committed.”
The Guarani people, commemorating the hundred years of the Kuruyuki battle, should take a decision of preserving their love for the earth, for liberty, for their children; they should commit their love for others and remove any illusion from their minds. Only with work, study, organization and leaving out drunkenness and inconstancy, they can start off a new journey to become again a strong and united people, and by using all modern means achieve the human and social development they deserve.”
“The government of Bolivia must reflect. The government of former times dispossessed the Guarani people of their land and distributed it among the Karay without respect for any rights. The reformist policies of the government in power a few years ago, promoted agrarian reform only for the highlands and valleys. The current government, should take the necessary measures, so that each Guaraní community, each Guaraní family, has the necessary lands to work and recover their dignity,” and thus repair past injustices.
“The Church, over the past 200 years, has been in contact with the Guaraní people and did its best to understand and help them. In modern times, the Church has placed at the service of the Guarani people new institutions such as CIPCA, Teko Guarani, Health Convention, and Caritas. Now, everyone, bishop, priests, religious, faithful Christians, we must put ourselves at the service of the Guarani people. If the Latin American Church has made the preferential option for the poor, our Church of the Apostolic Vicariate of Cuevo, makes today the preferential option for the Guarani and other native peoples of its territory.”
“A hundred years ago, about 3,000 Guaraní youths were killed here; today here we gathered as many as thousands and all together we are celebrating this feast of brotherhood. All, authorities and people, white and Guarani must work together for the spiritual, social and human development of the Guaraní people and in so doing this will result in an extraordinary richness for the whole nation.
John Paul Pezzi, mccj
VIVAT International NGO
with consultative special status at UN