The Devil’s Leaf

  • Leonidas Oikonomakis


The first interview on my Bolivian case study was—paradoxically enough—conducted in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. It was during the first Escuelita Zapatista of August 2013 and since I knew that Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar would also be there, I asked to meet her to talk about her “second” home country, Bolivia. Raquel is Mexican and was studying mathematics at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in the 1980s, where she met her ex-companion Álvaro García Linera, Bolivia’s current Vice President, with whom she became one of the founding members of the revolutionary Ejercito Guerrillero Tupak Katari (EGTK), an action for which they spent several years in Bolivian prisons. When she got out of prison, apart from participating in Bolivia’s social struggles during the cycle of protest of 2000–2005, Raquel went on to do a PhD in sociology at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), where today she teaches as a professor of sociology. Raquel told me many interesting things both on and off the record; however, one argument of hers got stuck in my mind: That the cocaleros decided to form a party as an extension of the movement in order to gain territorial control over a region from which the state had long been absent and was now trying to enter, mainly through the Popular Participation Law of 1994. “And what did that mean in those times in Bolivia? [among other things] Control over the state police!” Little did I know that a month and a half later, I would find myself being interrogated in the military camp of the infamous Leopardos, the militarized special anti-drug unit UMOPAR, in their headquarters in Chimoré. But let us take things from the beginning.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonidas Oikonomakis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CreteCreteGreece

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