Speaking to the State from the Andes and Amazonia, 1952–1968
The chapter examines the intertwined movement of indigenous letters and bodies in the March to the East. In an array of letters Andeans demanded they take part in colonization in the 1950s and then denounced its shortcomings in the following decade. The chapter follows their petitions as they traveled from highland hamlets and humid settlement zones to the halls of government. Letters produced in the Andes in the 1950s and 1960s painted a provocative portrait of desperate situations in home communities with the promise and allure of the tropical environment of the lowlands. Writers attempted to shame the state by emphasizing their struggles as migrant laborers or braceros in neighboring Argentina and demanded land as part of the state’s commitments to its own revolutionary legacy. Along the lowland frontier, the reality of colonization failed to match the harmonious human experiment depicted in state propaganda. Government officials blamed a high rate of settler abandonment in new colonization zones on the “backwards” cultural practices of Indigenous migrants. Settlers flung this accusation back on the state, claiming that the MNR had abandoned them. Each group would cast failure as the justification for new rounds of intervention or radicalism in the following decades.
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