Who we are (English version)

This version loses a little in translation, so check out the bilingual version if you can.

We are the memory
Of vast empires snaking through the Amazon
Of great peoples and high temples
Of Quiche and Kechua and culture
They couldn’t wipe out, no matter how hard
They tried.

We are the pain
Of nations decimated for their
Gold and silver
Nations with roots deep as
The mountains they blew open
With hearts strong as
The people they enslaved in the mountain
Stripping the riches from their own soil
Hail Mary, full of grace…

We are the spirit
Of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Of the Spanish church and
the native gods and
the mixture of spirits from two
Disconnected worlds.
The spirit of the Church
That controlled everything
And everyone.

We are the fight
For independence
The struggle that finally burst
From a land controlled by
Aliens across the ocean with their
Gold and silver
Their
Civilization.”

We are liberalism
Sending our crops
To strangers and
Bringing in the luxuries
Created by the roaring
Twenties
That we cannot afford

The nationalism
Of a people tired of hating
And being hated for their history—
Ready to paint murals
To celebrate Kahlo and Rivera
To remember their roots

The populism
Of a people who wanted a leader to listen
Of a leader who smiled
And promised
And changed nothing
Of Evita
First lady, passionate,
Actress.

We are industry
A movement to stop our dependency.
“Developmentalism”
Developing our
Brown skies and gray earth
And destruction of our land
Filled with our gods
So they will stop destroying
Our nation
Filled with our people

We are the victims 
Of the dictatorship
We are the Mothers and Grandmothers
The Leftists
Night of the Pencils
Students, unionists, “subversives”
We are the French nuns
We are the pregnant women screaming
From inside soccer stadiums.
And we are the Church,
Silent and stolid.

We are neoliberalism
Inequality
In the palm of the IMF and
World Bank
Raped by foreign capital
Tearing down our own countries
With the same hands that so painstakingly
Protected our markets,
Handing the pieces
To Walmart
McDonald’s
And Coca Cola

We are the young democracy
Picking up the pieces
The junta left behind:
Promising housing
Agreement with all
But leaving the people
Demobilized and
Demoralized
De-democratized
Unable to stand up to
The government they
Had elected

We are the generation of young people
Rising up to take our place
In remembering
And moving forward
The indigenous leaders
Chewing coca leaves
And writing spirit
Into a new constitution
A nation of Aymara and
Latinoamericans

We are the legacy
Of a democratic pendulum
Swinging back and forth
Colony to independence
Racial control to equal say
Democracy to dictatorship
And back again
But we are on the upswing
Of Correa and Morales
Of constitutions and change
Of yelling to be heard
But finally getting a response

We are development
In fits and spurts
Throughout our existence:
“Development”
Through racism and mining
Whitening and progress
Eurocentrism to nationalism
Exports to industrialization
To free markets and
comparative advantage
To backlash against
Neoliberal inequality
To the pink tide
Engulfing us in efforts to
Finally change things

We go walking
But we have far to go
Our neighborhoods
Run by drug cartels
Our urban neighborhoods
Empty of the promises
They made to our people
Of community centers
Parks and Laundromats

We still fight against racism
City folk who spit at our
Indigenous president
Factories
That take advantage
In the name of “development”
And a world that
Marginalizes us
As the secondary America
Vulnerable and ignorant

We wade through
The mess left by privatization
Brain drain
The refuse of greedy corporations
Millions in external debt
Still in the palms of
Foreign nations
Dangling our debt over our
Impoverished heads

We still fight
We always fight
For equality and recognition
For dignity and security
Forming collaboratives
Running hotels
Pushing for pride and
Communication and
Regional autonomy

Latin America
Is a changing place
Still settling into its
Democratic stance
Trying on and throwing out
Different last names
Reconciling its pasts
And trying to fit them to
A future

We know who we are
And we remember the past
That has painstakingly
Constructed our identity
Brick by brick
Regime by regime
Paradigm by paradigm

We are unequal
Uncertain
Unstable
Unsafe
Exploited
But we are strong
And we are fighting
And inch by inch
We are moving forward

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