Today the world celebrates the International Day for Tolerance. The day is organised to promote toleration, acceptance of difference and peaceful coexistence. This year the day has an extraordinary importance for Bolivia because of the recent turmoil and the current disorder. Now is a perfect moment for everyone all around Bolivia to ponder the values of toleration, compassion and mutual understanding – because without compromises and mercy, this mess will not be solved. Besides, building a common nation-hood and understanding between different groups is necessary for a stable and consolidated democratic future.
Bolivia is currently ridden by a complicated and volatile situation caused by distrust, disagreements and even hatred towards each other, which have been manifested in street protests and violence. The Bolivian society is extremely polarized and divided along ethnic, political and geographical lines. What initially started as protests between the opposition and pro-government supporters, has shifted into conflicts and suspicion between indigenous and non-indigenous – mestizos and whites – as well as between rural and urban population.
Considering Bolivia’s rich cultural diversity and the homogeneity of the society, it is simply impossible and unbearable to sustain intolerance and hatred towards each other. The Bolivian people have to find ways to coexist peacefully, cooperate and tolerate one another because cultural diversity and differing opinions are not going to disappear in the near future. People must start putting themselves into the position of the other to understand what they feel and why they feel like that. Also, there must be compromises between different groups of people.
Disagreeing with one another is totally fine and one of the principal features of democracy. However, using violence, expressing racist or vicious beliefs and threatening others in order to enforce one’s own views to other people should never be accepted. Even in case of disagreement, toleration should be held tightly because intolerance is an essential threat and disregard towards human life. Bolivians need to learn to display differing opinions with calm, dialogue and peaceful protests.
16th of November 2019
Valtteri Nurminen, ITEI Volunteer