The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
Travails of the Migrant
Luis Rico, Sinclair Thomson, 2018. "Travails of the Migrant", The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics, Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragán, Xavier Albó, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale
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In 1982, the countryside of northern Potosí was hit by a devastating drought. Many indigenous peasants were forced to leave their arid fields and communities and migrate in search of new livelihoods. The song below—written by Luis Rico in the rhythmic tinku style of the traditional music of the region—tells the story of one such young migrant. In the city, he resorts to begging, playing music for money, and carrying loads in the market. Like many highland peasants in this period, he travels as an agricultural settler (colonizador) to the subtropical lowlands, where land was available, but where highlanders also faced arduous tropical heat and disease. He ends up being recruited to stomp coca leaves, as part of the clandestine processing of cocaine paste, and consuming cocaine in order to keep up the intensive work-rhythm, before he leaves it all behind.
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