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Living well”—vivir bien or buen vivir in Spanish—is a translation of the Aymara term suma qamaña and the Quechua sumak kawsay, which are now offcially taken up in the constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador. The language also circulates in other parts of Latin America and even other continents to refer to a utopian alternative with indigenous roots. It does not refer to an existing institution in Andean communities so much as a set of ideals, values, and pursuits that are under debate and construction. It implies, above all, a dynamic equilibrium in the relations between people and with nature, or Mother Earth, as well as the psychic and spiritual satisfaction that comes with that balance. It contains a critique of predominant development models, which bring highly uneven economic benefits at serious cost to the environment. According to David Choquehuanca’s notion, the mainstream approaches mean that only a few live better, while humanity as a whole does not live well. Choquehuanca, from an Aymara community near Lake Titicaca, worked closely with different indigenous groups and helped to train many of the leaders who eventually joined the Movement to Socialism (mas) party. Named foreign minister in the Evo Morales government in 2006, he was the most prominent cabinet member of indigenous origin and one of the foremost advocates of the utopia of “living well.”

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