Countdown to filming…

Friends of MST will begin filming the documentary about Bolivia’s landless peasant movement (Movimiento sin Tierra) on Monday, August 6. There are three of us from the U.S. — Niki, Kara, and Emily — and we will be collaborating with MST organizers, MST members, and Bolivian university students.

The filming will take us all over the country. We will start in Santa Cruz, where we will film for about 2 days before heading to some rural MST communities nearby. After about 8 days in the lowlands, we will fly to La Paz and El Alto in the Andes mountains. La Paz is one of Bolivia’s capitol cities (Sucre is the other one). There, we are hoping to meet with some of the national level government officials — in particular, the Minister of Land — who are allied with MST. In El Alto, we plan to film with the neighborhood associations that support MST activities. From there, we will take a 10 hour bus ride to Potosi on the altiplano, which is the heart of the miners’ union. Over the past twenty years, Potosi has experienced major population loss in the wake of economic reforms and changes in ownership of the mines. One of the MST organizers featured in the film is originally from Potosi, but migrated to Santa Cruz to find work. We will meet his family and learn about his migration experiences. Then back to La Paz, back to Santa Cruz, and back to the U.S. This is an ambitious itinerary, especially since travel in Bolivia can be unpredictable due to road blockades… ! But we’re flexible and open to changes. And, of course, we’re overly optimistic and hoping for the best.

You can follow our progress on this blog — we hope to make regular posts while we are traveling (as long as we have internet access). You can also follow us on the map and view our geotagged flickr photos (there’s nothing posted yet, but stay tuned…).

For those of you who don’t know much about MST-Bolivia, here’s some background:

Movimiento sin Tierra is an international landless peasant movement that works to pass land reform laws that will redistribute land to the poor. In Bolivia, like many Latin American countries (and many countries throughout the world), the agro-industries control a great deal of the land, but produce primarily for export rather than for the local consumption. In Bolivia, poor campesinos have historically been pushed off of their farms and today, 7% of the population owns 90% of the land.

Through land reform policies, MST members hope to rebuild small farming communities. Currently, they occupy unused land — usable land that is just sitting dormant — where they build make-shift homes, schools, and community centers, and collectively farm the land. Resources are shared. Many MST members have faced extreme poverty and displacement after migrating from rural areas to urban centers; these communal farming projects ensure that they have food, shelter, and other resources for their families.

For more information about MST, visit The Friends of MST website (also visit the website of MST Brazil which frequently posts news and updates about MST). Niki attended the international Sin Tierras (Sem Terras in Portugese) conference in Brasil in June 2007… read her blog post below.



1 comment so far

  1. Ben on

    I sent a link to this site to a friend of mine. he replied:”that movie project yer friend’s doin
    sounds rad – feckin humans are amazin'”

    That ain’t too bad.

    When you meet with the government representative do you plan to address water issues? Specifically, who will have control over the next 50 years? Does the government plan to keep the rights or sell them? Do they have a plan at all? According to this handy graphic, potable water will become a commodity for which wars are fought.

    Controlling and distributing that commodity will determine what land is viable. What is the government doing vis-a-vis water rights, damming, and local infrastructure?

    Also, what is the state of GMO’s in Bolivia’s food production?

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