We Will Fight (Continued)


The decision is taken by the representative of the communal authorities not to allow anyone to take any images at all. I dont know how it was put as the language spoken was Quechua but I was told that the essence of it was that anyone caught taking images would be beaten up, enough of a treat to make me leave the camera in the bag. It is obvious, outsiders including Bolivians from other parts of the country are unwelcome by most members of Macha and by the villagers participating in the Tinku. The only friendly faces I have met were those of the elderly women and the children; otherwise whenever my eyes would meet those of a male I was challenged to a fight. With time one learns not to look at someones eyes (A taboo in most societies, to look straight into the others eyes it is like trying to scrutinize their soul an unwelcome intrusion). With the news that no pictures could be taken I feel relived and go straight to bed for some much needed sleep. Sometime later Vladimir wakes me up with the dreaded news that the local authorities have made a U turn and decided to hand out still photo permits for 20 USD and video permits for 50 USD. A long sleepless night begins, the dynamite blasts increase while the villagers with their colorful dresses and crosses invade the square of Macha. The stamping feet and the chants of “Vamos a Pelear” combined with the knowledge that they are drinking themselves into oblivion with 96% pure alcohol makes the prospect of photographing them preoccupying to say the least. In the morning exhausted by worries I take a fatalistic view on life and decide camera in hand to go out and see. By the church tower the police has installed its head quarters. 30 unarmed officers from the city of Potosi are in charge of crowd control avoidance of heavy injury and death. As a last resort to disperse the crowd they have brought teargas. The crowded square is in full swing and more groups of villagers are streaming into it at the rhythms given by the charango and the flute, “Vamos a pelear”, stamping their feet into the ground producing small clouds of dust that give the spectacle an air of belligerence. Having paid the USD 20 fee for my camera permit and having received the accreditation with the Macha authority stamp on it I opt to stick around with the police. The fights between groups of villagers and individuals are happening a bit everywhere but more near the church tower. This years rules of engagement are that stone throwing is prohibited and no more then four people are allowed to fight at the same time.

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