Why open veins?

By Published On: March 9, 2005Categories: Blog4 Comments on Why open veins?

I can’t promise that it will remain the title, but I have decided for now to call this blog "Open veins" after reading Eduardo Galeano’s classic book "Open veins of Latin America: Five centuries of the pillage of a continent."

In the book, he traces how the Spanish conquistadores set up a pattern of political and economic relationships that has seen vast wealth extracted from Latin America to benefit firstly European empires and later multinational companies.

Bolivia seems one of the most potent examples of this. Its silver mine in Potosi, discovered by the conquistadores in the 16th century, was at the heart of Spain’s wealth and fuelled Europe’s economic rise.

More than four centuries later, new veins of wealth are being opened up in Bolivia, this time by foreign multinational companies.

The first is gas, an explosive substance not just for its flammability but also its power to corrupt nations and fuel conflicts. The second is water, the essence of life but a substance that increasingly is being turned into a commodity for sale.

They are today’s gold and silver, the lustrous substances that, like the gold in hands of the conquistadores, blind the greedy and rob the poor.

But I don’t plan this blog to be just about exploitation and injustice. It would become very depressing if it was.

I hope also to "open" up the veins of life that flow through Bolivia. To introduce the people I meet and share my time with, show the humour and quirkiness in daily life and convey the buzz of living in a unique and vibrant country like Bolivia.



  1. Alex August 30, 2005 at 8:21 am - Reply

    I randomly stumbled upon your website while doing a google search on poetry by Giaconda Belli… weird because I was in Bolivia for a month this past June. I’m a grad student at a university in Washington DC with a concentration on Human Rights in Latin America and thought finding your website was quite a coincidence. I’d be interested in hearing about your time in Bolivia and the work you are doing there. December’s eleccions will be something interesting to witness! Good luck… Alex

  2. jose sagaz December 21, 2005 at 6:40 am - Reply

    Hi, I am from la paz living in London and like a lot your blog, I agree that Bolivia “is not just about exploitation and injustice. It would become very depressing if it was”. Many people in europe don’t know about Bolivia. The poorest people defeated Bechtel in the streets without weapons, and now they are defeating the oil companies with their votes. I feel proud to be human been, not everything is lost (when you live in europe seems like that) that Tacher won and only indivualism and charity is here to stay. Bolivia had demostrated that colectivism and justice is the way forward.

  3. Joe Michna June 3, 2008 at 11:34 am - Reply

    Your blog remains as interesting as ever – keep it up. Was in Ascuncion earlier in the year and going back in early September this year.
    Noted a number of social and economic issues in Paraguay that reflect what I know of Bolivia.
    Best Wishes
    Joe Michna

  4. Babette Hogan May 31, 2011 at 12:59 am - Reply

    Nice work. Keep it up.

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