Everywhere you walk in Cochabamba, there is art. Admittedly, some of it is just graffiti tags like you might see in the United States, but a lot of it is very meaningful, whether through imagery or quotes. As one street art quote I posted to Instagram this week said, “May the only thing that die in my city be fear and insecurity.” Excuse my dirty mouth, but that shit is everywhere. It’s amazing. In fact, our group took an urban art tour this week (If you’re ever in Cochabamba, find “Bike Art Cocha”, tours in English and Spanish). Every mural was intricate and carried SO much meaning. I posted just a couple of my favorites, but there were many more, just in the neighborhood we explored.
I get the impression that the people in Cochabamba are a lot more connected to the struggles of their country than most Americans. Voting is obligatory in Bolivia, but beyond that, people know about their country’s problems and about other countries as well. A lot of the urban art mentions something along the lines of “working for a free future” or “demanding a non-violent future” like the photo I posted below.
They are screaming for a better life – one with peace, with resources, and without poverty.
It’s difficult comparing this to the United States, because there are *many* people screaming for something better there, too. But there are also many people that don’t pay attention. Meanwhile, there is a transportation strike scheduled for Wednesday that will stop all public transportation in Cochabamba, in protest of a proposal to bring trains into the city. These are real people dealing with real problems in a real way. (Did I mention that the Water War of 2000 in Cochabamba brought thousands into the streets, shutting down the entire city…managing to push out an incredibly strong contract with an even stronger U.S. utilities company? And we thing the United States is the strongest country in the world.)
The strength and various cultures of Cochabamba continue to impress me and challenge my definitions of the world.