As an American, I found myself in a unique position these past 24 days: Within the heart of Bolivia´s revolution for democracy.
I´ve lived in the historic capitol of Sucre with my (now) husband for almost 2 years and I consider it a privilage to have witnessed a new chapter of this country´s history unfold. It´s been a teachable moment and a glimpse into the twisted lens through which we view other nations.
So let me tell you what I learned from watching a country fight to reclaim their government from a president whose administration was caught committing election fraud.
I learned that politicians and mainstream media in other countries will always twist the truth in an attempt to push their own agendas.
I´ve seen how past prejudices and old grudges between different regions and ethnic groups have been put aside in favor of working together to create a future that all Bolivians can be proud of.
I learned that when it comes to the subject of their freedom, no one fights harder and is willing to sacrifice more than these humble, determined people.
Without a single gun among them, I´ve watched Bolivians arm themselves with homemade weapons and shields made of sheet metal to defend their homes from vicious armed attacks by Masista gang members who support the president.
I´ve seen miners from Potosi running along side caravans of busses bound for La Paz (where the revolution has been most intense), in an attempt to shield themselves from hired snipers in the surrounding hills, who have murdered more than a few people, in an attempt to stop the revolutionary tide flooding into La Paz.
Yet they persisted in spite of the danger.
I learned that Bolivians are never more generous than during times of war. Sharing resources, information and helping each other in any way possible.
Each and every time a peaceful protester was killed, the entire country wept for them as though it were a member of their own family.
I´ve witnessed entire communities stand together, blockading trade routes and the cities even in the rain and cold nights of the Altiplano.
I learned that there´s never a bad time to share funny stories, laugh or sing as bands of people huddle around fires in the streets.
I´ve seen how people outside the country make judgements about Bolivians while resting comfortably in their own nations, which were built upon war and the bloody over turning of their own governments.
I´ve learned that everyone denounces revolution, but has no problem enjoying the benefits of it in their daily lives.
I learned there´s nothing more beautiful than the tearful smile of an old woman waving her country´s flag as she learns their de facto president has resigned.
I´ve discovered the most beautiful sound is that of a million voices singing and celebrating a hard won victory.
I learned that Intenet trolls try to turn everything into a conspiracy.
I learned that politicians incite racism and fear to control people.
I learned to cling to hope, even in the darkness.
I learned patience I never knew I had.
I learned that love will always be stronger than hate.
And what I´m doing now is inviting you to learn something from Bolivia´s revolution. These notions of freedom we hold so dear are not just social media memes and bumper sticker slogans.
They are ways of life.
Freedom from government corruption is a sacrifice that no one is going to make for you.
As Gandhi once said, you have to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
And Bolivians have definitely done that.