Daniel M. Goldstein
I have known the Aliaga family for 24 years, since I first arrived in Bolivia to study Quechua in 1992. My wife and I were living with a Bolivian family, headed by the widow of a lawyer who had once been business partners with a man named Gunther. Gunther was a Holocaust survivor then living in Cochabamba. On learning that we were Jewish – a rarity in Bolivia – the widow exclaimed, “I know someone Jewish!” and put us in touch with Gunther. On meeting us, Gunther exclaimed, “I know someone young!” – not so unusual, except among Gunther’s acquaintances – and he put us in touch with the Aliagas. We’ve been friends ever since.
I was interested to learn more about Bolivians’ perceptions of the U.S. Presidential campaign through which we are now living, a campaign that many observers have described as among the most bizarre and revolting they have ever witnessed. Recently, Raúl Rodriguez Arancibia (a Bolivian studying in the U.S.) and I wrote a piece on this blog exploring Raúl’s feelings about the Trump campaign in light of Bolivian political experience. For this follow-up piece, I wanted to change directions, to understand the perspectives on this election of some Bolivians and Bolivian-Americans living in Bolivia. And so I wrote to the Aliagas to ask for their insights. (For a perspective from Kenya, see Angelique Haugerud’s Savage Minds post, “Is This What Democracy Looks Like?”)
Anna Aliaga is a U.S. citizen, born and raised in Grass Valley, California. She met and fell in love with Carlos, and the two of them settled in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba to raise a family. Anna founded and runs a business producing and exporting artisanal knitwear and leather goods; Carlos is an intellectual, artist, author, and musician. Their two sons, Eduardo and Elahdio, are now grown: Eduardo graduated from Stanford University in 2013 and is working in Austin, Texas, and Elahdio recently graduated from Santa Clara University in California and returned to Bolivia. I asked them to write a bit about their perspectives on the current electoral campaign.