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Let Me Speak! Testimony of Domitila, A Woman of the Bolivian Mines, New Edition

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Let Me Speak! is a moving testimony from inside the Bolivian tin mines of the 1970s, by a woman whose life was defined by her defiant struggle against those at the very top of the power structure, the Bolivian elite. Blending firsthand accounts with astute political analysis, Domitila Barrios de Chungara describes the hardships endured by Bolivia’s colossal working class, and her own efforts at organizing women in her mining community. The result is a gripping narrative of class struggle and repression, an important social document that illuminates the reality of capitalist exploitation in the dark mines of 1970s Bolivia and beyond.

Twenty-five years after it was first published in English in 1978, the new edition of this classic book includes never-before-translated testimonies gathered in the years just before the book’s translation. Let Me Speak picks up Domitila’s life story from the 1977 hunger strike she organized—a rebellion that was instrumental in bringing down the Banzer dictatorship. It then turns to her subsequent exile in Sweden and work as an internationalist seeking solidarity with the Bolivian people in the early 1980s, during the period of the García Meza dictatorship. It concludes with the formation of the Domitila Mobile School in Cochabamba, where her family had been relocated after the mine closures. As we read, we learn from Domitila’s insights into a range of topics, from U.S. imperialism to the environmental crisis, from the challenges of popular resistance in Latin America, to the kind of political organizing we need—all steeped in a conviction that we can, and must, unite social movements with working-class revolt.

What people have said about Let Me Speak!

The author is the courageous wife of a Bolivian tin miner. Social and economic deprivation drove her to pro-Marxist political action as a leader of a Housewives’ Committee, dedicated to improving miners’ and peasants’ conditions. This is a vivid account of her activities and brutal imprisonment, accompanied by her observations on the clergy, military, and upper-class abandonment of Bolivia’s repressed poor . . . This is a remarkably articulate report with astute political commentary . . . an important social document from a usually silent group.

Library Journal

Originally published in Spanish, the book had its beginning at the International Women’s Year Tribunal in Mexico City in 1975, which Domitila attended as the Housewives’ Committee of Siglo XX, the largest and most militant mining centre in Bolivia . . . . While there she met Moema Viezzer, a Brazilian journalist and the co-author of the book. Moema Viezzer has done a brilliant job of compiling the texts of conversations, dialogues, meetings, and interviews Domitila had with workers, students, revolutionaries, and exiles in Mexico. The result is an important and moving oral history in which Domitila speaks to us in her own powerful words about herself, her country, and her people . . . Let Me Speak! is a deeply political book, full of insights into the struggle of the Bolivian people. At the same time, it is a rich and profound oral history, which like all the best oral histories, is the story of a people as much as it is the story of an individual. It should be read by all.

Two Thirds

A most lucid and moving account of a working class woman’s life . . . working women’s lives have been changed by reading this book.

The Guardian

 

Domitila Barrios de Chungara (1937-2013) is the daughter of a mine worker and lived most of her life in a tin mining camp in the Bolivian highlands. In 1975 Domitila was invited to testify at the first United Nations Conference on Women, Development, and Peace, where she met Moema Viezzer, who helped her to write and publish her life story. Let Me Speak! has been translated into fourteen languages.

Moema Viezzer is a Brazilian sociologist and popular educator who has dedicated her life to women’s causes and environmental issues. Viezzer continues to fight for the international recognition and application of the Declaration of the Rights of the Mother Earth—Pachamama—with an emphasis on the rights of water. She is the author of eight books.

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Publication Date: 05/01/2024

Edition: New in 2024!

Number of Pages: 352

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-68590-050-2

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-68590-051-9

eBook ISBN: 978-1-68590-052-6