“My goal is to build a society that invites the youths who have left our community to return.” Rolando Diego Manzano Rada
I am Rolando Diego Manzano Rado. I am an Indigenous youth from the Aimara people in Chile. I am a veterinarian and a breeder of llamas and alpacas. In my community, Visviri, is almost entirely inhabited by old people. There is no water, no places to live, and the population is in decline as youth leave the community to find work in bigger, more prosperous places and in cities.
Currently, indigenous peoples receive no support from the government, they don’t give us money, and instead leave us to take care of ourselves. Money goes to big cities, and those in charge don’t consider the likes of us because we are a small community, and only few in number. This is all poised to change. A sort of commercial competition has developed between Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, and as a result the government is beginning to change the way it treats Chilean people living in indigenous cities or communities. The government now wants to help us gain more power, so that we can compete commercially, because it sees our potential commercial success as an opportunity to turn a profit and boost the economy.
My father and I breed llamas and alpacas in my community. It is an element of our tradition, and one that I want to continue, by getting the youth in my community to do the same, and to keep our tradition alive. I make a living by selling llama and alpaca meat. I make and sell jerky, Charqui, made from the dried meat of the llamas I breed. I am planning to found a Slow Food Community as a means of not only boosting this cultural tradition but also to rescue, protect, and promote the food heritage of my region more broadly.
I want the young people who have left to come back to their indigenous territory, back to their origins, and I want to build a social network within the community to talk to youths and show them how they can live off their land. The further goal would be to build a society so that youths in nearby communities are attracted by the same things and are drawn to join as well. The task is very difficult, but not impossible.
Written with Nancy Monperousse