Pablo Groux: 'We are the heirs of a unique cultural tradition'

October 2008 -

"The cultural revolution in Bolivia got a first and a last name, when the Bolivian people elected an Indian as president of our republic in December of 2005. Being Indian in Bolivia means many things: poverty, discrimination, being discriminated against by government agencies. Thus, I am convinced that culture is an indispensable factor in changing our society precisely at this moment. Last year, just before the National Culture Prize was awarded, President Evo Morales asked me: 'Pablo, what is culture?' to which I responded: 'Culture is everything: how you speak, how you dress, how you enjoy life.' After pondering this for a bit, he replied: 'So culture is the white cue ball table that determines the game.' You can't just arbitrarily fire the ball off in any direction. If you want to shift culture, you must have a concrete objective in mind. That way, with a well-aimed cue ball you can get the ball you are aiming for in the right pocket."


Pablo Groux

"We are currently at the point where we can revamp the conditions of this game. When I became State Secretary of Culture a year and a half ago, I inherited an agency with a paltry budget and no projects. I want to create a full-fledged Ministry with its own portfolio and genuine political legitimacy. The people who make the decisions in this country must be convinced that culture determines everything in society. In the interim, we have launched a number of initiatives to achieve this. One of the most interesting is the Jornadas Culturales. These are meetings in the provinces to analyse the cultural sector and formulate political proposals. From civil servants to artists, from cultural institutions to societal organisations, everyone is invited to participate in eleven culture-related debate groups that are designed to lead to a national dialogue."

"The essential question will be: who are we? Obviously we are the heirs of a unique cultural tradition. I think it is logical to stress that individuality. Does this put the position of the current conservative art world at a disadvantage? Of course it does; you encourage positive discrimination this way. I am not denying that valuable contemporary art is produced in Bolivia, but I think that we underestimate our local artistic expression. That is where the possibilities for distinguishing ourselves really lie."