Loyola Cultural Action Foundation

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Template:Infobox organization Loyola Cultural Action Foundation (ACLO) is primarily a network of radio stations in southeast and southcentral Bolivia founded by the Jesuits in 1966, with headquarters in Sucre. It serves the largely indigenous people of this region and has included literacy in its programming from the start. It is currently involved in advocacy and education for participatory democracy in a plurinational state.[1] It has undertaken direct action programs to strengthen community organizations and community-based media.


Vatican II and Medellin

ACLO's roots go back to the Catholic bishops of Latin America at Medellin adopting the option for the poor recommended by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). In Bolivia in the 1960s the indigenous farmers were marginalized, with 69% illiteracy and little access to healthcare or government services. ACLO used literacy education to conscientize the peasants to their own situation and to transform it. The education was carried on through ACLO's radio stations in Chuquisaca (1971),[2] Potosí (1975), Yamparáeza (1977), and Tarija (1981), along with the newspaper En Marcha.[3]

During the 1971-1978 dictatorship of Hugo Banzer when peoples' organizations were banned, ACLO promoted rural cooperatives (COINCA) with communal stores, cultural centers, health centers, and dairy farms in Chuquisaca and Tarija. ACLO founded experimental and demonstration farms in Chuquisaca, Tarija, and Potosí which served also as training centers for agronomists and union leaders. Then in 1980, ACLO began forming popular reporters (PR) through which indigenous communities make known their needs. More than a thousand reporters and journalists have been trained in southern Bolivia (Chuquisaca, Tarija, and Potosí).[4]

Democracy and community organizing

With the advent of democracy in 1982, ACLO turned its attention again to community organizations, until the formation of the Trade Union Confederation of Campesinos of Bolivia (CSUTCB). With the drought in western Bolivia in 1983, ACLO collaborated with UNITAS in its "drought plan" and with the "Program Agricultural Recovery Campesina (PRACA),[5] which provided seeds and training, and later with "Peasant Development Programme" (PROCADE) which extended credit for agricultural production fashioned to the particular needs of each region.

In 1986 when President Victor Paz Estenssoro closed the mines, city slums were flooded with former miners. For its unequivocal denunciation of the government's oppressive economic programs, radio ACLO in Tarija had its center and antenna destroyed; with help from social organizations it was restored in a year. Later in 1988, ACLO formed a common directorate to coordinate activities for its offices in Chuquisaca, Tarija, and Potosí.[4]

Loyola Cultural Action Foundation

With the deepening of democracy in 1994, better resource allocation, and power sharing, ACLO turned its attention to development plans in the various departments. A six-year plan for 2001-2006 was formulated for the South. At this time ACLO became an official non-profit under the name Loyola Cultural Action Foundation.

Economic problems led to political turmoil again in 2000 to 2005, refocusing ACLO's commitment to the indigenous peasant movement in the South. But with the election of the first president from among the indigenous peoples, ACLO together with radio ERBOL formed a constitutional forum to advocate for the indigenous perspective in the new constitution. A library, website, the newspaper Underway Constituent, and specialized radio reports followed. Again, ACLO suffered violent attacks from conservatives, this time in the capital Sucre. But with supoort from the Ministry of Education and in conjunction with Fe y Alegria and radio IRFA Santa Cruz, literacy programming on the air was extended to primary education in Potosi in 2004 and in Chuquisaca since 2008; these efforts remain enshrined in the Avelino Siñani-Elizardo Pérez Bolivian Education Law.[6]

After 2010, adjusting to the inclusion of the indigenous at all levels of government, ACLO refocused its attention on poverty pockets in the cities and opened a new office in the Bolivian Chaco region. By 2016, ACLO's fiftieth jubilee year, the illiteracy rate had dropped from 69.00% to just 7.23%. The strategic plan for 2015-2020 calls for continuing work with and for the poor in both urban and rural areas.[4]