Pachamama plays a big part in the ancient Andean religions. The benevolent earth goddess is still worshiped throughout the highlands of Bolivia. She controls the harvest, and demands frequent rituals to be performed in her honor. For example, before drinking chicha, Bolivians spill a bit onto the ground. First drink goes to Pachamama. Llamas are also sacrificed and incense burnt in her honor.
The Andean belief system is based on a reverence of the sun, moon and earth. Miners even pay tribute to the devils of the underworld. Capitalizing on this religious adoration of nature, Bolivia has presented itself as one of the most eco-friendly nations in the world. Congress has afforded full constitutional rights to Mother Earth. In the UN, Bolivia has been at the forefront of the fight to reduce carbon emissions. On the face of things, Mother Nature seems to have no greater ally than Bolivia.
But you know what? I have never seen a society more disrespectful to nature than Bolivia’s. Litter is everywhere. People throw whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. It’s disgusting. I swear to God, after giving me a sanctimonious lecture about the power of Pachamama, this guy sitting next to me on the bus tossed a plastic bag full of junk out the window. Just like that. Oh, but pray to Pachamama and worship Pachamama, right? Respect the earth, right? Whatever!
Rivers are choked with bags of trash. Plastic bags of rotting food, bottles, boxes, old toys and clothes litter every ditch. So what is it, Bolivia? Do we worship and respect Pachamama, or abuse and tarnish her? Of course, hypocrisy is a part of every society and every religion, but the lip service paid to Mother Earth versus the reality of pollution in Bolivia is truly something else.