Trained Indigenous Reporter Runs for Senate in Bolivia

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Nelida Smith was born in the community of Cueto Tarabuquillo Tomina municipality (in Chuquisaca) on July 18, 1981. She is unmarried. Since 2003, Nelida has held different leadership responsibilities: Secretary General of the community of Pampas Down, of the Sub Tarabuquillo (2003), and of the Province Tomina (2004); as County Executive (2005-2006); and as Secretary General of the Federation of Farmers of Chuquisaca (2008-2010).

She also was a People's Reporter for Radio ACLO (2001-2006) and a promoter of land rights and official of the Prefecture of Chuquisaca from 2006 to 2008. Nelida trained as a People's Reporter in 2001 and joined Radio ACLO from 2003-2005, during which time she completed the leadership training process.

After strengthening her leadership skills, Nelida not only attended national events of peasant organizations, she also participated in international events: Meeting of Leaders and Reporters in Cochabamba (CIPCA, 2004); Women's International Forum on "Leadership and Human Rights" (Peru, 2005); Latin American Meeting of Women Leaders (Venezuela, 2006); Social Organization Meeting of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia on the TLC (Peru, 2008); and Latin American Women's Forum (Santa Cruz, 2008).

Nelida Smith is also a candidate for the Senate in the forthcoming December 2009 general election.

She says: "I feel more prepared and desirous of progressing further in response to the demands of peasant organizations and to contribute more to managing organizations. With more knowledge, I can share my training with grassroots organizations and the authorities.

"In the leadership training courses, I learned to share my knowledge with others and learned a lot from them too. The topics covered were very interesting; they included leadership issues, history of native peoples, municipal management, preparation of project profiles and more. The trainings helped me to develop greater knowledge that I could use to strengthen my organization.

"The leadership training has encouraged me to continue to train others, to gain experience as a leader and to continue to help organizations and my constituents. I am very glad to have shared with organizations all I've learned.

"My family is proud of me and, because I have assumed important positions in peasant organizations. My parents and brothers encouraged and motivated me to continue in my challenges.

"[After the training] I participated more in my organization and strived to make things more honest and transparent, which instilled greater confidence in my organization.

"In political matters, I could not contribute anything before, but now I feel able to contribute from my experience. I can take more informed positions in public spaces and have a responsibility and commitment to serve others.

"Recently, I decided to run as a candidate for Senator in Chuquisaca in the general election in December 2009. I hope to achieve my goal!"

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