In which Moneypenny gets more than she bargained for


What did I have to lose really?   I had made no real plans, I just bought the ticket, threw a few things in my backpack and ran away...just as I always seem to do.

“Let Hugo here take your bag and we will board my plane shortly, Jay is already there waiting”, he said to me.  “Board your plane?  But I... I mean, where are we going?”, I managed to mutter.

“I’m taking you to Potosi, to visit the mines and then we can go to my house in Sucre, we have a party tomorrow night and your presence will be greatly appreciated, not to mention your tangera talents”, he responded and just like that we were off.

The next day, Richard took me into the famous Cerro Rico of Potosi, while Jay went to Sucre to prepare for the big event the following day.

I could see how serious Richard was about showing me the mines, something told me that he had more than just a friendly tour on his mind.  “Miss Moneypenny, I am honoured to have you here with me.  Let me ask you, what do you know about the history of Bolivia?” he started.  “I suppose what most people know, beautiful lands, many riches, the Incas and then, of course, the sad story of colonisation”, I responded.

“Yes sad indeed. Bolivia, along with Peru, was once the jewel of south america, with a mighty civilisation whose creations and technological discoveries were so advanced, that the neanderthals of Europe were too ignorant to even recognise, let alone understand.  The Incas thought the Spanish were sent by the Gods when they first arrived on their mighty horses waving their bibles in one hand and concealing their daggers in the other.  The biggest mistake the Incas made was trying to create relations with the foreign coloniser instead of attempting to destroy them from the very beginning. The spaniards brought disease and death; they reaped this land of every resource it had; enslaved, killed and brainwashed its people to the point where even today, the indigenous feel inferior to their white counterparts. Had those fools taken one minute to try to understand what the people here were capable of, had they invested in the land…. Well let’s just say it would be a different world today.  Potosi was once the richest city in the world, the envy of Paris and London and look at it today?  A waste land with a increasingly ill population” he began telling me.  “Yes Spanish colonisation was very violent, colonisation in general I guess but it’s time to move forward isn’t it?  Surely we can’t linger on a thing of the past forever?” I remarked, not knowing what else to say.

“A thing of the past?  Oh no my dear, colonisation is still very much happening today, it’s simply done under a different guise.  The Spanish were barbarian imbeciles indeed, bleeding this land dry, like a hungry vampire; and for what?  To invest in Spain?  To develop it’s motherland?  No, they did it in order to buy pretty things for Spain’s rich and famous; they didn’t put a penny back into their own country let alone their ‘backwards’ colony. Idiots, all of them,  but I’ll tell you who d did get rich from the colonies and from the stupidity of the Spanish, (and are still getting rich today);  those who understood that richness was not only to be found in gold and silver but in industry, in technology, in monopolies, in creating commodity goods that everyone wanted. Did you know that every slave in south america wore clothes fabricated in the UK? The ships which traded human flesh for precious metals, bore the emblem of the English crown.  Shipbuilding, heavy metal industry, universities, education, industry….. that’s how you make a country rich, and of course by keeping those who provide for you poor and ignorant not to mention imposing taxes and monopolies. You have to give it to the English, they knew what they were doing.  The English let the Spanish and Portuguese do the dirty work and the benefitted from their newfound riches. Gold, silver, diamonds, metals only transited through Spain and Portugal, it was in England that they found a home.  The English provided Spain and Portugal and their colonies with everything, down to bricks to make their sidewalks.  Have you ever heard of anything so absurd, bringing pavement from the UK to build the streets of Buenos Aires!  Bolivia is the world’s biggest metal exporter and we don’t have so much as one tin can fabricated here, and this has always been the case.  The English and their American cousins, buy our raw materials cheap and, after lobbying our spineless governments, sell us back their finished good with a    10 000% profit margin.  And our governments just sit by and watch from their 5 star hotels rooms, sipping Dom Pérignon, while our people starve or die a of slow asphyxiation.  Pigs, all of them!” he shouted.

“I’m very sorry this has happened to your country, I don’t know what else to say”  I said.  “Thank you my dear, but don’t worry, this will all change, they will all pay, and somehow you’re apart of this plan.  The English have their eye on you, they’re smart, I won’t take that away from them.  But come now, let us visit the mines so you can see for yourself” he added gently pushing me into the dark tunnels of the ‘rich mountain’.

The mines were dark and cold, a permanent haze of dust followed us and we made our way deep into the mountain.  He walked by workers, old and young alike, were buried deep in dirt hammering away, desperately hoping for a few grains of precious salvation.  They barely noticed our presence as Richard walked by and greeted everyone single one of them by his name.  We walked the tunnels for two hours. “How do you know your way around so well and all the miners?” I asked him.  “Because I use to work here, when I was young, I wanted to know what is was like, I wanted to understand” he answered as he guided me towards the way out.

I was silent, the sunlight blinded me, that’s a little how I felt deaf and blind, and somehow under everyone’s control; Sabrina in tango; Bond in whatever it was he was getting me into; and now Richard.  I can’t tell left from right in all this.

“Well my dear, let us make our way back to Sucre and we can talk about all of this later.  We should rest before the big night tomorrow”, he said as we started our 3 hour silent journey to Sucre.

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