Has the increased political influence of indigenous/peasant organizations on the local state in the Bolivian Andes helped them better address persistent poverty among the grassroots? The insights we gained in Northern Potosí show that there are two major movements with divergent political visions (framed around class or “peasantness”), and thus two long-term strategies for vivir bien. But both represent the same grassroots realities, and their communal leaders seek to apply similar practices (e.g. improving agricultural production or accessing off-farm employment in the mines of Mallku Khota). They also face the same difficulties—leading to complaints from their constituencies about the lack of actual support in the productive sphere. We find that this contradiction between political influence and grassroots criticism emerges less from the movements’ ideological struggles over agrarian change, and more from everyday problems, including the difficulties their local representatives face as part of the complex local administrative system, the persistence of cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, and movements’ obstructive practices of competition. Such mundane issues, we argue, are as important as issues of ideology
in debates about agrarian/rural struggles.