“In Zona Sur the indigenous people are servants, nannies, maids or work in the restaurants and shops. It would be difficult for them to be able to rent a place here, and when they get rich they don’t buy a house here, they build big buildings in El Alto”
Bolivia : La Paz
Influenced by political, historical and economic systems, our institutions not only shape our cities, but also our language, lifestyle, attitude and behaviour.
The Aymara indigenous people of Bolivia, who are a class of indigenous people amongst the 62% that inhabit Bolivia, are generally not treated or respected with equality, according to one local Maria Borda, cafe owner of ‘Vida’ in La Paz.
In essence,, when our dignity is violated because of who we represent, so are our human rights to freedom of expression, movement, empowerment.
She says in Zona Sur, a place mostly inhabited by the financial elite, have little or no respect for Aymara people.
“In Zona Sur the indigenous people are servants, nannies, maids or work in the restaurants and shops. It would be difficult for them to be able to rent a place here, and when they get rich they don’t buy a house here, they build big buildings in El Alto”.
El Alto is the neighbouring city La Paz, where Aymara merchants – many of them women – play important and lucrative role’ (Shahriari : 2015).
“I was at a private party recently with my ex, everyone there were white or mestizo kids from the private schools in Zona Sur.
But suddenly three young guys who looked more indigenous showed up, you can tell not only from the skin colour and features but also the way they dress and talk that they’re not from Zona Sur.
For example, in Zona Sur the R is pronounced like the Americans would say it, and everybody started asking ‘who the fuck invited these people in, who’s friends they where etc’ because they obviously didn’t belong there. It was a very awkward situation.
Also the other day I was at a party with some friends of a friend, all of them have their kids at the same kindergarten, a very expensive one. They where talking about how their kids are starting to talk “cholo” – that is a derogatory way of naming the Spanish accent of the indigenous people.
Cholita Women is another name for the Aymara indigenous women. They are dressed in the traditional costume of the Aymara Indian women of La Paz -known as cholitas paceñas – an outfit which once denoted membership of a marginalised and downtrodden section of Bolivian society, but now reflects the growing confidence and spending power of the country’s emergent indigenous middle class (Shahriari : 2015).
Because the upper class families that inhabit Zona Sur all have their kids looked after by Cholita nannies the kids often start talking like them until they start school.
The parents of these kids that I come across would often share stories of how they don’t understand what their kids say (of course they do) and that they almost need subtitles to understand them.
So the accent or sociolect is very important here In Bolivia. You immediately know which part of town people come from, from the way they speak.
And people here in Zona Sur love to make fun of how people talk in the centre or El Alto (where most of the Aymara people are populated).
Now there’s a law that all kids have to learn Aymara in school here in La Paz (Quechua in Cochabamba because the indigenous people there are Quechuas) and of course many people here in La Paz think it’s absolutely terrible, they don’t value the Aymara culture at all’’.
S. Shahriari. The Guardian: Cholitas paceñas: Bolivia’s indigenous women flaunt their ethnic pride. www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/22/bolivia-indigenous-women-fashion-clothing. 22/04/2015