EDITORIAL BY Amaru Villanueva Rance
This is no coincidence. Looking for a job here needn’t involve printing out stacks of CVs and leaving them at shops and cafes, or sending them to big corporations through online application systems. Finding a job here often means inventing one. And stakes are high; due to weak welfare provisions not having trabajo can mean not having anything to eat, or even where to sleep.
For better or worse, these conditions have created a country of creative micro-entrepreneurs, individuals who constantly need to hone their skills and market knowledge in order to survive. Figures from the IMF and World Bank estimate that the informal economy makes up around 65% of GDP and accounts for up to 80% of all urban and rural employment.
The quick-mindedness and improvisation power of this sector is hard to overstate: one needn’t look further than a social protest in the centre of La Paz to discover peddlers springing up out of nowhere when the police start spraying tear gas. They can be found selling vinegar to marchers to reduce the symptoms, and even the new Hydrocarbons Law for them to understand what they are marching about. Further examples are abound: we’re told about a man on Calle Murillo who gives advice and information to minibus drivers (how long ago the 290 passed) in exchange for a small tip.
In this issue we have sought to find the pockets of creativity in the local workforce. Standing in the street and small shops, through rain and hail these individuals continue to reinvent themselves, and with them the whole country’s imagination travels forward. It is our aim to celebrate these unsung heroes who with little more than a mobile phone, a leather jacket, their hands, a piece of rope, some nail polish, a battery-powered speaker, shoelaces, some face paint, their voice, and local knowledge, leave their houses every morning to seize the day. They are as much a part of our past as they are of our future.
ARTICLES FROM THIS ISSUE
MICHAEL JACKSON REBORN
17 Jun, 2013 | Sophia Howe
The King of Pop’s Spirit Lives On Photo: Ivan Rodriguez Petkovic The year 2009 was shadowed by the tragic death of Michael Jackson, but the legendary entertainer’s spirit was reborn in on...
SEEING THE CITY THROUGH A BALACLAVA
17 Jun, 2013 | Fliss Lloyd
Fliss Lloyd goes on a tour with Hormigón Armado to understand what the city looks like to a shoe shiner. Photo: Carlos Sanchez Navas It was an afternoon well spent when I decided to do ...
17 Jun, 2013 | Caterina Stahl
Name: Tania Mamani Age: 35 Job: Nail artist. Watching her work makes me realise it's essentially a combination of sculpting and painting on miniature canvases. This is just too good to b...
WHAT'S FAIR AND PRETTY
17 Jun, 2013 | Jonathan Coubrough
Photo: Michael Newport CC @Flickr Every Sunday Mariano Roque Ylofayo travels 60 km from the city of Sucre to Tarabuco to sell traditional local clothing at the town’s legendary market. The histor...
FREEDOM IN CHAINS
17 Jun, 2013 | Ryle Lagonsin
The Silver Man Stands Still Photo: Ryle Lagonsin For 27-year-old actor Ronald Millares performing is a way of life. In his continuous pursuit for artistic independence, he has found freedom...
CREATING NEW OUT OF OLD
15 Jun, 2013 | Sophia Howe
Photo: Sophia Howe For the past year Oscar Herrera has been running an original stand, called ZAFAR, along with his partner Miguel Sanchez Gomez. They sell the most eccentric designs and colourfu...
THE CEMETERY SINGER
13 Jun, 2013 | Ryle Lagonsin
Fabián Luizaga’s repertoire consists of various kinds of boleros, huayños , Christian tunes and even waltzes. Among the most popular requests he receives are ‘El Llanto de Mi Madre’, ‘Mi Querido Vie...
FROM THE STREETS TO THE RADIO
17 Jun, 2013 | Sophia Howe
A Young Man’s Dancing Journey. Photo: Sophia Howe ‘I don’t only dance, I entertain’. Franz Rodrigo Chavez began his career singing on the micros of La Paz ten years ago. However, this was not...
THE MAN WITH THE CITY ON HIS BACK
15 Jun, 2013 | Wilmer Machaca
Aparapita is the name given to the hundreds men who carry huge loads for a living across the city’s main commercial arteries. Wilmer Machaca talks to two different generations of these personages to u...