Bolivia ranks second to Haiti as the poorest country in the LAC region. Our economic development indicators and morbidity/mortality stats show how hard we need to work. Instead we have a lot of holidays, and today a newly created holiday by current government cuts in half our working week, or what was left of it. On Thursday, as a country with a Catholic majority, we celebrate since colony times the Corpus Christy. On top of that, the following day, Friday we celebrate Saint John, which means celebrating around big fires, it is a social event of what is considered as the coldest night of the year. In other countries, holidays are tied somehow to weekends, so families can travel, go places and boost the tourism economy.
Back in the 90s when I was studying in Rotterdam, I met a Vietnamese and he told me how hard he and his wife had to work for the government from Mondays to Saturdays. They both worked on Sundays for their own, to save for their only child’s education. He told me his government stated they needed to recover from the war and had to build up their economy, their country. If we look at Vietnam now, we see how they opened up to do business with the USA. Here, this government is openly an enemy of the capitalism, of the empire… and there is no job creation, no new industries being created or generating added value to our natural resources.
So, what is this new holiday about? It was declared as an Aymara holiday, the Aymara people live in the vicinity of Titicaca Lake, in the highlands (Altiplano) of La Paz, Oruro and a bit of Potosi. Most of the highlands are Quechua speaking and not Aymara. The Aymara has no recorded/proved contributions to the betterment of society, so that they could on its own have a day to celebrate, in a country that is more mestizo in nature and traditions. This government tried to create an aura of Aymara superiority. They rely and use Tiahuanaco and Inca’s civilization accomplishment on behalf of the Aymara nation. In a country where there are over thirty newly accepted nations, only this one gets a holiday status. They celebrate in the ruins of Tiahuanaco and Samaipata. It is like the Huns celebrating their day in the ruins of the Roman Empire. There are no proven studies that would say that genetically this group would be part of the Tiahuanaco or Inca’s empires. At most they would have been conquered or let live under the shadows of those empires.
This new holiday is just a political attempt of this government to create an aura of new change, like the new date they created to remember us losing our sea-coast. Despite March 23, which is a date we commemorate for over a hundred years, as proved in recorded history.
That is not to say that Aymara people are bad, they are indeed hard workers when they so wish to do it. They also like to party a lot, and who doesn’t? I believe that most of them would prefer to work as they are regarded as excellent tradesmen of the highlands. It doesn’t matter where in Bolivia you go; they are a big majority of the informal economy. Despite this government, they remain linked with religious festivities (our mestizo culture) and are a good example of what capitalism offers to the world. My respect goes to them, but not to this government who creates useless holidays instead of promoting work, and more work to overcome our poverty. What this government does, is to offer fines and other economic penalties to those private companies that do not comply with this holiday. It doesn’t matter if those companies do have prior commitments to meet their markets.