The Post Office Crisis

21 Sep, 2017 | Fabián Zapata

Reviews and Social issues

Photos: Fabián Zapata

As electronic communications become the norm, an old institution gathers dust

One of the most important buildings in the city of La Paz is the central post office: a daunting 20-storey tower and symbol of Bolivia’s economic boom. The offices within the building are filled with demotivated officials whose salaries are paid late and who receive no social benefits, a group of people whose ultimate concern is that letters reach their intended destination.

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The corridors are vast and empty, decorated in typical 1970s style: walls lined with wood, yellow candlesticks and leather seats. You can sense a certain melancholic atmosphere in this building where every family in La Paz once had their own letterbox, where they could retrieve their post and parcels. Good news and bad news, love letters, business opportunities, prayers and threats all came through these letterboxes.

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At the end of these bleak corridors is an old lady who accumulates blue sacks full of packages and overdue letters that are less likely to reach their intended recipient. Letters lie on the floor and boxes have collapsed in on themselves. They take all the time in the world. Yet the reality is that we remain dependent on this institution. Legal papers and packages cannot be sent via Internet. So much depends on the mood of these few officials.

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