ISSUE 29

RELEASE DATE: 01 Jun, 2013

EDITORIAL BY Amaru Villanueva Rance

Say what you like about Bolivia’s underdevelopment or skewed progress trajectory; unemployment is not as big a problem here as it is elsewhere. Take Spain, where over a quarter of the population is currently out of a job, a rate almost four times higher than in Bolivia, or even the UK and the US, which are a couple of points above the local figure of 6%.

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

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE HUMAN PHONEBOX

15 Jun, 2013 | Amaru Villanueva Rance

Originally written in 2008, this piece documented the gradual decline of a once-popular occupation: that of the chalequero. Their work consisted in providing phone calls (by the minute) to passersby w...

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...

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  ...

CARVING FREEDOM

17 Jun, 2013 | Caterina Stahl

Photo: Caterina Stahl Name: Luis Aerrere Age: 33 Hometown: Buenos Aires Argentina Job: Artisan traveler 'Sometimes its sells, sometimes it doesn’t', he tells me with an easy smile. I...

NIMBLE CREATIONS

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...

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...

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...

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

17 Jun, 2013 | Caterina Stahl

Photo: Caterina Stahl Name: Vicente Mayta Rivero Age: 48Job: Typewriter ‘I’ve written many letters for people to presidents such as Victor Paz Estenssoro, Hugo Banzer Suarez, and Evo Morales’....

LACEMAN

17 Jun, 2013 | Jonathan Coubrough

Photo: Amaru Villanueva Rance 'Guatos !' a man shouts from a passing car, as Pedro Machaca slowly stumbles down Avenida Montenegro, with an assortment of colourful shoelaces slung over his shou...

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...

FRESHLY SQUEEZED

17 Jun, 2013 | Caterina Stahl

Photo: Caterina Stahl Name: Emma RamosAge: 52Home: BoliviaJob: Making fresh juice Doña Emma appears lost in deep thought at first look, but her smile lines readily deepen as soon as she breaks...