Spanish-language media’s diversity problem has been well-documented. We almost never see Latinos of Afro or Indigenous backgrounds on TV, despite the fact that these communities are huge parts of Latin America. Which is why it was pretty awesome to see the photo above of Bolivia’s national network correspondent reporting on the UN Climate Change Summit and President Evo Morales’ speech in NYC.
Dressed in the traditional bowler hat and pollera of Bolivia’s “cholitas,” the correspondent is repping power Andino in a way that was rarely seen in Bolivia prior to the election of Morales, the country’s first indigenous president. Not so long ago, these indigenous Aymara and Quechua women were routinely discriminated against; they could be barred from entering restaurants, taxis and public buses, and were even discouraged from walking around freely in wealthy parts of La Paz.
A cholita paceña modeling on Lake Titicaca
Now, cholitas are at the center of a rising movement that is fighting to change these social attitudes, by economically empowering Bolivia’s indigenous communities and integrating them into once unthinkable social spheres, like universities, government jobs, and as TV anchors and international journalists.
La Paz even passed a municipal law last October declaring that La Paz’a Chola Paceña is an integral part of Bolivia’s cultural heritage.
We can only hope this movement spreads to other parts of Latin America that all too often erase or marginalize indigenous communities.