Indigenous Bolivia begins to shine under Morales

Source: BBC News

In the highland city of El Alto, which sits just above La Paz, Aymaran architect Freddy Mamani Silvestre is a busy man.

He is known as the king of Andean architecture, building dozens of houses that are changing the face of the El Alto which has, up until now, been full of simple red-brick and concrete houses.

Using bright coloured paint, geometric patterns and folkloric elements, he says he has broken traditional architectural rules.

Freddy’s creations are certainly impressive. Two-storey dance halls with capacity for 1,000 people, chandeliers imported from China and flashing lights coming out of every luminous-green pillar he builds.

“With my architecture I want the world to know that Bolivia has its own identity,” he says.

“There have always been rich Aymaras. The problem was they didn’t identify with it. Now, with this architecture they come to the fore saying, ‘We are Bolivians, we are Aymara and we can show off our Indigenous Bolivians’ new confidenceidentity.'”

Freddy’s work encapsulates the huge transformation in indigenous identity that has swept through Bolivian society in recent years following the election of Evo Morales as president in 2006.

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