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Voces Bolivianas: The Future of the Young City of El Alto

The bloggers of the virtual community Jaqi Aru, which is spreading Aymara language in internet through creation of digital media contents, have started a meme titled “La Ciudad del Alto y del futuro” (The Future of the Young City of El Alto). The members of this community asked for contributions from students from the Public University of El Alto to provide their thoughts on their city. El Alto is a large suburb of the city of La Paz with an estimated population of approximately 900,000 residents. It has been growing ever since it became separated from La Paz in 1985, and it recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Nahir Nina Cerezo writes:

Hoy EL Alto presenta una nueva cara e imagen, es conocida como la ciudad más joven de Bolivia, en su estructura se puede observar un repentino progreso y amplio crecimiento en su población. Es la ciudad más alta del mundo admirable por su extensa planicie y hermosa vista hacia alrededores, como montañas, cerros y llanuras, tal parece que encontrase a los pies del Illimani, Illampu, Huayna Potosí, Chacaltaya, Mururata que están engalanados de vestidura blanca y resplandeciente.

Today, El Alto has a new face and image, it is known as the youngest city in Bolivia, where a sudden progress and widespread growth in population can be seen in its structure. It is the highest city in the world remarkable for its extensive plains and beautiful view towards its surroundings, like mountains, hills, and plains, which can be found at the foot of (the peaks) Illimani, Illampu, Huayna Potosi, Chacaltaya, Mururata which are covered in a bright and white wardrobe.

El Alto attracts many migrants from the Bolivian Altiplano, who search for better working and education opportunities. Javier Zepita Quispe writes about these migrant workers:

En esta ciudad se puede ver migrantes de todo lugar por ejemplo: Personas humilde , pobres de bajo recurso pero trabajadores , porque ellos migran de los distintos pueblos es por eso que la ciudad del alto se considera gente luchadora y trabajadora.

En esta ciudad tan plano y grande , además frió y viento existe en los cerro enormes como el Wayna Potosí y el Illimani que casi cubre toda la ciudad con un manto blanco en donde atrae turista de todo el mundo para poder observar las casas que deslindan de los cerro y hoteles parques hermoso prueba de eso se puede ver en las calles que nosotros caminamos todos los días.

In this city, one can see migrants from everywhere, for example: humble people, poor, but working people, because they migrate from different communities and that is why the residents of El Alto are considered to be fighters and workers.

In this flat and large city, in addition to the cold and wind there are large mountains like the Wayna Potosí and Illimani that almost covers the entire city with a white blanket that attracts tourists from around the world to see the houses that sit along the mountain and the hotels and beautiful parks that we can see along the streets that we walk every day.

Snow mountain – El Alto, La Paz.Image via flickr user By Szymon Kochański. CC BY-NC-ND

Nely Limachi Cocarico has high hopes for the city:

En el futuro “El Alto” será una ciudad inmenso, porque es una ciudad grande y con mucha gente. Con el esfuerzo que tienen las personas cambiará en muchas cosas. Por ejemplo: sus casas serán más modernas, habrán escuelas, colegios, universidades, hospitales modernos, las calles y avenidas serán adoquinadas o asfaltadas y limpios.

In the future, “El Alto” will be a huge city because it a big city with many people. With the effort from people, many things will change. For example: its houses will be modern, there will be schools, colleges, universities, modern hospitals, and the streets and avenues will be clean and paved or cobbled.

However, Román Salazar Luna is skeptical about the future and sees that there are still a lot of problems facing its people:

Queridos señores auditores, cómo poder pensar que esta ciudad es el futuro de Bolivia. Si a diario vemos en el casco central de esta ciudad, personas rompiéndose el lomo para conseguir unos cuantos pesos, se van agarrándose a las patadas con los peatones en las calles. Y no olvidemos a las mañaneras que van retornando a sus hogares junto con la salida del astro rey, desde luego alimentarse y continuar con la cotidianidad de la vida, trabajando como las hormigas obreras. Puesto que, esto no es todo, si a menudo del día se ve fiestas por doquier y con ella la borrachera, y que hay de los niños y jóvenes, acaso ellos no están expuestos a aprender estas actitudes, pues si analizamos con delicadeza esta cuestión, entonces vemos que ellos si están expuestos a adquirir las culturas tan maliciosas de la vida. Entonces ¿Por qué algunos pregonan que los niños son el futuro de seta ciudad y de Bolivia?

Dear readers, how can one think that this city is the future of Bolivia? If on a daily basis we see in the city center people breaking their backs to earn a few pesos, they hold onto the legs of the pedestrians in the streets. And let us not forget the early morning returnees to their homes when the sun comes out, who after eating breakfast continues with their daily routine, working like worker ants. And that is not all, as we see every day the parties and with that the drunkenness, and what about the children and teenagers, are they not exposed to learn these attitudes, and if we delicately analyze this question, then we see that they are exposed to acquire these malicious life habits. So, why should we say that the children are the future of this city and of Bolivia?

1 comment

  • Books and other media don’t really do a lot to insprire positive thoughts or interpretations of Bolivian cities either. Marching Powder, for example, paints a very negative picture, which could have an element of self fulfilling prophecy about it. With the upcoming Marching Powder film, I would agree that it is up to the local media producers to use their skills to produce a counterpoint to this.

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