Choli­tas

SAVEUR - - Bolivia -

A name for in­dige­nous Bo­li­vian women (al­tered from the Span­ish chola, which car­ries a deroga­tory con­no­ta­tion), choli­tas are to­day highly vis­i­ble on the streets of El Alto and La Paz. Many wear bowler hats (whose style, brand, and adorn­ment with jew­elry or brooches of­ten in­di­cate eco­nomic sta­tus), tiered skirts, long braids, and many-col­ored shawls, which they use to carry chil­dren or pack­ages. Some women opt to have their teeth en­robed in or re­placed with gold, a trend that de­notes wealth. Choli­tas, who were once con­sid­ered lower-class cit­i­zens and not even al­lowed to oc­cupy some squares and gathering places, now hold pub­lic of­fice, own busi­nesses, per­form in their own wrestling league, and host ra­dio and tele­vi­sion shows. Though his clench on power has drawn criticism and con­cern, Pres­i­dent Evo Mo­rales—the first in­dige­nous per­son elected to of­fice—is of­ten cred­ited with re­new­ing pride in Bo­livia’s in­dige­nous peo­ple and tra­di­tions.

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