Bolivians trade dreams of wealth for good health at indigenous miniature festival

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LA PAZ, Jan 24 (Reuters)A – Like many Bolivian artisans, Joselyn Quispe used to sell small houses, cars and dollar bills in January during the local Aymara festival in Alasita, where people buy miniatures related to their personal wishes for the year. .

But this year, Bolivians are not so focused on material things.

“People are coming with a lot of faith and devotion. They are not asking for more houses, they are asking for health from the god of plenty, because many people have died from COVID,” Quispe told Reuters.

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The colorful Alasita – which means “buy me” – is an annual tradition with local craft fairs dealing with miniatures which are then blessed under the auspices of the native god of abundance, Ekeko.

Among the miniatures Bolivians have purchased this year are certificates of good health, negative COVID-19 tests and vaccination records. The mayor of La Paz, Ivan Arias, has bought himself a miniature hospital.

More than 20,000 people have died in Bolivia due to the pandemic, and the fourth wave of the pandemic – driven by the highly contagious variant of omicron – has again saturated hospitals.

“We want a lot of health, because that’s what’s going to allow us to revive the economy and create jobs,” Arias said at the Alasita show.

However, leftist Bolivian president Luis Arce, an economist by training, went to buy a more conventional miniature: tiny banknotes.

Still, a woman gave Arce a miniature kit containing medicines and natural herbs to protect him from COVID-19.

Jacqueline Flores bought a building because she hopes to have a bigger house as well as some bills so as not to run out of money during the year

“I have a business and I want it to grow. That’s why I come here to Alasita,” Flores said. “I also wish for health. With the pandemic, we cannot preserve anything material.”

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Reporting by Daniel Ramos; Editing by Mark Porter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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