Bolivia festival hints at income disparity

October 17, 2011

Download Story
(AP/Dado Galdieri)
Urban, Aymara indigenous women called cholitas dance during the "Fiesta del Senor del Gran Poder."

Today, socioeconomic polarization in the United States is more palpable than ever. Earlier this month, an iconic sign popped up in the windows of the Chicago Board of Trade with the words “We are the 1%.” The sign was a flib jab at Occupy Wall Street’s slogan “We are the 99%,” and outraged protesters around the country calling for more income equality.

But boasting about wealth isn’t just limited to the U.S. Bolivia is one of South America’s poorest nations. If you have wealth in Bolivia’s indigenous culture, it’s considered bad taste to flaunt it — that is, except at Fiesta del Gran Poder, “The Feast of Big Power.”

Sponsored by the wealthy, the fiesta is an opulent street party held each year right around summer solstice. Economists estimate that up to $40 million is spent each year on the merry-making. Annie Murphy from World Vision Report takes us into this world of conspicuous consumption.

This story was provided to us by the Public Radio Exchange.