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Bolivia: The Changing Face of the Flag

wiphala.jpg

Photo taken by Patricia Vargas Claudio and used with permission.

National symbols played a role in the presidential elections of December 2005. Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga, the main rival to the eventual winner, Evo Morales, accused his opponent of wanting to change the traditional red, yellow, and green flag to something that reflected the indigenous pride that Morales campaigned on. The wiphala, a multi-colored checkered flag used by indigenous peoples, had figured prominently in the campaign and rallies of the eventual winner. Quiroga and his PODEMOS party said that such a flag would not include those Bolivians that did not identify themselves as indigenous and that the existing tri-color flag was the only symbol that could represent multicultural Bolivia. However, Morales and the rest of his MAS party denied any desire to change the flag.

Little by little the wiphala made its appearance in many official locations, such as in the corner of powerpoint slides in the presentation by a cabinet minister during a conference attended by blogger Willy Andres . Plan B’s Sebastian Molina noticed something peculiar about the look of the state-run television channel’s logo. The logo with three triangles with the red, yellow and green was gone and replaced with a nine-square logo that resembled the wiphala. The official government version is that the nine-square logo represents the nine departments of Bolivia, but to Willy Andres it is obvious what it most resembles. However, there has been legislation in Congress to make the wiphala a patriotic symbol, but there is a contradiction as noted by Molina.

En esas contradicciones que tiene la vida política de este país, me encontré con la perlita de que efectivamente ya se había discutido en el parlamento la posibilidad de incluirla como símbolo patrio. Pero… ¿adivinen quién lo propuso? Nada más y nada menos que PODEMOS, mediante su diputado Rodrigo Paz Pereira. Obviamente el debate se quedó en propuesta nomás y no pasó a concretarse.

A ver, recapitulando… El M.A.S. introduce la whipala como símbolo “nacional” en el canal oficial. Pero no acepta que desea colocarla como símbolo patrio. ¿Qué hace entonces la whipala colgada fuera del palacio de gobierno? ¿Están siendo sinceros con la ciudadanía? PODEMOS “denuncia” que el M.A.S. quiere introducir la whipala como símbolo patrio. Anuncia una “batalla por la bolivianidad y la defensa de la tricolor”. Pero luego propone en el parlamento nacional que la whipala pase a ser símbolo patrio. ¿En qué quedamos? ¿Están siendo sinceros con la ciudadanía

In the contradictions in the political life of this country, I found that they have already discussed the possibility of including (the wiphala) as national symbol. But..guess who proposed this? Nothing more and nothing less than PODEMOS, through their deputy Rodrigo Paz Pereira. Obviously the debate remained as a proposal and did not go through.

To recap… MAS introduces the wiphala as a “national” symbol in the official channel, but does not accept to make it a patriotic symbol. Then, why does the wiphala hang outside the presidential palace? Are they being sincere with the population? PODEMOS “denounces” that MAS wants to introduce the wiphala as a patriotic symbol and announces a “fight for the bolivianity and the defnese of the tri-color.” Later in parliament they propose that the wiphala should become a nationally symbol. Where do we sit? Are they being sincere with the population?

Pictures that Molina referred to of the wiphala flying outside of the presidencial palace was taken by blogger Patricia Vargas Claudio of Arquitecta.

8 comments

  • Un par de cosillas rápidamente: La wiphala (no recuerdo si con ese nombre se conoce acá) es la bandera oficial del Cusco. Y se dice era el símbolo del Tahuantinsuyo. Es parecida al símbolo internacional de los movimientos gays, lo que causa cierta controversia actualmente en cuanto a su uso.

    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiphala
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiphala

  • […] La bola corrío y sobre el tema hablaron varios blogueros. El último en mencionar el asunto de la whipala, ha sido Global Voices quien ha dedicado su último artículo sobre Bolivia al tema, titulandolo “El cambio de rostro de la bandera“. […]

  • […] Some weeks ago, some Bolivian bloggers became increasingly concerned whether the red, yellow and green of the Bolivian flag might be replaced with the rainbow-checkered flag called with the whipala. This flag is symbolic of the indigenous population in Bolivia and the Andes, and where President Evo Morales receives a large portion of his popular support. Another group that has backed Morales through thick and thin is the coca-growers. The crop, which they cultivate especially in the Chapare and Yungas regions of the country, has become more prominent in the news over the past week and may figure more prominently on the national seal. […]

  • […] Some weeks ago, some Bolivian bloggers became increasingly concerned whether the red, yellow and green of the Bolivian flag might be replaced with the rainbow-checkered flag called with the whipala. This flag is symbolic of the indigenous population in Bolivia and the Andes, and where President Evo Morales receives a large portion of his popular support. Another group that has backed Morales through thick and thin is the coca-growers. The crop, which they cultivate especially in the Chapare and Yungas regions of the country, has become more prominent in the news over the past week and may figure more prominently on the national seal. […]

  • […] Global Voices […]

  • […] Serrate wrote a follow-up post regarding an issue that caused great concern among many bloggers. In an earlier Global Voices Online article, bloggers were not pleased with a decision made by the state-run television channel to change is traditional tri-color logo, that represented the Bolivian flag. In its place was a logo that closely resembled the whipala flag, which many complained, did not represent the entire country. Serrate soon discovered that the channel had backpedaled and introduced a new logo that went back to the three colors of the Bolivian flag. He applauded this decision, although laments the fact that all of the sets, microphones and other items with the old logo had to be replaced yet again. […]

  • Concerned K'aras

    I am Bolivian of European Descent, my grandparents were immigrants to this great nation. It bothers me that a common Bolivian nationality is not good enough for this president. While it is great for indigenous Bolivians to be proud of thier heritage, a good over one-third of the population is not indian. Therefore it is not fair that this flag, the wiphala, be imposed as a national flag to the rest of us, isnt the red, yellow, and green good enough? it represents all of us regardless of race. But by far my biggest fear, is that concerning camabas. Cambas are inhabitants of the eastern lowland departments who racially are predominantly white-guarani mixed, with a subsatantial white minority, these people are arguing for autonomy, does evo want to push them to secceed?? We are Bolivians united and tied to this land, we cherish its indian traditions but dont impose them on those of us who are only a couple of generations removed from Europe.

  • santuss

    Yeah the “cambas” or guarani Indians mixed with Europeans are a small minority so are the other mixed Bolivians compared to the LARGE INDIAN MAJORITY and those minorities are the ruling class that IMPOSED western culture, religion and oppressed, discriminated and hate Bolivian INDIANS. They never care to educate Indians, they used them as MULES,”pongos” or serfs, they made Indians believe that their existence is to serve the “white and pseudo-whites elites”, now that the natives have awaken and had elected an Indian ruler those minorities feel threaten because they now have their “servants” converted in ministers and presidents, they are afraid and scared of the INDIANS and disapprove any thing related to their empowerment such as education and anti-discrimination laws that are being passed by the new government.

    As Bolivian of EUROPEAN decent I feel that is about time that native Bolivians have a chance to direct their lives and future and be proud of their ancestry and not be ashamed of their culture. And I wish that my fellow “mestizo” paisanos quit being CRY BABY’S.

    Greetings from California.

    SANTUSS

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