Rough Justice in El Alto

the El Alto Barrios

La Paz    Not sure that we were doing the right thing since many of our Organizers’ Forum delegation were still shaky with the altitude transition, before 9 AM we embarked on a different kind of experience – a walking tour from El Alto down to La Paz with La Paz on Foot for four hours.  It actually worked out great, largely because we took cabs to the top and walked down, but hey, that’s not as easy as you think either when you are dropping a 1000 feet or more.

El Alto is an interesting city that 80 years ago essentially did not exist as little more than an airfield but now with almost 10% per year growth has surpassed a million people.  La Paz with a couple of million is below El Alton in the valleys built on what once were more than 30 rivers, originally where gold was found, a Sacramento of the Andes.

El Alto has an interesting tactical position vis a vis all of Bolivia and can cordon off La Paz.  We heard stories of various issues between the communities and that El Alto was able to win by blocking off all outside access to the country by bus or by air or highways.  When people hit the streets in El Alton the country knows about it.

We walked down long staircases and drainage tunnels which are huge public improvements.  ACORN Peru had fought for 5 years in San Juan Laragancho to win ones just like these.  El Alto had brought water, lights, and even gas to many of their barrio districts which was quite impressive.

stairs and drainage = a step up from Lima

So were the very stark notices of the rough justice that would await burglars who might be caught in these barrios.  From the hanging effigies it was clear there would be no waiting for the police!

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