Issue - July 2010

July 2010


In this edition, Jamie Bassett uncovers the history behind Mother’s Day celebration in Cochabamba, William Dowling discovers the reason behind one of Bolivia’s biggest festivals, Lauren Rutter profi les Olympic Stadium and reviews La Chirola, Floriane Guyot tries to explain the urban gang phenomenon and Walter Sánchez describes the structure of Bolivian families. read more...

July 2010

Patriarchical Structure of Latin Families

Walter Sánchez C.

In the literal sense, the Castilian Word “patriarca” comes from the Greek patriarques term compound with two words: pater which means “father” and arques which means “head” or “founder”. So, the patriarch is the head of a house or the founder or ruler of an ethnic group, family or clan. As a sociological category, this concept has been used to denote a type of socio-cultural and political structure, widespread in South America, in which the man/father/ patriarch exercises the power and authority, and in which family is the key institution in which lays down this authority.

Although in Bolivia the patriarchal authority is strongly linked with the Spanish colonial tradition, the pre-eminence of the man/ father over the rest of the society has a strong influence in pre-Hispanic societies. In fact, in the Inca State and Aymara societies, despite the ideology associated to reciprocity and harmony, woman had a minor status compared to man. With such a history it can be pointed out that the patriarchy, as a specific kind of socio-cultural, political, economic and religious structure, is based on two powerful cultural traditions: the Spanish-European and the Andean pre- Hispanic ones.

As a community structure, the patriarchy ruled (and rules) the private and public life of Bolivian society. In the first case, the man, as ‘head of the family’, had power over all family members (the wife, children, slaves and servants) since they are all his ‘dependent people’. He calls his wife, daughters and the female servants ‘daughter’. He was also owner of the patrimony, the land, the shop and all the familiar assets until well into the 20th century. In the second case, the man ruled all spheres of local and national institutional life.

The army was (and still is) an institution founded on man’s power. Not without reason, this institution did not admit women until the end of the 20th century. Its values, well- established in the triad of God, Native land, and family, were central in the definition not only of the military teaching but in its link with society as well. It is no coincidence that, in this sense, the military institution generated strong links with the Church. The Church introduces it like the institution ‘titular of the Native land’ or populist soldiers have been seen as Tatas (‘fathers’), as with Manuel Isodoro Belzu or Gualberto Villaroel.

The Church is (and has been) an organization fundamentally patriarchal. Th is position is historical and, according to the myth, is from God’s laws which have governed relations between men and women since time of Adam. Th at’s why at the heart of the church patriarchalism had a divine foundation. Not for nothing are the priests called ‘father’ with a superior power over a community or church; stronger than those in the nuclear family or the extended elite or mixed-race and indigenous families. However, links between fathers and those families were diff erent.

Families from the elite – from where the ‘padrecitos’ comes from – were based on class alliances and direct familiar membership, whereas mixed-raced and indigenous families were based on entire control, which greatly increased during the sexual abuse of women. Not for nothing were recently married women’s sons in villages and small farms mockingly called kuraj-wawa (with its double sense ‘older son’ and ‘priest’s son’) or priests popularly called Tata kjachilo (which means Father successful sexually in Quechua).

Th e magistracy was the clearest fi eld of patriarchal control in Bolivia. Like in the previous cases, the exercise of the law was a masculine authority and it started by forbidding women from exercising it. Th is is so true that women could only start studying for a law degree in the University of Cochabamba in the 1930s when the university autonomy was declared. Such a tradition was not a persistence of colonial Hispanic legislations which gave absolute power to the headman of the family, but it was made so that the design of rules, their modifi cation, and enforcement were all in the hands of men. Because of this laws did not enter the private domain, since this was realm of family members in which the man had the power.

An important fact to highlight is that this patriarchal order is so deeply embedded in the Bolivian social fabric

All of these colonial and republican institutions mean that the man/father/patriarch becomes the guardian of the economy, law, morals, duties and obligations, of the religion and government, local, regional and national. Not for nothing was the entire institutional system (administrative, justice, religion) of towns, villages, countries, houses and small farms – and still is – under the control of the father/patriarch. However, this is not solely due to the power of men over the rest of the society. It is an order in which women participate too – from the elite as much as from mixed-race and indigenous sectors – as they teach their children their place in this society.

An important fact to highlight is that this patriarchal order is so deeply embedded in the Bolivian social fabric that it is expressed daily, in varied forms of violence and it is accepted as ‘natural’. Two examples can confi rm this fact (1) the sentence ‘if he beats me, it is because he loves me’, highlighted by popular class and indigenous women, and (2) the approval of the authoritarianism in the exercise of government , under the excuse that they need a political despotic leader – always called “Tata” – for order, conceived imaginarily as a redeeming father./p>

Calendario Julio 2010

Ciclo de cine “Una ciudad- un mundo”
Lugar: Auditorio Christian Valbert (calle La Paz
Nº 784 casi J. C. Carrillo)
Hora: 19:00
Ingreso libre

Jueves 1: “Paris” (director Cédric Kaplish- en español)

Viernes 2:“Paris, je t’aime” (historias de amor de la ciudad más romántica del mundo- Subtítulos en castellano)

“Octava Expo- mueble 2010”

lunes 5 al viernes 9
Horarios: 9.00 a 12:30 – 15:00 a 19:30
Lugar: Auditorio Christian Valbert (calle La Paz Nº 784
casi J. C. Carrillo)

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