Hub caps, 1995
Although few individuals own an auto in El Alto, hubcaps and other
autoparts are easily available in the 16 de julio market. For
those who need parts, purchasing them in El Alto is far cheaper than
going to a distributor, as parts are frequently more expensive than
the labor costs to install them. Contraband, or goods entering the
country without paying import duties, is rampant in El Alto and allows
access to affordable goods which would otherwise be unattainable.
The jacket worn by one of these customers was very popular amongst
residents, illustrating an entrepreneurial spirit to capitalize
on items with a connection to the world beyond El Alto and Bolivia.
While this jacket was made locally in El Alto, such "foreign" goods
represent prestige for the people who wear them and a desire to
become more integrated with an urban economy. Also popular are t-shirts
and caps emblazoned with Chicago Bulls logos and images of Michael
Jordan, at that time the only N. American athlete known to El Alto