Blessing of ESPIRITU SANTU, 1995
The guardians or sponsors (prestes) of the barrio's patron
saint seek a blessing from the Father in the local Catholic Church.
Inside the wooden box stands a small figurine representing the Virgin
Mary. In 1972, long time resident Don Juan purchased this sacred statue
in the lakeside village of Copacabana and brought it to the barrio
to watch-over and protect the residents living in Villa Huayna Potos�.
Every year since then a resident has cared for the icon in his family's
house, sponsoring the yearly festival of ESPIRITU SANTU commemorating
the exchange between guardians. Sponsorship is a great responsibility,
requiring a huge outlay of cash and credit to provide drink, food,
music, dance troupes and a bullfight for the barrio residents. Each
May the community celebrates the passing of the icon ESPIRITU SANTU
from one family to another and their continued good luck, representing
the traditional redistributive aspects of Aymara culture, as everyone
shares in the wealth of the community. However, today this aspect
of giving to those who have little has been overshadowed by the prestige
of orchestrating such an occasion, and importance of publicly illustrating
one's individual power and wealth.