Callahuaya - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Age and elders are afforded importance in social relations. Women are considered of lower rank than men; this is the result of male-oriented Aymara and Spanish influences upon Quechua patterns, which tend toward equality between genders. Ayllu is the basis of social organization; it is an elastic concept that traditionally included levels of land, kinship ties, community and economic ties, metaphor, ritual, and fiesta. Private property and capitalization erode this basis by drawing the Callahuaya into the national economy.

Political Organization. The Callahuaya traditionally selected leaders according to a system in which roles were more ritualistic, regulatory, and temporal, rather than hierarchical and authoritarian. Principal positions were alcalde (mayor), alcalde escolar (inspector of schools), preste (sponsor of fiesta), corregidor (sheriff), and juez (judge). After the agrarian reform, many communities instituted sindicatos (peasant unions), the secretarial positions of which replaced the traditional roles. Community sindicatos are the base of a pyramidal organization that has the Ministerio de Asuntos Campesinos (Ministry of Farmers' Affairs) as its apex. Sindicatos have overlapping, shifting fields of force from government officials to political parties and regional leaders and interests. Through sindicatos, peasants have acquired political influence in Bautista Saavedra from the mestizos and vecinos (villagers) of Charazani, who had held sway in this region for years.

Social Control. Social control is maintained by gossip, causing misfortunes to a person by ritual means, litigation, incarceration, and expulsion from the village. Godparents intervene on behalf of their children when there is neglect or abuse. Ritualists and diviners influence social control when they perform rituals and divine from coca leaves.

Conflict. The major conflict has been with mestizos, upper-class villagers of Charazani, and peasants of the ayllus. Traditionally these villagers held property throughout the ayllus, where peasants were required to work according to a hacienda system. After the agrarian reform peasants became citizens of Bolivia and received title to their land. Today some peasants have moved to cities, from which they control their property in Bautista Saavedra. This has caused problems of absentee ownership and lack of sufficient land for peasants to own and work.


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