Chipaya - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The ayllu is the basic community social unit or organization. There is little social ranking among members.

Political Organization. Chipaya is a true democracy: participation is expected by all household units. Each year the ayllu chooses its chief mayor, alcanti jilacata, and its field mayor, alcanti campo, by casting lots between three candidates for each position. The chief mayor has general responsibility, whereas the field mayor is mainly responsible for fields and water. There are also civil authorities, such as the civil magistrate, curjitura (Spanish: corregidor), the civil agent, ajinti (Spanish: agente), and civil registrar, rejistru civil (Spanish: registro civil). Although the Bolivian government may consider them town authorities, these offices carry little inherent power. Another set of positions relates to community religious festivities. Despite the fact that the chief mayor is also a chief religious figure, each year the people choose those who will be responsible for the community festivals. Those festival leaders, in turn, choose two main helpers.

Social Control. To a large extent, social control is exercised by community and peer pressure. There is also a judicial system, however, that adjudicates between disputants. The state-appointed judges, always Chipaya, usually handle these disputes, but another Chipaya who is a civil authority may also be chosen to be the "judge" of a dispute.

Conflict. Most conflicts have been with adjacent Aymara over land and water rights. Being a small, hemmed-in group, however, the Chipaya have experienced a great deal of interayllu and interfamily conflict in the past.

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