Geographic and ethnic area of ASUR's work

Casa Capellanica. Calle San Alberto No 413
Telefono (591) (64) 53841
Fax (591) (64) 62194                   Casilla 662 - Sucre - Bolivia


ASUR carries out its projects among indigenous peasants in the following regions of the Department of Chuquisaca:

  • Jalq'a communities (Cantons of Quilaquila, Marawa and Potolo in the Province of Oropeza)
  • Tarabuco communities (Canton of Icla in the Province of Zudáñez)
  • Ch'utas communities (near the city of Sucre).

Description of the beneficiaries

* The Jalq'a

This is an ethnic group which is spread over both sides of the border between the provinces of Chayanta (Department of Potosí) and Oropeza (Department of Chuquisaca).
 The population is close to 26,000 people living in low puna, heads of the valleys, and valleys, cultivating potatoes, wheat, oats, some quinoa, maize, peas, beans, squash, green vegetables and a few fruit trees in the lowest areas. Sheep and goats, together with some oxen and donkeys, form fairly small family herds.The region's agriculture (all of it rain-fed) is quite unproductive, as the the land is severely eroded. The scarcity of roads, bridges, transport, and irrigation infrastructure add to the difficulties; in addition, there is a complete lack of alternative income sources. All of this makes earning even a subsistence level of income very difficult.

The cohesiveness of the Jalq'a culture is demonstrated in its origin myths, music, dances, rituals and, especially, in the traditional dress. Without doubt, the weavings that comprise this dress are among the loveliest in the entire Andean world. Aesthetically beautiful, they have a complex conceptual-ethnic content and are unique in their intensely figurative style.

* The Tarabuco

Different communities for whom the town of Tarabuco is the local centre appear today as a unified: they speak the same language (Quechua), they celebrate common festivals and rites, and above all they wear a characteristic costume that that allows them to be recognised by outsiders as "Tarabuqueños".However, it was not always this way. When the Spanish reached this region they found it populated by different ethnic groups from very distant places.

At some point in a history still very little known, the descendants of these different groups began to adopt similar customs and a costume which -- in spite of minor differences in the design of certain garments -- gave them a common appearance.

In spite of this unity, Tarabuqueños do not themselves have a name for all those communities which persist in wearing a montera (a sort of Spanish-style helmet), nor do they possess collective forms of organization which might indicate a single origin for them all. Even so, the unity of their costume and music testify to the dynamism of the Andean peoples, able to create new identities not only in the distant past but right in front of our eyes.

* The Ch'uta
In the areas surrounding the city of Sucre, and in Oropeza Province to the North, various Quechua­speaking communities called Ch'utas are neighbours to the Jalq'a.

They are thought to have originated in their present form at the beginning of the 20th century. At present, this culture is in danger of extinction because of the rapid process of acculturation provoked above all by its nearness to Sucre.

Ch'uta territory is characterized by two ecological tiers. To the South, there are closed and open valleys, highly suitable for cultivating maize, beans, peas, potatoes, etc.; to the North, there are the puna highlands where wheat, barley, quinoa, lupins (tarwi), etc. are grown.

Among their productive activities, ceramics occupied an important place in their daily routine. This has passed from one generation to the next, and is still, for many communities, a vital source of income.

Summary of the group of beneficiaries:

*Jalq'a-Tarabuco Textile Project:  
Female weavers:  1.005
Male weavers and administrators +  101
* Ceramic Workshop Program    
Potters (men and women) +  60


Total producers =  1.166
(multiplied by approx. 5 people per family) x  5


Total direct beneficiaries =  5.830

It is worth noting here that the communities in which ASUR works are dispersed widely throughout their respective zones (Jalq'a, Tarabuco or Ch'uta). Although they are relatively close to one another (at a distance of 10 to 20 Km.) and each zone is only 65-70 Km. from Sucre (with the exception of the Ch'utas communities, which are quite close to Sucre and to each other), it must be remembered that the rainy season dramatically impedes access. During this time, access to all of these communities is quite difficult, and some communities become completely isolated, due to the impassible condition of the roads and the flooding of the rivers.

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