Saturday 9 June 2012

South American graffiti, Part 1: Santa Cruz de la Sierra

Graffiti are a dazzlingly diverse means of political expression. From quick scrawls to elaborate murals, they're as suited to coarsely denouncing your opponents as they are to immortalising transcendent ideals. In short, I love 'em, and so I pretty much adored South America during my recent travels. A vibrant culture of guerrilla art combined with authorities that are rather slow to paint over graffiti makes the continent a Mecca for my kind.

In the next couple of posts, I'll show you some highlights of political graffiti, focusing on Bolivia but also including Chile and Paraguay. First up: the eastern Bolivian metropolis of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Invoking the name of the Falange Socialista Boliviana (FSB), the now defunct Franquist-inspired Bolivian fascist party of yesteryear, right-wing youths in Santa Cruz demand federalism (i.e. autonomy for the eastern departments).

'Loving in freedom and being happy': graffito defending the equality of LGBTQ people. Stencilled graffiti like this are common.

'The struggle belongs to the people, not to the parties! TIPNIS resist!' In support of TIPNIS, the protected indigenous territory through which the government is trying to build a road (turning its own base against it in the process).

Capitalism destroys flora, fauna and human life. 'We the poor have rights.'

Left-wing graffito ('socialism or death') painted over and given the coup de grace by fascist stencil graffiti.


'Long live communism.'

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