Vivian Fernández: The Bolivian Middle Class

Vivian Fernández graduated from Harvard College in 2018 as a government concentrator and with a DRCLAS Latin American Studies Certificate. She often travels to Bolivia and received a DRCLAS independent internship grant to travel there during Summer of 2015. She is currently working as a paralegal for Cravath, Swaine & Moore in NYC.

 

The Bolivian Middle Class
A Photoessay by Vivian M. Fernández
Written Summer of 2015

These series of photographs, all shot in the city of La Paz, Bolivia help to shed light on the manner and quality in which the middle and upper class of Bolivia live. El Mercado Roberto Rodriguez is La Paz’s largest food market, and it is here that many of the city’s middle-class acquire their food. Here you can find caseras (vendors) selling a variety of foods: mounds of orange mandarin oranges, heaps of green beans, bunches of broccoli and cauliflower, fishes ranging in size and various types of meat. Buyers walk around talking to vendors, asking for their yapita (bonus/addition to their purchase) before placing their purchases in huge plastic tote bags and wandering off to the next stall. While this market is open the entire week, its busiest days are Saturdays and Sundays when most people come to do their weekly purchases.

The neighborhoods of Obrajes, San Miguel and Achumani are all very well off and have become major commercial and financial sectors in addition to being residential areas. Banks, businesses, shops, malls and international firms are now common sights in these neighborhoods. New constructions can also be seen quite frequently, especially in Achumani where apartment buildings and mansions are being built on vast areas of property. The urbanization that La Paz has undergone can further be seen through the project “Mi Teleférico,” an aerial cable car system that officially started working in 2014. It currently has 3 functioning lines: yellow, red and green, with plans for more operating lines in the works. Not only does it help to connect various neighborhoods and alleviates the previous public transportation congestion, it also offers beautiful views of the city of La Paz.

Click here to view these photos in media gallery form

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The Plaza del Lobo located in the neighborhood of Obrajes, La Paz

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Aerial view of Obrajes, as seen from the teleferico,

 

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A house in the neighborhood of San Miguel

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A street in the neighborhood of Achumani, La Paz

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The neighborhood of Achumani as seen from the penthouse of a building under construction
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The neighborhood of Achumani as seen from the penthouse of a building under construction
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Aerial view of Stadium Tembladerani, often used for soccer matches, as seen from the teléferico
 
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A casera sells mandarin oranges in El Mercado Roberto Rodriguez
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A casera and her son sitting with their vegetables in El Mercado Roberto Rodriguez
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A man sells a range of spices, such as cinnamon, anis and cumin, in El Mercado Roberto Rodriguez
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A casera sells green beans and a variety of other vegetables in her stall in El Mercado Rodriguez
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The teleférico station in Sopocachi
 
** Note:  This photoessay was written in Summer of 2015. As of the date of publication, "Mi Teleferico" has expanded to include 10 functioning lines (Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Orange, White, Sky Blue, Purple, Brown and Silver) with an additional line (Gold) in the works.