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Tentayapi, the last bastion of Guarani heritage in Bolivia

By Gina Baldivieso

Tentayapi, Bolivia, Jul 12 (EFE).- Over 1,100 kilometers southeast of the Bolivian capital La Paz is Tentayapi, home to the indigenous Guarani community, one of the few that successfully resisted Spanish evangelical occupation and which continues to safeguard their land from hydrocarbon exploration, drought and the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is easy to get lost amid the copious vegetation engulfing the Bolivian Chaco, a semi-arid region that is prone to drought and cursed with heavy clay soil.

The path to the small town twists and turns, meandering through the dry broadleaf forest, all the way to Tentayapi, “the last home” of the Guarani language, in the Luis Clavo province of Chuquisaca.

Here, there is no GPS or mobile phone signal, which are at least one hour away by car in neighbouring Karatindi.

The Guarani people have always inhabited the area, which was declared a cultural and historical heritage site in 2004, aiming to preserve the Guarani Simba culture and language.

The 84-year-old “Mburuvicha guasu”, or senior captain, is the highest authority in the village, although these days he sits out many activities due to health complications.

In his stead, Cusaire Yarika Chiobe, 58, has taken the reins.

“We remember our ancestors, which was the only community 500 years ago that the Spanish missionaries did not reach, in the times of Spanish occupation,” says Yarika.

“It was the only community to resist and thus lived on for years. We continue to live like our grandparents taught us.”

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