Bolivia’s Senate President José Alberto Gonzales wore a native Andean skirt to a press conference on Friday to condemn a Bolivian mayor’s controversial punishment during which the official was made to wear a native skirt.
“Those who attempt to punish or embarrass someone by making him or her wear a skirt are people who do not understand the 21st century Bolivia,” Gonzales said while wearing a silver traditional skirt.
Last week, the mayor of the small town of Caquiaviri was forced to wear women’s clothing native to the Aymara, a group of indigenous people in Bolivia.
Photos of Mayor Bruno Alvarez walking the streets of Caquiaviri wearing a bowler hat, a shawl, and a skirt went viral online. Alvarez was reportedly detained for one night by the vigilante villagers and made to parade the “embarrassing” clothes in public as a form of punishment for his alleged misuse of indigenous funds.
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The punishment drew flak from high-ranking government officials, journalists, and militant groups, calling it “racist” and “discriminatory.” Senate President Gonzales is the latest to criticize the act. Gonzales’ move aims to make amends to the offended indigenous peoples and women who wear skirts.
“To those who still engage in such practices, please reflect on yourselves. Times have changed. This country is not for people who discriminate,” said Gonzales.
He added that the skirt, or wearing a skirt, is not the reason why some people are corrupt, lazy, liars, and proud.
“I have no problem wearing this. I am proud because it is not the skirt that determines the behavior or lifestyle of the person.”
The public outcry has viewed Mayor Alvarez’s public shaming as an act of mockery and discrimination to women, further highlighting gender inequality and the frequent display of machismo in the country.