Bolivian government honors miniature satire newspapers after UNESCO recognition

Bolivian Culture Minister Pablo Groux honored eight newspapers for their participation in the tradition of the Alasitas Miniature Press in the capital, La Paz, reported Prensa Latina. The award followed the newspapers' inclusion in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Memory of the World Register last December, according to the newspaper Página Siete.

The Lilliputian locals are recognized versions in miniature of the major Bolivian newspapers printed every year on Jan. 24 for the month-long festival Alasita, Aymara for "buy me," in the city of La Paz, reported the AFP news agency. The festival is a tribute to the god of abundance, fertility and farming named Ekeko, added AFP.

The principal Bolivian newspapers publish 10-by-14-centimeter replicas of their editions, designed to poke fun at politicians, celebrities and athletes, reported AFP. Names are usually changed for the petite publications and accompanied by photomontages.

For example, the tiny version of Página Siete titled "Chile offers 10 thousand bottles of water to settle maritime claim," referring to the long-simmering tensions between the two countries over Bolivia's claims on its lost access to the Pacific Ocean following the War of the Pacific with Chile.

Strained relations between the leaders of Bolivia and Chile, Evo Morales and Sebastián Piñera, inspired the headline for the miniature La Razón with "Evín (Evo) give a sovereign kneeing to Cuevastián (Sebastián) in match for the sea," recalling the knee to the testicles that Morales gave an opponent in a friendly game after claiming foul play, said AFP.

According to the writer Antonio Paredes, cited by Prensa Latina, the mini-newspaper tradition dates back to 1846 with the aim to sarcastically critique social and political matters, a tradition that continues today.

Groux says the newspapers are "a true expression of freedom, of the struggle against power through satire" and added that his next goal is to have them added to UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Hertiage, reported Prensa Latina.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.