“Almha La Vengadora”: Protagonist of the Indigenous Alteño Neo-Avant-Garde


  • Maria Irina Soto-Mejia Investigadora Independiente




Aymara literature, Crispín Portugal, El Alto, indigenous neo-avant-garde, Orkopata Group, Yerba Mala Cartonera


This article discusses the work of Crispín Portugal (1976-2007), a writer from El Alto, in the context of the struggles against poverty and racism vis-a-vis the cities of El Alto and La Paz, and the anti-market publishing movement started in Argentina which produced books with cardboard covers bought from cartoneros (cardboard collectors). Portugal and other indigenous writers initiated a publishing project called Yerba Mala [Weeds] Cartonera, with its own blog, disseminating Bolivian literature that has no access to publishing by other means. Through the revision of a Portugal’s short story (Almha la Vengadora) that portrays a woman wrestler, Almha, a chola from El Alto whose name in the ring is “the avenger”, this article proposes the configuration of an alteño neoavant-garde indigenism comparable to the avant-garde of Gamaliel Churata. Towards this end, special attention is given to El Alto -the largest indigenous city in Latin America- placing it as key to the development of a neoavant-garde that feeding itself from the failed neoliberalism looks at a modernity that reclaiming the Aymara indigenous past aims to invent other forms of future.

Author Biography

Maria Irina Soto-Mejia, Investigadora Independiente

Irina Soto-MejíaMA in Spanish, Latin American Literatures and CulturesIndependant researcher on Memory, Migration and Globalization