LA PAZ – Bolivia passed a law on Friday defining the country’s typical “jula jula” dance as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in order to preserve this native Bolivian tradition from attempts to appropriate it by such neighbors as Peru, Chile and Argentina.
“We’re not egotistical, we share our music, we just want other countries to respect us and acknowledge that it belongs to Bolivians,” President Evo Morales said in enacting a law that declares this dance and its music under legal protection.
Morales said in his speech in the southwestern town of Caripuyo that “it’s fine” for countries like Peru, Chile and Argentina to also dance the jula jula, “as long as they acknowledge that it originates north of Potosi” in the Andean area of Bolivia.
“Now nobody can take it away from us,” he said in stressing the importance of the law that declares this “millennial native music” to be an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
“This is not a ceremonial expression – for me the jula jula is music of the place we inhabit and fight against foreign enemies,” he said after referring to the colonial era.
Evo Morales concluded his address with a joke about how people will be considered “illiterate” if they don’t know how to play the musical instruments typical of this country, for which he invited all to “play our music to keep recovering” Bolivia’s traditions.
Attending the event were representatives of Indian communities from the Bolivian regions of Potosi and Oruro, where this dance and music characterized by flamboyant choreography and colorful clothing originated.
Jula jula is danced to the rhythm of rustic pipes, which accompany so many Catholic religious celebrations and others that are traditionally indigenous, including the ritual combats known as “tinku.”