Peru and Bolivia in a controversy over the Devil’s dance

Isabel Guerra

The typical costume that that Karen Schwarz, Miss Peru Universe, is supposed to wear during the beauty pageant to take place in Bahamas on August 23rd, is causing at present a bitter controversy between Peru and Bolivia.

As soon as Schwarz announced that her outfit was inspired in a typical dance from Puno highlands called “La Diablada” (The Devils’ dance), Bolivian representatives alleged that La Diablada “is an emblematic dance from Bolivian folklore.”

Bolivia claims that this would be an unfair appropriation of the Bolivian’s cultural heritage.

Pablo Groux, Bolivian Minister of Culture, has reportedly sent a letter to Peru’s National Institute of Culture (INC), expressing Bolivian’s concern regarding to this matter.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde said: "The Highlands cultures are one. If Miss Schwarz is Peruvian, she has the right to wear the ‘Diablada’ dress.”

Ricardo Davila, the designer, was surprised too, and said “we have not copied the Bolivian diablada. My costume is based on a dance from Puno.”

INC representatives said that "the dance of diablada is performed during festivities in Peru, Chile and Bolivia as well, since it’s a cultural expression from the Andean highlands."

This dance was declared Peruvian’s Cultural Heritage by the INC on September 2nd, 2003.

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