Continued from page 2

Braulio Cusi, deputy mayor of Jesus de Machaca is a hardscrabble farming town near Bolivia’s Lake Titicaca that is more than 96 percent Aymara Indian. It is among 12 Bolivian municipalities, mostly Aymara and Quechua, whose inhabitants will vote Dec. 6 on becoming autonomous. Under self-rule, they would legalize governing practices that precede the Inca empire.

Mr. Cusi says autonomy will hugely benefit a community where nearly all the 13,700 residents live in adobe brick homes and use cow manure as cooking fuel, where most homes lack running water and babies are born at home because there’s no hospital or clinic.

“Before, we were forgotten,” Mr. Cusi says after watching the banner of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples raised up a flagpole in the shadow of an imposing Spanish colonial church.

“Now we’re going to define, in our way, how we live according to our own customs and practices.”