Shine Heroes


There are 3,000 shoe shiners who go out into the streets of La Paz and El Alto suburbs each day in search of clients. They are from all ages and in recent years have become a social phenomenon in the Bolivian capital. What characterises this tribe is the use of ski masks so they will not be recognised by those around them.


They confront the discrimination they face through these masks. In their neighbourhood no one knows that they work as shoe shiners. At school they hide this fact, and even their own families believe they have a different job when they head down to the city center from El Alto.  The mask is their strongest identity, which makes them invisible while at the same time unites them. This collective anonymity makes them tougher when facing the rest of society and is their resistance against the exclusion they suffer because of the nature of their work. ​


For three years Federico has been collaborating with sixty shoe shiners associated with the NGO "Hormigón Armado". Together, they planned the scenes during a series of graphic novel workshops incorporating local elements of the urbanity of El Alto and producing photographic sessions with them as co-authors of a street photobook to fight against discrimination.  Federico have been there to attest the shoes that dazzle thanks to the super powers of these shiners of La Paz, the true shine heroes.