Fantasy geeks will recognize this story immediately – a powerful woman is subjected to all kinds of indignities, embarrassment, and humiliation by the people she rules after behaving in a manner they consider abominable.
This includes forcibly cutting her hair and then marching her through the streets in shame. As she marches, the onlookers insult, scream and yell at her, excited to let their long-suppressed feelings of loathing out for once.
Cersei’s “Walk of Atonement” in Game of Thrones’ season 5, you say? Yes, but now add Vinto, Bolivia, where a similar scenario played itself out in a surreal case of life imitating art.
Unlike in the HBO hit show, this did not happen to royalty but to Patricia Arce, the mayor of a town located in central Bolivia.
Another difference was that unlike in the case of the Game of Thrones villain Cersei – where the punishment was meted out by a spiritual leader – in Vinto, it was regular folk protesting a disputed presidential election.
According to the New York Times, it all began after the protestors stormed Vinto’s municipal headquarters. The mob pounced on Arce and forcibly cut her hair. They then smeared her in red paint before forcing her to march through the streets barefoot as they chanted “Murderess!”
Various reports also indicated that the protestors forced her to sign a resignation letter before parading her through the town.
Additionally, the protestors torched the municipal headquarters. Arce was later rescued by police officers who took her to a health center.
This eerie Game of Thrones parallel comes three weeks after protests began over Bolivia’s presidential election result. The incumbent, President Evo Morales, was declared the winner. Vinto’s mayor, Patricia Arce, is a staunch supporter of Morales.
Prior to storming the town hall, the opposition clashed with pro-Morales supporters. Rumors spread that the president’s supporters had killed a protestor. The mob then marched to the town hall, accusing Arce of busing in the pro-Morales supporters so that they could take down an opposition-built blockade.
As Game of Thrones fans already know, Cersei eventually had her revenge after suffering the “Walk of Atonement.”
Among those that she targeted included the High Sparrow, the spiritual leader who argued that her humiliating experience was to “demonstrate her repentance” by making her walk through the streets “as the gods made her.”
Vinto’s mayor may not be as vindictive as Cersei, though. But it’s noteworthy that the treatment she received has reached the ears of President Morales, who expressed solidarity with her on Twitter as he castigated the perpetrators.
Morales’ defense minister, Javier Zavaleta, has already warned the organizers of the protests that the “route they are taking simply leads to disaster.”
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.