BOLIVIA AND ITS SOCIAL LITERATURE
BEFORE AND AFTER THE CHACO WAR:
A HISTORICAL STUDY OF SOCIAL
AND LITERARY REVOLUTION
MURDO J. MACLEOD
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
To thank my many helpers in the preparation and writing of this
dissertation would be a lengthy task. I shall, therefore, name only those
without whom the paper could not have been written. Dr. Donald E.
Worcester, chairman of my doctoral committee, has at all times guided
rather than directed, and has been a steady source of encouragement,
Dr; Harry Kantor contributed his enthusiasm and his knowledge of the
forces which vie for power in Latin America today. From Dri Irving
R4 Wershow came much of the advice on the currents of literature and
thought. The training in careful methods of research from Dr4 Lyle N.
McAlister, the understanding of man in his environment of Dr. Raymond
Eo Crist, and the program supervision of Dr. A. Curtis Wilgus have all
A special word of thanks must go to Dr. Morton D, Winsberg, my
companion during the long months of travel in Latin America, and to the
many Bolivians and other andinos who found time to answer the questions
of a stranger.
Finally I should like to thank Miss Magdalen Pando for her careful
reading and typing of this dissertation, and above all my v'Tfe for keep
ing life normal while "it" was being written.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . .
THE HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL BACKGROUND: DOR-
MANT CENTURIES AND A DYNAMIC REVOLUTION.
II BOLIVIA'S LITERATURE BEFORE THE CHACO WAR
AN ALOOF ELITE AND A FEWV EXCEPTIONS ....
III BOLIVIA'S LITERATURE SINCE THE CHACO WAR:
A WAVE OF SOCIAL PROTEST . . . . .
IV LITERATURE IN A REVOLUTIONARY SETTING: SOME
CAUSES AND EFFECTS . .
CONCLUSION . ......
BIBLIOGRIAPHY.. ... ...............
Bolivia is one of the world's most extraordinary countries. It is
a land of superlatives, abjectness and paradoxes. The country has some
of the world's highest mountains, highest cities and highest roads and
railways, while at the same time it has a vast low plain. Bolivia is
chronically underpopulated yet some of the poorest areas in the state
are overcrowded. The nation is descended from one of the most advanced
Indian cultures which existed before the conquest, yet today most of its
population is illiterate, ignorant of its past and unsure of its future.
For centuries Bolivia has produced vast fortunes in silver, gold, tin,
wolfram, lead and now oil, yet the average citizen is one of the poorest
in the world, spends most of his waking hours growing food, and sub-
sists near starvation.
The paradox of the best and the worst is also to be seen in the be-
havior of the society which the inhabitants of Bolivia constitute. The
proclaimed aims of their government have been of the highest, but in
practice they have been of the lowest, with brutality, disorder and chaos
the main characteristics.
In a land of such violent paradoxes the historian finds himself al-
most inevitably using the comparative method. The urge to contrast
events or institutions is given free reign for sudden changes within the
country are of such depth that they may be classified as extraordinary.
One of the greatest changes which has taken place in the whole of
the history of Bolivian society, perhaps even exceeding the changes
brought by the conquest, is the revolution which has swept the country
since 1952, This revolution was not of course self-propelled but was
because of a growing sense of rebellion and discontent. The purpose
of this paper will be to compare, contrast and examine the ideas before
and after the period which caused the Bolivians to become aware of the
need for change in their country, That period, it will become apparent,
was the time of the Chaco War,
The study then will be a history of the ideas or to be more exact
a history of the written ideas of Bolivia. If the history of Latin Amer-
ica. is in its infancy, then what of the history of ideas there? The popu-
lar conception would hold that little or no writing can have been produced
in such a country as Bolivia, whereas there has been a surprising quan-
tity, although much of it, granted, is of inferior quality. Heretofore,
none of this writ ing has been systematically studied. Yet if one seeks
to study social change in Latin America there would seem to be no other
way. A change cannot be truly called revolutionary in nature unless it
changes the beliefs and habits of thought of a society, and one of the
major ways of finding out what people of the past thought and believed
is by reading what they wrote.
The crucial event which opened the minds of Bolivian men to the
need for change was the Chaco War, fought between Paraguay and Boli-
via over the possession of a scrubby semi-desert which lies between
their centers of population. Officially the war lasted from 1932 until
1935 although hostilities overspilled at both ends.
It is hoped to prove the decisive nature of this war by comparing
the history of Bolivia before and,after the war years. Since the Spanish
conquest the area has lived a very disturbed existence. The Spanish
colonized the country lightly, reduced the Indians to a condition of
semiserviture, and after the discovery of the silver mountain or cerro
rico at Potosf drained away a fabulous wealth in ore to Spain. After
the longest struggle for independence on the continent Bolivia began its
republican life. The record shall show that this was even more chaotic.
A long series of uneducated caudillos fought for power during the nine-
teenth century, so concerned with personal power that national territory
was meekly surrendered to voracious neighbors. During the interlude
provided by the Liberal party some attempt at civilized government re-
turned, but the social and cultural state of the country changed little.
The Liberals fell as had the caudillos by fratricidal bickering and ideo-
logical emptiness. The new so-called Republican government was little
better than more of the same, and returned much of the militaristic taint
to Bolivian life which the Liberals had managed to somewhat subdue.
The Chaco had long been a bone of contention between the two coun-
tries. It seemed to the increasingly militaristic Bolivians that here
was the opportunity to redeem much of tlce lost territory against a weak
enemy which did not seem capable of mobilizing.
The upheaval caused.by this war and the heavy shameful defeat
suffered by the German-led Bolivian armies, suddenly revealed the
half-hidden poverty of Bolivian life and the complete lack of integration
in the country. The young men from the towns met the despised Indians
often for the first time, and saw that the majority of their countrymen
spoke no Spanish, lived in hunger, misery, and feudal, rural exploita-
tion, and had no concept of bolivianidad for which to fight. Many of
them did not even know the word Bolivia. Caste divisions went even
deeper. The mestizo of the altiplano was heartily disliked by the. camba
of the llanos. The nation meanwhile was governed by a tiny selfish
clique of army officers and landowners. Their various revolutions and
coups had meant changes of names not policy. Even worse they were by
this time the hirelings of the tin. magnates who made fortunes from Bo-
livian mineral deposits, and as the Spanish had done before them, re-
invested little of the profits in the miserably poor nation.
The soldiers discovered that all the necessary toc.ls for breaking
down these barriers and evils were missing. The railway system was
prliaitive and served only the mines, there were few roads and none of
them linked highlands and lowlands, there was no common language,
the Indians were justifiably suspicious of any new policies from the
government, the ruling castes and the military were content with the
status quo, there was no system of education to combat ignorance and
illiteracy, and the tin magnates known as la rosca controlled the eco-
This sudden revelation of the true state of the country created a
new mentality in the younger generation of the Chaco War. They came
back from the front frustrated, bitter, and determined that things would
change. The history of the country between the end of the war and the
National Revolution in 1952 was that of the struggles between these new
forces and the old systems.
Of the political parties which emerged after the war the Movimrien-
to Nacionalista Revolutionario became by far the strongest and it is the
party which will most concern us here. After a short and unhappy alli-
ance with the army which brought a brief period of power, the M. N. R.
finally defeated the old order in a climatic civil war in April 1952. The
history of Bolivia since then is the history of the M. N. R. 's reforms.
Under the leadership of Victor Paz Estenssoro and Hernin Siles Suazo
it has nationalized the tin mines, improved the roads, started a drive
to the east, a diversification program in industry, and an agrarian re-
form. It has begun to educate the Indian and has given him the vote in
a series of democratic elections. The party in spite of many mistakes
still seems to command the loyalty of most of the population for at least
the apathy of the past has gone and Bolivia is trying to find herself.
By a more len'thy comparison we find that the cultural past of
the nation follows a similar pattern. Writing was an elite, somewhat
effete product before the revolution and with a few notable exceptions
which we shall discuss, bore little relation to Bolivian reality. The
writers seemed to have little interest in their homeland but looked
rather to Europe for inspiration.
The Chaco War caused an upheaval among Bolivian intellectuals,
The facts of life which were suddenly made plain caused an explosion
of writing such as the country had never seen. The intellectuals saw
themselves in a dual role as the destroyers of the old decadent sys-
tem and the path-finders in search of a new nation. Led by the social
novelists, these newly inspired writers described the Chaco War, ex-
plored the unknown regions of their native land, attached its problems
in mining, education, and agriculture, enthusiastically redeemed the
Indian, and demanded revolution. Above all they wished to be Bolivian
and to create a respect for the patria among the citizenry. Since the
revolution they have done much to provide the M4 N. R. with an ideology
and the country as a whole with hope. Although many of them are now
critical of some of the aspects of the revolution, a movement which
has not always served them well, nevertheless their enthusiasm for
building a new country is still a leading factor in the nation's society.
This entire paper hopes to examine if only in the most tentative
fashion the delicate and unexplored relationship between societies and
the literature which they produce. After all "they were there and if
we truly wish to understand the people of an age we must try to discover
the emotions which moved them and what they believed they saw around
them. The intellectual in a revolutionary society is a particularly inter-
esting study, for in a time of chaos and change he is often the only voice
which comes down to us in sane terms which we may understand.
After perusing the writings of Bolivia's new intellectuals their
many faults are obvious, but in a tired and sophisticated world their
naive enthusiasm should charm us. The subjects which they chose to
discuss may not be of the healthiest but in their love for humanity and
hopes of a better future for their fellow countrymen, they help us under-
stand that they may in some ways be healthier in their attitudes than we.
THE HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL BACKGROUND:
DORMANT CENTURIES AND A
Bolivia has always been a land of manifold problems, yet the gal-
vanic way in which this country is now attempting to solve them has
aroused world-wide attention. Although the literature of the country
had begun to reflect some of the social evils which existed, the real
pivot was the disastrous Chaco War. Before that event the country
was politically stagnant and intellectually hardly awake to the twenti-
eth century; since then, for better or for worse, Bolivia has been in a
constant state of political and intellectual ferment.
The South American Republic of Bolivia is situated in the heart
of the continent. It has no sea coast, being bounded to the north and
east by Brazil, to the south by Argentina and Paraguay, to the south-
west by Chile, and to the northwest by Peru. The Republic measures
950 miles at its greatest length and about 900 miles at its greatest
width. The geographical appearance of the country is compact which
would, at first glance, suggest an easily integrated and unified country.
The contrary is unfortunately the case.
The area of the nation has shrunk enormously since independence
in 1825. It then had an estimated total of, 904, 952 square miles, but by
cessions and wars it has since lost over half of that area. Neverthe-
less it still remains the fifth largest country in South America with an
area of over 400, 000 square miles, coming after Brazil, Argentina,
Peru and Colombia. This size makes Bolivia roughly as big as France
and Spain combined, and disproves the idea that it is a small country
as is generally supposed.
Geographically Bolivia is perhaps the most remarkable country
in the world. Alcides D'Orbigny, as long ago as 1845, used several
short expressions which sum up very succinctly certain aspects of the
Bolivian nation. He called Bolivia "the microcosm of the planet, con-
taining as it does within its frontiers every type of scenery and climate.
The west of the country is dominated by two chains of the Andes
which divide at the knot of Vilcanota or Apolobamba, in southern Peru,
and run through Bolivia to the Argentine border. The Cordillera Occi-
dental is in many respects a wall, cutting off the country from the Pa-
cific coast. The Cordillera Real to the east encircles Lake Titicaca,
lTo Chile 46, 333 square r:lilcs, including all its seaboard, during
the 'War of the Pacific, 1879-93. To Brazil 189, 353 square miles, com-
prising the Matto Grosso cession of 1867, and the losses of the Acre
War. Acre was ceded at the treaty of Petropolis, 1903. To Argentina
65, 924 square miles, a loss confirmed by the treaty of 1925. To Peru
96, 527 square miles by the cession of 1909. To Paraguay about 94,020
square miles as a result of the Chaco War, 1932-36. The area was
finally ceded on October 10, 1938.
the huge mass of inland water on the northwestern frontier, and then
continues southward through the length of the nation creating another
huge wall dividing the Bolivian highlands from the lowlands.
Between the two ranges lies the altiplano or the high plan, which,
traditionally and economically, has been the heart of the country. These
two chains of mountains and the enclosed plain are of primary impor-
tance to a student of any facet of the country's life. They determine
the distribution of mineral deposits, the location of arable land, the
internal transportation system, and communication with the outside
The altiplano is a surprisingly flat tableland with an average el-
evation of 13, 000 feet. Despite a very cold and extreme climate, and
severe aridity, it has been the most densely populated part of the coun-
try since lnown history began. It is a vast desolate area, reminding
travellers again and again of the surface of the moon.
The summer season of rains is brief and produces little mois-
ture, so the little patches of green do not last long and are soon swal-
lowed by the prevailing dun colors. The people are slaves to the poor
soil even when not enslaved by their fellowmen. The altiplano itself
is built up of deep sediment trapped between the two cordilleras and is
subject to erosion, particularly in the La Paz basin and at the edges
of the high valleys. Since the deep gravelly soil is so unstable, subsid-
ence and landslides make road building extremely difficult, while the
soil is so spongy that it quickly soaks up the small quantity of moisture,
and thus remains permanently parched.
More than half of Bolivia's three and one half million people live
in this inhospitable region. "It is a land infinitely contemptuous of man,
a land which dwarfs and elevates the spirit together, but a land which
having been known cannot be forgotten. "2
Titicaca, the highest steam navigated lake in the world, and one
of the largest, has a mythical and religious significance to the inhabit-
ants of its shores. It empties into the smaller, salty Lake Poop6 via
the river Desaguadero. None of these waters is much used for irriga-
The climate is frigid, with great diurnal ranges of temperature,
and because of the altitude human organic resistance to cold is great-
ly powered. Claims are made that people born and raised in the area
cannot physiologically adjust to lower elevation, but this is probably
more a question of traditional attachment to the altiplano, and of course
a complete lack of immunity to the lowland and tropical diseases.
The staple foods are potatoes, of which there are many varieties,
and the oca, another tuber. Quinoa, a type of millet, and cafahul, an-
other grain, also thrive, while maize grows well at the somewhat low-
er altitudes around Cochabamba, Sucre and Tarija.
2Harold Osborne, Bolivia: A Land Divided (London & New York:
Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1955), p. 17.
The llama and the alpaca are natural fauna and the main domes-
ticated helpers to the Indians. The llama is the cheapest carrier ani-
mal known, given to the Indians, it has been said, "because they are so
poor. Sheep are fairly widespread, and there is some cattle raising.
Dairy cattle are almost completely absent.
The yungas, or semitropical mountain valleys, occupy about one
tenth of the total area, and are inhabited by one third of the population.
The Cordillera Real rises sheer from the altiplano but descends to the
eastern plain in gorges, spurs and ridges. Moisture is usually much
more plentiful than on the high plain, and great progress is supposedly
possible in the area, especially in the lower valleys or yugas proper
which lie to the northeast of La Paz. The problem again is one of com-
munications. How and to where would the surplus produce be moved?
Coffee, bananas, yams, tobacco and cacao are all produced very easily
in the yungas but the only really commercial crop is coca, a mildly
narcotic leaf which is chewed habitually by the Indians of the country,
allegedly to deaden hunger and misery. Coca produces over 80%0 of
the revenue of the yungas, and taxes on this product help to keep the
roads to the yungas in a fairly acceptable state.
Higher but more extensive valleys lie around the towns of Cocha-
bamba, Sucre, and Tarija. They have a climate of the semiarid Med-
iterranean type, and produce maize, barley, grapes and tobacco.
The eastern lowlands or llanos extend from the Cordillera Realto
tle Matto Grosso and Paraguay in the south, and to the Amazonic sys-
tem to the north. This area occupies about 70% of the national terri-
tory. In the north are tropic Amazonic selvas, the center is covered
by vast natural pasture land, and the south is covered by open forest
and high savanna which gradually deteriorates into the scrub of the Cha-
co. The area is underpopulated and underdeveloped in the extreme.
Rivers are the usual means of communication, but are subject to flood-
ing, and lead "from nowhere to nowhere. On the open plains around
Santa Cruz there is an agricultural awakening, and sugar cane, rice,
oil plants and citrus fruits are all grown. North of Santa Cruz are the
plains of Mojos in the Beni. Since 1832 Bolivia has tried to link the
Beni to the altiplano, and the huge undertaking is still not complete.
The plains of Mojos occupy about half of the territory of Bolivia and it
has been estimated that over one million semiwild cattle graze on these
plains.. The cattle are of little commercial value and the townspeople
of the altiplano have to eat Argentinian meat.
An overwhelming fact is that the largest section of the population
lives in a near desert, while a wide plain lies unexploited and in parts
unexplored beneath its feet. Bolivia presents the anomaly of a predom-
inantly agricultural nation which uses only 2% of its lands for agricul-
ture, and that 2% is nearly all in the region of poor soil. Forty per
cent of the national territory is covered by forest, yet there is no lum-
bering industry worth the name.
Bolivia then is dissected by its geography. There are strong con-
trasts in climate, the regions live completely different ways of life,
and regionalism with its petty hates and suspicions is strong.
The history of the area now called Bolivia has produced almost
as many problems as the geography. It is a sordid yet incredible tale.
of violence and instability.
Some amazing masonry to be found at the small village of Tia-
huanaco near La Paz, is held by many to indicate a civilization much
older and much more elevated than that of the Incas, but little is known
about these early builders.
The altiplano and mountain area was part of the Inca Empire and
formed the province of Kollasuyu. Two Indian races, the Quechua.and
the Aymara, inhabited the province.
After the Spanish conquerors took Cuzco and set up their new cap.
ital at Lima, they gradually pushed down the altiplano, Sucre was founded
in 1538, and it is still the legal capital and a cultural center. In 1545
the cerro rico, a mountain of silver, caused the forming of the town of
Potost in the south. This sudden wealth brought large numbers of Span-
iards to Bolivia and the region remained one of the richest parts of the
Spanish empire for nearly three centuries. La Paz was founded in
1548 as a commercial link between Cuzco and PotoSf, and the need for
agricultural produce to feed the mines caused the settlement of the high
valleys, and the setting up of the towns of Cochabamba (1570) and Tari-
From 1563 until 1776 most of the area now called Bolivia was part
of the vast Audiencia of Charcas. This audiencia also embraced Tucu-
man, Paraguay, Buenos Aires, and southern Peru as far as Cuzco.
Buenos Aires became a viceroyalty in 1776 and the rest of Charcas
came under the control of Lima. The Bolivian section was now lnown
as Alto Peri, and this name lasted until independence in 1825.
During the eighteenth century Alto Peru was legally a subsidiary
of Lima, and then briefly Buenos Aires, but in many ways the region
was independent. Potosf had declined, but remained a source of riches,
Sucre, then called Chuquisaca, was with Bogota the cultural leader of
South America, while Cochabamba and La Paz were prosperous trading
centers. On the altiplano regional unity gradually developed. The
great Spanish problem was the Indian. The Spanish had destroyed the
Inca Empire, but could not reincorporate its former subjects. "Puede
Ud. vencer pero no convencer, the local chieftain is supposed to have
said. A small white caste had already, as we see, alienated the ma-
jority of the people, and was governing the area, trying to ignore a
passive, resentful, and poor Indian majority.
The University of San Xavier in Sucre (Chuquisaca) was one of
the most independent and liberal-minded institutions in America. Grow-
ing resentment of Spanish rule culminated in the first act of rebellion
in America on May 25, 1809. Bolivia was the first country to revolt
against Spain, but was one of the last to achieve independence and this
is perhaps significant, Time and again the ruling Spanish-speaking
minority has been too deeply engaged in internecine struggles -to care
about the politically dead Indian, or even the security of the nation it-
self--witness the almost casual cession of vast areas to neighboring
states during power struggles at home.
The Bolivian wars of independence lasted fifteen years.. Initial-
ly guerrilla activity was important and very destructive .The royalist
general, Pedro Antonio de Olafleta, remained firmly convinced that
the area could be held for Spain, and persevered after other countries
were independent. The Republic of Bolivia was proclaimed independent
on August 6, 1825, under the leadership of Antonio Joes de Sucre$, Si-
m6n Bolfvar's greatest general. He was aided by the two outstanding
Bolivians of the day--General Andr6s Santa Cruz and Casimiro Olafte-
It is known that Bolfvar was hostile to the creation of this new na-
tion, believing that it could never survive the petty rivalries that dis*
turbed it,. and that it was in any case economically dependent on Peru
or Buenos Aires. Nor did the first declaration of statehood auger well
for the future. Promulgated at the same time as the declaration of in-
dependence, it was "a queer document, "illustrating the low cultural
level of its writers, and seeming little more than the personal selfish
ambitions of its authors put to paper. Bolivia was on "the threshold of
3The role of Casimiro Olafieta has been ignored but is now recog-
nized, cf. Charles W. Arnade, The Emergence of the Republic of Bo-
livia (Gainesville: The University of Florida Press, 1957).
a terrible and frightening history.':4
It is significant to note that one of the first acts of the nwc assem-
bly was the partial reimposition of the tribute paid by the Indians. The
government had changed, the governors had not. Bolivar, as requested,
supplied the first constitution which reflected his distrust of the ability
of the Bolivians to govern themselves. The republic was given the
French system of municipal government, and was divided into depart.-
rnents, provinces and cantons. The unitary nature of the state was af-
firmed and has remained.
Sovereignty, Eolivar's constitution stated, was in the hands of the
people.' A fourth branch of government, the electoral, was -nst"tte
as an attempt to protect voters rights, but never functioned as intended.
Literacy was demanded from all voters, and Bolfvar, while a democrat,
obviously doubted Bolivian "democracy" and instituted an executive for
General Sucre became the first president, but lasted less than
two years, "a sad commentary on the ingratituvc of pcc.plec and the
consequence of diI.tatorsiip. "6
4bid., pp. 204 and 205.
5There are now nine provinces and three delegaciones -under the
canister of Agriculture. Federalism has caused unrcrt, one civJ.
war, and is not yet dead.
6N. Andrew N. Cleven, The Political Organization of Bolivia
(Washington, D. C.: Carnegie Institute, 19: 0).
His successor Santa Cruz, the cholo general from the altiplano,
had ruled.Peru on Bolfvar's appointment until defeated in the election
of 1827. He dreamed of a confederation of the two Perus of Spanish
days and made this dream come true by a swift invasion of Peru in 1836.
The confederation, suspected by both Chile and Argentina, lasted only
three years, and Santa Cruz, one of Bolivia's few-able and honest pres-
idents, fell from power.
In Bolivia this brief interlude of order was now followed by thirty
years of chaos-.-a chaos more profound than that of the wars of inde-
pendence. A Peruvian invasion was defeated by, os6 Ballvvin in 1841,
but even this service to his country did not assure him of the presidency
for more than one year, Manuel :Isidoro BelzG, who governed from
1848-55, was Bolivia's great demagogue. A venal opportunist, he ruled
with the support of the town mobs and Bolivia saw a reign of terror which
left it bankrupt.
Mariano Melgarejo, who misgoverned from 1864-71, was Boli-
via's most notorious and colorful dictator. An illiterate bastard, ,he
ruled through his personal army, which he controlled, incredibly, by
his own brute strength. His corrupt and massive pilfering from the
treasury caused international loans from which Bolivia took decades
to recover. Continual efforts to unseat this horseback caudillo kept
him so preoccupied at home that he gave away vast tracts of Bolivian
territory to escape international entanglements. Only in the age which
produced him would such a figure as Melgarejo have been possible.
Since he is such a perfect example of the nineteenth century caudillo
blrbaro, he is awarded more space in historical writings than his
sordid reign would otherwise merit. Driven out by Agustfn Morales
in 1871, he was murdered soon afterwards in Peru by a brother of his
most permanent mistress.
Morales' regime was similar to Melgarejo's but was fortunately
brief. Hilari6n Daza's presidency (1875-8C ) was the last grcat period
of open barbarism, with official killings in the streets of La Paz an
Bolivia's steady loss of territory caused several conflicts. Chile
had long coveted the newly found wealth of Bolivia's Atacama seacoast
and she finally seized it in 1879. Bolivia and Peru fought a desultory
war against Chile, but ceded the area in the treaty of 1895. The treaty
of 1904 confirmed Chilean possession of the area. In spite of generally
friendly Bolivian-Chilean relations today, Bolivia's aspiration to the
sea remains, and is a potential source of South American strife.
Melgarejo ceded 100, 000 square miles on the Paraguay and Ma-
morS rivers to expansionist Brazil in 1867 in return for paltry con-
cessions. This was not the end of Brazilian encroachment. The rub-
ber boom at the turn of the century brought Brazilian infiltration in
the Amazonic region of the Acre, and after some months of sporadic
forest skirmishing, Bolivia ceded the area at the treaty of Petr6polis
in 1903, Again Bolivia made a poor bargain for the tropical railway
built by Brazil around the rapids of the Mamor6 has proved to be of
little use since the rubber boom collapsed.
Eighteen eighty was something of a turning point in Bolivian his-
tory. With the fall of Daza came the inevitable new constitution. This
one proved to be tenacious, and lasted, unbelievably, until 1931. Boli-
via continued to lose territory in the aforementioned local wars, but
some degree of internal peace returned for the first time since the
days of Santa Cruz. A so-called federalist revolution caused the fall
of the old conservative party in 1898.
The newly ruling Liberal party was headed by a series of fairly
competent presidents. The party's supremacy lasted until 1920. Finot
talks of the party as being confused but well intentioned, so that, for
example, the question of the economic and social position of the Indian
was given public airing, practically for the first time since independ-
ence. Little was done in a fog of idealism. Although economic progress
was slow and allegedly foreign-dominated, it was at least constant and
7The well-meaning attempts, but only comparative betterment of
the country under the Liberals, is summed up in Enrique Finot, Nueva
Historia de Bolivia (La Paz: Gisbert y Cia. S. A., 1954), pp. 358-359.
Other historians have been more enthusiastic about this period of Lib-
eral government, e. g., Jos6 Macedonio Urquidi, Compendio de la His-
toria de Bolivia (Buenos Aires: E.G. L. H., 1944), pp. 276-277 and
The fall of the Liberal party was caused by a gradual decline of
enthusiasm in its leaders, and even more by internal strife within the
Under President Bautista Saavedra, the head of the new "repub-
lican" government, internal unrest increased, especially in the areas
of Santa Cruz and Yacuiba. The government made little attempt to
rule through any consistent or ideologically inspired program, but was
for Bolivia conscientious and fairly honest. President Hernando Siles,
another executive of the traditional mold, is also thought of as well-
meaning but uncertain. He attempted to rule by a coalition of shifting
parties, but gradually lost the support of all of them. His fall in 1930
led to the election of the last of Bolivia's traditional presidents, Daniel
Salamanca. Salamanca was yet another of the cultured, honest,- patri-
otic rulers who had so changed the international image of the country
since 1880. It is surprising to present-day writers, but during the
1920's and early 1930's Bolivia was regarded abroad as one of the
more prosperous and reliable of the Latin American states.
The traditional problems of the country had not altered however.
During the 1920's the great majority of the population was Indian, poor,
illiterate, and still spoke Quechua and Aymard. Overwhelmingly ru-
ral, many of the people were bound by the institution known as pongueaje8
8An attack on pongueaje, but a complete discussion of the institu-
tion, is contained in Rafael Reyeros, El Pongueaje: la servidumbre
personal de los indios bolivianos (La Paz: Empresa Editora "Univer-
to the large latifundias owned by the ruling caste. These pongos or
debt peons were semislaves in a feudalistic social system. Bolivia's
army dominated politics, a coalition of the small wealthy class and
foreign corporations ex:ploited the mineral wealth of the county, and
cor:mnunications, health, and sanitation were less than rudimentary.
The barriers imposed by geography and climate had hardly begun to be
attached. Pueblo enfermo, by Alcides ArgiUedas, draws a picture of
a pathetically oppressed and miserable people. 9
Before examnlining the facts and the sequelae of the Chaco War,
the event which begins the history of modern Bolivia, it would be well
to glance briefly at the economic and social history of the nation.
Alcides d'Orbigny has also summed up the Bolivian economy in
an often quoted phrase. "Bolivia,' it is said, "is a bigger seated on
a throne of gold. In the day of the Spaniards the silver of Potosf was
drained away to Spain while the semislave Indian miners died by thou-
sands in the cerro rico. Since modern metal industries began during
the later decades of the nineteenth century Bolivia has been a leading
source of tin. Other metals such as lead, zinc, and antimony are also
exporte.. Foreign companies or local firms incorporated abroad have
made some- of the world's greatest fortunes, vhile conditions inside Bo-
livia have hardly changed. The creation of a Bolivian national bank in
9Alcides ArgUedas, Pueblo enfermo (Santiago de Chile: Edicio-
nes Ercilla, 1937).
1908 and banking reforms in 1914, helped to regularize Bolivia's inter-
national finances until the Chaco war, but changed little inside the
Gradually three large firms assur.ied control of the tin mining in-
dustry, commonly 80% of Bolivia's exports. Sim6n Patiflo in particular,
since the discovery of the "mountain of tin" at Catavi, assumed a pre-
dominant position in the industry, with Mauricio Hochschild and Aveli*
no Ararayo completing the immense triu:.nvirate which came to be
known as "la rosca. "
The wealth to be achieved through export of minerals gradually
changed the Bolivian economy. During the first seventy years of the
nineteenth century Bolivia had been practically self-sufficient econom-
ically, and the few imports consisted of luxuries desired by the ruling
city groups. With swift profits from mining at the beginning of the
twentieth century the basic economy switched to a pattern of e:-port
and import instead of self-sufficiency. Agriculture tended to be neg-
lected, while increasing numbers of men were needed in the mines.
Bolivia became in fact dependent on her exports of minerals, especial-
ly tin, for the means to buy many basic commodities and eventually the
country was utterly dependent on the vagaries of the world tin market,
a familiar economic symptom in traditionally "one crop" Latin American
10A full but complicated history of the Bolivian economy and min-
ing up to the 1920's is given in Luis Penaloza, Iistoria econ6mica de
BolJvia (2 vols. ) (La Paz: Editorial F6nix, 1954).
countries. Even more Bolivia was dependent on the "Lbg three" who
owned the great part of her mineral wealth. Inevitably, as self-pro-
tection, the three firms became heavily involved in politics, became
richer than the state itself, and were accused of being "a state with-
in a state. "
There is little doubt that Patiflo, Aramayo and Hochschild had
long been active in politics. They had subsidized candidates for
office, they had financed revolutions, they had made a regular prac-
tice of tipping the local government officials in the mining areas. 11
Conditions within the Bolivian mines have always been bad, not
always it must be admitted because of neglect on the part of the owners.
Figures vary widely and wildly but accidents, silicosis, T, B., and
other diseases were often epidemic. The life expectancy of the miners
could not have been much over thirty years.
The greatest accusation levelled against the big three was their
fiscal policy. It has been repeatedly alleged that for over fifty years
their exports gained large profits, yet the balance was sent to Geneva
and Boston rather than reinvested in Bolivia. The three colossi may
also be blamed to a limited extent for the lack of private enterprise in
Bolivia. They have been accused of stifling all initiative and forbid-
ding all competition to their interests. Labor unions were of course
1 Robert J. Alexander, The Bolivian National Revolution (Ne.-
Brunswick, N. J. Rutgers University Press, 1958), p, 96.
Other industries prior to the Chaco war were tiny. Some oil had
been found in the south by Standard Oil, and a few rudimentary consumer
industries functioned, nearly always in La Paz.
Agriculture has been mentioned briefly. Latifundia was the over-
all pattern, with many small holdings and Indian communal holding called
ayllus in the more distant areas. The latifundia was of the typical Lat-
in American variety. It was largely self-sufficient, used more as an
asylum for capital than as a paying enterprise. The Indians on the lati-
fundia lived a servile existence, completely dominated by the owners.
The system of communications within a land so divided were prim-
itive. Three railway lines operated in the period prior to the Chaco
war, but among them they had a combined total of less than 2, 000 miles.
The La Paz-Guaqui line links the altiplano with the Peruvian port of
Mollendo after crossing Lake Titicaca by steamer. The line is oper-
ated by a British firm under a concession from the Bolivian government.
The quickest way to the sea is the La Paz-Arica line, largely owned by
the Bolivian government. It was built by Chile under the terms of the
treaty of 1904, inauguratedd in 1913, and formally given to the Bolivian
government in 1928. The most important line from the point of view of
internal transport is the link between La Paz and Antofagasta via Oruro
and Uyuni. British and American firms operate this system under con-
cession from the government. Part of its importance lies in the five
branch lines vwht h run to various parts of the altiplano. They run from
Uyuni to Villaz6n and thence to Argentina, from Oruro to Cochabamba,
from Rfo Mulatos over the highest railway pass in the world to Potosf,
from Potosf itself to Sucre, and from fifteen miles south of Oruro to
Before 1962, then, it can be seen that the railways served only
La Paz and the mining areas, while no rail link existed between high-
lands and lowlands; The small line on the northeastern border with
Brazil is of little value. Of the 2, 370 miles of roads less than 400
were of any value, and even these were liable to disintegrate complete-
ly during rains. It 1962 the situation was only slightly better.
A picture of the social structure of the Bolivian population should
be gradually emerging. Caste division has been and still remains
strong; but although caste and color lines often coincide, yet as in
many Latin American nations the caste divisions tend to be socioeco-
nomic rather than racial. About 70% of the population can be classi-
fied as Indian, for this name embraces all agricultural laborers and
those who work in the mines. Other features such as retention of the
native dialects, the wearing of traditional Indian apparel, types of at-
titudes, diet, and interests are part of the classification of a person
as Indian. Approximately 25% of the people are cholos or mestizos,
which really means that they are urban workers or small entrepreneurs.
This class is growing slowly. About 55 of the population is literate,
speaks Spanish and feels itself to be westernized, and is therefore con-
sidered to be white. The problem of destroying such a deep caste divi-
sion can be readily realized when we learn that over 60% of the popula-
tion speaks Indian languages, with something over one third using Cas-
tillian. A nation of this size occupied by only three and one half million
people is of course chronically underpopulated, and the rate of gro\-.th,
although over 1% per annum, is one of the lowest in Latin America. Im-
migrants have always shunned Bolivia for obvious reasons, so the solu-
tion to this major porblem is not in sight.
In 1932 Bolivia's situation can be summed up thus. International-
ly and financially her position was fairly respectable for nineteenth
century government by terror had lost most of its frightful aspects,
the e:-ports of the country were valuable abroad, and the small group
in control of the country manipulated the finances in an internationally
acceptable fashion. Behind this facade the century-old problems vere
no nearer solution, and, in fact, had never been conscientiously faced
by any government, Spanish or Bolivian. The country was divided by
geography with no real system of communications. A small caste con-
trolled by a mining empire and its army, governed a subject race--a
race which was illiterate, tradition-bound, poverty-stricken, hungry,
and increasingly resentful.
Outwardly stable and inwardly an unintegrated nation of chronic
problems, Bolivia entered into one of the most terrible of Latin Amer-
ican wars in 1932.
The Chaco War between Bolivia and her southern neighbor:Para-
guay lasted from 1932-36. This war is a crucial turning point in Eoli-
vian history, and if it does not prove to be her salvation, it will at
least be remembered as the real beginning of Bolivia's awareness of
her problems, Since then the problems of the country have had full
airing and her literature has been one of continual protest and analysis.
The causes of the war of the Chaco were also centuries old. The
familiar Latin American problem of ill-defined frontiers was particu-
larly apparent in this region of the Chaco, mainly because the area had
never been effectively occupied by Spaniards, Bolivians, or Paraguayans,
nor had it ever been of much interest to any of them prior to the twen-
ticth century. .Essentially Bolivia and Paraguay disagreed about the
Spanish line of demarcation between the colonial administrative units
known as the Governorship of Paraguay and the Audiencia of Charcas,
later Alto Perd, and today Bolivia. As the two countries slowly ex-
panded and grew more conscious of their nationhood, this difference of
opinion became more aggravated. Both countries began to inflate their
claims, so that Bolivia, for example, claimed the section lying between
the Pilcomayo and Paraguay rivers as far as the very gates of the Para-
guayan capital of Asunci6n. Gradually, with the growing nationalism
among the ruling groups in both countries, the possibility of corpro-
mise receded, since any surrender of claims would have involved "loss
of face. "
Bolivia seemed to have the stronger legal claims but Paraguayan
penetration of the Chaco, in itself slight, had been far more than that
of Bolivia since colonial times. To rectify this situation Bolivia began
to construct small fortunes or forts along the Pilcomayo and then through
the center of the area. Paraguay retaliated in short order by building
an opposing line of fortunes, facing those of Bolivia. The situation
had now reached the stage of military activity, and both countries be-
gan a rapid expansion of their armed forces, Paraguay in secret but in
a financially sound manner, and Bolivia with much "beating of drums, "
and importation of German military advisors. To the outside, not too
cognizant world, it appeared that Bolivia could easily overwhelm her
small neighbor. The Bolivian government also seems to have thought
that Paraguayan determination would be quickly crushed by the army,
fast becoming a leading force in Latin America. The Chaco, however,
did play a role in the economy of Paraguay, and the country, it is now
obvious, simply had to preserve it. For Bolivia the Chaco was a pros-
pect for the future and played no part in the Bolivian national life of the
Yet another question was the nature of the two republics. Para-*
guay was essentially of the plains and the riversides; Bolivia was and
still is an Andean republic.
Talks in Buenos Aires during 1927 and 1928 failed, while border
incidents and military acquisitions continued. Other diplomatic skir-
mishes produced no results, and final efforts by the United States and
others to secure a nonaggression pact collapsed only two weeks before
the formal outbreak of hostilities. Months before the final collapse of
negotiations on December 30, 1932 pitched battles were already being
fought although war was not declared until May 10, 1933.
The war was a disaster and a disgrace for Bolivia. The Bolivian
officer corps revealed themselves to be corrupt, negligent and even
cowardly, while the Andean troops found the conditions beyond their un-
derstanding or powers of adaption. The Paraguayan army advanced in-
to the Bolivian lowlands, where the war bogged down because of the
length of the Paraguayan lines of communication on the one hand, and
the paralytic chaos of the Bolivian forces on the other. By mid-1935
a complete stalemate had been reached and the treaty of July 21, 1938
gave to Paraguay most of the territory which she coveted. Started in
hopes of expansion and with the aim of obtaining a viable seaport, the
war ended with Bolivia defending her own homeland. 12 Apart from
12Much of this account of the war has been taken from the excel-
lent survey by David H. Zook, Jr., The Conduct of the Chaco War (New
York: Bookman Associates, 1960). Captain Zook establishes the causes
of the war as (1) Bolivian expansionism and militarism, (2) Bolivian as-
pirations to the sea, (3) Paraguayan determination to hold the Chaco as
an economic necessity, and (4) growing nationalis~:- in both countries.
He damages the old school of thought which holds that the oil resources
of the area and of the Camiri region were the main causes of the conflict.
Many have thought of the war as Dutch Shell (Paraguay) vs. Standard Oil
(Bolivia). Evidence for such beliefs was furnished by books such as
Margaret A. Marsh, The Bankers in Bolivia (New York: Vanguard Press,
military factors such as overconfidence, extended lines of communica-
tion, and corruption in the administration, the defeat of Bolivia can be
-traced still deeper. Paraguay had as many social maladies as Bolivia,
but was at least an integrated nation, occupied by one race which felt
itself to be Paraguayan. Officers and soldiers shared common aims
and a common patriotism. Suddenly Bolivia's basic chaos was revealed.
.Many of the Indians from the altiplano did not know, and cared even less,
about the issues or the country for which they were supposed to risk
their lives. They did not speak the same language as the officers--of-
ficers who had only the vaguest ideas of patriotism and saw the war in
the old "caudillo" terms of personal power. As Zook has said, perhaps
a little too strongly,
Seldom in the history of warfare have such extremes of quality
faced one another as upon the obscure fields of the Chaco Boreal..
Palpably, the soldier of a free country, energetic and capable of in-
dividual initiative, is infinitely superior to the politically, socially,
and racially submerged product of an oligarchical dictatorship.
The returning youngsters of the Chaco War saw their homeland
in a new light. Since then their protest and attempts at reform and in-
tegration have changed the nation almost beyond recognition. The war
left 'a lasting sense of exhaustion, bitterness and frustration"14 which
has made it the major turning point in Bolivian history.
13bid., p. 24.
14Osborne, op. cit., p. 61. A profound analysis of this postwar
ferment is Augusto C6spedes, El dictator suicide; 40 aflos de historic
de Bolivia (Santiago de Chile: Editorial Universitaria, S.A., 1956),
Although the people were in deeper poverty than ever before, the
nation's economy remained fairly stable because of the soaring prices
of nonferrous metals after the outbreak of World War IL Political insta-
bility was a truer reflection of the real state of the country, and the un-
rest and disorientation of the country showed itself in a succession of
violent coups. In 1936 Colonel David Toro, often considered one of the
most culpable officers of the Chaco War, won power through friends
among the dissatisfied military, but his stay in office lasted less than
one year. Colonel German Busch, a proclaimed leftist, with some in-
tense but confused ideals, came to power with the intention of trying
issues with the rosca or mining empire. He was either assassinated
by enemies when his attacks on the rosca became too dangerous, or
committed suicide when he realized how little progress he had made
in his struggle. 15
In 1944 Major Gualberto Villarroel came to power with the back-
ing of a party called the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR),
but before continuing with a chronicle of events it is necessary to look
more closely at the political ideologies and associations which survived
or emerged from the Chaco conflict. Most if not all of these forces are
15Busch is today considered a martyr to the cause by the ruling
MNR party. Cf. Luis Azurduy, Busch,el mArtir de sus ideales (La
Paz: Imp. Artfstico, 1939). Similar attempts to rehabilitate the 19th
century dictator Belei, picturing him as a precursor of the revolution,
often appear forced; e. g. Fausto Reinaga, Belz;i precursor de la re-
voluci6n national (La Paz: Ediciones Rumbo Sindical, 1953).
present in the Bolivia of today.
Many political parties in Bolivia tend, as in other Latin American
countries, to be dominated by factional or class interests rather than by
ideologies, and this is particularly true of the right wing.
The old Conservative party which governed through the 1860's dis-
appeared before 1930 and the traditional conservative party became El
Partido Liberal. This group points to the stability which it achieved in
the early days of the century, and claims that, "nuestro veinte aflos de
goblerno dieron al pafs la sensaci6n de bienestar colectivo y de bonanza
econ6mica. This party is composed of the old nobility, the landowners,
and the upper classes of La Paz. It continually refers to the good old
days, and is rapidly falling in numbers, having no dynamism or appeal
to the yovth of the extreme right. In the recent elections it presented
no candidates, and its votes seem to have gone to the Socialist Falange.
The leading right wing party is the Falange Socialista Boliviana,
headed by Oscar Unzaga de la Vega until his mysterious death in 1960.
Originally patterned after the ruling party in Franco's Spain, it now
claims more democratic leanings, but has had little chance to prove
this. Since the death of Unzaga the party has been somewhat confused,
but new leadership should soon assert itself.
This party has attracted many of the old upper class, as well as
many of the middle class elements in Sucre, Cochabamba, and Santa
Cruz. The old army, now largely disbanded, has given this party many
supporters, since it uses the familiar fascist tactics of salutes and
slogans. This party ran second in the presidential elections of 1956
and third in 1960 after a split in the M. N. R. The Falange Socialista
talks of a corporate state--"cooperaci6n de classes para combatir la lu-
cha de classes, y consiguientemente a todas las ideologfas de izquierda. "
It is a "hierarchial system based on the selection of the most apt. "16
Its slogan speaks for itself Lucha y vencersi!" Unfortunately, while
willing to try to win power in democratic elections, this group has not
shown itself adverse to seizing power by other means, and they have
tried many times since 1952. With the army in a subordinate and weak
position the future for this party does not look bright, unless it wins
the backing of the populace.
The third party of the right has gradually moved to the center since
its inception, and gives some hope for the future. Originally named El
Partido Cat6lico Boliviano, it adopted the slogan "Dios, Patria y Ho-
gar, and advocated extreme right-wing policies. In the last few years,
however, noting the popularity of the democratic measures of the MNR,
it has adopted a much more liberal position, corresponding in many ways
to the general ideologies of the Christian Democratic parties of Europe,
and has its policy based fundamentally on the social encyclicals of the
Catholic Church. It has definitely aligned itself on the side of democra-
cy, and it refuses to tolerate attempts to overthrow the genuinely
Alberto Cornejo S., Programas polfticos de Bolivia (Cocha-
bamba: Imprenta..Universitaria, 1I'49), pp. 15, 131 and 133.
elected government. In the elections of August, 1958, it changed its
name to El Partido Social Cristiano Boliviano, and won small but no-
ticeable support from the richer peasants and the lower middle classes
of the cities. It could be hoped that this party may gain strength and
become a genuine party of the democratic opposition in a two-party sys-
tem. Other small right wing parties seem unimportant at present.
While the right wing of Bolivia is easily outlined, the left wing
presents an extremely confusing picture. The extreme left began in
the 1930's in Bolivia with the emergence of two parties, El Partido
Obrero Revolucionario and El Partido de la Izquierda Revolucionario.
The POR is a Trotskyist part and therefore often anti-Russian.
This party started slower than the PIR, but has not had to face the di-
lemma of choosing between Moscow and Bolivia. Its problem has been
the defection of its members for the resurgence of the MNR with a sim-
ilar but more moderate program drew off much of its support in the
early 50's. Two of the MNR's most important leaders, Juan Lechfn
and Nuflo Chaves, began their political careers with the POR. Today
the party, while still a long way behind the MNR, is regrouping and at-
tempting to organize a Marxist-Socialist independent of Moscow party.
Numerically it remains weak and does not seem to threaten the position
of the ruling MNR. The PIR was heavily Marxist but originally had no
communist ties, although it was vaguely pro-Soviet. During World War
II, its right wing under leader Jos6 Antonio Arce even became pro-
American. Arce, whose life was once saved in an American hospital,
admired many aspects of the United States. Between the years 1945
and 1949 this party seemed on the verge of capturing great popular sup-
port, but fortunately for the MNR a serious split developed. One wing--
the left--wished complete ties with Moscow and membership in a gen-
uine Communist party, There was at the same time the relic of an old
Communist party which claimed to be the true party and which refused
to recognize the new group, since they felt them to be tainted with past
failures. A third clique of young students and intellectuals, most of
whom had visited Russia, decided to break with these old parties of the
past, and formed a third group, El Partido Comunista Genuino. How-
ever, on directions from Moscow, the three groups proclaimed their
unity in 1953. This unity is often only outward, and the Bolivian Com-
munist party has a curious lack of the solidarity usually associated with
Communist parties, perhaps because it is being continually harassed
by another Marxist party with a similar claim to the workers' revolu-
tion. The other wing of the PIR which did not accept Communism has
practically disappeared into the POR or the MNR.
"The Communist danger has to be taken seriously, claims Ar-
nade. 17 Peruvian communists claiming to be exiled Apristas are to
found all over Bolivia. Luis Carlos Prestes, the Brazilian Communist
17Charles W. Arnade, "Communism in Bolivia, in South Atlan-
tic Quarterly, LIII, 457.
party leader, has clandestinely entered Bolivia many times, organizing
and exhorting the.party to greater unity.. In the absence of an outstand-
ing personality to lead the party Prestes can be thought of as the leader
of Bolivian communism.
The Communists have gained a little support among the masses
in the city but none among the Indian peasantry. The Communist strong-
hold is the universities. "Practically all law students at every one of
the seven Universities, is a. Communist, as are many intellectuals;
and as the latter have a monopoly of the printed page Communism seems
stronger than it really is. "18 The MNP R has undermined these two par-
ties by putting through many of the reforms which they proposed, so that
the Communists have been forced to vote with the MNR in many cases to
save face, thus, incidentally, giving the IMNR, formerly called Nazis,
the new name of neo-communists. Ex-President Hernan Siles Suazo,
who belongs to the moderate wing of.the MNR, showed himself far less
moderate than PazEstenssoro in his dealings with the Communists.
He refused their support, refused their votes in elections, and by force
ing them to enter their own candidates, showed their weakness to the
Marxism is therefore split in two in Bolivia. There is the Trot-
skyist POR which seems to be gradually losing ground, and there are
181bid. 457, 458.
the Communists, rather divided but full of confidence, and becoming
stronger organizationally if not numerically. Arnade concludes that
Communism, while always a menace, is not so acute a threat in Bolivia
as in many other Latin American countries.
The MNR has completely dominated the political life of the coun-
try since it came to power in 1952, and during the subsequent decade
it has consistently won about three quarters of the votes, so that other
parties presented no serious threat to its position. It is therefore this
party and its policy which we must now examine.
The War of the Chaco, as has been said above, may yet prove to
be the salvation of Bolivia. It is curious that in this century defeats
in wars and the resulting national sense of humiliation, have, in many
cases, produced two widely differing movements, two movements, more-
over, which are essentially antagonistic. One looks for examples to'
Spain or Germany. In Spain after the loss of Cuba, the reaction of the
(eneraci6n de '98 occurred in which such thinkers as Unamuno, Azo-
rfn, and Pfo Baroja tried dispassionately and intellectually to define
Spain's position and problems, and to propose solutions. The other
movement which started at this time was the very opposite. It was
fiercely militaristic, in fact it might be deduced that the idea of revenge
lurked somewhere in its make-up; it lauded nationalism to unreasonable
extents and relied heavily on the army for backing. This movement
was frankly fascistic, and after a period of power under Primo de Ri-
vera, it has again triumphed over the intellectual democrats in the
person of its present ruler, Francisco Franco. In Germany#, too, the
defeat in the Great War gave rise to a group of young intellectuals, ,and
on the other extreme the young fascist ultranationalists. Here again
the fascists won and Hitler came to power.
In Bolivia two curious things happened, for Bolivia, although de-
feated, was never occupied, nor was its government forced to submit
to the dictates of foreign powers. The result was that the old clique
initially remained in power, backed by Patiflo, Hochschild,, and Ara-
mayo. To combat this unbearable state of affairs the second strange
event occurred. The youthful intellectuals and the fascist army groups
joined forces, a junction which gave the coalition a swift taste of power,
but soon brought bitterness and failure.
First let us examine these two movements in Bolivia. Young men
such as Victor Paz Estenssoro, a career lawyer and economist of a
wealthy family, HernAn Siles Suazo, the son of a former president,
Fernando Diez de Medina, a writer of evocative tales of Bolivia, and
many others returned disgruntled and determined to create a new na-
tion. Joa6 Fellmann Velarde calls this period la 6poca. de la busqueada.
The old oligarchy was under attack by young men as yet unsure of what
they wanted to see changed.
About this time Paz Estenssoro was working with the Patiflo en-
terprise as an economist. He became appalled at the hold which the
tin empire had over the Bolivian economy, and claims to have seen
paysheets stating the amounts to be paid to politicians, newspapermen,
and even ministers of state. The post-war inflation was accelerating,
and this seems to have suited the ends of the tin barons, for while they
were able to pay taxes and wages in a currency which was fast becoming
worthless, at the same time they sold the tin to safe currency areas,
and banked the profits abroad. By 1939 Paz Estenssoro had decided
that his goal in life was destruir al monstruo --the destruction of the
mining empire and oligarchy.19 In late 1939, when Busch held elec-
tions to legalize his coup d'etat, Paz ran as a deputy from Tarija with
a very radical platform, and won a convincing majority. Paz soon
headed a group in Congress which backed all of Busch's reform propos-
als, feeble and wavering though they were. In this group were Walter
Guevara Arce and Augusto C6spedes, young intellectual politicians, and
Carlos Montenegro, Armando Arce, and Jos6 Quadros, often called the
old guard of the revolution.
By the time of Busch's mysterious death on August 23, 1939, Paz
had emerged as the leader of the group, and their attacks on the govern-
ment, which was increasingly military-controlled, became more and
more violent. Many recruits, includ;r. Siles, Monroy, and Alberta now
joined the group. The Paz group firmly opposed the attempts by Stand-
ard Oil to repurchase the oil fields rationalized by Toro after the Chaco
193os6 Fellmann Velarde, Victor Paz Estenssoro: el hombre y la
revoluci6n (La Paz: Alfonso Tejerina, 1954), pp. 67, 74.
War, and this created bad feeling against these new politicians in the
Having solidified and gained some popular support, the group now
felt itself ready to draw up its inevitable manifesto. Unlike the PIR,
the other opposition party of note, the MNR, apart from what it dubbed
as the imperialists and their semifeudalism, admitted only a limited
concept of class war, and wished to have no ties with international ide-
ologies of any kind. In spite of this youthful independence and bravado,
the party was not so independent as it wished to appear. By a careful
scrutiny of its early writings one can distinguish traces of all the intel-
lectual and political movements of the times. Idealism, courage, and
nationalism were definitely present. The party had no alien ties. The
MNR was to be a Bolivian party. Its aim was to solve the problems of
Bolivia by a combination of "el proleteriado, el campesinado, la clase
media y ain la naciente burguesfa national. With the popular growth
of the MNR, and the drift of many of the PIR members towards com-
munism, never at home in Bolivia, the latter ceased to be a main rival
to the MNR. In 1941 the MNR adopted its present name. It adopted the
term "movement" and rejected the term "party, since this word is
often held to represent the views of a faction or of one social class.
The movement was to be of all classes except the oppressors, united
by their hatred of imperialism and feudalism. The program's introduc-
tion was clear.
Bolivia es unesemi-colonia en la cual subsisten aun resabios
feudales en el sistema de trabajo de la tierra. Para independizar-
la, es necesario liquidar la influencia del imperialism y de la gran
burguesfa que le sirve de agent, devolviendo al pafs la explotaci6n
de sus minas, redistribuyendo la tierra y diversificando la economfa
mediante la creaci6n de nuevas fuentes de riqueza. 20
From the above it can be seen that the MNR is indeed a strange party
for South America. It does not conform to the classic South American
or European idea of a political party--that is, a group which holds the
same political views or aims, but resembles the parties in the United
States or Mexico in that it is a union of widely different political be-
liefs held together solely by common interests. Since it draws support
from all sections of the community, such a party can become overwhelm-
ingly powerful and large, as has the PRI in Mexico, but on the other hand
it must nurture its unity very carefully, as dissention between extreme
left and extreme right will always be present in such a heterogeneous
group. Such as been the fate of the MNR. During the years between
1956 and 1962 it has won support from more than 75% of Bolivian voters,
but has suffered, at fairly regular intervals, clashes of ideals between
left and right which have threatened its solidarity, and which required
constant diplomacy and vigilance to hold in check. The right wing has
now broken with the main group of the MNR, and, since 1960, has
called itself the MNRA (aut6ntico). Under its leader Walter Guevara
Arce it received 14. 3% of the votes in the 1960 elections. Since the
20Ibid., pp. 90, 95.
rise of Castroism a schism to the left has also threatened.
Meanwhile the other side of the post-bellum reaction must be
seen. Within the army a clique of violently nationalistic army officers
had formed. This group was known variously as the Logia Mariscal
Santa Cruz or Raz6n de Patria (Radepa). It was led by young Chaco
veterans, in particular 1.Iajors Gualberto Villarroel and Celestino Pin-
to. They had been shamed by the Chaco defeat, and had lived through
the '"poca de la bisquelda," so that they now felt themselves entitled
to seize power. 'While they may not have been nazis their policies did
seem fascistic, intensely nationalistic, and in the context of the times,
the early forties, their insistence on a good price for Bolivian minerals
smacked of treachery to the Allied Powers. Radepa had early at-
tached itself to a mysterious, violent military clique known as La Ee-
trella de Hierro. This again made the Allies suspicious,
How then did such different groups come together at such an in-
auspicious time ? How also did the MPNR gain the reputation of being a
Latin American offshoot of the German nazi party--a label from which
it has still not entirely freed itself? The story is a strange mixture of
conscious decisions by both sides and chance happenings in turbulent
In 1943 a world war was raging. Any movement which asserted
its independence of the United States and Britain, demanding direction
of its own affairs and higher prices for its goods, ran the risk of almost
certainly being branded as nazi. Then again the ruling oligarchy was
aware of the nervous state of the Allies over their mineral sources,
and found this nervousness to be useful. The Enrique Penaranda govern-
ment realized that the mere mention of nazis was enough to gain support
for itself abroad, just as the tag "communist" is used by Latin Ameri-
can dictators at the present time. The government therefore called its
opponents nazis and the label stuck. Another factor was the Germans
in Bolivia. Unlike the tin owners, the Americans, or the British, they
had not become absentee owners and, at pains to avoid this, they had
settled down as traders, merchants, and bankers, carrying on their
own businesses and marrying into native families. Using the good
will created by these people the German intelligence service was thus
able to obtain wide influence in Bolivian politics, and even to some ex-
tent among the masses.
To these inflammable factors were added the events of the polit-
ical sphere. Pefiaranda was openly pro-Arne rican, and Paz Estenssoro
opposed him constantly. He must indeed have appeared somewhat
tainted to the Allies in those troubled days.
The regime decided on Gabriel Gonselvez to succeed Peflaranda
after what was to be a formal election in 1944, but this candidate was
not acceptable to the MNR which did not believe that he held the man-
date of the people; nor was he acceptable to the military in the Radepa,
which distrusted the imposition of a civilian president. The strange
coalition between the MNR and the Radepa took place. It must be reit-
erated that at this time only literates were allowed to vote, and the
MNR had not yet reached the masses and the Indians, who were politi-
cally inert. For practical purposes all that counted was the cities and
the miners. Although still a small party it is possible that the MNR
even at this date, would have been able to gain a majority from the
electorate of 150, 000, but the movement was well aware that no Boli-
vian president to that date had come to power by popular election. An-
other factor was that the young men of the MNR had fought with the
young military in the Chaco, and realized that the only cohesive force
in the nation was still the army. The officers of the Radepa also real-
ized the need for. a civil force if they were to stay in power. Both
sides knew that if they did not act quickly GonsAlvez would become
firmly established with the backing of the military, and hurriedlyagreed
on a minimum program.
On the dawn of December 20, 1944, the revolt took place. Villa-
rroel and Pinto took over the key posts in the army with no fighting;
Taborga, another officer, seized Pelaranda and put him on a plane for
Chile; the MNR, -with some opposition, took over the radio stations and
the La Paz police.
VWhen the news of the revolt spread the streets filled with people,
all supposing that Paz was to be president, but Taborga and the mili-
tary lodges would not accept him and the post was given to Villarroel,
a political unknown. In his first cabinet there were three army officers,
including Pinto, two members of La Estrella de Hierro, and Taborga.
In the group there was no real basis for agreement and this was to cause
the downfall of the government. In spite of its so-called nazism the re-
gime remained pro-ally.
President Villarroel was in favor of much of the MNR program,
but the others in his military group disagreed. Only a few minor re-
forms were passed.
The first few months of 1946 were disturbed by a series of at-
tempted coups, and constant allegations of brutality were made against
the Villarroel government, many of which were no doubt true. In the
May elections of that year the MNR had again grown in strength, but
lost some support in La Paz. Senseless police brutality continued,
and finally an enraged populace marched on the palace in a full-scale
What actually happened before and immediately after July 21,
1946, may never be definitely known. Most of the MNR leaders es-
caped to Argentina, and many of the Radepa leaders either defected
to the opposition or escaped also. Villarroel was caught in the Casa
Quemada by the mob, shot, and hung from a lamppost in the Plaza Mu-
rillo with two of his aides. Rumors have claimed that a quarrel be-
tween the MNR and Villarroel caused the MVNR leaders to make no at-
tempt to warn VillarroeJ. However, since the party's return to
power in 1952 it has made Villarroel the first in its pantheon of heroes
and martyrs, even creating a national Villarroel day. The truth will
probably remain a matter of conjecture. 21
Paz Estenssoro concentrated on preserving the unity and aims of
the movement. From then on the movement resolved to govern alone
or not at all. The MINR leaders decided that when they returned to power
they would immediately nationalize the mines, put through an agrarian
reform, enfranchise the whole adult population regardless of literacy,
and diversify the economy. These measures would shift the nucleus
of power from the middle and upper classes of La Paz, which the
MNR distrusted and still does, to the peasantry, miners, and other
workers in the smaller towns and countryside.
The old regime had returned to Bolivia. President Enrique Hert-
zog struggled for a few years, vainly trying to pacify the populace and
the mine-owners. Mamerto Urriolagoitfa, who took his place, was a
stronger personality but was scarcely more effective.
The MNR's first serious attempt to regain power was at the begin-
ning of September, 1949. They managed to seize Sucre, Potosi, San-
ta Cruz and Cochabamba, but failed to take La Paz and Oruro. They
21For the full story of this bloody revolt of 1946, told from the
anti-Villarroel point of view, see German G. Villamor, Historia de la
gran revoluci6n popular del 21 de julio de 1946 (La Paz: Editorial Po-
pular, 1946). Two of the better known eulogies of Villarroel are
Gualberto Olmos, Gualberto Villarroel: su vida, su martirio (La Paz:
Gisbert, 1960) and Augusto C6spedes, Beatificaci6n de Gualberto Vi-
llarroel (La Paz: Direcci6n de informaciones de la presidencia de la
lacked arms and organization and were finally put down.
Urriolagoitfa surprised everyone in 1951 by decreeing presiden-
tions for May, 1952. Paz Estenssoro was allowed to present himself
as a candidate but was not allowed to return from exile or to campaign.
His party, however, organized the campaign very carefully, and, headed
by Hernan Siles Suazo, began to slip back into the country. To every-
one's amazement, of the 120, 000 intellectuals, politicians, soldiers,
and upper and middle classes who were allowed to vote, Pa zwon 54, C00
votes, with a clear majority of 17, 000 votes over the next candidate.
Since most of the MNR support was illiterate and thus had no vote, it
was evident that the party was now the most powerful political force in
Bolivia. Because Paz did not obtain an absolute majority, the issue
was referred to the Bolivian congress, which was instructed in accord&
ance with the constitution to chose between the top three candidates.
Before a decision could be reached General Urriolagoitfa suspended
congress, handed over the power to a military junta headed by General
Hugo Ballivian, and left for Chile. Urriolagoitfa's move soon provoked
a major revolution between the forces of the army, the mnine-owners,
the land-owners, and other vested interests, fighting the expropriation
of their property, and on the other hand thousands of miners, Indians,
and destitute mestizos, fighting for land, nationalization of the mines,
and political representation. This was in fact no mere South American
barracks rebellion with the power switching quietly from one general's
clique to another. It was climactical civil war, and a genuine revolu-
tion. The MNR was well organized. Siles Suazo had grouped the stu-
dents and assigned them tasks. He obtained the defection of General
Seleme, an old comrade in the war of the Chaco, distributed arms in
the cities, and.printed pamphlets in La Paz. Juan Lechf, .newly re-
turned from Chile, organized the peasantry and miners, and armed
them as heavily as possible.
Fighting broke out in La Paz on April 9, 1952, but in spite of the
arms which Seleme managed to give the rebels, the seizure of the ra*
dio station and a few initial successes, the battle seemed to be going
against the MNR. All through the 10th the battle raged. Dead littered
the streets, but the army seemed to be with the junta to a man. Sud-
denly Siles, with the command of strategy which had distinguished him
through the campaign, took a squad of militia up to the post of El Alto
which dominates the city. On the way he met a group of Lechfn's miners
from Milluni. Together they seized El Alto and on the morning of the
11th destroyed the Ballividn regiment which was defending it. A huge
stock of arms was found there, and success was thereafter rapid. By
the end of the day the army was almost completely destroyed. Esti-
mates of the casualties mention 1, 300 dead in La Paz2one, but figures
can be little more than guesses. The junta surrendered, Siles was
installed as Prov'isonal President, and everyone awaited the return
of Paz Estenssoro. Siles, according to the classical South American
pattern, could have easily taken over as president at this juncture, but
the movement was determined to show Bolivians what democracy real-
SPaz Estenssoro returned from exile on April 15, and was met by
delirious crowds. The leader thanked the people for their support, but
stressed the enormous tasks and hardships to come. As he promised
he immediately began preparing the reforms in the MNR program.
The MNR was pledged to destroy the small clique of multimillion-
aire mineowners, absentee landowners, and reactionary army officers,
who had dominated the country since independence, with little considera-
tion for the welfare of the masses.
The first step was a reduction of the army. The MNR held that
the army had no place in politics in a democracy, and that it should be
little more than a police force in a small state like Bolivia. Paz Es-
tenssoro, in another of the paradoxes of which he is so fond, declared
that he was glad that Urriolagoitfa had handed over power to the army
junta, because this gave the MNR the chance to destroy it, whereas if
it had been Urriolagoitfa whom the MNF1. had fought, the army would
have been able to remain on the sidelines and would have survived the
revolution. "Fue mejor lo que hizo Urriolagoitfa al entregar el poder
al ej6rcito porque un partido revolucionar:o debe lle-ar al poder des*
truyendo todo el aparato del viejo regime. "22 In the fighting itself
22Victor Paz Estenssoro, Discursos y mensajes (La Paz: Edi-
ciones Meridiano, 1953), p. 15.
the army lost much of its prestige--beaten as it was by a rabble of
mnlcrs and peasants. The government closed the military academy
which had been an officers' training school and a hotbed of plotters.
It left arms in the hands of the workers, and encouraged the formation
of vigorous, miners-peasants national guards, for which there was, in-
cidentally, provision under the constitution. This new, pro-,aiR mili-
tia has shown itself intensely loyal, if often undisciplined and violent.
The new Bolivian army has so far remained subordinate to the civil
At once the Paz Estenssoro government took steps to nationalize
the tin mines. This was inevitable for two reasons. The main one was
that the populace would not have countenanced anything else. The MRIIR
had promised nationalization in its campaign for the presidency, and to
go back on its word would have meant its overthrow. As it was even
a short delay proved dangerous. Paz attempted to approach the matter
coolly and logically, postponing nationalization for several months, and
setting up a board to consider it. Lechfu's miners would have none of
this, and so violent and dangerous was their attitude that the nationaliza-
tion act was rushed through. The second reason which made nationali-
zation inevitable was the attitude of the owners themselves over the
years. Paz claimed that by their blindness and greed they had forced
the act, and indeed, whether nationalization proved to be a success or
not the position at that stage was intolerable to the new government.
Many accounts have been written of the appalling, unhealthy, and dan-
gerous lives of the miners. Most tend to become bitter and are there-
fore suspect, but Alicia Ortiz, through reporting which is detached and
objective, remains credible, and paints a horrible picture of degrada-
Compensation was decided upon, but proved unsatisfactory to the
companies. It appears, however, that a satisfactory final payment will
soon be made.
The supreme decree of nationalization was promulgated on Octo*
ber 31, 1952, and the preamble to the decree cited the reasons for na-
tionalization; The firms held an economic monopoly of the main source
of wealth of the country, with the social and political repercussions
which have been seen. "Anyone slightly acquainted with the recent his*
tory of Bolivia knows that the exploitation of these tin mines has been
the principal motor of the revolutions and counter-revolutions in Bolivia
since 1936. "24 The Crororaci6n Minera de Bolivia (Comibol) took
charge of the nationalized mines.
After the promulgation of the decree there was great public cele-
bration in the mining areas. On a rude table near the bleak Catavi
23Alicia Ortiz, Amanecer en Bolivia (Buenos Aires: Hemisferio,
1953), pp. 133-146.
24Jesus de Galfndez, "New Legislation: Bolivia: Decree Nation-
alizing Tin Mines," American Journal of Comparative Law, III, No. 1.
mine Paz Estenssoro c'gned the decree with a golden pen. A crowd of
20, 000 miners "went wild, bonfires burned all over the Andes as they
did in the days of Garcilaso el Inca, and the streets of La Paz were full
of miners firing off the rifles which they had used in the revolution. A
new age seemed to have come overnight.
Unfortunately, conditions in the mines were so bad, and econom-
ic dependence on tin was so great, that it will take years for any stable
mining industry to arise. To make matters worse many mistakes were
made by an inexperienced corps of administrators, the world market
played havoc with prices, and the satisfied miners worked less. Part-
ly because of exhaustion of old veins, tin production fell by over one
third in the decade following 1952.
Bolivian mining would still be prosperous were it not for two
things. The miners themselves have been a great disappointment to
the government. They were given the opportunity to form strong un-
ions under Juan Lechfn, were assured a minimum wage scale which
gave them a level of living far in advance of what they had, and such
was their delight at this that the average miner almost ceased to work,
while his increased wages were dissipated in even wilder borracheras
than before. Education and the awakening of a civic consciousness are
of course the only solutions, and thece difficult reforms will take many
years. Even more serious has been the decline in the price of tin, cul-
minating in 1958 with the dumping by Russia of vast quantities on the
world market. If it were not for food and dollar aid from'the United
States, the Bolivian economy would have collapsed. Much gloating has
been done over the failure of the policy of nationalization, but political
results have been generally good in that it has brought much greater
unity to the people. Nor can a system be said to have failed when it has
eradicated an oligarchy which dominated the nation for its own ends.
The mines of Bolivia are now worked with some regard for the welfare
of the miners and for the good of the nation, while the miners enjoy a
level of living which is very low but which was unknown to them a few
years ago. With the continued sincere efforts of the government, in-
ternal peace, and generous United Nations and American help, the out-
look for the mines cannot be said to be hopeless. A new cooperation
between the United States, Germany, and Bolivia, the plan triangular,
may help to reorganize the mines of Bolivia.
The agrarian reform program was next on the list for the MN1R,
and here the government refused to be rushed, in spite of land grabs
by impatient Indians, intercomrunal strife over boundaries, and even
the murder of a few owners. It has to be remembered also that where-
as the tin barons were unanimously hated and numbered only three, yet
landowners who stood to lose by the reform were numerous. iMoreover,
the thought that an Indian peasant would become an owner and would en-
joy full and equal rights aroused extreme bitterness among the higher
caste cholos, especially in La Paz. The author can vouch personally
for the continued existence of this feeling as late as 1961. The MNR
believed that land distribution was not an end in itself, but rather the
first stage in a program of economic development in agriculture,- Two
problems afflicted Bolivian agriculture-*a markedly uneven distribution
of agricultural income, and a defective use of land resources both from
the geographical and the cultivation point of view, Land distribution
can only..help to solve the unequal income injustice, if even that.. Irm,
migration to unused areas and education in modern methods are needed
to rectify the second problem. Redistribution, the MNR economists
claimed, would begin the process, and this the executive decided to do.
The agrarian reform commission was created by a presidential
decree on April 9, 1953, the first anniversary of the revolution, Pre-
sent at the, signing were R6mulo Betancourt, then in exile, and Siles
Suazo, the future president of Bolivia,
The first decree of the series, number 03128, was a rather curi-
ous one for an agrarian bill. It was "voto universal que comprende al
campesinado. "25 This decree gave the vote to all citizens over 21
male or female, and to all over 18 if married. It was signed by Paz,
Guevara, Diez de Medina, Nuflo Chavez, Lechfn, and other leaders.
The preamble of the decree indicted the forces which had ruined the
25Walter del Castillo Avendalo, Compilaci6n legal de la reform
agraria en Bolivia (La Paz: Editorial F6nix, 1955), pp. 9-12.
economy since Incan days leaving the Indians in a state of semifeudal-
ism. The nation owns all waters, soil, and subsoil, stated the decree.
The state allows the individual to own private property only "cuando
6sta cumple una funci6n dtil para la colectividad national. "26 The
state does not recognize the latifundia, that is large, untaxed estates
with bound labor, absentee owners, and limited exploitation. It recog-
nizes only the following forms of agrarian ownership: the peasant home-
site, which must be of reasonable size to give subsistence to one fam-
ily; the small holding with no dwelling which must also be sufficient for
the needs of one family; the medium-sized holding operated with the
help of hired, salaried labor or with agricultural machinery, for the
purpose of selling most of the produce; the Indian community, which
will have assigned .to it land sufficient to its needs; the agrarian coop-
erative, which may be the remaining lands of a latifundia after the peas-
antry have received their holdings, or which may be the whole latifundia
if they so prefer; finally the state does admit heavily capitalized, mod-
ernized, agricultural enterprises of large size in certain areas, hoping
that these and the medium holdings will feed the towns.
Chapter three of the decree, which runs from article 13 to arti-
cle 20, stipulates the sizes of the holdings. These vary widely accord-
ing to the area, the density of population, and the quality of the soil.
261bi p. 48.
In the yungas and the tropics, for example, the areas were made larger
to encourage settlement. It is essential to understand the difference be-
tween the latifundia "que es la propiedad rural de gran e::ten-i6n, que
permanece inexplotada o es explotada deficientemente"27 and the agri-
cultural enterprise which is "a very extensive farm with large capital
investment per unit of land, in which labor is paid cash wages and en-
joys the right to organize and to participate in collective bargaining. "
"The acceptance and inclusion of this concept," concludes Flores,
"marks an advance over the agrarian legislation of other countries. "2
The main difficulty which has occurred is the distribution of the
population. In Bolivia it is such that insufficiency of land is to be found
on the altiplano, with often violent results. The solution is hard to
find since the agrarian decree had two fixed principles--to create units
close to the optimum, and at the same time to satisfy the land hunger
of the peasantry. When there is overcrowding these two aims conflict.
The agrarian reform is closely linked to the so-called march to
the east. Surplus population is encouraged to go to the plains where
plenty of land is available but because of strong traditional ties only
a limited number have been doing so.
To implement all these innovations the government has set up a
27bid. p. 50,
28Edmundo Flores, "The Land Reform in Bolivia, Land Eco-
nomics, XXX, No. 2, 120.
Servicio Nacional de la Reforma Agraria, with wide duties and powers
as arbitrators planner, legislator, and land distributor. The head-
quarters in western La Paz is continually crowded with picturesque In-
dians from all over Bolivia.
Once again cries have gone up, less than ten years after the fact,
that the agrarian reform has failed. It has been pointed out that the In-
dian produces only enough to feed himself, which is often less than he
produced before. It is indicated that his mores, health and education
have changed little. The present writer claims that a measure cannot
be said to have failed when it feeds people who starved before. Land
is the basic want of the Latin American peoples--pride in that land will
come later. Whatever has been said to the contrary there is some evi.
dence of progress on the altiplano, and the evidence is overwhelmingg
as regards the east. By 1957 the Santa Cruz output of rice, corn, and
sugar had doubled. On the altiplano, where the pessimists find their
statistics, things move slowly. The hope of the government is that the
altiplano peasants will feed themselves while the east feeds the cities.
The Bolivian land reform, unlike the nationalization of the mines,
was carefully planned and shows more maturity. It does not commit
itself finally on the question of individual or cooperative ownership.
Many previous reforms, such as the one in Mexico, have been held back
by philosophical dedication to one principle or the other, and have
proved inflexible in the face of changing economic and cultural attitudes.
The reform has proved too slow for many Bolivians and has often been
involved in protracted litigation. During 1961 a new spurt was obvious,
and new titles were granted much more quicldy.
The agricultural move to the east is part of a larger diversifica-
tion program. Bolivia is frantically expanding her petroleum industry,
which, it has been estimated, could supply the whole of South America
to the south and east of her. To aid this diversification and to encourage
national unity, so long lacking, the MNR governments under Paz and
Siles have engaged in a roadbuilding and railway renewal program, On
October 9, 1954, the new Santa Cruz-Cochabamba highway opened up
a vast area of the Bolivian hinterlands. Near it have grown up a rice
plant which will supply over half of the national needs when operating
at capacity, and a cotton gin which constitutes an entirely new industry.
Because of this highway Santa Cruz is fast becoming one of the leading
cities of the nation and by road and rail one can now travel from Santos
to Arica or Lima. In opening this road Paz expressed his people's grat-
itude to the United States for their help in building it.
Perhaps the MNR's greatest task has been the inculcation of dem-
ocratic principles and the achievement of a moral regeneration of the
people. The government has repeatedly proclaimed its willingness to
forgive and forget past violence, although its own practice has often
been crude, but many of the minority parties simply will not accept
democratic decisions. The result of continuous plots and general un-
rest has been some indiscriminate arrests and other signs of repres-
sion. During Paz's first term of office the brutality of his police was in-
famous. At the end of this first term many of the president's followers
wished him to change the constitution and run for office again but this
he refused to do, determined to set a democratic example. The elec-
tion was held in June, 1956, In spite of threatening moves by the oppo'
sition the election was held peacefully and democratically. The MNR
obtained 786, 792 votes, the Falange 130, 494, the Communists 12, 273,
and the POR 2, 329. The total number of voters rose from about
150, 000 to 1, 119,.047. The IIMNR won 60 out of the 68 seats in the Cham-
ber of Deputies and all of the Senate. Siles Suazo was elected President
and Nuflo Chavez Vice-President.
The MNR viewed the election as one of its greatest accomplish-
ments. Though far from perfect, it was a new departure for the nation.
Never before had there been a peaceful transfer of power and universal
adult suffrage. The new president, the son of a former executive, a
Chaco veteran, and the leader of the street fighters against the regime
in 1952, may be described as belonging to the right wing of the MNR.
Another genuine election was held in 1960, which brought Paz back to
Authoritarian tactics decreased during Siles' government. He
staked his whole reputation on a stabilization program to consolidate
Paz' reforms. This made him freeze wage claims, rely heavily on
American aid, and made him unpopular in some quarters. He showed
great will power and tenacity. Education, long neglected because of
the other vital reforms, was emphasized. In 1956 for the first time
the largest single appropriation in the budget was for education. The
Bolivian government is placing an unprecedented emphasis on health,
sanitation, applied technology, and agriculture in its educational pro-
gram. A distinctly Bolivian pedagogy is being built up around the edu-
cational writings of Franz Tamayo. Universities are still far too much
political institutions and too little educational establishments. The stu-
dents are today bitterly divided between the extreme right and the far
left. Few have any sympathies with the government and strikes are
frequent, harming, of course, mainly the students themselves.
Internationally Bolivia seems to have progressed and so far the
government has managed to play off the two giants on her borders
against one another, so that neither Argentina nor Brazil has managed
to exert much influence so far on Bolivia's eastern regions. In spite
of the question of an outlet to the sea Bolivia's relations with Chile
have been generally friendly, but courtesies between the country and
Paraguay have been almost nonexistent since the Chaco War. Peru
has been governed by a series of regimes which have viewed the land
reforms and nationalization across the border with great misgivings.
Only heavy American aid has allowed the government to stave off col-
lapse, and relations between the countries have been generally friendly.
Bolivia.'s is the only genuine revolution to take place so far in
South America. One fact is certainly true. In a few years the country
has wakened from centuries old lethargy, has broken violently with its
past, and destroyed many of the abuses of centuries. The contrast be-
tween pre-Chaco War Bolivia and the nation of today is startling. The
country's literature reflects the same sudden change in attitude. Be-
fore the war a few voices were raised in protest against the terrible
conditions. Today, in the 1960'e, the analysis of Bolivian society is
the major concern of its many writers.
BOLIVIA'S LITERATURE BEFORE THE CHACO WAR
AN ALOOF ELITE AND A FEW EXCEPTIONS
The history of Bolivia's cultural life and creativity from the Span-
ish conquest until the 1930's follows a general pattern to be found in all
the secondary areas of the Spanish Empire.
Many have claimed, rather rashly perhaps, that Mexico City,
Lima, and even Buenos Aires have been cultural generators in their
own right for some time. With regard to the rest of Spanish America,
however, it can fairly be said that at least from the cultural point of
view, they have been first Spanish, and then, more generally, Europe-
an, intellectual satellites or colonies up until very recent times.
While admitting the truth of the above generalization, certain
qualifications are in order which help to soothe Latin American feelings
of independence. Attachment to Europe did not disappear overnight,
but was gradually weakened from the time of the conquest onwards.
This of course is obvious, and especially in the colonial seventeenth
century, when an American baroque is clearly discernible, going to
elaborate extremes far beyond those of Europe, it can be said that
something truly indigenous had at last crept into Latin American colo-
nial culture, although in outward forms at least, the slavish imitation
continued ar before.
Another result of this state of cultural colonialism is that, with
some notable exceptions, regional differences were slow to show them-
selves. 'hen a poet from Peru and a poet from Mexico both strove to
imitate a Spanish poet such as Luis de G6ngora y Argote, it is logical
that the reader is hard put to tell them apart, and is equally hard put
to identify the specific regions of Spanish America from which they
came. Certainly there is little in their works in many cases to indicate
So much for the colonial period. Leaving aside Mexico City and
Lima, we can see that such areas as Guatemala, Cuba, or Bolivia were,
generally speaking, cultural colonies of Spain, produced works of great
stylistic similarity as a consequence, and cannot be described as show-
ing many regional or indigenous characteristics except in the background
material and content from time to time. With very few exceptions colo-
nial Spanish America can be thought of as a cultural unit with the bonds
of unity growing imperceptibly weaker as the colonial centuries rolled
In describing colonial literature in Charcas or Alto Perd, as Bo-
1'.via was called before its independence from Spain, it will therefore
be necessary in many cases to describe Spanish American colonial cul-
ture in general terms. In other words since the part is so similar to
the whole, the ampler evidence supplied by the whole subcontinent
may with some justice be used to describe the literary product of the
area which is of immediate interest to us.
The wars of independence, it is often claimed, freed the new na-
tions politically, but changed them hardly at all internally and very lit-
tle economically. They remained feudal, largely agrarian states, and
transferred their total economic dependence from Spain to Great Bri-
tain and, increasingly, the United States.
Culturally too the new states remained dependent colonies. The
new Creole rulers, of Spanish upbringing, tradition and stock, could
not be e:qpected to look towards indigenous America for their cultural
inspiration except in an artificial fashion, when politically, socially and
economically they had perpetuated the old systems used by the Spaniards
whom they had expelled. So in spite of the gradually increasing inde-
pendence of Latin American culture, we find that independence from
Spain did little to hasten the process. Some change in emphasis is of
course noticeable, even if it can only be called a change of dependence.
The Latin American cultural elite no longer saw Spain as the center of
the European civilization which they so eagerly and minutely imitated.
France had now become the in'icllectual capital of Europe for them,
and this change is particularly obvious to the student of literary move-
ments. New vogues in France were followed, usually after a decent
and provincial pause naturally for provincials these early Creoles
really were, by the rise of similar movements in the salons of Lima
Again there were exceptions. The Latin American innate love
of elaboration, opulence and intricacy which showed itself so strongly
in the colonial seventeenth century, caused a new vogue at the end of
the nineteenth century, and during the first decade of the twentieth.
The modernist movement, especially strong in poetry, which gives
more scope to intricacy and ornateness of language, reached heights
in Latin America under the leadership of Rub&n Darfo that were not at-
tained by similar movements in Europe. This literary movement, nev-
ertheless, cannot be called a truly Latin American movement. For
verse forms, although highly inventive at times, it often looked to tra-
ditional Latin or Spanish poetry and French experiments. The modernis-
ta movement itself, in fact, was simply part of the great renovation in
Spanish and even Western letters at the turn of the century, and was of-
ten consciously international, even in the theoretical writing which it
produced. Much of the modernista ideological inspiration also came
from France where the Parnassian school led by Leconte de Lisle
favored a similar "ivory tower" poetry. Symbolism added human
warmth. Even in the modernist movement, therefore, so often thought
of as purely Latin American because of its opulence, we find some de-
pendence on Europe, and an ideology of "art for art's sake" which makes
modernist poetry an international product, a poetry for intellectual
elites and sophisticates of all countries.
It can be seen, then, that until very recent times the literature
of Latin America, and specifically of Bolivia, has been a cultural
offshoot of Europe, especially Spain and France. This limiting quali.
fiction should be kept in mind throughout this examination of Bolivian
letters before the Chaco War.
The tiny group of intellectuals in Bolivia who engaged in the pleas-
ant pastime of composing letters, seem to have felt quite strongly, al-
beit probably subsconsciously, that they were exiles from the European
mother, for not only did they slavishly adopt transatlantic forms and
ideas, but they also appear to have been completely blind to the reality
around them. One can expect an escapist, unreal movement to occur
from time to time in the literature of any country, especially during
times of stress or national decline, but that the real situation in a nation
should be ignored by its writers for centuries at a time is extraordinary.
Bolivia's problems are centuries old, yet with the exception of a few
outstanding precursors whom we shall examine in detail, the Bolivia
which most of the pre-Chaco War writers describe simply was not the
country which we know existed. This state of what might well be termed
cultural and national schizophrenia was probably not a conscious process
with most of the writers of the period. For them the Indian, the miner,
or indeed the entire rural section of the country, simply did not exist.
The only reality to the Bolivian elite was the city life of Europe, and,
to a lesser extent, the pale reflection of European life which was con-
stituted by the politics and society of the Latin American capitals.
Little work has been done on pre-Spanish literature' in Bolivia.
Such investigators as Jesds Lara, with his love of Quechua poetry, were
largely ignored until the last decade, and are seldom appreciated even
today. Ollantay is the greatest Incaic legend which remains to us, and
curpr iqngly, it is a romantic love story which displays, sentimental pas-
sion of a very European, emotional, tragic kind. Significantly perhaps,
the tragedy occurs when authority smashes the feeble individual--an indi-
vidual who has broken stern laws and national traditions. The collective
good rather than the immediate happiness of the individual was a central
belief of the Inca system and has continued to be a tenet in Quechua and
Aymart society in modern times, Ollantay and similar writings were
unjustly ignored in the past. With the new surge of interest in all things
Indian there may be a danger of overrating these writings.
After the coming of Pizarro and Almagro Bolivia's colonial peri-
od was one of very slow, thin settlement, with a few, roaring frontier,
mining towns led in size by Potosf. Regions such as Santa Cruz de la
Sierra, founded from Asunci6n, or Moxos and Chiquitos, were so dis-
tant and cut off by natural barriers that they played no real part in the
life of Charcas.
Yet the picture of isolation and distance must not be overdrawn.
Although the majority of the population consisted of exploited Indians,
and although Bolivia or Charcas was by no means the most brilliant of
Spain's American colonies, nevertheless the mines of Potosf and the
audiencia's convenient position straddling the Lima, Santiago, Buenos
Aires trade routes, did provide the surplus goods and leisure time
which allowed a small elite of Spaniards to lead a pleasant life, a life
which seems to us today to have been like Spain, and especially Madrid,
in miniature. Otero has well described the convent squabbles, the high;
ly ornate clothing and buildings, and the petty struggles for power be-
tween colonial official and minor churchman who occupied so much of
the colonial elite's time. I
Nor were the more sophisticated arts ignored by this tiny group
of sophisticated rulers. Their literary products were in perfect accord
with the life which they led, and had very little to do with the reality
around them. Only a few churchmen cared to describe the country and
its inhabitants, and even then the description was usually 'in terms of
whether the Indian would or would not make a good Catholic, with docil-
ity, of course, being a much desired trait.
Bolivia did not have a printing press of its own untilvery late in
the colonial period, and this fact, while not, to be sure, inhibiting writ-
ing, has hidden a great part of the literary production from us. What
we do have, however, cannot be said to equal the colonial literary achieve-
ments of such regions as Mexico and Peru. There are, of course, a
few exceptions, but they are very few.
Gustavo Adolfo Otero, La vida social del coloniaje (La Paz: Edi-
torial "La Paz, 1942).
Enrique Finot, La cultural colonial espa1fola on el Alto Perfu
(New York: Instituto de las Espatas en los Estados Unidos, 1935),
During the colonial period, then, religious preoccupations and
legal speculation were the main cultural exercises around such towns
as Potosf where rich mines had attracted a Spanish population. These,
two forms of writing seem perfectly natural because religious, and legal
niceties were the main topics of interest in everyday colonial life. As
always, a few paternalistic, devoted friars were to be found, so that
the cr6nica, or historical narrative, was cultivated to some extent, al-
though again it seldom equaled the ones written in Mexico or Peru. A
scattering of gonr.oristic poems and primitive scientific works on min-
ing complete Bolivia's colonial literature. 3
Some of the more outstanding work is worthy of mention. Juan
de Matienzo was a famous administrator and oidor of the real audiencia
of Charcas after 1560. His best known work is Gobierno del Perd, a
dull work, but held to be extremely reliable factually, and widely quoted
by historians. Fr. Bernardino de CGrdenas was the first of many
church polemicists, or should one say squabblers ? Hewas a Francis-
can and his particular windmill was the Jesuit order in Paraguay, When
sent from Sucre to assume the bishopric of Tucumdn, the Jesuits who
controlled the area refused to recognize him, and had the worthy would-
be bishop thrown unceremoniously into prison. On his return to Sucre
(then La Plata) with his cassock between his legs, as it were, he took
3Enrique Finot, Historia de la literature boliviana (La Paz; Gis-
bert y Cia., S.A., 1955), p. 29.
revenge on every available Jesuit in the altiplano region. 4 The story
is typical, and gives wonderful insight to the lives of the elite of the
times. Petty quarrels filled their days, while the plight of nine-tenths
of the inhabitants of the area hardly ruffled a single conscience.
SFray Diego de Mendoza is worthy of more serious consideration,
Although he has nothing but praise for his own Franciscan order, he
gives a very factual account of the founding of Potosf, La Paz and La
Plata (Sucre)5 in his Cr6nica de la provincial de San Antonio de las
Charcas (1656). Many other friars wrote on subjects such as miracles,
saints, their own order, or the shrine at Copacabana.
The only literary figure of the colonial period who is so eminent
that another nation, Peru, has bothered to claim him, a recurrent lit-
erary trait in Latin America, is Fray Antonio de la Calancha. His
work, Coronica moralizadora del orden de San Agustfn en el Peru was
published in Barcelona in 1638. Born in La Plata, he lived most of his
life in that area. His style is very culto, with gongorisms liberally
sprinkled throughout, but the cordnica: makes for more stimulating read-
ing than all the other attempts in the region. It is not a strictly factual
history, but also a commentary on everything that caught the interest of
4Tbid., p. 33
5Present day Sucre has also been known as La Plata, Charcas,
and Chuquisaca, and is today often called "la ciudad de los cuatro nom-
the good friar. Climate, fauna, cost of living and local mores are all
discussed so that the document is invaluable to the social historian.
Some resentment of Spain and Spaniards is also shown, and is of signi-
ficance considering the early date. What makes this writer particular-
ly likable to the modern social historian is that he is not completely in-
different to the plight of the Indians. To call him a Bolivian Las Casas,
as has been done, is to exaggerate, but at least his instincts are human-
itarian. For this and other reasons he is generally considered as the
literary figure "quien debe considerarse como la figure mAs sobresa-
liente de la literature del perfodo colonial" 6 To the modern historian
his great value is the intimate picture of things in Bolivia and the in-
sight which he gives of the colonial period and the colonial mind, full
of questions of inflated honor and medieval superstition.
By the end of the colonial period Chuquisaca had become known
throughout the Americas as a center of learning. General Miller refers
to it as "the Oxford of Peru, and many of the leaders of the Argentine
independence movements, such as Mariano Moreno, Bernardo Montea-
gudo and Cornelio de Saavedra were educated there. The outstanding
Bolivian writer of the period is Vicente Pazos Kanki. His Mernorias
hist6rico-polfticas give a good account of the times, and have a few
illuminating comments on Spanish treatment of the Indians. "S61o el
6Finot, Historia de la literature boliviana, p. 43.
trabajo libre es el que rinde utilidad. "7 He took part in all the great
struggles for independence, as did all the young intellectuals from the
old University of Chuquisaca. Unfortunately, as is now obvious, the
revolt against Spain was a political rather than a social upheaval. The
disgust shown by Pazos Kanki at the Spanish treatment of the Indians was
not shared by many of his fellow revolutionaries, who saw the wars as
a struggle for economic and political independence on the part of the
Creole. The attitude during the colonial period of taking the Indian for
granted and ignoring his state, was not one of the major irritants which
provoked Bolivia's upper classes to open defiance.
It is interesting to note that any dismay manifested at the plight
of the Indians, and there was never a great volume, seemed to come
from the peninsulares. Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, who acted as
secret spies for the king in the Andean region, had no ties with Creole
society, and were shocked at the abuses which the indigenous peoples
suffered. All through the colonial period such men as Las Casas, Mo'
tolinfa or Sahagfn had come straight from Spain to do their good works.
The literate Creoles of the time were producing practically no protest
at all, in fact were impeding the efforts of the few peninsular reformers
as best they could. If the only individuals interested in the plight of the
Indians were a few peninsulares then little could be expected by the In-
dians if the Spanish administration was expelled from the country. When
Ibid. p. 91.
Spain was driven out, the Creoles whose insouciance on the Indian ques-
tion we have noticed in their literature, became the effective governors.
Supporters of the status quo had superseded mild reformers. The early
history of Bolivia substantiates this allegation. Bolfvar was ashed to
supply the first Constitution for the new Republici and one of.his provi-
sions in this document was the abolition of the tribute, declaring in his
most idealistic fashion, that it was unjust since it fell on the most mis-
erable class of society. 8 Boliviaj however, soon tired of its idealistic
liberators, just as quicldy as did that other predominantly Indian coun-
try, Peru; and no sooner had General Sucre been forced out of office
than the tribute was reimposed. In Bolivia, unlike Peru, it did not even
masquerade under another name, for the Creoles of Bolivia seemingly
did not care who knew that government was to go on exactly as before
the wars. Of even greater significance was the abolition of the alcabala
or sales tax at the same time as the reimposition of the tribute. Appar-
ently the theory was that the Indian should bear all the tax burden in the
state while the Creole traders should bear none, ard this theory was put
into practice with great effect. The tax income of the state in 1-25, be-
fore the reestablishment of the tribute, was 1, 500, 000 pesos while
that of the following year was up to over 2, 000, 000 pesos, mainly be-
cause of the Indian tribute. Nor was the tribute the only colonial feature
8Cleven, op. cit., p. 80.
to be retained. Bolivian statistics show that in 1858, some thirty years
after the declaration of independence, 8, 790 Indians were still in the
mita labor system, which was still fully recognized by law. 9 Indian
lands, which had been at least somewhat protected by Spanish law, were
also taken over by private owners during this period before 1 ;50, al.
though the real assault on the Indian communal farms'did not begin un-
til the time of Melgarejo
We have seen the indifference of the colonial writers to the state
of the Indian majority under Spanish rule. We must ask ourselves what
the Creole writers were thinking during the period immediately after
independence, when, it would seem, the plight of the Indian may even
have worsened? Once again the answer is that either they were not
aware of the situation, which is very possible as more and more of
them were educated abroad, especially in Paris, or, being aware of
the situation, it did not trouble them and they found it to their satisfac-
tion, which is more probable. The main preoccupation of these writers
was petty politics and constitutions. The call of liberty was surely a
rather feeble one when nobody seemed to think that the sacred word
should be applied to the Indians. Liberty, it would appear, was to be
only for the very few in the new republic,' and was only respectable so
long as it did not get unmanageable or provoke enthusiasm among the
9bid. p. 133.
Indians of the Tupac Amaru variety.
After independence Bolivian letters entered a short, sterile period.
Neoclassicism, never truly at home in Spain, was duly copied in Latin
America, with sparse results. The new Bolivian homeland did not gen-
erate enough patriotic pride to supply inspiration to its new citizen-poets.
The internal politics of small elite groups which was typical of Bo-
livia during the nineteenth century, did, however, find its reflection in
the writings of the times. Civil strife between Creole factions and wars
with neighboring states succeeded the struggles for independence as the
main topic of interest. The folleto, or pamphlet, was the popular liter-
ary vehicle, and ismos, such as crucismo, balliviinismo, belcismo,
linarismo, melgarejismo and dacismo, show the lack of ideology or
theory to be found in these numerous diatribes. The aim of the "outs"
was merely a return to power, usually disguised feebly under the slo-
gans restauraci6n or regeneraci6., while the "ins" took the month of
their arrival in power to cover their lack of a program, calling their
policies septembrismo or decernbrismo. Poets sang the glories of the
latest barbaric caudillo.
Towards the end of the century the modernistas turned to their
"ivory tower" and universal outlook, looking for much of their inspira-
tion towards Europe. Ricardo Jaimes Freyre, for example, became
greatly attached to Scandinavian and Norse mythology. 10 Theatre pre-
101t has been suggested that Jaimes Freyre's interest in Scandi-
navia is really a disguise for descriptions of his native Bolivia, and
occupied itself with the same polemics as the pamphleteers, and was
consequently only as current as the reign of the caudillo which it lauded.
During the turbulent, caudillo-ridden nineteenth century in Boli-
via the novel made its first slow beginnings. All during the century it
was fully romantic in its tendencies, for such was the vogue in Europe.
The human being in his individual life was all that mattered. There was
once again a complete lack of ambiente social o geografico. ",l Roman-
ticism began during the demagogic upheavals of Belzd, when it seemed
briefly as if the Indians were to play a role at last in national life, and
it continued to be the literary tendency through the turbulent reigns of
fifteen presidents and caudillos while the Indian vaas reduced to baser
servitude than ever before. Two international wars were fought and
both were clumsily lost, and yet, in spite of all this upheaval and mis-
ery, "el convulsionado process hist6rico, no se refleja en la novela.
Dos guerrao--Pacffico y Acre--nada echan en el g6nero. :La novel ro-
mAntica ignore la vida y la realidad national. l Another critic notices
two features in most of the early Bolivian novels--the extreme inequality
thus shows an interest in his own country's telluric environment. For
this rather doubtful theory see Alfred Coester, The Literary History of
Spanish America (New Yo'rk Maacmillan,, 2), p. 46C. Jaime Mendoza
has also suggested this on several occasions. Jaime Mendoza, El ma.
cizo boliviano (La Paz; Ministerio de Educaci6n y Bellas Artes, 1957).
1 1Augusto Guzmn, La novel en Bolivia: process 1847-1954 (La
Paz: Librerfa Editorial "Juventud," 1955), p. 18.
12Ibid., p. 19.
of each writer's work, and a tendency to deal exclusively with foreign
subjects. This extranjerismo, of course, did little to develop Bolivian
letters, far less showing any social purpose, and often seems to come
from a slavish imitation of foreign models, and a snobbish and som e-
what infantile desire to be cosmopolitan. 1
The first novel written in Bolivia was by the Argentinian Bartolo-
m6 Mitre, who composed the brief romantic work Soledad in 1845. Eu-
gene Sue, a strange choice from among the many French romantic writ-
ers, was the inspiration for many of the early novelists, but a novel
written by a Bolivian did not appear until 1867 when Sebastian Delance
wrote Los misterios de Sucre. Although in no way connected with Bo-
livian reality, Manuel Marfa Caballero's romantic legend about Lake
Poop6, La isla, is generally considered a superior novel within the ro-
mantic vein. 14 Other imitations of European works continued. Santia-
go Vaca GuzmAn startles us. A Bolivian, faced with some rather basic
situations in the everyday life around him, such as hunger, disease and
slavery, he wrote Dias amargos in 1867, which he claimed to be "an
analysis of the neurosis of suicide. "15 Realism, certainly, was seldom
present, and sentimentalism reigned supreme. Other romantic authors
who are somewhat above the generally low standard are Felix Reyes
13Raul Botelho GosAlvez,"La novela en Bolivia, Cuadernos Ame-
ricanos, XII (1960), 272.
14See ibidd., pp. 270-271, and Guzman, op. cit., p. 23.
Finot, Historia de la literature boliviana, p. 184.
Ortiz, Mariano Ricardo Terrazas, the historical novelist Santiago Vaca
Guzmmn, and Bolivia's first woman writer, Lindaura Anzodtegui de Cam-
pero. Mariano Ricardo Terrazas is typical of the Bolivian writer of his
time. He was educated in Paris and lived for a good part of his life in
Lima. His first novel, Misterios del coraz6nb is about colonial society
in Lima, and while the plot is held to be adequate, verisimilitude is
wholly absent and the society depicted is the French one of Le Tour de
The romantic movement, for all its faults, did produce one mas-
terpiece in Bolivia. Nataniel Aguirre (1843-1888) wrote "la unica nove-
la romintica que se ha salvado del naufragio total en las aguas del ol-
vido, que es Juan de la Rosa" (Cochabamba, 1885). It has become
a classic, praised both at home and abroad. Aguirre was a true patri-
ot within his own lights, fought in the War of the Pacific, opposed Mel.
garejo's brutal regime, and subsequently took an active and seemingly
honest part in the politics of his day. His novel is a fictional history of
the Bolivian struggle for independence in the Cochabamba region. It is
full of action, patriotism, glory and war, and independence from Spain
is seen as the only ultimate good. Although the author has no understand-
ing of the common people, the novel is an amazing study of the mentality
of the Creoles who fought for independence, and, in its way, is a fervent
expression of deep patriotism, a sentiment too often missing and too
16Guzm~n, op, cit., p. 42.
often proclaimed in early Bolivia. 17 The book was intended to be the
first in a saga or series similar to that of Gald6s in Spain, but Aguirre
died young and it remains unfinished. The influence of Victor Hugo is
One of the strangest literary aberrations ever to reach Latin Amer-
ica, and especially the Indian countries, was a short-lived, imported,
Indianist vogue in the novel. Bolivia was not heavily affected by this
absurdity. Alegrfa has called this novel "idealizaci6n del indio. "18
This romantic novel about the Indian drew its inspirational roots from
France. Montaigne in his essay Des Cannibals pictured the Indian as
a splendid type in perfect communion with nature before western civili-
zation destroyed this American golden age. Voltaire also made several
references to the corruption of the innocent Indians on the arrival of his
base fellow Europeans, and Rousseau of course elevated the romance
of the noble savage to a theory.
Chateaubriand was the romantic who most developed this French
idea of the noble savage, and, like Montaigne, his handling of the idea
had special reference to the inhabitant of the New World. His Atala
represented the apex of French interest in exotic Indian Americana,
was translated into Spanish in 1801, and immediately won overwhelm-
17Nataniel Aguirre, Juan de la Rosa (Cochabamba: Editorial
Am6rica, 1943). See also, R. Bazin, Histoire de la litt6rature am6ri-
caine de langue espagnole (Paris: Librairie Hachette, 1953), p. 102.
ISFernando Alegria, Breve historic de la novel hispanoameri-
cana (M6xico: Studium, 1959), p. 114.
ing popularity among the writers.of Latin America. Alberdi, who cer-
tainly should have known better, called Chateaubriand "el Homero de
este siglo, Montalvo and Rod6 both mentioned him with admiration.
Fenimore Cooper, with his noble Mohicans was also much admired and
was hailed as "el Walter Scott de Am6rica, "1
This school's most admired product in America is Juan Le6n
Mera's Cumundl, o un drama entire salvajes (1821), 20 and this author
and his work may be used to illustrate the basic paradox in this type of
writing, Mera was a conservative, ultra-Catholic, a great admirer of
Gabriel, Garcfa Moreno and an equally fervent hater of ;Juan Montalvo
the liberal reformer. Mera lived in the highland region of Ecuador where
he was an upper class latifundista. Nowhere better could be found, one
would assume, to examine the servile and brutalized Indians at first
hand. Mera, ignoring the worldabout him, drew his inspiration from
Chateaubriand, who had never been to Ecuador, considered Atala one
of the world's great books, and wrote a novel about the Indians of the
Amazon lowlands where they had almost died out, depicting in his book
an Indian which his eyes must have told him daily did not exist.'
Inveroofmil y melodramatica. Los personages irreales. No hay ver-
dad ni en los sentimientos ni en las acciones. La Naturaleza misma,
que Mera debfa conocer bien, es dulzona y conventional. No es la"
19Concha Mel6ndez, La novela indianista en Hispanoam6rica
(1832-1899) (Madrid: Imprenta de la Librerfa y Casa Editorial Hernan-
do (S.A.), 1934), pp. 41-53.
20Juan Le6n Mera, Cumunda, o un drama entire salvajes (Boston:
Heath and Company, 1932).
terrible selva oriental del Ecuador, es mds bien el gran jardfn para-
disiaco que Chateaubriand pretendfa haber visto en el Nuevo Mun-
do ... fundamentalmente un genero falso.
That is a recent critic's opinion of the best of this genre. 1
Although few Bolivian writers, even during the romantic period,
treated this sanctified indigene as the principal subject of their writings,
the noble savage did permeate their novels for over half a century. Lin-
daura AnzoAtegui de Campero's Huallparrimachi (1894) was the only
readable attempt in this vein in Bolivia, a vein which did not end until
Clorinda Matto de Turner and Alcides Arguiedas turned to a more real-
The modernist movement has already been mentioned briefly,
and is one of the great modern movements in poetry. Bolivia can take
credit for having contributed three of the major poets of the movement,
Ricardo Jaimes Freyre, Gregorio Reynolds and Franz Tamayo. The
movement, however, draws little from America except in the psycholog-
ical and intuitive sense. The peoples and societies of the New World
find no reflection or interpretation of their way of life in the works of
the school, and many ofthepoets preferred to live and write in Europe,
which remained their true spiritual home. In Bolivia the movement con-
fined itself almost completely to poetry and produced no major novelists
21Arturo Uslar-Pietri, Breve historic de la novel hispanoameri-
cana (Caracas: Ediciones "Edime," 1954), p. 64. See also, Gerald
E. Wade and William H. Archer, "The Indianist Novel since 1889,"
Hispania, XXXVIII, 3 (1950), 211.
. --.--..One nonfiction writer is remembered today as the outstanding Bo-
livian of the nineteenth century. Gabriel RenB6.Moreno (1836-1908), a
cruceflo from the Bolivian lowlands,, was in many ways a typical man
of his times,, He was a historian,, sociologist, journalist, teacher and
librarian, ,and the influence of his works and ideas continued until the
Chaco War, and even sometimes beyond.. It is as a historian that he is
chiefly remembered, for modern investigators regard him as the first
"research" historian which the country produced, and many, mistaken-
ly perhaps, regard him as unsurpassed in the field to this day,, His his-
tory is painstaking, very factual, and beautifully written..
The major criticism leveled at RenE-Moreno is his deep and instinc-
tive racial prejudice--a prejudice .moreover, which with characteristic
honesty, he does not attempt to cloak with scientific theory, but which
he is given to declaring in the most blatant and polemical fashion, as if
to encourage argument and abusive answer. The great tragedy of his
writing is that his interpretation and analysis of the events of Bolivian
history are linked to his biases. Ren6-Moreno roundly condemned the
Indian and the mestizo, and lamented their allegedly pernicious effect
on Bolivian development and social life. He was not scientific or pos-
itivistic about this attitude, but claimed to have some kind of intuitive
understanding of collective character. The Indian, he says, "no sirve
para nada, and the Bolivian cholo or mestizo is "alimafla daAina" to
society., To condemn Indian blood, no matter how diluted, was to con-
demn the vast majority of the country's inhabitants, and Ren6-Moreno
was well aware of the only logical conclusion to be drawn from his
theories--pessimism as to the future of the country. To avoid this in
his writings he largely ignores the masses, confining himself to the
power struggles and literary products of the Creole elite, referring to
the lower segment's of the population in sarcastic and bitter asides, and
avoiding any attempts at relating the events which he assembled to the
future state of the country, knowing that according to his views, the na-
tion could not be properly said to have a future.
During the first three decades of the twentieth century many of
the same trends which have been discussed continued, Romanticism
did not die overnight and proved to be a particularly tenacious school.
Most Bolivian writers continued to regard Europe as the center of the
literary world, while many continued to prefer dealing with foreign sub-
jects to writing about their homeland. Ostensibly most Bolivian intellec-
tuals were still satisfied with the nation as it was, still had the mentality
of a Gin6s de Sepflveda rather than that of a Bartolomb de las Casas,
and still, subconsciously, were avoiding the issue of the life and society
around them. As far as these writers were concerned Bolivia couldtre-
main feudal, caste-ridden, backward and torn by factional strifes. That
Gabriel Rene-Moreno was a prolific writer. Two of the. more
representative of his works are Estudios de literature boliviana (Poto.
sf: Editorial "Potosf, 1955), and, Narraciones hist6ricas (Washington:
Uni6n Panamericana, 1952).
the Indian had little or no place in national life while he constituted the
majority of the population did not seem to disturb them.
Several new factors, however, did emerge, and these innovations
gave Bolivian literature a small handful of exceptions, who, Lefcro- the
Chaco War, showed concern over the state of their homeland. Their
very uniqueness and their influence on subsequent writers makes them
worthy of discussion at some length.
An ir.-portart factor in the thinking of these few writers who were
to some extent engage was, as elsewhere in Latin America, the Span-
ish American War. Coming at the dawn of a new century (1898), this
war gave a jolt to the Latin American intelligentsia, and shocked them
to varying degrees from their torre de marfl. or ivory tower. A few
brave and ignored writers began to talk of growing economic intrusion
from abroad, impending social revolutions, and the blatant inequalities
in Latin America's farcical democracies.
To this important influence on Latin American thinking must be
added, in Bolivia, the coming to power of the Liberal party in 1899.
However much the Liberals may appear in retrospect to be merely a
new version of the same old cliques of Creoles, yet at the time they
seemed to be something new, based on principles and a program. That
these principles and that program were concerned with such trivialities
as civil marriage, divorce, more prestige for the Creoles in the outly-
ing provinces, and the question of lay schools, rather than the misery
of the Indian, the problem of latifundia, the disenfranchiserment of nine-
tenths of the population, and corruption in government is not of first
importance in this context. To a few troubled, inquiring intellectuals
it did seem that a last a party had arrived in power which was prepared
to do something to bring improvements. The Liberal era was also the
first time of real peace of any length since colonial days, with the con-
sequence that intellectual life was able to develop in an atmosphere
which Bolivia had not previously known.
The third and most important factor which gave rise to a relative
interest in Bolivia itself on the part of its writers was the change in
literature which was taking place in France, and indeed all over Europe
during the first two decades of the century. The new schools of positiv-
ism and realism now predominated, and with them scientific, or should
one say pseudoscientific examination of human society and its individ-
ual components. When this new positivism reached Latin America it
caused a few of the writers there to look at the state of their own sub-
continent--a fertile ground indeed for analysis of malfunctioning society!
In Spain itself costumbrismo still lingered as the most popular form of
literature. This was a detached, often amused and sardonic, examina-
tion of regional customs and characters, not much given to open moraliz-
ing, but often pointing an accusatory finger by implication. It was in
many ways a transition from romanticism to realism and proved to be
We have, then, a small group of men who begin to examine the
Bolivian society around them. It was, of course, impossible for them
to throw off their old intellectual habits overnight, so consequently it
often seems as if the country which they were discussing was not Boli-
via at all, so strange were the distortions which it underwent as these
writers strove to fitit into their preconceived ideas of what their home-
land was, One thing is, nevertheless, in their favor. If their criti-
cisms of the predominant state of affairs in politics, philosophy and
letters are more theoretical than practical, at least they are based to
some extent on a Bolivian reality.
These early writers were also all extremists, everyone. One
may compare their situation with the first time that an individual looh -
upon a terrible and nauseating sight. The. reaction is violent. On sub'.
sequent occasions the individual will be more rational and more comr-
posed. Similarly these early writers, opening their eyes to what:Boli*
via was really like, reacted wildly and produced some spontaneous, ir-
rational solutions to their country's problems, all supposedly scientif-
ically arrived at of course, which later, calmer thinkers have modified.
It has been said of these early social writers that "they did not bother
to seek out basic routes, rather they grasped threads at random. "23
Today this small group of forerunners is admired in. Bolivia, al-
though their panicky solutions are sometimes attached without sufficient
Z3Fernando Diez de Medina, "Twentieth Century Bolivian Letters,"
Am6ricas, II, 10 (1950), 46.
allowance being made for the handicaps under which their outlook was
formed and their work written. : They, are called variously "the precur-
sors"24 or "the searchers, "25 and are considered as John the:Baptist
figures by modern Bolivian social writers and thinkers.
Alcides Argiledas (1879-1946) is the most famous of these precur-
sors. The son of upper class latifundistas, he was a diplomat, journal-
ist and politician, and lived abroad for over twenty-five years with only
brief visits to his homeland. Out of sympathy with the new forces after
the Chaco War, he alienated himself completely from President German
Busch, but returned to play a part in Pefiaranda's unpopular government.
He died in Bolivia which always drew him back, even after long periods
His work may be divided into novels, sociology and history, and-
he is acclaimed as a master of all three kinds of writing. His,major
works are: Pisagua, ensayo de novel (1903), Wata-WVara (1904), Vida
criolla (la novel de la ciudad) (1905), Pueblo enfermo; contribuci6n
a la psicologfa de los pueblos hispanoamericanos (1909), and Raza de
bronce, a new version of Wata-Wara (1919). After Raza de bronce, he
turned almost completely to writing the history of the Bolivian republican
period and wrote many volumes on the subject. 26 Argiiedas has always
Z4Guzmmn, op. cit., p. 57. 25Diez de Medina, op. cit., p. 21.
26Alcides Argiledas, Obras completes, 2 vols. (Mgxico: Aguilar,
been a much debated writer. Many of his books were met with storms
of criticism--even abuse--when they were first published; then the au-
thor enjoyed a period of great popularity in the 1930's with the writers
and intellectuals of the Latin American countries, being heralded as a
leader of the new urge for self-discovery. 27 Recently, especially
since World War II, his writings have been criticized again, especial-
ly in Argiledas' own homeland, for their allegedly racist, negative and
pessimistic outlook. 2I Whatever the final decision on his writings may
be, it seems certain that he will always occupy a significant place in
Pisgua, Argiedas' first novel, is a historical romance about the
days of Melgarejo, who is roundly condemned.
Hijo del mont6n, al verse ascendido hasta lo mas alto, los sedimen-
tos de hostilidad contra todo lo que fuera superior y que llevaba ador-
mecidos en su alma, despertaron avasalladores. De ahf su desprecio
por todo, que se traducfa en sus actos, de una crueldad salvaje. 29
His second novel, W1ata-Wara, was later developed into Raza de
bronce. Vida criolla is his costumbrista novel of the town, and the
society depicted is a provincial and hypocritical one in a small city.
It is essentially a series of scenes describing the lives of the young in-
tellectuals and social lions of La Paz at the end of the nineteenth century.
27Leonardo Pera, "Alcides Argtiedas," Reportorio Americano,
XXVII, 23 (1934), 360 and 364.
Z'Fernando Diez de Medina, INayjama (La Paz: Gisbert y Cia.,
1950), pp. 31-38.
29Argiledas, Obras. .., Vol. I, p. 32.
Carlos Ramfrez, the protagonist, is an lionest, .,ralizhng, somewhat
neurotic journalist; he fails in everything because of the corruption of
society, until at last he is driven out of his homeland on muleback by
the police, like Queen Victoria's ambassador in the old legend.- We are
treated to-farcical elections, corrupt journalism, a society of dilettan-
tes, and the whole gamut of public vices. :. .
Raza de bronce is generally considered as Argiiedas' greatest
novel. It is about the Aymarls who live by the side of Lake Titicaca,
a story of serfdJon, murder and revenge in the feudal countryside of
Creole latifundistas and brutalized Indians. In the early part of the nov-
el the realistic descriptions are superb. Customs descriptions of
dress and ceremonies, and the vast scenery, give the novel a truly au-
thentic flavor. The climax of the novel is the attempted rape and callous
murder of an Indian girl by the young men of the hacienda, followed Iby
an uprising of the previously cowed Indians, who burn down the hacien-
da with all its occupants. The evils of the land tenure system and caste
barriers are clearly shown, but no solution is offered and no prophecies
are made. Yet by implication the book and its theme are urges to re-
Somos para ellos menos que bestias. El mms hunilde de los mesti-
zos, o el rnms canalla, se cree infinitaniente superior a los mejores
de nuestra casta. Todo nos quitan ellos, hasta nuestras mujeres,
y nosotros apenas nos vengamos haci6ndoles pequeos males a da-
flando sus cosechas, como una d6bil reparaci6n de lo much que nos
0bid., Vol. I, pp. 192-199. There are many other examples.
hacen penar. Y asf, maltratados y sentidos, nos hacemos viejos y
nos morimos llevando una herida viva en el coraz6n. & CuAndo ha
de acabar esta desgracia? C6mo hemos de liberarnos de nuestros
ArgUedas' most famous book is his sociological treatise, Pueblo
enfermo. In this book he attempts to treat the social body as a living
organism, and to analyze in a quasi-medical fashion, its pathological
weaknesses and illnesses. He attacks the evils of Bolivian society
which have already been mentioned. Latifundista, church and govern-
ment are seen as an interlocking, pernicious triumvirate which lives
by exploitation. He was not alone in this new field. Bunge in Argentina
and Zumeta in Colombia also studied the pathology of their respective
After the completion of his novels and Pueblo enfermo Argtiedas
turned to the writing of his monumental history of the republican period.
All his historical writing is highly interpretative, and is really an his-
torical explanation of the pathetic state of the Bolivian nation. 32
Argfiedas'writing, for all its apparent diversity, is somewhat ob-
sessive. His various works and fields of study are actually the same
theme seen from different viewpoints. There are three fundamental as-
pects to his thought in all his books.
His first, and probably most important theme is the psychology
31 bid., Vol. ., p. 385.
3Argfiedas, Obras. ., Vol. I.
of the Bolivian races. When nobody seemed to have even noticed the
real Indians, Argiledas affirmed that they constituted the great majority
of the inhabitants of the country. But he was unhappy about it. If only
Europeans could be encouraged to come in great numbers to that the
indigenous peoples would be submerged, then, he believed, many of the
nation's problems would be nearer solution. The Aymarl of the alti-
piano was savage and taciturn, tied to a sterile soil, and lived in a
quietist, withdrawn animalism,
Su character tiene la dureza y la aridez del yermo. Tambi6n sue
contrasts, porque es duro, rencoroso, egofsta, cruel, vengativo
y desconfiado cuando odia. Sumiso y afectuoso cuando ama. Le
falta voluntad, persistencia de 1nimo' y siente profundo aborre-
cimiento por todo lo que se le diferencia. 33
The mestizo seems even worse to ArgUedas. The Indian at least plays
no part in national life, but the cholo or mestizo is perniciously active,
and it is Argitedas' opinion that he inherits the worst traits of both
Del abrazo fecundante de la raza blanca, dominadora, y de los in-
dcos. raza dominada, nace la nlestiza, trayendo por herencialos
rasgos caracterfsticos de ambas, pero mezclados en una amalga-
ma estupenda en veces, porque determine contradicciones en ese
caracter que de pronto se hace diffcil excplicar, pues t rae del ibero
su belicosidad, su ensimismamiento, siu orgullo y vanidad, sui acen-
tuado individualism, su rimbombancia oratoria, su invencible ne-
potismo, su fulanismo-furioso, y del indio, su sumision a los pode*
rosos y fuertes, su falta de iniciativa, su pasividad ante los males,
su inclinacidn indominable a la mentira, el engafo y la hipocresfa,
su vanidad e:asperada por motives de pura aparencia y sin base de
33Argfiedas, Pueblo enfermo, p. 36.
ningdn gran ideal, su gregarismo, por ultimo, y como rern-ate de
todo, su tremenda deslealtad. 34
The whites of Bolivia Argtiedas considers to be a tiny minority, as in-
deed they are, with their way of life "mestizado," corrupted by the over-
whelming pressure from the rest of the population. What is left of the
once proud white race is weak and demoralized. 35 Unfortunately, the
author says, the mestizo class predominates, and consequently we have
regional hates, megalomania, legislative farce and corruption, a rotten
press, vain and stupid women, alcoholism, lack of personal hygiene,
a history of unlettered tyrany and frequent chaos, intellectual sterility,,
and a host of other detailed faults--all because of the predor.inance of
the cholo.36 Here and there Argiledas seems to see glimmerings of
hope, but his overallconclusion is pessimistic. He concludes by agree-
ing with Sim6n Bolfvar, whom he quotes. He of course is referring
only to Bolivia.
La America es ingobernable; los que han servido a la revoluci6n han
arado en el mar. La Anica cosa que se puede hacer en Am6rica es
In the republican era which he studied he found only blood and mud.
This leads to Argiedas' second great preoccupation--politics--
the one activity all Bolivians love. But, ArgUedas claims, in Bolivia
it is not a debate over how best to lead the nation towards its true in-
terests, but rather politics are concerned with power and peculation.
34Ibid. p. 57. 35Ibid., pp. 61-63.
36ibid., p. 61. 371bid., p. 179.
Personal ambition is all-important. The electoral and power struggle
is not a comparison of merit and capability but of ability to seize power
and deceive the masses 3
Argfiedas' third obsession, to use perhaps an overstatement, was
Bolivian history. Although his History of Bolivia was his longest book
by far, it was really only an amplification of Pueblo enfermo and a col*
election of massive evidence to back his theories.
What then does one say about such massive and prolonged denuncia.
tion of Bolivia by a Bolivian? Argifedas was a man of positivist forma-
tion. He wished to study society and history scientifically like his mas-
ters Comte, Le Bon and Taine, whom he cited frequently. But at heart
he was completely unscientific because he was first and foremost a mor-
alist. Basically he did not wish to investigate, for it was not new knowl-
edge that he sought but rather an opportunity to use what he already knew
to give an anguished protest against the shame that to him was his native
land. He was a biblical prophet, chastising his people and cursing his
times, damning them and threatening them with catastrophes if they did
not change. Yet he never really told them how to change, and the two
great faults of Bolivia as he saw them, the race and the impossible geog-
raphy, surely cannot be changed. Bolivia, he insisted, was backward
because of its own faults and not because of outside influences, yet its
38Arfiedac,"Obras .. Vol. II, p. 1090.
faults, he claims, are beyond remedy.
Argtiedas' writings have been heavily criticized by modern Boli-
vians and Latin Americans. Calcagno blames his "posici6n antiaut6c-
tona," and his belief that Bolivia will become increasingly more mestizo
and therefore inevitably more chaotic, as responsible for the idea that
Bolivia is an impossibility as a nation. 39 Many. critics do not attack Ar-
gtiedas' denunciations per se; they simplywish to explain these evils in
another way. These failings are, to a greater or lesser degree, man's
failings all over the world, so that Argifedas has blamed Bolivians for
universal faults. Other opponents of ArgUiedas claim that Bolivia is still
in its formative stage and has not yet reached maturity, which will bring
a knowledge of its political and social responsibilities. Josd Enrique
Rod6 wrote to Argiiedas telling him that Bolivia's failings were Latin
Ame rican failings, and that "Pueblo niflo" would have been a better ti-
tle than "Pueblo enfermo" for his book. Gustavo A. Navarro, a %Marx-
ist, thinks "Pueblo explotado" would be even better. 40 Essentially Ar.
giiedas is attacked for being too pessimistic and negative, a fate which
often befalls the overcultivated man in Latin America and.other back-
ward countries. Faced with shocking historical reality on the one hand,
39Z.liguel Angel Calcagno, "Introducci6n al studio de la novela in*
digenista boliviana," Revista Iberoamericana de Literatura, 1, 1 (1959),
p. 24, This question of dividing Bolivia amongst her neighbors is still
current, witness the Time incident in 1961.
40Guillermo Francovich,, El pensamiento boliviano en el siglo XX
(M6xico: Fondo de Cultura Econ6mnca, 1956), p. 50.
and the declamatory, loud optimism of the unwise on the other, he often
One of this writer's great failings, surely, was his utter disregard
of some basic cause and effect relationships. If one grants for the mo-
ment that the cholo is evil, then is he evil because he is a cholo or be-
cause of the way Bolivia forces cholos to act? Has the cholo corrupted
the country or the opposite? Argitedas so often forgets that the misery
and abjectness of the indigenous peoples in Bolivia is the result of poor
physical and economic treatment. To condemn these masses is to con-
demn the nation since all of the economy of Bolivia depends on the Indian.
Even a tutelary dictatorship of the white race, which he suggests, is use-
less without the raw material provided by Indian industry and commerce.
Argiiedas' racist ideas eventually became so extreme that he became a
fervent admirer of Hitler, yet with it all we see a tormented writer, who
would like to think well of his country, if he only could, who has a deep
love for his patra, yet cannot find anything lovable about it. 41
The first of the precursors or teachers was certainly extreme in
his views. Tamayo, the thinker whom we must next consider, was equal-
ly extreme in the opposite direction. Franz Tamayo (1879*1956) was a
journalist and politician; like Arguedas he was educated principally in
41One of the best discussions of Arg(edas' thought is contained in
Alberto Zum Felde, Indice crftico de la literature hispanoamericana,
2 vols, (M6xlco: Editorial Guaranfa, 1954), Vol. I, pp. 348-355.
Europe. Originally Tamayo became known as one of Bolivia's better mo-
dernista poetic. Solitary, taciturn, and epicurean, this "ivory tower"
school seemed to suit his personality and literary inclinations.
His deep social convictions and disgust with the handling of the
daily affairs of the nation finally provoked him into writing a series of
essays wherein he propounded his social philosophy. La creaci6n de la
pedagogfa national is not primarily concerned with education, but is an
e::cuse for an explanation of his views on Bolivia and its inhabitants. 42
Tamayo is an indigenicta, to such an extent, in fact, that his book
seems to be a direct refutation of Pueblo enfermo, published the year
before. ArgUedas, a sociologist and positivist, concentrated on two things,
race and geography, as the determining factors in the formation of the so*
cial and individual characteristics of his country, and, denouncing the
predominant cholo, sought the Europeanization of Bolivia either by im-
migration or education. Tamayo's theories are completely opposed and
his book contains veiled attacks on Arguledas. 43 He also admits race and
geography as the determining factors but draws different conclusions. The
pernicious racial factor, to him, was the white, the conquistador and his
descendants, that invasionn de mendigos hambrientos, descastados y fe-
roces," people of "satngre advenediza y aventurera. "44 The noble race
42Franz Tamayo, Creaci6n de la pedagogfa national (La Paz: Edi.
toriales de "El Diario, 1944).
43Ibid., p. 70. 44bid. p. 194.