Share on Facebook

Monday, September 15, 2008

Morales Must Recognize Bolivia's Difficult History

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:

http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/20/7920-004.jpg

History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

The image “http://users.skynet.be/fa323971/Website%20arabisch/Alhambra.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.



DEVOTED TO THE DEEP ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.


Morales Must Recognize Bolivia's Difficult History

by Hugh Graham, Sept. 15, 2008.

You see it in families and communities, you see it in ethnically or regionally fragile nations: the more tightly you hold others close to you, the more likely they are to break away. Loosen your control judiciously and the ties binding country or family are stronger. Nowhere in the world, at the moment, is this clearer than in Bolivia. But its president, Evo Morales, by pursuing the empowerment of the country's indigenous, poor majority through the centralization of state power, is more likely to crack his country apart than he is to keep it together. This isn't, as it may appear, an issue of left and right or poor and rich; it's the natural, geopolitical law of federal unions the world over. We have seen it in Canada where any attempt to bind Quebec into complete conformity with confederation has always ways led toward separatism. We've seen it in the ease and speed with which the Soviet Republics left the union with the collapse of the authoritarian state in Moscow. We've seen it again as Serbia tried to hold together the former Yugoslavia.

What Mr. Morales, like all Bolivians, must surely understand is that Bolivia is cursed with having the least territorial integrity of any country in Latin America. In a sense, it was the void left over at the heart of the continent after the independent Republics of Peru, Brazil, Paraguay and Chile had formed around it. After the vague, barren territorial phantasm lying outward from La Paz was declared to be Bolivia in 1825-26, Chile and Argentina laid claim to it. Peru then claimed Bolivia while Chile and Argentina watched nervously.

Conversely, Bolivia has had a long history of asserting its fragile borders and outlying regions against its neighbours in a quest for the underground resources on which this poor country has had to survive. In the mid-19th century, agriculturally poor Bolivia, barely surviving on tin and silver, tried by force to annex the rich nitrate regions of Chile's Pacific coast. By 1904, as a result of the 'Nitrate Wars', it had lost its entire Pacific coast and became landlocked. In the mid- 1930s, Bolivia tried to claim lands rich in oil reserves from Paraguay and lost yet more territory in the debacle of the Chaco war. In 1902-1903- Bolivia lost much of its eastern rubber forest in war with Brazil. Unerground resources have a long history of pulling this country apart.

The corollary of this desperate rush for resources and expanded borders has been ruthless auhtoritarian control, usually by right wing dictators. What Mr. Morales must understand is that no single interest, even the indigenous majority, can rule Bolivia. What always frustrated Bolivian authoritarianism was the surprisingly wide array of interest groups spawned by this poorest of all Latin American nations. There were business interests among the ruling tin families, proletarian interests in the silver and tin mines; there were ethnic interests among indigenous peoples, urban and rural interests; there were farmers and students and last but not least, regional interests based on resources. Almost all could be allied or pitted against one another at different times. One only has to look at the country's first major revolutionary movement, the MNR, founded in 1941. The coailtion of protest groups it represented was so wide that it entertained a pinata of ideologies from socialism to populism to fascism. Inevitably, it broke apart.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that the country has only been successfully ruled through borkerage from the political centre. Business elites, farmers, miners, unions and indigenous peoples have all had to bargain.

One need only look at the regime of President Paz Estenssoro, the most successful presidency in the country's history. Founder of the MNR and a veteran activist, Estenssoro was elected in 1952. He instituted a wide-ranging set of reforms including vast land-distribution to the country's poor, as well as nationalization of the tin mines. But Estenssoro was no radical- he was a pragmatist. Re-elected in the 1980s, he swung to free-market reforms, saving and privatizing the mining indutry at the expense of the poor inidegenous majority. Unintentionally, he laid the foundation for the massive protest that brought leftist Evo Morales to power twenty years later. Estenssoro's record is not ublemished but Bolivian presidents coould take a lesson from him: he launched his reforms at a calculated cost; he did not play with his country's destiny.

History has shown that Bolivia cannot be ruled by one class, interest or industry at the expense of all the others. It can't be ruled by ceding power to the gas companies and their powerful interests in the eastern provinces of Santa Cruz- and it can't be ruled by taxing the eastern provinces to death and forcing them to pay for the rest of the country and its indigenous revolution. It can't be ruled with a constitution that allows for regional secession; nor can it be ruled with a constitution that tells the regions to shut up- as Morales has been trying to do.

The difficult middle course is the answer that Chile's conference on Bolivia's crisis is coming round to. All the South American nations, including those that once claimed a piece of this poor fissile country, understand that the only route to regional stability is for the nation at the centre of them to hold together. And the way for Bolivia to hold its regions together is by negotiation; by allowing its eastern region a little, if not too much leeway.

PREVIOUS ENTRY: 6/27/08- East Bolivia Governors Reject Morales Referendum.

TAG: With a gradual increase in living standards, Bolivia's resource wars are now less between nations, or owners and producers than they are between regions. Historical tensions once centred around the political capitals in the highlands, have now been displaced. With the indigenous Andean majority now and for the first time represented by the government, the European-descended population of the east is all the more aware of its regional monopoly on the production of gas; and less willing to have energy policy dictated from la Paz. To the majority in eastern provinces like Santa Cruz, the solution seems to be autonomy.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
With the vast majority of its resources underground, Bolivia has had to endure barren mountain soils and poor communications. Even after it was claimed by the great liberator, Bolivar, it seemed less a nation than a rump of poor highlands and malarial eastern lowlands not yet claimed by Peru, Chile, Brazil or Paraguay. Its resources, like silver, which Spain had exploited since the 16th century, were difficult to extract. Without the means to provide decent lives and education, the gradual discovery of further mineral wealth set rich against poor in a series of unending military coups and violent labour conflicts and set Bolivia against its neighbours in areas where the deposits and reserves were disputed. Indeed, the War of the Pacific against Chile and Peru was about nitrate and the Chaco War with Paraguay about oil. Sixty years later, the greatest energy reserves are in the east of the country and the only large agricultural export of the governing Andean region is coca, which has supplied the drug traffic. Coca has also become the staple of poor indigenous farmers, much of whose crop is still sold as a mild, legal popular narcotic. Thus they want coca classed as a natural resource rather than as a banned substance.


CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Bolivia has long been the poorest country in South America, with an extensive history of violence. Its beginnings, as an unmarked territory in the centre of the continent, solely for the exploitation of silver by the Spanish who used Indian labour to extract it, were to have ramifications down to the present day. The early period of liberation deteriorated into military struggles over the country's very existence; whether there was actually a Bolivian nation or whether it was really part of Chile and Peru. The country's resource wealth in tin and silver was difficult to extract and in the mid-19th century, it became the prize for a series of upstart brigand presidents and the country descended into anarchy. Reaching scant stability with the oligarchy of the 'Tin families' in the late 19th century, the endemic aggression of the oligarchs was turned outward in fights over resources with Chile, Peru and Brazil. The trend continued with the Chaco War in the 1930s. In its mad desperation to secure resources, Bolivia lost all its foreign wars. The intolerable stresses of the Chaco war, however, brought about the first broad-based social movement, the MNR, which finally came to power in a coup d'etat in 1952, destroying the old tin oligarchy. Thenceforward, politics were characterized by the struggle for a reformist political center, mostly led by Paz Estenssoro against an anti-Communist military right and a socialist far left. Right-wing repression and left-wing economic mismanagement brought little stability and more misery for the poor. But as political and economic incompetence during the Chaco war was corrected by progress under the MNR, the excessive economic neo-liberal austerity of the late 1980s, led ultimately to the popular, broad-based movement of the poor under Evo Morales. The extraction of underground resources determined Bolivia's fate when the Spanish seized on the country's silver four hundred years ago. The gas reserves of the east remain just as important today.

DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: In 1937, in the wake of the disastrous Chaco War, President German Busch attempted labour reform only to turn the army on striking miners. Meanwhile his attempts to nationalize the tin mining industry failed with little but marginal limits placed on the companies' immense power and profits. In 1938, an ambitious, widespread program of reform went nowhere. Discouraged, Busch committed suicide in 1939. In 1940, the new president, Penaranda, was elected with broad-based support but inadvertently sparked a protest movement when the miltary masscred striking miners at Catavi in 1941. The result was the powerful silver miners' union and the foundation of the PIR to campaign for worker ownership of the mines. In the same year, a professor of economic history, Paz Estenssoro, founded the MNR, the National Revolutionary Movement with its following of disillusioned Chaco war veterans and university students, part of whose program was to end all foreign ownership of Bolivia's mines.

Victor Paz Estenssoro

Founded as a nationalist movement and participating in the government, the MNR gradually moved left. But the government moved right as Penaranda allied Bolivia with the United States in World War Two, providing access to Bolivia's mining wealth for the war effort. In 1943-1946, the new Villaroel government, with Paz Estenssoro as finance minister represented a strange alliance between Villaroel's fascism and Estenssoro's populism. They attempted to appease popular discontent only to face mass rioting with the collapse of tin prices at the end of the war.
Protesters hanged Vollaroel and the army took power in a coup d'etat with Estenssoro fleeing to exile in Argentina. The miner's union was finally formed, polarizing the country between the PIR and MNR on one side and the corporate tin mining families and their political backers on the other.

In 1952, Estenssoro made history, returning from Argentina, rejecting Villaroel's fascism and adding huge popular support to his base of students and miners. In a coup detat, the military was overthrown and the new president. Estenssoro, nationalized the mines, introduced land reform and brought about universal sufferage in the first popularly supported coup d'etat in Latin America. For the next four years Estenssoro sided with the United States in return for refusing overtures from Moscow and then set out on a wide-ranging and ambitious program of land redistribution which in turn produced two million new smallholders and the promise of an increase in food production. In 1964 Estenssoro's triumph came to an end in another military coup which sent him into exile Peru.

http://images.encarta.msn.com/xrefmedia/sharemed/targets/images/pho/t040/T040667B.jtn
Che Guevara

The next few years saw the darkness of a military dictatorship under General Barrientos. In 1966, Che Guevara arrived from Cuba with a professional guerilla band. Failing to get the support of the Bolivian Communist party or the peasants, he found backing among the miners' union. On June 24, as miners gathered for a conference at San Juan to raise money for Che's rebels, CIA agents warned the army who then had the miners massacred. In October, the army captured Che himself and had him executed.

Huelga y Masacre, 1954. Mural de Miguel Alandia Pantja en la FederaciĆ³n Sindical de Trabajadores Mineros-LaPaz

Commemoration of the 1967 San Juan Mining Massacre.

Barrientos died in 1969 and in 1970-1971 President Juan Jose Torrres pushed the country far to the left. In 1971 he was overthrown in a brutal right-wing coup d'etat by Colonel Hugo Banzer with the support, perhaps surprisingly, of the MNR. In1971 Estenssoro returned to Bolivia as a an adviser to the Banzer government, hoping to use it as a stepping stone to winning the next election. But in 1974, he was forced out when Banzer re-made his cabinet with all-military ministers. This time Estenssoro' place of exile was Paraguay. While he led his own left wing of the MNR to break away to form the Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario Historico (MNRH), he lost an election in 1978. After several stalemated attempts at an election, a left wing president won in 1980, only to be overthrown in another right-wing military coup d'etat which promptly retreated, leaving the left in power. Rapid economic decline and a fiscal crisis preceded elections in 1985, in which no presidential candidate had a majority, giving Congress the recourse of electing Estenssoro once again as president.

Faced with a collapse of the mining indistry, he attempted economic liberalization at significant cost to the poor, retiring after his final term in 1989. By then, however, coca farming and production of cocaine for the drug trade had quietly become a major source of foreign exchange. By the 1990s, cocaine was the country's main export. Under pressure from the US, the government attempted to replace coca farming with cash crops, but the poor farmers refused to switch. With the retirement of President Hugo Banzer, Jorge Qiroa Ramirez was elected. Qiroa was faced with the overwhelming problem of annihilating coca farming, without impoverishing the huge constituency of coca farmers who needed it to survive.


Hugo Banzer Suarez

RELEVANT DATES
:

1538 -Bolivia region conquered by Spain. Spain exploits Bolivia entirely for the mining of silver. The Aymara Indians work in the mines or on bleak plots of land

1841- Peru's Gamarra attempts and fails to take Bolivia in battle. The victor, General Jose Ballivan, rules until 1847 under a new constitution. Ballivan frees black slaves and tries to develop resources.

1864-1870- President Mariano Melgarejo works with Chilean nitrate companies to mine Bolivia's nitrate coast, only to causr conflict with Chile and ignite an eventual war.

1876- Hilarion Daza becomes president. He seizes nitrate lands from the Chilean nitrate companies and raises their taxes.

1879-1883- The War of the Pacific with Chile, over Chilean grievances concerning Bolivian control of nitrate on the Atacama Desert. Bolivia seizes the Peruvian port of Antofagasta.

1883- the War of the Pacific ends. Bolivia loses half its coastline to Chile.

1884-1952- The Second Republic. Tin becomes a major export. Three major families known as the Tin Barons monopolize tun mining and export and control Bolivian politics. The population remains poor.

1899- The 'Tin-Party' clique. President Manuel Pardo and the Liberals in power. La Paz is named as the permanent capital, although Sucre becomes the seat of the Supreme Court. The La Paz faction holds the presidency for the next 20 years during which a conservative, tin-party clique sponsors several presidents who bring about economic reforms.
Jose Manuel Pando- 1899-1904.
Ismeal Montis- 1904-1909 .
Eliodoro Villazon- 1909-1913.
Ismael Montis- 1913-1917 - boom in tin mining.

1932-1935- the Chaco War. Territorial dispute with Paraguay over the Chaco, a large, infertile region at the foot of the Andes. Concerned about possible oil reserves under the Chaco, Bolivia builds a fort in a part of the region occupied by Paraguay. Paraguay re-occupies the area and Bolivia retaliates.

-nationalist President Toro forces U.S. Standard Oil out of the Chaco.

1935- Bolivia loses the Chaco War.

1937- 1937- President German Busch, half Indian, half German, attempts labour reform but ends up using force against striking miners. After failing to nationalize the big three tin mining companies, he only barely limits their power and profit.

1941- 21 Dec. the Catavi massacre. Under rule of President Pernaranda, Bolivian troops assault the Catavi tin mining camp, killing hundreds of miners and their families. As a result, the powerful silver miners' union is formed by miners returning from exile in Argentina, allegedly with the support of Peron and Nazi elements.

-the PIR movement is founded to bring about worker ownership of the tin mines.

1941- Paz Estenssoro, a professor of economic history, and government economic adviser, founds the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), a group of disaffected university students and Chaco war veterans. Together with Gualberto Villarroel, he aims to end all foreign control of tin mining.

1946- -riots follow the post-war collapse of tin prices. In July a mob seizes Villarroel and hangs him. Military rule follows coup d'etat. Estenssoro goes into exile in Argentina.

-Juan Lechin of the PIR founds the miners' union. He is repeatedly jailed during a standoff between political and corporate tin interests on one side and the PIR and the MNR on the other.

1952- April 9- Paz Estenssoro splits from the fascist ideology of Villarroel, returns to Bolivia supported by students, liberal intellectuals and labour. The junta is overthrown. The mines are nationalized, universal suffrage is introduced along with land reform. The old elites lose their power bases. A coup d'etat under popular pressure is unprecedented in the Andean nations.

1952- Oct.- Bolivia's tin mines are nationalized in a ceremony held at Catavi.

1967- Rena Orrinetos Bartuno government tries to starve all political dissent and the labour and mine workers' unions into submission. A mine workers' conference is planned for June 24, with 2 days' wages to be donated to Che's guerrilla army. CIA warns government to head off mine wokers' support for Che.

June 24- the San Juan mining massacre. Mining families celebrating the summer solstice are surrounded by the army and massacred.

1985-1989- tin mining collapses. Returned and re-elected president Paz Estenssoro tries to save it with economic liberalization. During privatization of the mines, thousands of miners stricken from government payrolls. Control achieved over inflation- but the poor bear much of the cost.

-by the early 1990s, cocaine becomes Bolivia's major crop with a national income of $750 million.

2003- Sept-Oct- 80 are killed by the military in protests against plans to export gas via Chile. Sanchez de Lozada resigns under pressure. He is succeeded by Carlos Mesa.

2004- April. Mesa signs a deal for gas exports to Argentina. Protesters, complaining that deal invalidates a referendum to be held in July, demand Mesa's resignation.

-July- voters in referendum approve gas exports but win greater state control over gas industry decisions.

-August- deal signed to export gas via a Peruvian port.

2005- Jan.- rising fuel prices bring protests and blockades in the wealthy, gas-producing eastern city of Santa Cruz. But also in El Alto, near La Paz.

-a movement springs up for the autonomy of Santa Cruz province.

May- La Paz paralyzed by protests over government's energy policy. Mesa promises a new constitution and referendum on autonomy for Santa Cruz.

June- Mesa resigns amid massive street protests. Eduardo Rodriguez becomes interim prime minister.

Dec.- socialist Evo Morales elected president, the first indigenous Bolivian to take office.

2006- May- Morales issues a decree, placing energy under state control.

Dec. -government gets control over foreign energy companies in Bolivia.

2007- May- Morales leads protest against FIFA rules banning football games at high altitude stadiums such as that in La Paz.

Aug. -Bolivia, Venezuela and Argentina sign energy deals worth $1 billion.

2008- May 4- 84% vote in referendum for Santa Cruz autonomy. The referendum and gas interests are backed by three families which control much of the region's gas.

-Morales agrees to an August referendum on his leadership, promising that if he loses, new elections will be held.

RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: In 2001, Evo Morales, head of the Coca Farmers' Union, led a mass protest party in the election, coming in second behind the president-elect , Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. Lozada, under pressure from the international community to destroy the coca crop, proposed paying the farmers to destroy their crop, but the farmers refused. After the 2002 re-election of Lozada, Morales led an even stronger official opposition. The following year, the military shot 80 people at a mass protest against a gas pipeline, carrying fuel to a Chilean port and Lozada resigned. He was succeeded by President Carlos Mesa in 2004 but once again popular pressure for a public share in Bolivia's energy was brought to bear when Mesa tried to export gas to Argentina. At a July referendum the deal with Argentina went ahead, but the Bolivian people won a greater say on the government's handling of gas. Energy remained the top issue at the beginning of 2005 as protesters in Santa Cruz, capital of Bolivia's gas producing east protested high fuel prices. Over night, there sprang up a movement for regional autonomy. Mesa's offers to resign and call early elections were rejected. In May he promised a new constitution and a referendum for autonomy in la Cruz. In June, massive protests led to Mesa's resignation and the appointment of an interim prime minister.

In December, Evo Morales was elected president, the first indigenous Bolivian to win the post. In early 2006, Morales placed energy under state control and an overall victory in June's parliamentary elections allowed him to forge a new constitution with greater powers for the indigenous majority. In November a land reform bill distributed large tracts to the poor. The following month, Bolivia gained control of foreign oil companies and a year later, in December, 2007, a new constitution, guaranteeing rights for indigenous peoples was ready for passage by two referendums. A May, 2008 local referendum in Santa Cruz saw an 84% majority in favour of autonomy. Morales responded with the promise of a referendum on his leadership followed by new elections if he lost.

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS: In the 16th century, Spain exploited Bolivia for its silver while the Aymara Indians worked the mines or subsisted on bleak plots of land. In 1825, Simon Bolivar sent General Juan Sucre from Colombia to liberate the region and gave it a strongly centralized constitution, naming himself life-long president. Sucre ruled on his behalf. At the same time, Peru and Chile had their own plans for partitioning the area that came to be named Bolivia for Bolivar. In 1828-29, the Peruvian generals, Santa Cruz and Gamarra, took advantage of a military revolt against Sucre, seized Bolivia and forced him into exile. Santa Cruz became president, planned a renewed Inca empire extending to the Pacific and laid much of the groundwork for the Bolivian state. After turning back and seizing his native Peru in a coup d'etat, he ruled both countries. Apprehensive at Santa Cruz's ambition, Chile's General Santa Rosa invaded and, with the help of Bolivia and Peru itself, sent Santa Cruz into exile while Bolivia's General Ballivan defeated Santa Cruz's partner, Gamarra. Ballivan became president in 1839 and brought in a new constitution, freed black slaves and attempted to develop resources.

Image:MARIANO MELGAREJO VALENCIA.jpg
General Mariano Melgarejo

The 1847 overthrow of Ballivan by the brigand and tyrant Manuel Isidor Balzu marked Bolivia's mid-century descent into a hell of near-anarchy. Civil war sputtered on 17 years until 1864 when a new tyrant, Mariano Melgarejo seized power. He fettered the Catholic clergy, executed personal enemies and looted the state. His last and greatest mis-step was to join Chile in the mining of nitrate on the Pacific coast, only to violate Chilean sovereignty. Melgarejo was killed by his brother over a mistress but his legacy of misrule was engraved for years to come, principally in Bolivia's senseless war over Chilean nitrate. In 1876 President Hilarion Daza seized the nitrate lands from Chilean producers and raised their taxes. Chile declared war on Bolivia and Peru and there ensued the War of the Pacific with Chile beating Peru at Sea, seizing Lima and defeating Bolivia on land in 1883, Bolivia losing half its coastline to Chile. Out of the ashes of the War of the Pacific, Bolivia's Conservatives revitalized tin mining while placing the industry in the hands of three 'Tin Families.' To counterbalance the one-industry economy, share-cropping was extended, but at the expense of the indigenous peoples and a new class of landless labour. From 1899 to 1917, Bolivia was ruled by a series of Conservative presidents who all represented the 'Tin Families'- effectively a one-industry corporate government.

Bolivia, dangerously, was becoming a land-locked, one industry state. In 1902, she ceded her eastern borderlands to Brazil and in1904, recognized an 1899 treaty that finally secured the terms of the Pacific war, giving up all her coastline to Chile. By 1932, Bolivia, trying to fight her way out of her mountain fastness, was involved in yet more land disputes, now with Paraguay. After the arrival of the world Depression and desperately in need of the oil trapped under the ground in the frontier Paraguayan plan of the Chaco, Bolivia took immense US loans to expand its military, asserted itself by building a fort in the Chaco and expelling the US giant, Standard Oil from the region. Bolivia, hampered by the flight of much of its military spending in bribes, set out with an undersized army only to be defeated by Paraguay. Scarcely usable access to the Atlantic from a small bit of the Paraguay river was all Bolivia gained in a war that left her nearly destitute from war debts and the Depression.

Photograph:Bolivian draftees are taken off to fight the Chaco War, circa 1932. The war with Paraguay over disputed territory lasted until 1935, with a loss of 100,000 lives and most of the Chaco Boreal.

Bolivian draftees are taken off to fight the Chaco War, circa 1932. (courtesy Encyclopedia Britannica)
LOCATION OF NOTE: Santa Cruz, capital of Santa Cruz Department. Located on the Piray river in central Bolivia. The city was founded February 26, 1561 by Nuflo de Chavez. Moving northward from Argentina, Chavez settled the rain forests and savannahs of central and south-east South America for Spain. The area became an administrative zone known as the Audiencia of La Plata. Santa Cruz was the site of an important Jesuit mission which settled and organized several Indian peoples. The hostility of the lowland climate caused the city to be moved several times to its present location. Though it's considered part of the gas-rich east, its location in the heart of the country gave it strategic importance. The 1903 war with the Brazil and the Chaco war of the 1930s brought the city to prominence. Roads and a railway then increased its importance as an economic and transportation centre. A railway, built in 1962, provided access both to the east and the west of the country. After the 1950s Santa Cruz became one of the most urbanized and powerful parts of the country. Moreover it is the richest city in Bolivia.

TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF BOLIVIA:

Spanish Conquest.

900- the end of the Tianhuanaco culture situated at Lake Titicaca in the Altiplano.

-the Inca extend their rule to the Bolivian highlands bringing with them the Quechua language and absorbing the Aymara people.

1532- Hernando Pizarro begins the conquest of the Incas.

1538 -indigenous people conquered by Pizarro.

Spanish Exploitation of Silver.

1545- the Spanish discover silver in the Cerro Rico.

-Spain exploits Bolivia entirely for the mining of silver. The Aymara Indians work in the mines or on bleak plots of land. The economy of 'plunder' will have effects that will last down to the present day.

1559 -the Bolivian region becomes the Audiencia of Charcas, part of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

1650 -silver from the Cerro Rico makes nearby Potosi the largest city in the western hemisphere.

1776- the Audiencia of Charca is attached to the Viceroyalty of La Plata.

1809- uprising in Chuquisaca against colonial rule.

Simon Bolivar and Rivalry for Bolivia.

1824- General Antonio Sucre defeats the Spanish at battle of Ayachucho.

1825- Feb- Bolivar sends Sucre to La Paz.

1825-1826- Argentina and Chile hope to partition the region, but Bolivar makes Bolivia an independent state, gives it its own constitution (la Constitution Vitalica) providing for strong centralism and a lifelong president- and makes himself president.

1826- Sucre is made first constitutional president to rule on behalf of Bolivar.

Santa Cruz of Peru Expels Sucre from Bolivia.

1828-1829- after a mutiny of Sucre's army, the Peruvian Generals, Santa Cruz and Gamarra march into Bolivia, drive Sucre from office and send him back to Ecuador.

1829- May 25- Santa Cruz is elected President.He has plans to re-establish an Inca empire which would include Chile and the pacific coast. His rule is authoritarian and but he brings law and order, public works, along with seven schools for medicine, the arts and other disciplines.

-the whites who stay behind are considered "hangers-on" from colonial days.

1836- Santa Cruz turns back, takes Peru and is soon president of both Peru and Bolivia.

-Chile and Argentina watch Santa Cruz's expansionism with apprehension.

Santa Cruz Defeated by Chile.

1839- Santa Cruz falls to defeat at battle of Yungay at the hands of the Chilean army under General Rosas of Chile.

1839- Peruvians and Bolivians send Santa Cruz into exile.

1841- Peru's Gamarra attempts and fails in a battle to take Bolivia. The victor, General Jose Ballivan, rules until 1847 under a new constitution.

-Ballivan frees black slaves and tries to develop resources.

Bolivia Falls into Chaos.

1847- Ballivan is ousted and Manuel Isidoro Belzu takes power. He rules through outlawry and tyranny.

1855- Belzu resigns amid anarchy.

1855-1864- chronic civil war.

The Misrule of Melgarejo.

1864- a barracks revolt brings Mariano Melgarejo to power.

1864-1870- Melgarejo bans municipal councils along with the senate; imposes rules on Catholic clergy, executes his enemies, charging them with treason. Gains wealth by theft.

-Melgarejo works with Chilean nitrate companies to mine Bolivia's nitrate coast, only causing conflict with Chile and igniting an eventual war.

-Melgarejo is said to have set Bolivia back so far as to destroy it.

1871- Melgarejo is overthrown, later to be killed by his brother over a mistress.

1873- Bolivia allied with Peru.

Nitrate wae between Bolivia and Chile.

1876- Hilarion Daza becomes president. He seizes nitrate lands from the Chilean nitrate companies and raises their taxes.

1879- The War of the Pacific with Chile, over Chilean grievances concerning Bolivian control of nitrate on the Atacama Desert. Bolivia seizes the Peruvian port of Antofagasta

1879 Dec- Daza wages such an incompetent campaign against Peru that he's ousted.

1879-1883- at first, Chile triumphs against Peru in the war at sea.

1880- with a new, centralizing constitution, Conservatives revitalize silver and tin mining.

1881- Jan.- Chile attacks Peru in the War of the Pacific and occupies Lima.

1883- the War of the Pacific ends. Bolivia loses half its coastline to Chile.

Loss of Nitrate War Gives Way to Second Republic and the Tin Party Clique.

1884-1952- The Second Republic

-tin becomes a major export. Three major families, Patino, Hochschild and Aramayo, known as the Tin Barons monopolize tun mining and export and control Bolivian politics. The population remains poor.

-share-cropping was extended to the point of destroying indigenous culture and producing landless labour.

1889- Bolivia signs a truce with Chile, formally ending the War of the Pacific. La Paz, in the north west highlands and the south central town of Sucre remain rivals for capital city.

1899- President Manuel Pardo and the Liberals in power. La Paz is named as the permanent capital, although Sucre becomes the seat of the Supreme Court. The La Paz faction holds the presidency for the next 20 years during which a conservative, tin-party clique sponsors several presidents who bring about economic reforms.
Jose Manuel Pando- 1899-1904.
Ismeal Montis- 1904-1909 .
Eliodoro Villazon- 1909-1913.
Ismael Montis- 1913-1917 - boom in tin mining.

-the presidents help in the development of three tin-mining giants which results in corporate domination of the Bolivian government.

Loss of Territory to Brazil and Chile.

1902-1903- under President Pando, eastern regions of rubber forest are lost in war with Brazil and in a deal by which Brazil built the Madeira-Mamore railway in return for territory.

1904- Bolivia signs a treaty ceding her seacoast to Chile as a result of the 1889 treaty with Bolivia

1920- Liberals overthrown by the 'Republicans'.

1926-1930- the Siles dictatorship.

The Depression and the Chaco War.

1931- restoration of democracy.

1932-1935- the Chaco War. Territorial dispute with Paraguay over the Chaco, a large, infertile region at the foot of the Andes.

1934-1936- military dictatorship.

-presidents Bautista Saavedra and Hernando Siles take $60 million with of loans from U.S. companies, spending it on the military as well as on bribery.

-worried about further territorial losses like those to Chile and Brazil and concerned about possible oil reserves under the Chaco, Bolivia builds a fort in a part of the region occupied by Paraguay. Paraguay re-occupies the area.

-nationalist President Toro forces U.S. Standard Oil out of the Chaco.

-the world depression seriously weakens Bolivia's tin mining industry and Bolivia begins defaulting on government bonds sold in North America.

-Bolivia, believing its army is much stronger than it really is, declares war on Paraguay.

1935- Bolivia loses a large section of its south to Paraguay. But gains access to the River Paraguay and the Atlantic coast. The Great depression and debts from the war plunge the country into deep economic difficulty. Around 50,000 Bolivians and 35,000 Paraguayans are killed.

Reform Movements Emerge out of the Chaco War.

-students begin to organize with veterans against the government. A labour movement begins.

1937- Bolivia gains nothing but a point of access to the upper Paraguay River.

-President German Busch, half Indian, half German, attempts labour reform but ends up using force against striking miners. After failing to nationalize the big three tin mining companies, he only barely limits their power and profit.

Failure of Reforms: the Catavi Massacre.

1938- peace treaty signed affirming Paraguay's gains in Chaco War. Busch forges a new constitution around improved rights and conditions for labour, education, agricultural cooperatives, nationalization of mineral wealth, but the associated reforms get nowhere.

1939- August- German Busch commits suicide.

-pro-Nazi elements in the government attract international pressure to side with the allies.

1940- Enrique Penaranda elected president with middle class, landowner, labour and military support.

1941- 21 Dec. the Catavi massacre. Under rule of Pernaranda, Bolivian troops assault the Catavi tin mining camp, killing hundreds of miners and their families. As a result, the powerful silver miners' union is formed by miners returning from exile in Argentina, allegedly with the support of Peron and Nazi elements.

-the PIR movement is founded to bring about worker ownership of the tin mines.

Paz Estenssoro founds the progressive, nationalist, MNR

1941- Paz Estenssoro, a professor of economic history, and government economic adviser, founds the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), a group of disaffected university students and Chaco war veterans. Together with Gualberto Villarroel, he aims to end all foreign control of tin mining.

1943- the MNR takes over the government through close connections with the military. The MNR is at first nationalist but gradually moves to the left.

President Penaranda brings Repression.

-President Penaranda brings Bolivia into the war in alliance with the United States, providing tin for the US war effort.

-strikes and unrest brutally repressed by the military.

-December- the Penaranda regime is overthrown by Gualberto Villaroel.

Villaroel and Estenssoro unable to appease the Left.

1943-1946- Under the populist Villarroel government (1943-1946) where Pas Estenssoro is finance minister, the MNR, under his direction, develops a mass middle class following, tin miners, agricultural labourers and farmers.

-riots follow the post-war collapse of tin prices.

1946- July- a mob seizes Villarroel and hangs him. Military rule follows coup d'etat. Estenssoro goes into exile in Argentina.

-Juan Lechin of the PIR founds the miners' union. He is repeatedly jailed during a standoff between political and corporate tin interests on one side and the PIR and the MNR on the other.

1947- new conservative government pressured from the MNR and the far left.

1949- the MNR revolts twice against the government.

Paz Estenssoro and the MNR take power in a Popular Coup D'Eat.

1951- May -all literate males enfranchised to vote. MNR garners nation wide support during campaign but the presidency is withheld from Estenssoro by the military junta.

1952- April 9- Paz Estenssoro splits from the Fascist ideology of Villarroel, returns to Bolivia supported by students, liberal intellectuals and labour. The junta is overthrown by the MNR, miners, police and peasants. The mines are nationalized, universal suffrage is introduced along with land reform. The old elite tin families of Patino, Hochschild and Aramayo lose their power bases. A coup d'etat under popular pressure is unprecedented in the Andean nations.

Estenssoro's Reform Plan.

1952-56- Paz Estenssoro of NR serves as president, accepting U.S. support and investment in return for rejecting advances by Moscow. Juan Lechin is made Minister of Mines. Estenssoro puts forward a 6-fold reform plan: land reform; economic independence, nationalization of tin industry, education reform; expanded suffrage, increased security benefits.

-Estenssoro assesses value of tin mining companies at an amount lower than the back taxes the companies owed the Bolivian government.

1952- Oct.- Bolivia's tin mines are nationalized in a ceremony held at Catavi.

1953- land reform: 70% of arable land owned by great landowning class; half of those are absentee. Government buys the land with national bonds; new owners given 25 years to pay off their land. South America watches as enough land is expropriated to create 2 million new smallholders. The aim is also to increase the food supply.

1956- Aug. 5- in peaceful elections, Paz Estenssoro succeeded by his vice-president, Hernan Siles Zuazo. Siles sets out to combat inflation, diversify the economy and attract foreign capital.

-mineral products make up 90% of exports. 50% of food has to be imported.

1960- Paz Estenssoro is re-elected.

Estenssoro Deposed in Military Coup.

-tin exports collapse; technical and administrative incompetence is rife; finances descend into chaos; proliferation of violent revolutionary splinter groups.

1964- Paz Estenssoro is deposed by General Barrientos Ortuno in a military coup. He goes into exile in Peru.

1964-1982- military dictatorship.

Assassination of Che Guevara and massacre of miners by Orrinetos Government.

-1966- Barrientos becomes president.

1966- Nov.- Che Guevara arrives from Cuba with 24 fighters to foment Cuban-style revolution.
He fails to get the support of the Bolivian Communist party or the indigenous peoples.

-Barrientos government tries to starve all political dissent and the labour and mine workers' unions into submission. A mine workers' conference is planned for June 24, with 2 days' wages to be donated to Che's guerrilla army.

-CIA warns government to head off mine wokers' support for Che.

1967- June 24- the San Juan mining massacre. Mining families celebrating the summer solstice are surrounded by the army and massacred.

-the constitution of 1967 provides for a president elected for a four-year term by a bicameral legislature.

1967- Oct 8. Guevara is captured by the Bolivian military with CIA assistance, then executed.

1969- Barrientos dies in a helicopter crash.

- Barrientos' successor, Luis Adolfo Siles Salinas is overthrown by General Alfredo Ovando Candia.

-Ovando nationalizes Gulf Oil, moves close to the Soviet Union.

Estenssoro tries to regain power in face of Military Tyranny.

1970- a right-wing coup against Ovando is displaced by a left-wing coup by General Juan Jose Torres who strengthens ties with the Soviet Union.

1971- August- Torres overthrown by Hugo Banzer Suarez with support from the MNR and the Bolivian socialist falange. Banzer established relations with the U.S.

1971- Paz Estonssoro returns to Bolivia as a an adviser to the government of Hugo Banzer Suarez.

1974- Banzer re-makes his cabinet with all-military ministers. Paz Estenssoro is forced again into exile, this time to Paraguay.

1978- Banzer is forced out by the junta which imposes martial law.

1979 -Paz Estenssoro loses an election.

1980-1982- military dictatorship.

1982- Bolivia returns to civilian rule under the socialist Siles Zuazo, though the military retains some control.

1984- Bolivia sinks into fiscal crisis with rapid inflation.

Estenssoro is President again: drugs and Reaganomics

1985- another failed military coup. Since no presidential candidate has attained a majority, Congress elects Paz Estenssoro president.

1985-1989- tin mining collapses. Paz Estenssoro tries to save it with economic liberalization.
It produces some successes, such as control over inflation- but the poor bear much of the cost.

1989- Jaime Paz Zamora becomes president.

-Bolivia counts on the production of cocaine, about 25% of its agricultural output.

-Bolivia burdened by huge deficits.

Cocaine.

-by the early 1990s, cocaine becomes Bolivia's major crop with a national income of $750 million.

1998- Bolivia signs a deal with the US to replace cocaine with cash crops. But the destruction of large tracts of cocaine further aggravates deep poverty in rural regions.

2001- President Hugo Banzer Suarez retires in ill health and is succeeded by Jorge Quiroga Ramirez.

Emergence of Evo Morales.

2001- Evo Morales leads a protest vote at the head of the indigenous coca farmers, coming in second at 20.9%. Congress confirms Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada,winner in the first round, as president.

-Sanchez lobbies for international aid but aid continues to depend on the reduction of coca farming.

-Dec.- farmers reject deal by which they are paid for the eradication of their coca crops.

President Sanchez Lozada Resigns over gas policy.

2002- Sanchez de Lozada is relected. Evo Moales heads a strengthened opposition, representing the coca growers.

2003- Sept-Oct- 80 are killed by the military in protests against plans to export gas via Chile. Sanchez de Lozada resigns under pressure. He is succeeded by Carlos Mesa.

President Mesa compromises over ownership of gas.

2004- April. Mesa signs a deal for gas exports to Aregntina. Protestors, complaining that deal invalidates a referendum to be held in July, demand Mesa's resignation.

-July- voters in referndum approve gas exports but win greater state control over gas industry decisions.

-August- deal signed to export gas via a Peruvian port.

Energy Rich East protests high fuel prices. Autonomy push in Santa Cruz.

2005- Jan.- rising fuel prices bring protests and blockades in the wealthy, gas-producing eastern city of Santa Cruz. But also in El Alto, near La Paz.

-a movement springs up for the autonomy of Santa Cruz province.

March- Congress rejects an offer by Mesa to resign, saying protests have made governing impossible. It also rejects his request for early elections.

May- La Paz paralysed by protests over government's energy policy. Mesa promises a new constitution and referendum on autonomy for Santa Cruz.

June- Mesa resigns amid massive street protests. Eduardo Rodriguez becomes interim prime minister.

Evo Morales Elected President, moves to Nationalize Energy.

Dec.- socialist Evo Morales elected president, the first indigenous Bolivian to take office.

2006- May- Morales issues a decree, placing energy under state control.

June- Morales' party wins elections in the assembly, allowing him to promise a new constitution and greater powers for the indigenous majority.

Oct. -in Huanuni, rival groups of tin miners class, leaving 16 dead.

Morales wins Land Reform, nationalization of energy.

Nov. -land reform bill approved by the Senate, providing one-fifth of Bolivian land to the landless poor.

Dec. -government gets control over foreign energy companies in Bolivia.

2007- May- Morales leads protest against FIFA rules banning football games at high altitude stadiums such as that in La Paz.

Aug. -Bolivia, Venezuela and Argentina sign energy deals with $1 billion.

Dec.- Morales receives the new draft constitution which will empower the indigenous people. It must still pass two referendums.

2008- March- Morales declares a national disaster after 60 are killed in floods.

May 4- 84% vote in referendum for Santa Cruz autonomy. The referendum and gas interests are backed by three families which control much of the region's gas.

-Morales agrees to an August referndum on his leadership, promising that if he loses, new elections wull be held.
Post a Comment