Today in the Americas, 1952

bolivia_1952

Today in 1952 (57 years ago) Bolivia experienced a revolution, on par with the Mexican Revolution, in more ways than one.

The MNR (Revolutionary Nationalist Movement) was elected by the people on in 1951 (after a brief civil conflict that began in 1949) but was denied the presidency due to “fraud.” The people rose up, mostly the miners, and ushered in a new Bolivia, one that is only coming to fruition today. Like Mexico (and Cuba in 1959), Bolivia was a social revolution as much as a political one. It nationalized the tin mines (it’s oil had been nationalized since 1936), enacted adult suffrage, drafted land reform laws, and, most importantly, began to incorporate Aymara and Quechua people for the first time.

Like Mexico, the power centered around Víctor Paz Estenssoro (who would hold office three different times from 1950s to the late 1980s) and was largely based on patrimonialism and corporatist sensibilities. Also like Mexico, the revolution was often betrayed and only paid lip-service. And like Mexico, the revolution was never in power, just those who claimed to legislating on its behalf.

Estenssoro would be overthrown in 1964 beginning the much too common narrative of military control of these fragile democracies that boiled to the top in the mid-twentieth century. It has only, in the past five years, grow as organically as it did in 1952. Despite the gulf between the time periods, 1952 can be traced to the climate and sentiment of today.

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~ by Daniel on April 9, 2009.

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