Bolivian Mestizo 101

I am a proud Bolivian mestizo, was born under a Republic structure, got my education in the western world and I am Catholic. Like me, most Bolivians love our country as is, the following article was superbly written by what Carlos Mesa does best, to write about Bolivian history. It would be nice to read the whole book…

Carlos D. Mesa Gisbert writes for Pagina Siete:

A siren and a charango, symbols of the Bolivian miscegenation [mestizaje]

Carlos MesaAt a historical stage as where we live, I think  I find it worthwhile to reopen the debate over miscegenation, why I published the book La Sirena and the Charango, essay about miscegenation. Here’s the heart of my thesis.

The first moment of bonding fluid and structured between the geographical and human spaces that have made possible Bolivia occurred in the period between the 16th and 18th centuries, integrating in a clear manner the legal component which would result in the Bolivian nation. It was the audience of Charcas, created by the Spanish Crown in 1559, which outlined the key elements of our nationality, among the most important the geographical limits of their sovereignty. Audience created depending on a place, the Cerro Rico de Potosi. Its gigantic wealth justified the birth of a new political and legal entity within the Viceroyalty of the Peru. The Hill [Cerro Rico], metaphor of the essence of the conquest, was image, was center, generator of wealth and inclement Tomb.

Escudo NacionalBolivia was born at the foot of the Potosi, that is why their magic and terrible profile is in the center of the coat of arms.

The pre-Hispanic period in this context marked parallel and independent developments with not so many important contacts, but failed a target domain above all the territory of Bolivia, which occurred during the colonial period.

At this point, I don’t do another thing but to use the clarity of vision of historian Humberto Vázquez Machicado, that in his work the Historical Origins of Bolivian Nationality, written in 1955 and published in 1975, says: “is absolutely false to talk of a Bolivian nationality – even in germ -, before the Spanish conquest, which was to explore these tropical areas that joined them truly with the mountain and created in the 16th century the homeland which is now known with the name of Bolivia. Neither the core Aymara nor Quechua different nuclei or at least with this common language could form this nation, because they were yoked to the dominating Center of the Highlands of Cuzco, and above all, lacked the snap of the tropics, which is integrated and could thus constitute a nation. The Bolivian nationality is thus essentially a colonial fruit”.

The idea of mixing, blending, is concerned basically with two great cultures (within which moved a complex universe of plural and diverse ethnic groups and different cultures). Ethnic miscegenation in the case of Bolivia was much less intense that in other Latin American countries, which had to do with processes of migration much less significant than in other regions of the continent given the geographical location of the area and the consequent isolation caused by the Andean massif which the Audiencia de Charcas was developed politically and legally. Except for the vertiginous and cosmopolitan growth of Potosí in the first half of the 17th century (which lasted what the boom of the Cerro Rico did).

It is not unimportant to emphasize that from the point of view of economic clout and technological development in the region, Charcas had more significance in the 17th and 18th centuries than the Republic of Bolivia since its independence.

Another element to be taken into consideration is the fact that the creation of this new geographical American space, after the traumatic meeting of 1535 was consolidated in the 18th century from active participation in the colonial society of Indians and mestizos.

In addition to levels of caste and the brutal system of exploitation for extractive production and nutritional support and clothing (cultivated fields and textile mills), increasingly more testimonies of indo-mestizos contributions remain attested in the architectural design of churches and other buildings of the era, specifically in facades and altars of temples patterned clear pre-Hispanic root mixed with elements of the Christian world are known, as the siren, assimilated the Western symbol to the indigenous world (representation of the lacustrine deities Qesintuu and Umantuu), who plays a charango (emblematical mestizo instrument) to allow the smooth operation of the universe (eminently Western platonic idea).

Next to the “official” art, indigenous followed parallel mode a creative high quality practice that endured pre-Hispanic elements already integrated a new symbolism and new songs born in the colonial and Republican periods. They preserved the ancestral, but permeate irreversibly by European. The indigenous worldview in the 21st century is the result of this transformation. It is the cultural interbreeding with full force.

Carlos D. Mesa was President of the Republic.

Great writing! So, those who want to “erase” the 500 years are simply stupid!

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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