In this special day, I thought of nothing better for my homage to Santa Cruz, but to show Ovidio Roca’s wonderful piece, he writes in HoyBolivia.com:
In September, the silver mirage
We are children of Asuncion [the Spanish departed from Asuncion, Paraguay enroute to found this city], mother of cities, who we got away and then we forgot, dazzled by the brilliance of the silver that sparkles more than mate [herbal tea drank by Paraguayans and Argentinians].
Since the beginning of their settlement in Mojos, in 1561, Santa Cruz has named its Governor and managed to get from Spain so many liberties and exemptions that was virtually autonomous. Far removed from the centers of power and trade, the Santa Cruz lived virtually isolated and not felt the oppression of the Spanish Crown, what was feared were the abuses of the Creoles who eventually came from Buenos Aires and Charcas and disrupted the life and peace of the inhabitants. This is why before the dispute of powers during the American emancipation, they preferred a distant King that doesn’t govern them, to an authoritarian Creole above their heads; under this logic, the Santa Cruz were realistically practical, i.e. virtually autonomous.
Bolivia was formed in 1825, based on a Confederation of autonomous provinces. Those of the low lands, poor and isolated provinces, who were illusioned with the mirage of Potosí silver and the prestige of the Audiencia de Charcas, which led them to form part of a centralist Andean State, which from the start excluded and now adverse us.
After the founding of the Republic, the vast and unpopulated region of Mojos and Chiquitos continued with its life of isolationism and all they knew of the mining Republic was the arrival of the prefects sent from La Paz and those exiled by the opponents of the shift regime. [This picture reads: This month, lets show Bolivia and the World How proud we are to be cruceños – people from all over the world living in Santa Cruz de la Sierra -]
Santa Cruz economic activity was basically, sugar cane, livestock, rice, corn, and tanneries, leather manufacture and rustic mills for the production of sugar. A part of this production was sold to the mining areas and transported there on mules and at great cost.
With the arrival of the railroad to Uyuni in 1880, Santa Cruz production was completely displaced by products that came from Chile and Peru, at virtually no transport costs.
Lets recall that this railway was built to bring minerals to the coast, and back came the empty wagons; so practically free freight, it allowed to bring products to the market of the mines and towns of the West.
Santa Cruz at that time had less than ten thousand inhabitants, which were without income to import some essential products and despair spreads in them. Fortunately, come news of new job opportunities with the discovery of quina and rubber in what is called the hyleaamazonica and as a result much of the population of Santa Cruz, excited to find better horizons, end up venturing into uncharted regions. Entire families moved by rivers, the low lands and the mountains, founding and populating towns and villages as they pass by. They built barracks, extracted rubber and took it to Europe; they raised cattle, they made jerky, ‘chivé’ (‘moincho’), ’empanizao’; they cultivated corn and rice and sold it to the barracks.
For more than four hundred years, Santa Cruz and the Eastern society was forming their particular culture and psychology, amalgamating the Spanish heritage and customs of indigenous peoples. During this long period was a common history, a particular way of speaking, values and principles of relationship and religious tradition. They are part of this culture and Eastern identity, symbols, myths, stories and tales, music, parties, meals, and all this cultural background is the mortar that allows you to build the construction of a Santa Cruz State within a projected Confederation of States of Bolivia.
It is claimed that the solidity of the state occurs in societies with shared principles and values; with Governments that seek well-being and peace; with responsible, workers, citizens who respect each other and also demand the respect of others, and strong laws requiring that those coming to settle in their territory must respect the local culture and integrate to it.
In the 1950s, thanks to a political and economic conjuncture, “the March to the East”, not understood and yet fought by local elites, gave way to the integration and development of this great region and nation of the low lands.
Time passed by, and so passed the leaders and in this age of multinational mess, the inhabitants of the plains of Mojos and Chiquitos and the South, are walking aimlessly, as a result of our failure and fear of taking our destiny. We talk a lot of autonomy, but we resist facing the challenges and responsibilities, challenges, criticism and denials involving this exercise. We like the autonomy discourse, but not the burdens, the obligations, we misunderstood the hard daily work which means to build it. And we are constantly fearful of the reaction of citizens infected of populism, waiting that all come up, as a gift, because we believe that the only thing we need to do is protest and extend the hand to get attended. Unfortunately, democracy has resulted in an ochlocracy and elected officials, are slaves and dependents of the votes (because they want to be re-elected), so to look good with the voters, do not assume their work with responsibility and efficiency.
Sometimes we forget that Santa Cruz recently grew, when in the decade of the 1950s, aside of just protesting and given speeches, we decided to build, do the things that were needed, and this leaders and committed personalities made it, people of honor and conviction, receiving the confidence and the economic contribution of their fellow citizens created local institutions, service cooperatives, the institution’s development, the COOPP, the modern agriculture and agro-industry, and inspired a generation of professionals, who took the challenge of working with technical expertise and responsibility for the common good.
Currently, the plurinational State, with its equivocal views on Nations, races, cultures, economics, history, they have been tearing apart the Bolivian nation project, so there is the need for a new layout or rather back to an old approach, the concept of Federation of provinces, federal states, such as the United States of America, the Federal Republic of Germany.
We are heirs to a race of explorers and founders of towns, a peaceful people who away from everywhere, insisted on their progress at the expense of labor and overcoming the distances. If autonomy is not stacked, the current challenge is to advance towards the federalization of the departments and form the Federal Republic of Bolivia, and that requires great responsibility, hard work, and many makers. In September, is the chance to think about this.