Bolivia History 101: Chaco war and its consequences

Jaime Martinez writes in El Diario:

Chaco War and its consequences

Jaime MartinezThe Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay began on June 15, 1932 and finished first with an armistice on June 14, 1935, and a peace treaty on July 21, 1938. In that contest died about 50 thousand people in the Bolivian side, and about 40 thousand in the Paraguayan front. The impact of the war that occurred in the two societies was of great human, social, political and economic effect, it shook the foundations of the two nationalities, and forced the most lucid people of both countries to consider whether the sociopolitical direction of their country was right, or whether it was necessary to make a change so that it can take toward a better destiny.

In the case of Bolivia, the young fighters, who had seen and suffered the consequences of the actions of the military and civilian chiefs, during the conflict, began to revise their vision of the country, identified some of the ills that plagued it, they realized it was necessary to modify the old structures and proposed deep changes for Bolivia to come out of the situation it was in, in which, the recent defeat had left the bitter taste of frustration; and at the same time, they realized the deception of those who told them of a rich and powerful country; so, once demobilized, they gathered to find solutions.

Hence the new social and political thought that would extend for about thirty years emerged. The new party founded by young people were positioning in the minds and seduced with their proposals; thus the POR, the PIR, FSB, MNR, which ranged from the Trotskyist Marxism, Stalinism, fascism and nationalism. All of them, in one way or another, proposed the nationalization of mines, the agrarian reform and industrialization of the country.

Along with this comes the indigenous rebellion that claims a better deal for the Indian, because they feel part of the nation; so, in 1936 an agrarian union is founded on Cliza, preaching life changes in agriculture and the attitude of landowners in relation to the farmer. Union that charges such importance that landowners concerned about the situation, decide to buy land and take the rebels out of there, thereby voiding the Indian movement; but [the issue] has been raised and the land question and clearly see the need for reform in land tenure, such as the abolition of the “pongueaje”. [term given to indians that were required to work for the landowners]

With all the ups and downs of social process, during the government of Gualberto Villarroel, composed of young officers of RADEPA, in partnership with the MNR, performed the first Bolivian indigenal congress with Chipana Ramos as head of the Indian movement wherein the pongueaje was officially abolished, but in practice, due to the political life of the country, actually was not overcome.

Something similar happened in Paraguay, where Colonel Rafael Franco, in 1936, the State recovers about two million hectares from land owners, especially from the Casado family, owner practically of the Chaco; primarily due to the social unrest that occurred among young war veterans. In addition, both office work as the National Union of Workers of Paraguay is formed, and put into effect a labor law. So Stefanich and Yegros, Franco government officials, form the National Revolutionary Union, on the basis of ex-combatants, which aims to replace the two traditional parties: the liberal and the red; unfortunately, Colonel Ramón Paredes and his troops occupied Asuncion, on August 8, 1937, and begins the end of the so-called revolution.

In our country, also mining unions are formed, despite the strength of the mining companies; a Ministry of Labor is formed, with the labor minister Waldo Alvarez; the Trade Union Confederation of Workers of Bolivia is organized, in short, the social and political life seeks changes in the structure of the country, which will arrive later.

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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