The Radical Anti-imperialist Consciousness of Bolivian Tin Miners in the Early 20th-Century


Near­ly a decade ago, in Sep­tem­ber 2008, the Boli­vian gov­ern­ment under Evo Morales can­celed diplo­mat­ic rela­tions with the Unit­ed States and expelled U.S. ambas­sador Philip Gold­berg. The Boli­vian gov­ern­ment fol­lowed the clos­ing of the U.S. embassy in La Paz, attrib­uted to Goldberg’s “divi­sive inter­ven­tion­ist” prac­tices on behalf of the Unit­ed States, by assertive­ly crit­i­ciz­ing and then expelling the Drug Enforce­ment Agency (DEA). The sub­text of this assertive­ness coin­cid­ed with the emer­gence in the ear­ly 2000s of what has been called the “rise of the pink wave” of Latin Amer­i­can democ­ra­cies.1 With the ascen­dance of Evo Morales to the pres­i­den­cy of Bolivia – elect­ed in 2005 and re-elect­ed in 2009 and 2014 – as part of such a wave, the gov­ern­ment dis­in­terred “anti-impe­ri­al­ist” sen­ti­ments to specif­i­cal­ly chal­lenge the per­ceived over­bear­ing influ­ence of the Unit­ed States on Boli­vian pol­i­tics.

The pol­i­tics of anti-impe­ri­al­ism, how­ev­er, rather than being a new twist of realpoli­tik, can be found in the lay­ers of local­ized his­to­ry accret­ed dur­ing Bolivia’s long sta­tus as a periph­er­al coun­try entan­gled in the work­ings of the world sys­tem.2 My inten­tion here is thus not to focus on the re-emer­gence of this pol­i­tics today, but to re-assess the ori­gins and con­di­tions of anti-impe­ri­al­ist con­scious­ness in the 20th-cen­tu­ry Boli­vian Andes.

The appear­ance of anti-impe­ri­al­ist pol­i­tics in Bolivia coin­cides with the eco­nom­ic trans­for­ma­tion wrought by the indus­tri­al­iza­tion of tin min­ing in the ear­ly 1900s, a process which also entailed a tran­si­tion in forms of work­er orga­ni­za­tion, from arti­sanal guilds that had adopt­ed ele­ments of anar­chist phi­los­o­phy, to rank-and-file unions of pro­le­tar­i­ans who per­ceived the impe­ri­al­ist dimen­sions of their exploita­tion. This polit­i­cal shift marks the cir­cu­la­tion of strug­gles in response to inter­na­tion­al trends, as ear­ly indus­tri­al min­ing camps, despite their geo­graph­i­cal iso­la­tion, were nev­er­the­less cos­mopoli­tan places influ­enced by polit­i­cal dis­cours­es of met­ro­pol­i­tan moder­ni­ty.

A New Empire

It is impor­tant to stress that the pol­i­tics of anti-impe­ri­al­ism accom­pa­nies, pari pas­su, the his­toric trans­for­ma­tion of impe­ri­al­ism itself.3 Ear­ly moments of cap­i­tal accu­mu­la­tion – includ­ing for­eign invest­ments and the expro­pri­a­tion of indige­nous lands – would trans­form a repub­lic, the Unit­ed States, into an Empire, sym­bol­ized by the Mon­roe Doc­trine and fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the fad­ing British pres­ence in the region. Boli­vian min­ing, along with oth­ers, would con­sti­tute one exam­ple of the U.S. impe­ri­al­ist real­i­ty of extrac­tivist exploita­tion known as mono­pro­duc­tion.

Although Por­tu­gal and Spain could be con­sid­ered extrac­tivist empires in ear­li­er his­tor­i­cal con­texts, the Unit­ed States estab­lished its own modes of dom­i­na­tion dur­ing the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies. The goal was not to estab­lish colonies as such, at least in Latin Amer­i­ca.4 But the North Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment did try to estab­lish a colo­nial­ist rela­tion with­in a geopo­lit­i­cal­ly defined Pan-Amer­i­can and Mon­roeian space. This rela­tion would be rup­tured only by rev­o­lu­tion­ary events: the 1952 Boli­vian Nation­al Rev­o­lu­tion (to be effec­tive­ly hijacked by the Unit­ed States), the 1959 Cuban Rev­o­lu­tion, and the 1979 San­din­ista Rev­o­lu­tion in Nicaragua. Dur­ing these events, and through­out the region, the inter­ven­tion­ist for­eign pol­i­cy of the Unit­ed States has been per­ceived by many to be impe­ri­al­is­tic.

These poli­cies aimed to guar­an­tee the imple­men­ta­tion of free and unreg­u­lat­ed mar­ket pres­ence that would favor U.S. invest­ments and prof­its, whether this meant the spon­sor­ship of mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ships (1960s–1980s), sup­port for “democraduras” and “re-democ­ra­ti­za­tion” when these dic­ta­tor­ships became unten­able (1980s–1990s), or, lat­er, inter­ven­tion­ist pro­grams such as the direct and indi­rect invest­ments of the Nation­al Endow­ment for Democ­ra­cy (NED) and sup­port from the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, an arro­gant right­ist think-tank, for activ­i­ties that fos­tered a pro-neolib­er­al polit­i­cal class and facil­i­tat­ed its entry into the glob­al free mar­ket.

The impor­tance of this sec­ond wave of anti-impe­ri­al­ism, in the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tu­ry, is often rec­og­nized. By this we refer to the con­text of the Cold War and the U.S.-sponsored Alliance for Progress – dubbed “The Alliance for Fail­ure” by the 1960s Latin Amer­i­can stu­dent move­ment. This polit­i­cal inter­ven­tion­ist mea­sure, along with the inspi­ra­tion of the Cuban exam­ple, pro­voked the emer­gence of armed guer­ril­las in sev­er­al nodes of Latin Amer­i­ca who strug­gled against mod­ern­iz­ing agents and mil­i­tary regimes that were pro­tect­ed, direct­ly and indi­rect­ly, by the Unit­ed States. The under­ly­ing goal of the U.S. geopo­lit­i­cal out­look and sup­port for mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions was to strength­en or cre­ate both a con­sumerist mid­dle class and a polit­i­cal-mil­i­tary class (“select­ed to lead the unruly civil­ians”) that could guar­an­tee open access to the free mar­ket and trig­ger a full process of mod­ern­iza­tion, urban­iza­tion, and indus­tri­al­iza­tion. In this way, mod­ern­iza­tion the­o­ry was seen as answer­ing to the pro­pos­als of the Cuban Rev­o­lu­tion of 1959. The 1973 coup d’etat against the social­ist Sal­vador Allende Gossens, who was demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed in Chile three years ear­li­er, may be seen as the ini­tial, neolib­er­al test. There, it was learned that in order to imple­ment neolib­er­al­ism, the mil­i­tary jun­ta need­ed to rid itself of at least 15 per­cent of the nation­al pop­u­la­tion. The bru­tal Chilean dic­ta­tor­ship expelled entire fam­i­lies, used force to elim­i­nate polit­i­cal dis­sent, and trans­formed Chile from a state of rights into a state of ter­ror, a pure­ly de fac­to gov­ern­ment. After the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union and the Berlin Wall in 1989, neolib­er­al­ism ful­ly entered the region.

In the case of Bolivia dur­ing this peri­od, the failed Nixon­ian War on Drugs also artic­u­lat­ed pop­u­lar respons­es to impe­ri­al­ism in the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tu­ry. This inter­ven­tion­ist U.S. pol­i­cy, a per­mis­sive pol­i­tics of direct influ­ence, is asso­ci­at­ed with an acqui­es­cent polit­i­cal class that often had full knowl­edge of ear­ly ille­gal traf­fick­ing of drugs, as in the case of the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor Banz­er (1971–1978). The de fac­to mil­i­tary regime of Gar­cía Meza (1980–1981) went so far as to be engaged in traf­fick­ing itself. The def­er­ence to U.S. pol­i­cy con­tin­ued with the Nation­al­ist Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Move­ment (MNR) which, after lead­ing his­tor­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion­ary changes in 1952, was elect­ed in 1985 to undo its own rev­o­lu­tion­ary lega­cy through neolib­er­al pri­va­ti­za­tion. Under those cir­cum­stances, those who chal­lenged U.S. hege­mo­ny were always mar­gin­al­ized or silenced, often phys­i­cal­ly – the Tor­res Gov­ern­ment that was over­thrown in 1971, the short-lived Siles Zua­zo nation­al-pop­u­lar gov­ern­ment between 1982 and 1985, and the pol­i­cy of nation­al­iza­tion of oil reserves pro­posed by social­ist politi­cian Marce­lo Quiroga San­ta Cruz, who was lat­er assas­si­nat­ed. Sev­er­al of these moments of impe­ri­al­ist inter­ven­tion remain fresh in pop­u­lar mem­o­ry, and many of today’s mil­i­tants of all stripes go back in time to count the remains of the day and recon­sid­er the lessons of the past, reviv­ing aspects and acts of colo­nial­i­ty that are still rel­e­vant in the present and future.

The First Anti-imperialist Wave

Nonethe­less, along with an ear­li­er his­to­ry of labor mobi­liza­tions, a pri­or wave of anti-impe­ri­al­ist strug­gle in Latin Amer­i­ca in response to impe­r­i­al incur­sion pre­ced­ed the more well-rec­og­nized strug­gles of the Cold War era. This ear­li­er peri­od saw a com­plex cir­cu­la­tion of strug­gles between Argenti­na, Peru, North­ern Chile, and, most impor­tant for our pur­pos­es, Boli­vian tin min­ing camps, where work­ers from each of these coun­tries inter­min­gled. Telling­ly, the devel­op­ment of this ear­ly anti-impe­ri­al­ist sen­ti­ment was con­comi­tant with the emer­gence of work­ers’ demands for eight-hour work shifts. These work­ers’ mobi­liza­tions were very soon answered by repres­sion, and in 1906 work­ers were mas­sa­cred at the San­ta María Sal­itr­era nitrate mine in Iquique, Chile, a site where work­ers from numer­ous coun­tries labored along­side one anoth­er and devel­oped an inter­na­tion­al, anti-impe­ri­al­ist sol­i­dar­i­ty. After the mas­sacre, sev­er­al of these sur­viv­ing work­ers found work in Boli­vian tin mines, where a nascent anti-impe­ri­al­ist ide­ol­o­gy over­lapped with the exist­ing anar­chist move­ments of arti­sans and min­ers.

Long before the 1950s, indeed as soon as Eng­lish invest­ments weak­ened, the Unit­ed States had estab­lished its pow­er in the region, but even then its own neme­sis had already been active. Anti-impe­ri­al­ism in Latin Amer­i­ca dates to before the artic­u­la­tion of sindi­cal­is­mo (trade union­ism) prop­er, going as far back as the tran­si­to­ry moments between an ear­ly anar­chism, one which mourned the Hay­mar­ket Mas­sacre and which cel­e­brat­ed Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers Day on May 1st, and the emer­gence of social­ist and com­mu­nist par­ties in the 1920 and 1930s. The exploita­tion of sil­ver and the con­struc­tion of the Eng­lish-run rail­way sys­tem in the 19th cen­tu­ry and the dis­cov­ery of tin in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry brought along cap­i­tal-labor ten­sions which point­ed to the con­cept of anti-impe­ri­al­ism and, by default, the local and inter­na­tion­al cri­tique that gives anti-impe­ri­al­ism its sub­stance. The trend is clear. As Anto­nio Negri cor­rect­ly observes: “The expan­sive, impe­ri­al­is­tic process of cap­i­tal and its ten­sion toward the con­sti­tu­tion of aver­age terms of world exploita­tion are then simul­ta­ne­ous­ly the result and the premise for the con­di­tions of rev­o­lu­tion­ary sub­jec­tiv­i­ty.”5

It is impor­tant to sit­u­ate this moment at the out­set of the 20th cen­tu­ry, and to con­sid­er the emer­gence of the con­cept of anti-impe­ri­al­ism from a periph­er­al angle. Despite Bolivia’s geo­graph­i­cal mar­gin­al­i­ty and appar­ent iso­la­tion, influ­en­tial met­ro­pol­i­tan ideas arrived in the area almost simul­ta­ne­ous­ly with the indus­tri­al­iza­tion of min­ing. Names such as Marx, Kropotkin, Lenin, Lux­em­burg, and the Span­ish Gen­er­a­tion of 1898, with its clear anar­chis­tic ten­den­cies, were well known and read. Despite high rates of illit­er­a­cy, the rank and file had access to the ideas offered by these authors while also remem­ber­ing the heroes of ear­li­er Andean revolts. Ear­ly min­ing anar­chists were inter­est­ed in the edu­ca­tion of the work­ers, both men and women, and to that end their ear­ly guilds, called Sociedades Mutuales, orga­nized read­ing and edu­ca­tion­al ses­sions in which “the spir­it of attain­ment via edu­ca­tion” was pro­mot­ed along with the build­ing of small libraries and the­aters.6 Accord­ing to his­to­ri­an Huás­car Rodríguez Gar­cía, this eclec­tic tra­di­tion in Bolivia, large­ly iden­ti­fy­ing with anar­cho-syn­di­cal­ism, was present, “first with FOI (Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers Fed­er­a­tion), and lat­er with FOL (Local Worker’s Fed­er­a­tion) and FOT (Work­er Fed­er­a­tion of Labor) since the 1910s up to the begin­nings of the 50s”.7

Back in Europe, a sem­i­nal work in the cri­tique of impe­ri­al­ism was pub­lished in 1902: J.A. Hobson’s Impe­ri­al­ism: A Study. As is well known, this work influ­enced sub­se­quent stud­ies of impe­ri­al­ism includ­ing the Aus­tri­an econ­o­mist Rudolf Hilferding’s Finance Cap­i­tal (1910), Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accu­mu­la­tion of Cap­i­tal (1913), Niko­lai Bukharin’s Impe­ri­al­ism (1915), and Lenin’s Impe­ri­al­ism: The High­est Stage of Cap­i­tal­ism (1917). How­ev­er, giv­en that such a tex­tu­al eti­ol­o­gy focus­es prin­ci­pal­ly on the glob­al metro­pole, it is impor­tant to stress that anti-impe­ri­al­ist pol­i­tics emerged almost simul­ta­ne­ous­ly amidst those iso­lat­ed but hege­mon­ic “indus­tri­al work­ers” in the periph­ery and the semi-periph­ery, includ­ing in Bolivia, where it served to artic­u­late a polit­i­cal aware­ness of dom­i­na­tion and dis­pos­ses­sion suf­fered by a par­tic­u­lar work­ing class on the broad­er world stage.

Such aware­ness, ear­ly on, is direct­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the task of pro­duc­ing a self-knowl­edge of the labor­ing class’s own con­di­tion and sit­u­a­tion with­in glob­al dynam­ics, a ques­tion that will also lat­er dri­ve the devel­op­ment of “world sys­tems” analy­sis. An anti-impe­ri­al­ist analy­sis the­o­rizes the eco­nom­ic for­ma­tion of a glob­al core direct­ly pred­i­cat­ed upon the sys­tem­at­ic extrac­tion of nat­ur­al resources, the pro­cess­ing of such resources, and the cir­cu­la­tion of the result­ing com­modi­ties, finan­cial gains from which were not rein­vest­ed in the areas where such wealth orig­i­nat­ed. This ear­ly analy­sis and rejec­tion of the dom­i­na­tion gen­er­at­ed by what David Har­vey has appro­pri­ate­ly labeled “accu­mu­la­tion by dis­pos­ses­sion” can be found at the very base of a people’s socio-cul­tur­al envi­ron­ment, as it is woven into the his­to­ry of the semi-periph­eries and periph­eries. Polit­i­cal aware­ness of for­eign eco­nom­ic dom­i­na­tion can nur­ture a pol­i­tics of anti-impe­ri­al­ism, as impe­ri­al­ism pro­vides “the priv­i­leged ter­rain for the emer­gence of the pow­er anti­thet­ic to it.”8

The Emergence of Bolivian “Industry” and Capitalist Transformation

We must remem­ber that the term “indus­tri­al world” is basi­cal­ly Euro­pean since it reflects spe­cif­ic process­es that took place there, affect­ing the rest of the world through its devel­op­ment. Because of this ear­ly asso­ci­a­tion in Bolivia, or in any periph­ery for that mat­ter, the con­cept of anti-impe­ri­al­ism can be read and under­stood as a cri­tique of the abu­sive form of core, extrac­tivist indus­tri­al­ism and financ­ing that acts on and exploits the semi-cap­i­tal­is­tic periph­eries. Anti-impe­ri­al­ism artic­u­lates the per­cep­tion of a rogue sys­tem that spoils and exploits raw man­u­al labor by estab­lish­ing local “indus­tri­al” regimes that are extrac­tivist in nature, impos­ing sys­tems of labor exploita­tion in which, often, nation­al armies emerge as guar­an­tors of cap­i­tal­ist order and dis­ci­pline, even if this implies con­duct­ing repress­ing and killing work­ers.9 This kind of lim­it­ed indus­tri­al­iza­tion in the periph­eries is based upon pat­terns of mono­pro­duc­tion, eco­nom­ic over­spe­cial­iza­tion that focus­es on one item that “com­par­a­tive advan­tage” attrib­ut­es to a giv­en pro­duc­ing coun­try. Bolivia, in this pic­ture, is a pro­duc­er of tin; Brazil, of cof­fee and sug­ar; Argenti­na, of wheat or cat­tle; Chile and Peru, of cop­per; and so on.

Owing to these sin­gu­lar eco­nom­ic focus­es, the ear­li­est rank-and-file cadres often orig­i­nat­ed in the rur­al areas where more tra­di­tion­al tem­po­ral­i­ties had pre­vi­ous­ly orga­nized pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and self-suf­fi­cien­cy. The term “indus­tri­al” then refers to the tran­si­to­ry stage of the arti­san­ry, and the waged rank and file that inter­mit­tent­ly accepts forms of syn­chro­nized tim­ing in min­ing areas of the Andean region. Sta­tis­tics of the ear­ly part of the 20th cen­tu­ry, although scat­tered and unre­li­able, approx­i­mate the num­ber of “indus­tri­al work­ers” at just two to three per­cent of the nation­al pop­u­la­tion.10 Such “indus­tri­al work­ers” con­sist­ed basi­cal­ly of under­ground tin min­ers, and cen­sus data placed them in the sec­tion of “Trans­for­ma­tion” – that is, peo­ple ded­i­cat­ed to trans­form­ing nature – thus group­ing them togeth­er with the peas­antry and con­struc­tion work­ers. Of course, for the Latin Amer­i­can case, grosso modo, and in par­tic­u­lar for Andean Bolivia, we must men­tion that forms of slav­ery, corveé labor, ponguea­je (a local sys­tem in which labor was appro­pri­at­ed direct­ly), and land ten­an­cy arrange­ments con­tin­ued to coex­ist until 1952, per­sist­ing along­side mod­ern cap­i­tal­ist social rela­tions wher­ev­er the lat­ter took hold in the 20th cen­tu­ry.

In fact, rur­al soci­ety was dom­i­nant in Bolivia very much until the 1960s when process­es of urban­iza­tion expand­ed, attract­ing rur­al inhab­i­tants to the periph­eries of estab­lished colo­nial cities such as La Paz, Cochabam­ba, Sucre, Poto­sí, Oruro, and San­ta Cruz. The 1952 Boli­vian Social Rev­o­lu­tion legal­ly elim­i­nat­ed ponguea­je servi­tude for the first time, a demand already sub­mit­ted by thir­teen nation­al rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Bloque Obrero in the nation­al assem­bly of 1938.11 A sim­i­lar pic­ture emerges in oth­er areas of Latin Amer­i­ca, a region beset by a mix of dif­fer­ent tem­po­ral­i­ties, unable to ful­ly syn­chro­nize to the demands of high cap­i­tal­ism. Eco­nom­ic pover­ty was so tan­gi­ble that Boli­vian soci­ol­o­gists argued that the coun­try could not afford a bour­geoisie. The Andean Region, in par­tic­u­lar, retained mono­pro­duc­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics very much up to the end of the 20th cen­tu­ry when rur­al pop­u­la­tions began to decline and urban areas expand­ed. The emer­gence of the new Boli­vian city of El Alto, a ser­vice town direct­ly con­nect­ed to the demands of the old city of La Paz after the 1980s, con­sti­tutes a key exam­ple of urban growth, as it is now larg­er than the city it once sup­ple­ment­ed. Also sig­nif­i­cant in this process is the urban­iza­tion, albeit by dif­fer­ent means, of the city of San­ta Cruz de la Sier­ra in the 1960s, spon­sored by the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor Banz­er who uti­lized nation­al rev­enues to “mod­ern­ize” the large­ly som­no­lent area, using land appro­pri­a­tion and spec­u­la­tion to strength­en cat­tle ranch­ing and open new agro-indus­tri­al ven­tures to under­mine the cen­tral­i­ty of La Paz, the polit­i­cal cen­ter.

The Centrality of Mining

The tax­a­tion of the land was per­haps the ear­li­est form of cap­i­tal­ist appro­pri­a­tion from the autonomous peas­ant pro­duc­er, because very often, such pro­duc­ers, although artic­u­lat­ed to the cir­cuits of emer­gent and uneven cap­i­tal­ism, did not include the val­ue of their own labor-pow­er in the total price of the fruits of pro­duc­tion, now com­modi­tized and sold at the local mar­ket. Often this impe­tus was the required step for a rur­al pro­duc­er, a small-scale peas­ant unit, to make the leap from use val­ue to exchange val­ue, and thus to be able to col­lect enough cash to be able to pay tax­es and repro­duce him­self and his con­stant cap­i­tal. How­ev­er, cap­i­tal­ism forces this sit­u­a­tion whether or not small-pro­duc­ing peas­ants can actu­al­ly fend for them­selves, lead­ing often to the dis­pos­ses­sion of their lands when tax­es were not paid off.

In the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, min­ing became an attrac­tive indus­try for peas­ants who were lib­er­at­ed from sit­u­a­tions of vir­tu­al serf­dom such as ponguea­je. On the oth­er hand, indige­nous peas­ant life was artic­u­lat­ed in rela­tion to the min­ing sys­tem, pro­vid­ing pro­duce to repro­duce the “indus­tri­al” work­force. An account from 1916 states that about 16,000 labor­ers, Q’oya locos (“crazy min­ers” – “Qoya,” Quechua for mine, and the Span­ish “locos” for insane), toiled at the new­ly dis­cov­ered tin mines of Uncía and Siglo XX, mark­ing the emer­gence of the tin min­ing indus­try as tin ores, due to world war demands, were high.12 At the time, Bolivia was the only tin source that could be found in the Amer­i­c­as.13

Lands were appro­pri­at­ed – a par­a­dig­mat­ic exam­ple of Harvey’s con­cept of “accu­mu­la­tion by dis­pos­ses­sion” – dur­ing this peri­od by spec­u­la­tive urban land mer­chants who often (re)hired oust­ed and dis­pos­sessed peas­ants to work on their for­mer lands, this time as unpaid ranch-hands, a sys­tem that was known as colona­to or ponguea­je, most­ly in the Hacien­da sys­tem that the nation­al rev­o­lu­tion of 1952 would go on to elim­i­nate. Land ten­an­cy, then, emerged as an arranged sys­tem along­side the term “absen­tee land­lord.” The inten­si­fi­ca­tion of this sys­tem par­al­lels the emer­gence of the tin min­ing indus­try in the Boli­vian high­lands, as dis­pos­sessed indige­nous peas­ants soon found waged work by sell­ing their man­u­al labor-pow­er at the tin pro­duc­ing mines in the ear­ly part of the 20th cen­tu­ry.14

In this con­text of min­ing cap­i­tal­ism, anti-impe­ri­al­ism emerged as an ear­ly social aware­ness in the form of orga­nized resis­tance to sys­tem­at­ic extrac­tivist phe­nom­e­na. Since min­ing attracts a cos­mopoli­tan world, Euro­pean writ­ings and expe­ri­ences on the top­ic were car­ried by “indus­tri­al” work­ers that migrat­ed en masse to Argenti­na, Brazil (which had only elim­i­nat­ed slav­ery in 1899), Chile, and Peru. Bolivia, how­ev­er, remained hard­er to migrate to, and stayed pop­u­lat­ed by exten­sive indige­nous demo­graph­ics of Aymara and Quechua ori­gin, often self-suf­fi­cient, rel­a­tive­ly autonomous com­mu­ni­ties. Still, anar­chism, anti-impe­ri­al­ism, and oth­er Euro­pean ideas did make their way into the coun­try through links of of urban arti­sans and their coun­ter­parts in Argenti­na, Chile, and Peru.

But anar­chism, and anti-impe­ri­al­ism, coin­cid­ed with the iso­la­tion of the Aymara and the Quechua peo­ples who con­tin­ued to repro­duce labor sys­tems and moral economies of Incan or Pre-Columbian her­itage, out­side the expec­ta­tions of the “mod­ern” Boli­vian State. Also, sev­er­al of these indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties became vic­tims of the State and its attempts at dis­pos­sess­ing them of their access to agri­cul­tur­al lands, strug­gling to val­i­date Span­ish colo­nial doc­u­ments that acknowl­edged their legal sta­tus as own­ers of their com­mu­nal lands. In these cas­es, the com­mu­nal Ayl­lu sys­tems as well as the Chaqra pro­duc­tive units in the rur­al areas con­tin­ued to pre­vail in the con­text of the Boli­vian “appar­ent state.”15 In oth­er words, native Andean state­hood prac­tices per­sist­ed or sur­vived intact, chal­leng­ing the Boli­vian mod­ern state and its con­sti­tu­tion­al forms derived or inspired by Euro­pean mod­els and expec­ta­tions.16 In this sense there was a clear dis­junc­tion between the “legal nation” and the “real nation.”

Mate­ri­al­ly, we should rec­og­nize the sur­vival of ancient pro­duc­tive sys­tems such as the Ayl­lu and the Chaqras that played a func­tion­al role sup­port­ing the “indus­tri­al enclaves” by cir­cu­lat­ing pro­duce that was con­sumed by the emer­gent work­ing class of the min­ing indus­try. This is a per­fect exam­ple of the cohab­i­ta­tion of dif­fer­ent but com­ple­men­tary modes of pro­duc­tion: a free sys­tem of peas­ant-indige­nous pro­duc­tion pro­vid­ed cheap food to the “indus­tri­al” pop­u­la­tion of the min­ing camps. Cap­i­tal­ists like Simón I. Patiño need­ed not wor­ry about how to feed min­ers, since peas­ants would play this role in a clear exam­ple of the unequal artic­u­la­tion of dif­fer­ent (peas­ant) modes of pro­duc­tion absorbed by the emer­gent cap­i­tal­ist min­ing indus­try. Peas­ants would also serve as an indus­tri­al reserve army for min­ing labor itself.

The “accu­mu­la­tion by dis­pos­ses­sion” is evi­dent in min­er­al exports to the “cen­ters” of pro­cess­ing, Eng­land and the Unit­ed States, which installed met­al­lur­gic foundries to process Boli­vian tin ores. Ore exports and pro­cess­ing were key since tin ores are accom­pa­nied by oth­er “impu­ri­ties,” in this con­text includ­ing sil­ver, gold, anti­mo­ny, bis­muth, and baux­ite iron, which high­ly devel­oped tech­nolo­gies could sort out and from which prof­it could be pro­duced at rates high­er than pre­vi­ous­ly thought. In oth­er words, tech­no­log­i­cal advances such as smelt­ing were able to process what the Patiño Mines and Indus­try in Bolivia sold as “slag,” or trash, which accom­pa­nied raw tin ore exports. It is unlike­ly that we will ever know the actu­al quan­ti­ty of “ore impu­ri­ties” oth­er than tin that were sold by the Patiño Mines and processed by the smelt­ing com­pa­nies of Eng­land or the Unit­ed States. This dif­fers from the case of Spain in the 16th, 17th, and 18th cen­turies, when records account­ed for gold and sil­ver exports in great detail, in accor­dance with the obses­sive record-keep­ing of the bureau­crats of the Span­ish Crown. But the per­cep­tion of this extrac­tion of many rich­es, an echo of pre­vi­ous forms of exploita­tion under modes of the colo­nial econ­o­my, rein­forced the min­ers’ anti-impe­ri­al­ist con­scious­ness.

Mining Camp as a Laboratory of Influences

Among work­ers in this lucra­tive, inter­na­tion­al­ly con­nect­ed indus­try, min­ers’ dwellings in row camps called cam­pa­men­tos allowed for the mutu­al exchange or cir­cu­la­tion of ideas. Being that cam­pa­men­tos were well-struc­tured soci­eties with a clear orga­ni­za­tion­al hier­ar­chy, rank-and-file min­ers were extreme­ly con­scious of their pre­car­i­ty as labor­ers. Fur­ther­more the class, racial, gen­der, and age hier­ar­chies among work­ers con­tributed to a sen­ti­ment of labor exploita­tion that was artic­u­lat­ed by anti-impe­ri­al­is­tic ide­ol­o­gy. This camp’s polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment is dif­fer­ent from that of the iso­lat­ed peas­antry who, nev­er­the­less, had pre­vi­ous­ly revolt­ed against the State’s attempt at dis­pos­sess­ing them. In fact, this is an area that was the epi­cen­ter of the Tupaq Katari revolt in the late 1780s, fol­low­ing the pan-Andean Tupaq Amaru rebel­lion cen­tered in Peru and extend­ing into Bolivia. Sev­er­al schol­ars con­sid­er these pan-Andean revolts as the last attempt to recon­struct the pre­vi­ous Incan state.

By the 1900s, the prin­ci­ples of anar­chism entered cam­pa­men­tos and cir­cu­lat­ed via new­ly trans­lat­ed books, often read aloud in pub­lic to reach illit­er­ate work­ers. Anar­chism empha­sized edu­ca­tion as a way to politi­cize the his­tor­i­cal exploita­tion expe­ri­enced by min­ers. Social con­scious­ness was a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the pres­ence of polit­i­cal van­guards who shared com­ple­men­tary polit­i­cal inter­ests and cul­ti­vat­ed the notion of social rev­o­lu­tion led by the peo­ple, and in this case, the min­ers. Two polit­i­cal cur­rents, two escha­tolo­gies, rein­forced each oth­er: a notion of the Andean ide­ol­o­gy of Pachaku­ti, the turn­ing upside down of the times, and the call of social rev­o­lu­tion in which min­ers would seize pow­er to imple­ment social change. Although the anti-impe­ri­al­ist per­cep­tions were already embed­ded in the expec­ta­tions posed by the Pachaku­ti, the cir­cu­la­tion of ear­ly Marx­ist analy­ses strength­ened its expec­ta­tion. As fore­told in The Inter­na­tionale: “the earth would be the par­adise of human­i­ty.”17

At the end of the 1880s, anoth­er famous Andean revolt had occurred in the area where the tin mines were locat­ed, lead by Zárate, “The Feared Will­ka,” an indige­nous Quechua leader. This attempt was well known by rank-and-file min­ers lat­er on, as the out­come of that event shaped the Boli­vian polit­i­cal sys­tem for years to come. Lat­er on, news of the 1906 Mas­sacre of San­ta María de Iquique, a nitrate mine in North­ern Chile, arrived in Bolivia because sev­er­al of the nitrate min­ers who were killed were Quechua and Aymara. The news of this mas­sacre, too, would be linked in the minds of the rank and file to the ear­li­er indige­nous-peas­ant revolt. After the Chilean events of 1906, about 8,000 nitrate min­ers of Boli­vian her­itage returned to Bolivia by 1914.18 But this exten­sive migra­to­ry exchange of work­ers that cir­cu­lat­ed in Argenti­na, Bolivia, Peru, and Chile was also accom­pa­nied by the cir­cu­la­tion of ideas and print­ed man­i­festos of anar­chis­tic inspi­ra­tion. Min­ing camps allowed for intense polit­i­cal debate, even­tu­al­ly giv­ing birth to the dom­i­nant and autonomous polit­i­cal form of union­ism, or sindi­cal­is­mo.

Amidst the rank and file, the Com­mu­nist Man­i­festo was already cir­cu­lat­ing in trans­la­tion when the news of the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion of 1917 reached these min­ing camps, serv­ing as a call for upheaval to match the lin­ger­ing pro­pos­al of the insis­tent Andean Pachaku­ti. On the agrar­i­an side, despot­ic land­lord-peon rela­tions would also find an out­let in the idea of social revolt or jacquerie. By 1920s, the term “anti-impe­ri­al­ism” was rein­forced in the min­ing camps with the arrival of polit­i­cal exiles from Peru who brought word of the Russ­ian events as well as the news of the ongo­ing Mex­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion. These mil­i­tants would be the basis for the even­tu­al for­ma­tion of the Alian­za Pop­u­lar Rev­olu­cionar­ia Amer­i­cana or APRA. Their imme­di­ate influ­ence appeared in polit­i­cal dis­course with the pub­li­ca­tion of a short doc­u­ment titled “Teoría y Tác­ti­ca de la Juven­tud Anti­im­pe­ri­al­ista,” draft­ed by two emer­gent intel­lec­tu­al voic­es, Víc­tor Raúl Haya de la Torre from Peru, and José Inge­nieros from Argenti­na. The Fed­eración Uni­ver­si­taria in Argenti­na pub­lished the text in 1928, after Haya de la Torre had already been accused in 1922 of car­ry­ing the mes­sage of the Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion and was expelled from Peru. Social­ist rep­re­sen­ta­tive and Argen­tin­ian lawyer Alfre­do Pala­cios, also trav­elled to Bolivia to lec­ture on anti-impe­ri­al­ist pol­i­tics, incit­ing the min­ers to orga­nize, as did one A. Fournarakis of Buenos Aires, orga­niz­er of “the ‘South Amer­i­can Anar­chist Balka­ns Union,’ whose aim was to erase nation­al bor­ders by build­ing an inter­na­tion­al broth­er­hood.”19 Inter­na­tion­al trav­el­ers like these main­tained the flow of ear­ly rad­i­cal lit­er­a­ture and anti-impe­ri­al­ist ideas, and those work­ers inter­est­ed in read­ing and learn­ing from the cir­cu­la­tion of new mate­ri­als – specif­i­cal­ly the autonomous arti­sans who were orga­nized in guilds – were able to eager­ly absorb and appro­pri­ate them.

Anti-imperialism, Populism, and the Russian Revolution

After the Cha­co War (1932–1935), the for­mal orga­ni­za­tion of social­ist and com­mu­nist par­ties appeared on the polit­i­cal hori­zon, con­tribut­ing to mar­gin­al­ize the pre­vi­ous sindi­cal­ista and arti­san-inspired ten­den­cies of the anar­chists. Put sim­ply, times were chang­ing; the inter­na­tion­al growth of the Sovi­et-led com­mu­nist move­ment helped elim­i­nate arti­san-anar­chist trends, and labor itself, as well as man­age­ment, expe­ri­enced tech­no­log­i­cal changes. In 1944, when the min­ers’ union fed­er­a­tion was orga­nized, sev­er­al lead­ers were sup­port­ed by for­mal polit­i­cal par­ties, and the arti­san-anar­chists who claimed that “work­ers should rep­re­sent work­ers” were slow­ly defeat­ed. Arti­san guild demands were appro­pri­at­ed by unions con­trolled through social­ist and com­mu­nist hier­ar­chi­cal struc­tures. By 1944, min­ing union lead­ers had already bureau­cra­tized such insti­tu­tions, and the “work­er-leader” dis­ap­peared, replaced by “pro­fes­sion­al” par­ty politi­cians. The anar­chist move­ment was cor­nered and dis­missed due to the emer­gence of nation­al-rev­o­lu­tion­ary ide­ol­o­gy, nation­al­ism, and anti-impe­ri­al­ist dis­course.

This moment also coin­cid­ed with the sud­den arrival of a Trot­sky­ism in Bolivia, which was small in rep­re­sen­ta­tion but grave in its ideas, mak­ing Bolivia one of the only labor move­ments in the region with a seri­ous Trot­sky­ist pres­ence.20 By the time of the 1952 rev­o­lu­tion, nation­al-rev­o­lu­tion­ary ide­ol­o­gy strug­gled against social­ists, com­mu­nists, and Trot­sky­ists. Rev­o­lu­tion­ary nation­al­ism and pop­ulism deliv­ered the final blow both to the anar­chist move­ment and to the social­ist and com­mu­nist par­ties that had become cut off from the rur­al mass­es.21 Trot­sky­ists would remain the most influ­en­tial of old­er left cur­rents, invit­ing for­eign activists to assist, and con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide intel­lec­tu­al sup­port to the min­ers’ demands.

Region­al­ly, the ori­gins of pop­ulist anti-impe­ri­al­ism in the region date back to 1928, as Haya de la Torre con­tin­ued to insist in the need to orga­nize an anti-impe­ri­al­ist polit­i­cal par­ty that in 1936 emerged as APRA in Peru. This line tried to main­tain a sort of “Indoamer­i­can” inde­pen­dence from the larg­er com­mu­nist and social­ist par­ties that were already dis­plac­ing anar­chism as the dom­i­nant left voice on the new polit­i­cal hori­zon. This spe­cif­ic polit­i­cal cleav­age claimed a posi­tion that, by wav­ing this “Indoamer­i­can” iden­ti­ty, tried to nego­ti­ate a plat­form with the emer­gent mil­i­tant orga­ni­za­tions, espe­cial­ly new chap­ters of the Anti-Impe­ri­al­ist League of the Amer­i­c­as lead by com­mu­nists and social­ists.

This con­tes­ta­tion over the char­ac­ter of anti-impe­ri­al­ism, now between pop­ulist and com­mu­nist or social­ist artic­u­la­tions at the expense of anar­chism, took place in the con­text of the First World Anti-impe­ri­al­ist Con­gress in Brus­sels in Feb­ru­ary of 1927. At the time, the Bel­gian Pres­i­dent M. Van­dervelde spon­sored the inter­na­tion­al meet­ing. Sev­er­al, but not many, Latin Amer­i­cans were present: the head of the del­e­ga­tion, the Argen­tinean Vic­to­rio Codovil­la rep­re­sent­ing the Com­mu­nist Par­ty of Argenti­na, the Mex­i­can José Vas­con­ce­los, Argen­tin­ian Manuel Ugarte, Car­los Deam­bro­sis Mar­tins (Brazil), Car­los Qui­jano (Uruguay), Julio Anto­nio Mel­la (Cuba), N. Macha­do, Eudo­cio Rabines, and Vic­tor Raúl Haya de la Torre (Peru). Haya de la Torre, in par­tic­u­lar, reg­is­tered the Latin Amer­i­can del­e­ga­tion as “The Indoamer­i­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tion,” com­plain­ing about the fact that sev­er­al oth­er Latin Amer­i­can rep­re­sen­ta­tives had not been invit­ed.22

Under­stand­ing the con­text for the emer­gence of piv­otal inter­na­tion­al com­mu­nism, the hier­ar­chi­cal con­trol it offered under­mined local and autonomous forms of resis­tance still sus­tained by weak­ened anar­chists. It is inter­est­ing that, the con­cept of anti-impe­ri­al­ism, although applic­a­ble to the inspir­ing autonomous social move­ments of the times, was based on accu­rate rank-and-file per­cep­tions of often aggres­sive met­ro­pol­i­tan pres­ence and inter­ven­tion. Its “Indoamer­i­can” char­ac­ter tried to put for­ward issues per­tain­ing to the uneven his­to­ry of cap­i­tal­ism. Haya de la Torre, writ­ing in 1936 and attempt­ing to clar­i­fy his­tor­i­cal dif­fer­ences, wrote that:

In Europe, impe­ri­al­ism is “the last stage of cap­i­tal­ism” – this is to say, the corol­lary of a suc­ces­sion of cap­i­tal­ist stages – char­ac­ter­ized by export­ing or real­lo­cat­ing cap­i­tal and van­quish­ing mar­kets, tar­get­ing areas of nat­ur­al resources, in coun­tries of incip­i­ent [cap­i­tal­ist] economies. But, what to Europe is “the last stage of cap­i­tal­ism” in Indoamer­i­ca turns out to be the its first. For our peo­ples, import­ed or invest­ed [Euro­pean] cap­i­tal offers the ini­tial stage of its mod­ern cap­i­tal­ist peri­od.23

This per­cep­tion of a dystopi­an chronol­o­gy, of an altered and slow­ly emer­gent moder­ni­ty, made pos­si­ble the reten­tion of an anti-impe­ri­al­ist view that fueled the ide­o­log­i­cal foun­da­tions of resis­tance rein­forced, at least in Andean Bolivia, by the con­tin­u­ous renew­al of Andean ide­olo­gies inspired in the Pachaku­ti. What is pre­sent­ed as “Indoamer­i­ca,” an ear­ly iden­ti­ty that claimed a tel­luric self, prob­a­bly desta­bi­lized the Euro­cen­tric expec­ta­tions of anti-impe­ri­al­ist realpoli­tik pur­sued at the lev­el of the state. “Indoamer­i­ca” pro­vid­ed the ear­li­est foun­da­tion for an emer­gent nation­al­ism at times when the nation-state was still com­ing togeth­er through­out the region. In the process, what we nowa­days rec­og­nize as “pluri­cul­tur­al soci­eties” at the time were to become “homo­ge­neous” nation-states by force. Nation­al­ism offered a first cohe­sive “imag­ined com­mu­ni­ty” that attempt­ed to coopt ear­li­er dis­cours­es of nation­hood and make use of indige­nous pasts – even while it was often unable to deal with indi­gene­ity in the present, tak­ing up the anti-impe­ri­al­ist ideas that oth­er­wise were prove­nance of the com­mu­nist, social­ist, and anar­chist left.

But, after all, the pol­i­tics of anti-impe­ri­al­ism sur­vived and trig­gered dur­ing the 20th cen­tu­ry at least four Latin Amer­i­can social rev­o­lu­tions: Mex­i­co, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua. And, soon­er or lat­er, the Andean Pachaku­ti enact­ed a pol­i­tics of the Earth pro­vid­ing indige­nous social move­ments of the Andes the leit­mo­tiv to con­tin­ue pur­su­ing a pol­i­tics of resis­tance and trans­for­ma­tion of its own soci­ety. In a sense, a pop­u­lar or grass­roots under­stand­ing of an anti-impe­ri­al­ist ethos repro­duced itself, out­side the influ­ence of inter­na­tion­al realpoli­tik by nation­al­ist gov­ern­ments. Under the Evo Morales gov­ern­ment, a clear anti-impe­ri­al­ist stance and rhetoric is often retrieved, even if that restora­tion has an ono­mas­tic bent to it. It works because the sub­text of an anti-impe­ri­al­ist feel­ing or affec­tion inhab­its the polit­i­cal sen­ti­ments of the pop­u­lace. Bolivia under Evo is today the only remain­ing coun­try of the so-called “Pink Wave” of ten years ago when sev­er­al Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries were led by left­ist gov­ern­ments in clear chal­lenge to the expec­ta­tions of the failed Wash­ing­ton Con­sen­sus. Sev­er­al of those were undone, some by their own fail­ures rather than by express “impe­ri­al­ist” inter­ven­tion. Like­wise, Bolivia has still not appoint­ed an Amer­i­can ambas­sador since 2008, while the cur­rent U.S. gov­ern­ment is arguably enact­ing a “democradu­ra” along the nepot­ic and author­i­tar­i­an devi­a­tions of past Latin Amer­i­can regimes. The polit­i­cal vac­u­um left by the Unit­ed States has allowed the Boli­vian gov­ern­ment to strength­en social expen­di­ture out­side the influ­ence of IMF or IDB “rec­om­men­da­tions” but, at the same time, Evo’s mod­ern­iza­tion projects remain with­in neolib­er­al para­me­ters, very often depend­ing on extrac­tivism and for­eign invest­ments com­ing from Chi­na and India. It might be said that his is a re-arranged neolib­er­al mod­el, a con­ces­sion to sep­a­ratists in the country’s gas-rich East­ern Ama­zon­ian region, with some social and envi­ron­men­tal con­scious­ness in which Moth­er Earth has, at least nom­i­nal­ly, rights as well. Its major achieve­ment, that of re-found­ing Bolivia by clos­ing the gap between the real nation and the legal nation, and by pro­vid­ing the resources for autonomous ter­ri­to­r­i­al self-man­age­ment, still waits for the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of a post-cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety, out­side the con­straints placed by larg­er, core play­ers of the world sys­tem. For as it is known, dis­tanced from its dis­cur­sive prac­tice, Evo Morales plays the game by mea­sur­ing redis­tri­b­u­tion and readapt­ing neolib­er­al forms; but on the oth­er hand, impe­ri­al­ism itself has mor­phed, becom­ing larg­er, decen­tered, more mul­ti­fac­eted, finan­cial, and transna­tion­al. In this con­text, Bolivia’s out­ward anti-impe­ri­al­ism and envi­ron­men­tal­ism stand in con­trast to their work­ing with for­eign cap­i­tal on nat­ur­al gas extrac­tion and large-scale chem­i­cal-depen­dent agri­cul­ture. The ques­tion lies in Bolivia’s polit­i­cal will to move beyond the illu­sive mod­el of one par­ty rule, and the re-emer­gence of the pop­u­lar anti-impe­ri­al­ist sen­ti­ments that have char­ac­ter­ized its his­to­ry.

  1. Vijay Prashad and Teo Bal­lvé, Dis­patch­es from Latin Amer­i­ca: On the Front­lines Against Neolib­er­al­ism. (Cam­bridge: South End Press, 2006); Marc Zim­mer­man and Luis Ochoa-Bil­bao, eds., Giros cul­tur­ales en la marea rosa de Améri­ca Lati­na (Hous­ton: La Casa and BUAP, 2012). 

  2. Anti-impe­ri­al­ism should be dis­tin­guished from the term “Anti-Amer­i­can­ism.” See: Alan McPher­son, Yan­kee No! Anti-Amer­i­can­ism in U.S.-Latin Amer­i­can Rela­tions (Cam­bridge: Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2006) 5–6. 

  3. Har­ry Cleaver, Read­ing Cap­i­tal Polit­i­cal­ly (Austin: Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas Press, 1979), 14–16. Cleaver sum­ma­rizes the emer­gence of impe­ri­al­ist and cri­sis the­o­ry, espe­cial­ly Rosa Luxemburg’s Reform or Rev­o­lu­tion, from as ear­ly as 1900. But he also iden­ti­fies the dis­cus­sion as being most­ly West­ern Euro­pean. It fol­lows then that the polit­i­cal par­ty or autonomous rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ments as such would artic­u­late “anti-impe­ri­al­ism” from a posi­tion of evi­dent eco­nom­ic despo­li­a­tion of the region. 

  4. Some, how­ev­er, might refer to the case of Puer­to Rico as an exam­ple of the Unit­ed States’s poor imple­men­ta­tion of colo­nial­ism – since Puer­to Rico main­tains its right to speak Span­ish, so it seems that U.S. colo­nial­i­ty can­not impose its impe­r­i­al lan­guage and com­plete its colo­nial task of replac­ing the local cul­ture and lan­guage with anoth­er. 

  5. Anto­nio Negri, Marx Beyond Marx: Lessons on the Grun­drisse, trans. Har­ry Cleaver, Michael Ryan, and Mau­r­izio Viano (South Hadley, MA: Bergin and Gar­vey Publishers,1984), 121. 

  6. Sil­via Rivera Cusi­can­qui and Zule­ma Lehm, Los arte­sanos lib­er­tar­ios y la éti­ca del tra­ba­jo (La Paz: THOA, 1988), 26–32. 

  7. Huás­car Rodríguez Gar­cía, La choledad anti­es­tatal: El anar­cosindi­cal­is­mo en el movimien­to obrero boli­viano, 1912-1965 (Buenos Aires: Libros de Anar­res, 2010), 12. 

  8. Negri, Marx Beyond Marx, 121. 

  9. After a com­bat­ive Work­ers’ Day cel­e­bra­tion on May 1, 1923, the Boli­vian army, led by Colonel Ayoroa, con­duct­ed a mas­sacre on June 23, 1923. This issue was cov­ered by the Argen­tinean jour­nal­ist Lobodón Gar­ra, nom de plume of Libo­rio Jus­to, in his book Masas y Balas (Buenos Aires: Edi­ciones de la Flor, 1974), 113–77. Boli­vian labor his­to­ri­an Tri­fo­nio Del­ga­do Gon­za­les fetched a copy of Colonel’s Ayo­ra report on the mas­sacre, which had been sent to the gov­ern­ment. That text is reprint­ed in his book, 100 Años de Lucha Obr­era en Bolivia (La Paz: Edi­to­r­i­al Isla, 1984), 71–76.  

  10. Cen­so Gen­er­al de la Población de la Repúbli­ca del Bolivia (Cochabam­ba: Edi­to­r­i­al Canelas, 1973 [1901]); Pedro Anice­to Blan­co, “Cen­so de la población,”  Dic­cionario Geográ­fi­co (La Paz: Ofic­i­na Nacional de Inmigración, Estadística y Pro­pa­gan­da Geográfica. pp. lxvii. Bolivia con­duct­ed just two cen­sus­es dur­ing the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry, in 1900 and 1950. 

  11. Indeed, plat­forms demand­ing “land to the peas­ants, and mines to the State” cir­cu­lat­ed before the Cha­co War, spear­head­ed by anar­chist author Tristán Marof who wrote La Jus­ti­cia del Inca in 1926, inspir­ing the first bloque obrero that enters the Nation­al Con­gress in 1938. See Fer­rán Gal­le­gos, “La Con­ven­ción Nacional de 1938,” in Ejérci­to, nacional­is­mo y reformis­mo en Améri­ca Lati­na: La gestión de Ger­mán Busch en Bolivia (Barcelona: PPU, 1992), 31–100. 

  12. See Tri­fo­nio Del­ga­do Gon­za­les, Recuer­dos de Ayer, 1916–1929 (La Paz: Plur­al Edi­tores, 2012), 37–49. 

  13. This strate­gic labor posi­tion­ing is revealed in the min­ers’ union’s active and rad­i­cal mil­i­tan­cy. Lau­rence White­head ana­lyzes this con­junc­tur­al aspect in his arti­cle “Sobre el rad­i­cal­is­mo de los tra­ba­jadores mineros de Bolivia,” Revista Mex­i­cana de Soci­ología 42, no. 4 (1980): 1465–96. 

  14. In addi­tion to the mil­i­tary indus­tri­al com­plex, the demand for tin also accom­pa­nies anoth­er byprod­uct of urban liv­ing: the tin can. There­fore, indus­tri­al­iza­tion also rep­re­sent­ed the ear­li­est forms of urban­iza­tion that accom­pa­nied the dis­place­ment of dis­pos­sessed rur­al inhab­i­tants and which formed part of the emer­gent indus­tri­al belt in core areas of the world. This new­ly added “indus­tri­al” and urban labor need­ed to be fed, a sit­u­a­tion that coin­cides with the inven­tion of tin can­ning and the pre­serve indus­try. When Andy Warhol paint­ed his famous Campbell’s soup tins in 1962, he was remind­ing us of the cen­tral­i­ty of the tin can in the his­to­ry of world indus­tri­al­iza­tion. 

  15. René Zavale­ta Mer­ca­do, Lo nacional-pop­u­lar en Bolivia (Mex­i­co City: Siglo XXI, 1986), 162–64. 

  16. For the Boli­vian case, the case par­al­lels the enclo­sures, belat­ed­ly. See Sil­via Rivera Cusi­can­qui, “Democ­ra­cia lib­er­al y democ­ra­cia de ayl­lu,” in Bolivia en la hora de su mod­ern­ización, ed. Mario Miran­da Pacheco (Mex­i­co City: UNAM, 1993), 217–55. 

  17. This line is includ­ed in at least one pop­u­lar ver­sion of the lyrics in Span­ish. 

  18. Rodríguez Gar­cía, La choledad anti­es­tatal, 28. 

  19. Rivera Cusi­can­qui and Lehm, Los arte­sanos lib­er­tar­ios y la éti­ca del tra­ba­jo, 27. 

  20. On Boli­vian Trot­sky­ism see Juan Rob­les, “Trot­sky­ism in Bolivia, ” New Inter­na­tion­al 13, no. 9 (Decem­ber 1947): 282–85; For a more gen­er­al his­to­ry of the work­ing class from the per­spec­tive of Bolivia’s most promi­nent Trot­sky­ist orga­niz­ers, see Guiller­mo Lora, A His­to­ry of the Bolivia Labour Move­ment, ed. Lau­rence White­head, trans. Chris­tine White­head (Cam­bridge: Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1977). 

  21. For more on the rela­tion­ship of social­ism to the rur­al and peas­ant sec­tors, see Enrique Ibáñez Rojo, “Sub­de­sar­rol­lo y movimien­to obrero: Una reflex­ión sobre los límites del social­is­mo boli­viano (1940–1964),” Tiem­pos de Améri­ca, no. 3–4 (1999): 119–36; Sid­ney Mintz, “The Rur­al Pro­le­tari­at and the Prob­lem of Rur­al Pro­le­tar­i­an Con­scious­ness,” The Jour­nal of Peas­ant Stud­ies 1, no. 3 (1974): 291–325. 

  22. José Car­los Mar­iátegui, a pro­tégé of Haya de la Torre, wrote 7 Ensayos de inter­pretación de la real­i­dad peru­a­na by 1928. In Mex­i­co the Anti-Impe­ri­al­ist League of the Amer­i­c­as was orga­nized by 1924. 

  23. Haya de la Torre, Víc­tor Raúl, El Antim­pe­ri­al­is­mo y el APRA (San­ti­a­go de Chile: Edi­to­r­i­al Ercil­la, 1936), 51. 

Author of the article

is an Andean anthropologist in the faculty of the Anthropology Department of the University of California Santa Cruz. He is a member of the Bolivian Research Review, editor of T. Delgado Gonzales' Carne de Cañón. ¡Ahora Arde Kollitas! Diario de Guerra, 1932-1933 (Plural, 2015), and writes on social movements, Quechua, indigeneity, and the anthropology of mining.