Economic Change and Rural Resistance in Southern Bolivia, 1880-1930

Economic Change and Rural Resistance in Southern Bolivia, 1880-1930

Author: Erick Detlef Langer

Publisher: Stanford University Press

ISBN: 0804714916

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 298

View: 226

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In the late nineteenth century, the disintegration of the silver-mining economy that had survived since the colonial period effected fundamental economic and social changes in southern Bolivia. The changes took three forms: increased conflict between peasants and elites, expanded concentration of land into large estates, and worsened labor conditions among the peasants. This study concentrates on the four provinces in the department of Chuquisaca, using them as case studies of how and why rural peoples adapted to and resisted the changes in their lives. Resistance took many forms: strikes, rebellions, insurrections, court challenges, banditry, and flight. In the reactions to change in these provinces, the author sees certain common characteristics that transcend the region and can be discerned in other parts of Latin America. On the basis of the Chuquisaca experience, he also questions the validity of current theories of peasant resistance and rebellion. The author describes the reactions of the oligarchy based in Sucre, the capital, to the decline of silver as Bolivia's major export, showing how they attempted to regain their preeminent financial and political position by a number of strategies, notably the expansion of the hacienda system. This expansion gave rise to different problems in each of the four provinces: in Yamparaez, fierce resistance by the Indian communities to any changes; in Cinti, violent labor disputes brought on by the creation of enormous agro-industrial estates; in Azero, Indian attempts to escape debt peonage by migrating or by joining Franciscan missions; and in Tomina, widespread banditry. The final chapter compares and contrasts the various forms of rural resistance in the context of their social, economic, and cultural foundations.