Bolivia in the 1940's

Bolivia in the 1940’s

Borders and surface. – After the Chaco War, the borders between Bolivia and Paraguay were fixed (see map) by an arbitration panel, according to what was foreseen by the peace treaty ratified by the two countries on 29 August 1938 and formed by the representatives of the Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, the United States and Uruguay. This border has assigned most of the disputed territory to Paraguay; a recent map measurement has given Bolivia, within the new borders, an area of ​​1,085,000 sq km.

Population. – As of September 1943 it was estimated at 3,596,000 residents (3.3 per sq. Km.) On the same date the main cities had the following population: La Paz, 301,000 inhab .; Cochabamba, 60,000; Oruro, 50,000; Potosí, 40,000; Santa Cruz de la Sierra, 33,000; Sucre, 30,000; Tarija, 27,000. For Bolivia 2009, please check

Economic conditions. – In sharp decline, compared to the data of 1931-32, there are almost all the main crops in 1944-45: maize (100,000 ha. And 1.5 million q.), Wheat (17,000 ha. And 140,000 q..), barley (50,000 ha. and 600,000 q.), coffee (6000 ha. and 25,000 q.). In the same year, potato cultivation extended over 70,000 ha. (4,025,000 q. Of product), and that of rice on 12,000 ha. (150,000 quintals). Livestock in 1944: cattle, 2,887,000; sheep, 4,414,000; goats, 1,198,000; llamas and alpacas, 1,882,000; horses, 300,000; donkeys, 160,000; mules, 250,000; pigs, 398,000.

In the production of tin, after the minimum of 1933, there was a continuous recovery and in 1935 41,168 tons were obtained. of concentrated mineral. In the same year the production of silver was 208,000 kg.; due to the war the importance has grown and therefore the extraction of tungsten (2311 t. exported in 1945) and antimony (5535 t. exported in the same year) became more active.

The Cochabamba-Santa Cruz de la Sierra railway is under construction; from mid-1944 the Santa Cruz-Corumbá line (Brazil) was opened for operation. Railways in 1946: 2987 km. Overhead line development: 5600 km.

Commerce. – Between 1940 and 1944 the value of imports increased from 93.9 to 146.1 million Bolivianos and that of exports from 167.2 to 262.4 million.

Finance. – The figures from the financial statements from 1938 to 1947 are shown below:

At December 31, 1946, the internal public debt amounted to 623 million and the external debt to 7,125 million.

The country’s currency situation improved during the Second World War and can now be said to be satisfactory, although in 1947 the balance of payments turned passive and exchange controls had to be tightened. The official exchange rate of the Bolivian has remained unchanged since 1944 at the figure of 42.42 Bolivianos per dollar; in addition to this exchange rate there is a fixed exchange rate of 56.05 bolivianos per dollar, established by decree of October 1947 for the purchases of gold and for a long series of commercial operations, and a free exchange rate which, at the end of May 1948, was of 75.50 Bolivianos per dollar. The gold parity of the Bolivian reported to the International Monetary Fund is 0.0211588 grams of fine, equal to an exchange rate of 42 bolivianos per 1 dollar.

Banco central de Bolivia, which passed under the control of the state in 1939 and reorganized with an organic law of December 1945, performs, at the same time, the functions of an issuing institution and a commercial bank with two separate managements and is required to maintain tickets issued a legal reserve made up half of gold and the other half of commercial bills and securities. As of March 31, 1948, he had notes in circulation for 1,825 million (December 1939 = 369 million), covered by a reserve in gold and foreign currencies of 1,223 million. Banco Minero was established in 1937 and Banco Agrícola in 1942.

Cinema. – In the pioneering period, a modest documentary activity developed in Bolivia mainly due to L. Castillo, the first Bolivian filmmaker. In the mid-1920s the first fictional feature films began to appear: La profecía del lago (1923) by JM Maidana, Corazon aimara (1925) by the Italian P. Sambarino, La gloria de la raza (1926) by L. Castillo and A. Posnansky, who deal with issues related to the life and history of the Indians in different ways. The most celebrated film of the silent era is Wara-Wara (1929), by V. Maidana, which has as its subject a legend about the Incas.

The first sound feature film, La guerra del Chaco, was released in 1936 by L. Bazoberry. However, it is documentarism that, from the very beginning, has been the sector most frequented by Bolivian cinema and the only one capable of establishing itself with a certain continuity when, after the advent of sound, the production of fiction almost totally stops for about twenty. of years.

With the revolution of 1952, a militant documentary film directly subsidized by the Bolivian Institute of Cinema (IBC) was born, a government body created in 1953. A. Roca and J. Ruiz represent the most relevant personalities in this field; to them we owe, in addition to an endless number of short films, some of the most important documentary works of all national cinema: Vuelve Sebastiana (1953), on an Indian community in extinction, and La Vertiente (1958), signed by Ruiz alone, which tells the story of a country struggling to get drinking water.

Around 1960 also J. Sanjinés began to work, who after the coup of gen. R. Barrientos takes over the management of the IBC and in 1965 makes Ukamau, a film against the tide on the relations between Indios and mestizos which leads to the closure of the IBC. Together with O. Soria, screenwriter, and R. Rada, production manager, Sanjinés founded the Grupo Ukamau which theorizes and practices a revolutionary, anti- regime cinema. The group is joined by A. Eguino, director of photography, to make Yawar malku (“Sangue di condor”), inspired by the real events of a peasant trade unionist. It is an openly militant film which, upon its release in 1969, even provokes a popular demonstration. Due to the 1971 coup, the next feature film, El coraje del pueblo, will be concluded by Sanjinés in exile. On the contrary, Soria and Eguino will choose not to leave the country by continuing their progressive discourse, but within the limits imposed by the regime.

With the coup d’état of 1980 and the start of the democratic process, while new cultural perspectives are opening up, no restructuring is carried out from the production-industrial point of view and the fate of cinema remains uncertain and difficult, not adequately protected by state, increasingly undermined by the liberalization of television. However, in 1984, after a decade in which the average of one film per year was not exceeded, and despite the persisting severe economic crisis, five feature films were produced. Among these we can remember Las banderas del Amanecer by Sanjinés and Bolivia Palacies, a documentary on popular struggles in the early 1980s; Amargo mar, Eguino’s third film, which develops a historical subject by telling the so-called ‘Pacific War’ in an original way, fought against Chile; Tinku – El encuentro by J. Miranda, the story of a Bolivian child adopted by a couple of American tourists, who returns to his country of origin when he grows up to rediscover its traditions; Los hermanos Cartagena by P. Agazzi, in which the last thirty years of national history are reconstructed through the private stories of two brothers.

Bolivia in the 1940's