Sunday, July 22, 2007


Day before yesterday the Singapore tele ran a story on Bolivia concerning the proposed shift of Bolivia's capital from the city of La Paz (photo on the right) to the city of Sucre. There were clips of a huge open air meeting where thousands upon thousands of folk from La Paz gathered to assert their status as capital of Bolivia. I got all excited because we hear almost nothing about Bolivia in the Singapore media.

Knowing Bolivian history might help us understand what's going on.


The declaration of independance from the Spanish Empire was signed and Bolivia was officially declared a nation; Sucre played an important role in this historical milestone. Since then, Sucre was recognized as the capital of Bolivia. In the ensuing years however the city of La Paz began to grow in prominence because of its expanding economy and growing political clout. It was easier to get things done in La Paz. And so La Paz began to assume the characteristics of a nation's capital. Before long, major multinational corporations, embassies, banks and all major political institutions (president's palace and congress) were encouraged or decided on their own to build infraestructure in and function from La Paz.

In an attempt to placate Sucre, La Paz was called the administrative capital of Bolivia; Sucre was referred to as the constitutional capital. Sucre has been tolerating this ambigous arrangement for many years. There is nothing ambigous however about the perception of La Paz being the capital of the country. The country is run from La Paz and just about everybody, be it a Bolivian or foreigner view La Paz as the nation's capital.

Folk in Sucre, intermittently, however kick up a row about restoring its rightful place as the only recognized capital of Bolivia. They don't want to be treated like some left over dusty relic in a musuem and are trying to reclaim their lost prestige through the constitutional assembly which has the task of redoing Bolivia's constitution.


So will Sucre get their way?

No they're not! I can't imagine the nation's major institutions be it public or private, emptying their infraestructure in La Paz and moving to Sucre. Also the people in La Paz, the Pacenos, are not ready to cede to Sucre. They, the Pacenos, came by the thousands in La Paz at a special rally, called a Cabildo, this week, to oppose Sucre's claims.

For better or worse La Paz will remain the capital of Bolivia.

1 comment:

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