The History of Sucre and Chuquisaca

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ESPAÑOL This is a detailed summary of the history of Chuquisaca. You can learn more about Chuquisaca, and Bolivia’s capital city Sucre, by looking up information on points that are of special interest to you.


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The Pre-Hispanic Charcas

This region was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples whom the Spanish conquistadors called the “Charcas”. As with most of the Western and valley peoples, they were colonized by the warriors of the Tawantisuyo around the middle of the 14th Century. Because of this, they still speak Quechua, even though ethnically they are not descendants of the Incas. Over the years, and thanks to archeological excavations near the city of Sucre (capital of the department of Chuquisaca) more is now known about the prehistoric past of this region (from fossils found at Cal Orcko), along with vestiges of human settlements that may date back as far as 10,000 B.C. (from excavations at Quila Quila, Maragua and Punuilla), although few traces were left by any one greatly flourishing culture. Currently the Charcas are known as the Yamparas and Mojocoyas, and they inhabit the entire central and northern areas of the department of Sucre.

To the South, the provinces of Luis Calvo and Hernando Siles are inhabited by an ethnic group called the Chané who were absorbed by the Guaraní as the latter expanded through the entire Chaco region of what is now Bolivia. The Charcas resisted the many Guaraní incursions and others by the Incas and eventually Europeans, until they were unable to resist any longer. The Incas gave them a more disrespectful name, calling them Chiriguanos. Today they call themselves Ava_Guarani, which means “the people” or “the men”.

The “La Plata” Conquest

This region was included in a territory that was put under the command of Diego de Almagro when, after the conquest of Peru, territories were being divided up. However, when Diego de Almagro was defeated and executed in a civil war that broke out among the conquistadors, the governor of Peru, Francisco Pizarro, sent one of his younger brothers to colonize the area Almagro had initially explored. Thus, Gonzalo Pizarro arrived in Potosí first (in 1538) and then advanced toward a valley with softly undulating hills and a temperate, dry climate inhabited by various indigenous groups, called Cochabamba, where the natives did not exactly welcome him cordially. He entered into combat with them and, near defeat, sent work to his older brother (Francisco Pizarro) who sent a third Pizarro brother, Hernando, to his aid.

The indigenous chieftain, Ayaviri, was forced to surrender and this opened the way for Gonzalo Pizarro to travel toward Choquechaca where he entered into an alliance with Aymuro, a chieftain of the Yamparas, who gave him a piece of territory called Pacha so he and his brothers could settle there. But Pizarro did not stay long enough to enjoy his new land. He continued to advance, taking up residence shortly in Chaqui and Porco (in Potosí) as well. Later, when his brother Francisco Pizarro died, the King of Spain named a new viceroy to take his place who passed several laws the conquistadors opposed. Gonzalo Pizarro headed a rebellion against the new viceroy, but he and his men were defeated and executed in 1548.

Previously, Pizarro had commissioned the Marquis of Camporedondo, Capt. Pedro de Anzúrez, to go to the territory of the Charcas peoples and found a settlement there in order to stave off hostile indigenous peoples, safeguard existing silver mines, and provide support to the mining towns in Potosí. Captain Anzúrez selected a site near Pacha known as the Colina de Chonchupata near the foot of a pair of mountains called Sica Sica and Churuquella (this is the present site of the Mirador de la Recoleta in the city of Sucre, which is frequently visited by tourists). There, on 16 April 1540 (although some dispute this date, stating it was actually 29 September 1538) he founded a town which he called Villa de la Plata de la Nueva Toledo. He named it after the silver (plata) mines that existed in the area and after an area he had already named Nueva Toledo to the south of Lima, Peru which also belonged to him.

La Plata During the Colonial Era

In 1555, Carlos V (King Charles the 5th), Emperor of Spain and Germany, gave La Villa de la Plata the official rank of “city” by means of a royal seal. By then it was a prosperous town with a bishop and a courthouse. A few years later, King Charles the 5th decided to organize the chaotic colonies which were administrated from Lima and basically under the authority of each conquistador at will. Thus, he created the Real Audiencia de Charcas on 18 Septemer 1559, putting the the Audiencia de Lima under its jurisdiction. It became the highest court in the Americas, as any legal appeals had to be sent all the way to the Cortes de India in Sevilla, Spain. The Audiencia de Charcas had five “oidores” (judges) and one chairman and began to function official as of 1561. The first chairman was Don Pedro Ramírez de Quiñones, and it had only three judges at first: Juan Matienzo, Pedro López de Haro, and an attorney whose last name was Recalde.

Soon La Villa de la Plata began to acquire fame as an educational center when the Royal University of San Francisco Xavier was founded in 1624. The priests of the Compañía de Jesús created it in March of that year, naming the university in honor of one of their canonized members, the Jesuit priest Francisco Xavier, on land that today is the northern sidewalk of the city’s central plaza. It’s main assembly hall was built on the plot that today is occupied by the Casa de la Libertad. Only the majors that were typical of the era were taught: theology and medicine, and throughout the continent was considered a very prestigious university. So many students came from other colonies that at one time 1 of every 20 inhabitants was a student.

While Spain was in what seemed would be an unending war with Flanders, its colonies flourished throughout the 17th Century until they reached sizes that rivaled even the largest European cities. The Audiencia de Charcas was administratively divided into four “intendencias” (administrative centers): the Intendencia de Potosí, Intendencia de La Paz, Intendencia de Chuquisaca (Sucre), and the Intendencia de Santa Cruz. The Intendencia de Chuquisaca (named after a mispronounced version of Choquechaca, as the indigenous peoples of the area were called) was further divided into six sections: Yamparaez, Tomina, Pilaya y Paspaya, Oruro, Paria and Carangas. Its economy centered primarily on agriculture and the mining of minerals.

During the silver mining crisis that took place near the beginning of the 18th Century, which affected the areas of Potosí and La Plata, the Audiencia lost some of its luster. It was removed from under the jurisdiction of the Viceroy of Lima and incorporated into the jurisdiction of the new Viceroy of Rio de la Plata, which was headquartered in Buenos Aires, in 1776. Despite this, in 1783 it was awarded fairly autonomous status as the governors of each of the “intendencias” were still allowed to make their own decisions regarding administrative, public order, and even military issues, with consent from the Viceroy.

La Plata During the Revolutionary Period

It is said that the first cry for freedom (from Spain) had less to do with a true desire for freedom and more to do with this colony’s loyalty to Spanish King Fernando the 7th. His rivals, the Portuguese and French, wanted to depose him and get their hands on “the goose that laid the golden eggs” for the Spanish crown. In any case, some of the protagonists of the revolution, graduates of San Francisco Xavier University who frequently discussed the French Revolution and North American independence, did seek freedom. One of them was attorney Jaime de Zudáñez. It was his imprisonment that led to the popular revolt that eventually expanded throughout the rest of the Audiencia and, over the years, finally ended Spanish dominion over the colonies.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Audiencia de la Plata was governed by Ramón García de León y Pizarro (commonly called García Pizarro) as of 1797. He was not a very popular person and he continually entered into conflict with the court judges and citizens of the area and quite frequently aired his disagreements publicly by passing out incendiary pamphlets. By this time the motherland (Spain) had been occupied by Napoleon, emperor of France, who, in an attempt to teach the Portuguese a lesson, decided that Madrid, Spain and its silver and gold-plated colonies were worth much more than arid Lisboa (Portugal). He deposed King Charles the 5th and kidnapped his son, Fernando the 7th, obligating him to abdicate the throne. But the people of Spain were not content to watch the French parade around. Instead, they rebelled and in several cities they formed a governing “junta”. The Junta Suprema de España e Indias, in Sevilla, sent José Manuel de Goyeneche to the colonies to obtain support from the viceroys of Lima and Buenos Aires in order to overthrow the French monarch Napoleon Bonaparte had put in place and return the king to his throne.

Goyeneche first passed through Brazil where he visited the royals of Lusitania who had taken refuge there. Among them was the sister of Fernando the 7th, reigning Queen of Portugal, Carlota Joaquina de Borbón, who was in exile there, and very anxious to reign over her brother’s colonies. She gave Goyeneche a letter in which she suggested this to the viceroys of Lima and Buenos Aires and Goyeneche took them to the colonies. Their reaction was not what she expected.

Her now famous letters caused the already awful relationship between García Pizarro and the Audiencia to erupt with threats of arrests, screaming insults in the courtroom, warnings that the Archbishop would be excommunicated, and the death of the Regidor of the Audiencia during a dispute. The chairman, along with Goyeneche and the Archbishop of La Plata, Monsignor Moxó, declared themselves supporters of Carlota Joaquina’s intentions while the judges and attorneys of the city declared themselves loyal to Fernando the 7th and rejected all authority of the Junta de Sevilla. They made their opposition known in a document stating they would consider annexing to Brazil and they denounced García Pizarro and Viceroy Santiago de Liniers for treason. The chairman counteracted by destroying their document, but they discovered this and the relationship between the opposing sides took a turn for the worse. After a long war of words exchanged by means of newspaper articles, most of which were written by recently a graduated attorney called Bernardo Monteagudo, García Pizarro heard a rumor that the Audiencia was planning to ask for his resignation, and that they were going to meet at the home of judge José de la Iglesia. García Pizarro decided to gain the upper hand by ordering six of the most vociferous of them to be arrested. However, they found out in time to flee; therefore, when the time came to arrest them, only Jaime de Zudáñez was found and taken into custody.

On 25 May 1809, when he was taken to the courthouse jail, they passed through the central plaza followed by a multitude of citizens who had been attracted by screaming (coming from Zudáñez’ sister) as she followed his captors. Soon the crowd found out what had happened and began to throw rocks at the courthouse, demanding his freedom and the chairman’s resignation. They shouted “Death to this bad government and long live Fernando the 7th!” A man named Lemoine convinced the priests at the San Francisco church to let him climb to the belfry where he rang the bell until it cracked. The same soon happened throughout the city as bells began to ring to call for the townspeople to come to the plaza. García Pizarro was unable to move his troops to repress the people because his command officer sided with the crowd and commanded his soldiers not to obey Pizarro’s orders. The multitude demanded that Pizarro give all weapons from the military barracks over to them, along with political and military command. This he refused to do so the crowd blew up the door of the court palace with canons. Defeated, Pizarro gave himself up the next day, on the 26th of May. The history of the colony of Charcas had begun with a Pizarro and ended with a Pizarro.

The revolutionaries gave political command of the Audiencia over to the lead judge, José de la Iglesia, and military command to Coronel Juan Antonio Álvarez de Arenales. Citizen militians were organized to defend the city, and were divided according to occupation. Brothers Joaquín and Juan Manuel Lemoine headed the 1st Infantry and 3rd Silversmiths divisions. Manuel and Jaime Zudáñez headed the Academics and Calvary. Pedro Carvajal headed the Weavers, Toribio Salinas headed the Tailors, Manuel de Entrambasaguas headed the Hatmakers, and Bernardo Monteagudo’s brother Miguel headed the Shoemakers. Diego Ruíz headed a Painters unit, Manuel Corcuera a Miscellaneous unit, and Manuel de Sotomayor, Mariano Guzmán and Nicolás de Larrazábal headed an Artillery unit along with an indigenous corps. They headed out to meet Francisco de Paula Sanz, the royalist governor of Potosí and illegitimate uncle of the Spanish king, who had been sent to fight them. They convinced him to turn back. They then sent secret emissaries to the remaining Intendencias and to Argentina to promote support for independence with the justification that it would be done to support Fernando the 7th. The most successful of these emissaries was Mariano Michel, who helped train Murillo’s revolutionary group in La Paz.

History of Bolivia: Sucre Bolivia History

But governor Sanz alerted the Viceroy of Lima, José Fernando de Abascal, who sent Goyeneche to repress a revolt in La Paz to ensure this mentality would not be contagious and reach Peru. Meanwhile, the new Viceroy of Río de la Plata, Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros, sent General Vicente Nieto to fight against La Plata. Goyeneche was successful and squelched the revolt in La Paz. The residents of Chuquisaca then decided to free García Pizarro, whom they had condemned as a traitor, and grudgingly accepted Nieto (named by the viceroy) as the new chairman of the Audiencia. He arrived in Chuquisaca in December 1809 and immediately ordered all the rebel judges and leaders of the revolution arrested. He hunted them down, judged them and send them all to jail in Lima, far away, rather than sending them to Buenos Aires because they had many university classmates there who were equally rebellious and might start a new revolt. Thus the May revolution ended but those who were sent to Lima did not give up. When Spain granted them amnesty one year later, they returned to fight, including Arenales and Monteagudo.

Coincidentally, it was in Argentina that the revolts began anew, once again on the 25th of May, but this time in 1810. When Sanz and Nieto found out that the viceroy of Buenos Aires had been overthrown and a junta had been set up in his place, they decided to remove Chuquisaca from under Buenos Aires jurisdiction and place it under the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalty of Lima. Things didn’t go well for Sanz and Nieto, who assumed they would be able to squelch this revolt as easily as they had done in La Plata. He named a new chairman of the Audiencia, an Argentine called Juan Martin de Pueyrredón. After this, the United Provinces of Río de la Plata would support the Audiencia territory by supplying a total of four Auxiliary Armies until in finally obtained its achieved its freedom.

However, the true heroes of independence were the warriors of the Republiquetas. After the defeat of the patriots during the Battle of Guaqui in 1811, the cities of the Audiencia returned to royalist control but rural areas continued to cause headaches for Goyeneche as guerrilla armies formed and gained control over large areas of territory. These guerrilla-controlled independent territories were known as “republiquetas” (little republics) and there were 8 such territories in the Chuquisaca area including the Republiqueta de Cinti to the south and the Republiqueta de La Laguna to the center and north. The latter became famous because of a couple named Manuel Ascencio Padilla and his wife Juana, whom official Bolivian history books relegaron. She was the only daughter of a widower military man who had retired on a farm. She was rebellious, dressed like a boy, and learned to handle the saber from her father. She married the wealthy Manuel Ascencio four years prior to the beginning of the revolution in 1805. Padilla joined the patriot Argentine army legions led by González Balcarce, fighting along with the Northern Army and the first Argentinean expedition. Goyeneche confiscated the Padilla’s land in Chuquisaca and took his wife Juana and their children hostage but not Manuel Ascencio, who was able to escape and free his family. When another Argentine army headed by General Belgrano entered the Audiencia, Padilla again enrolled, taking with him ten thousand indigenous troops, Juana and his children. She, as one might expect, didn’t dedicate her time simply to accompanying him or bandaging injuries. Instead, she found along his side like any other soldier. She was skillful with the sword and participated in several battles, such as the Battle of Ayohuma in 1813, in which she gathered and let an entire battalion.

When, after more disastrous consequences, the Argentines withdrew, the Padillas organized a guerrilla in Chuquisaca with Vicente Camargo leading the rebellion in Cinti, and the Guaraní chieftains Bacuire and Cumbay fighting in the Chaco region of Chuquisaca with their temible Chiriguano archers who made it all the way to Potosí. In 1816 Juana led successful campaigns against the royalists in Potosí and El villar, which caused Pueyrredón to giver her the rank of Lieutenant Coronel and Belgrano a ceremonial commander’s sword. Finally, she met up with her husband at the Battle of La Laguna, where both faced off with Francisco Javier de Aguilera’s troops and she was injured. As he tried to help her, Manuel Ascencio was struck, and although his wife managed to escape, he was killed near El Villar. A widow, she continued to fight in northern Argentina under the command of Miguel de Güemes until the war ended. Sadly, this admirable woman who fought even while pregnant, and lost her husband, five children, and everything she owned, suffered the same destiny as so many other Bolivian heroes: she died poor and alone, with no honors, and her confiscated belongings were never returned to her. She never even received a retirement pension as it was taken away from her when she was aged. She was buried in a grave dug for the homeless, with no headstone, until one century later she was exhumed and laid to rest in an uma in the cemetery of Sucre. The only honor she received was posthumous: she was given the rank of General of the Argentine Army in July 2009 by President Cristina Kirchner.

The Republic of Chuquisaca

One of the paradoxes that plague the history of the republic is that it was given the name of a man (Simon Bolivar) who never wanted the republic to exist. When, after the decisive battles that ended the colonization, the new nation offered its first presidency to Simón Bolivar, he declined – although he is still honored as the Father of the Nation. Therefore, the post was offered to a young Antonio José de Sucre who accepted and enthusiastically took on the task of creating the Republic of Bolivar. He organized a political and administrative system to consolidate it as an independent nation. Bolivar did not like this as he had a grander idea: to unite the four regions of the ancient Tawantisuyo Empire plus Venezuela and Colombia to form one large Colombia, although no one else wanted this. Bolivar sent a very reproachful private letter to Sucre regarding this. Angry, Sucre disregarded the reprimand and continued his work through 1828 when his presidential term was over.

The new country was officially founded in the former main hall of the Casa de la Libertad (still standing today in Sucre) on August 6, 1825, a date which was chosen in honor of the Battle of Junin, which had been fought a year earlier, although it was actually July when the representatives of the former Audiencia met in the city of Chuquisaca to decide their destiny. There were three groups: one in favor of uniting the new country with Peru, a second that preferred to annex it to Río de la Plata, and a third that resisted either of these options and preferred full independence. The latter was the majority and the other two options got only 2 votes, with the venia of Sucre which angered Bolivia who asked him to leave. With Sucre marginalized, a Deliberating Assembly was held on July 10th of the same year with 48 representatives from all the provinces, of which only two were veterans of the battles for independence. In this meeting, the Acts of Independence of the Republic of Bolivar, a name suggested by a delegate from Potosí, were drafted. Bolivar went to the Republic of Bolivar at the end of the year adamant that he would not accept the presidency that was being offered him and instead, suggested that Antonio José de Sucre might enjoy the job more! And that is how, at just 30 years old, Sucre became the first president of this new nation.

He gave the nation its first Constitution in 1826, organized state institutions, and adopted an administrative system modeled after the French system, dividing the country into departments (states). He worked hard until, in 1828, the residents of the city showed their discontent by attempting to shoot him. The attempt on his life, which was motivated by ideological and administrative deavenencias, jealousy and resentment, and in which some of the more illustrious personages such as Olañeta and Lemoine were involved, failed but left him with an injury on the arm and the decision that it would be best to leave the city. Despite having spilled blood to gain the country’s independence ever since the tender age of 15, and despite having defeated the last viceroy of the Americas in the Battle of Ayacucho, when he left the city he was booed by the population. It is said that Coronel Juana Azurduy de Padilla spit on the face of one of the conspirators, Casimiro Olañeta, to show her disgust for the way they treated him.

Sucre traveled to Quito where he married marquesa Mariana Carcelén de Solanda y Villarocha (he himself was the great grandson of a marquis from Flanders, thus his French surname, Sucre). He participated in a war between Colombia and Peru for dominion over Ecuador which Colombia won. However, in Colombia he was ambushed by his rivals. He had been offered the presidency but they impeded this: in 1830 as he made his way along a solitary road in the Berruecos mountains of Ecuador, he was shot dead. The identities of his assassins was never known, although the first suspect was General Obando and the second was General Flores, who rivaled him to occupy the first presidency of Ecuador. In any case, on 12 July 1839 it was officially decreed that the new constitutional capital city of the Republic of Bolivar should be named in his honor. Thus, the territory first known as Choquechaca, home of the Charcas peoples, and then known as La Audiencia de la Plata, and then Chuquisaca, came to be given its fourth and definitive name: Sucre.

The Chuquisaca of the Oligarchy

The second president of Bolivia was Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana, son of a Spaniard and an Aymara woman, a very new patriot who left the royalist army when he was arrested by the Tarijeños in the Battle of La Tablada. He had cooperated with Sucre and the prefect of Chuquisaca. He governed for nearly a decade finalizing constructions that had been left incomplete in Sucre, and consolidating the structure of the republic with the creation of two new departments (Tarija and Sucre). He also led the country into a desacertada union with Peru which would result in a war and his exile. Although Sucre was the capital city and headquarters of the Legislative Assembly, he chose to reside in La Paz, as did many other presidents after him. Between 1826 and 1880 the Bolivian Constitution was modified ten times.

Despite the ideals that had led the revolutionaries to demand their freedom from Spain, the colonial social structure was maintained. The only change made was that creoles (Spaniards born in the Americas) and upper class mestizos (those of Spanish and indigenous mix) were included in the upper class. An oligarchy was formed of families that became wealthy from silver mining and land ownership, who along with those who studied the law, held on to power until the Federal War which began with a struggle for power between the old oligarchy of Chuquisaca (who were conservatives) and the new wealthy class of La Paz of La Paz (who were liberals). When the idea of reforming the Constitution was brought up yet again, they faced off: Chuquisaca favored a unitary government system with all powers remaining in Sucre while La Paz favored a federal system. In November 1898, the government of conservative Severo Fernández Alonso signed a polemic Residency Law obligating the president of the nation to live in Sucre and not leave the city unless he had express permission from the Congress. Representatives from La Paz withdrew angrily and soon after formed a mitin in La Paz to proclaim themselves a Federal Government under the leadership of José Manuel Pando who, in yet another of the many historic Bolivian ironies, was a senator for Chuquisaca and had voted in favor of the infamous law (although he had been born in La Paz).

A civil war broke out and lasted for one year with two main battles taking place in Oruro (the Battle of Primer Crucero and the Battle of Segundo Crucero) which the federalists won. They had allied with the Ayamara indigenous group and took advantage of mistakes made by the better-equipped constitutional army to gain the final victory in 1899. The battle left both sides with awful reminders of the manner in which Aymaras had massacred Chuquisaqueños in Ayo Ayo and federalists in Mohaza.

After its victory La Paz moved the presidency and Congress to La Paz leaving Sucre only with the judicial branch of government. Ever since then the department of Chuquisaca began to decay and has never recovered. It continues to lose its population as its inhabitants migrate to other regions of the country and other countries.

There is one very curious part of this era in Bolivia’s history: the creation of the Principado de La Glorieta, the first and only princedom to exist in the history of Bolivia. It was located near the capital city. Although Spanish nobility was numerous during the Colonial and Independence periods, a couple named Francisco and Clotilde de Argandoña were the only ones to ever have been given the rank of Prince and Princess in 1898 (by order of Pope León the 8th). The title died away with the Princess of La Glorieta in 1933 and the dynasty was discontinued because Clotilde never had children.

Contemporary Chuquisaca

Another event that shook the Department of Chuquisaca was the Chaco War which lasted between 1932 and 1935 and took place in the region now shared by Tarija and Santa Cruz. Although the war was fought mostly in Tarijeño territory, interventions by regiments from Chuquisaca were very valuable as they were able to adapt to the impossibly harsh conditions of the desert where the battles took place, especially those who were natives from Monteagudo and the neighboring province of Luis Calvo. In any case, the war was lost in 1935 and Bolivia lost another large portion of its territory, although fortunately it did not lose the area of Chuquisaca where the largest oil wells are now located as today these are one of the department’s main sources of income, in addition to tourism and agriculture, handcrafts and mining. Chuquisaca, also receives a large part of its income from the multitude of students from all regions of the country who continue to apply to attend its university, as Sucre is, above all, a university and tourist city.

This conflicted ended the liberal-republican dichotomy among which the government changed hands many times, and new parties and radical reformist factions were created such as that which would lead to the Revolution of 1952, a civil war which made it necessaryt o restructure the country socioeconomically. Chuquisaca benefitted from the laws against latifundios, which were so common in the region, and others, although instability soon returned to the country, especially during the 1970’s and 80’s under various military governments. Once the country returned to democracy, the attempts to reform the economy in the 1990’s caused new conflicts, although not to a great extent in Chuquisaca.

In 2003 then president Gonzálo Sánchez de Lozada was expelled by a revolt in La Paz and was succeeded by Vice President Mesa who soon after was forced to resign. The Bolivian Constitution mandated that the Congress should then meet in the capital city of Sucre to elect a new president. However, indigenous groups led by Evo Morales surrounded and sealed off the city, and forced the chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives, Vaca Diez of Santa Cruz and Mario Cossío of Tarija, who would have been next in line for the presidency, to resign in favor of a resident of Chuquisaca called Rodriguez Veltzé who was the president of the Supreme Court because this was more beneficial to Morales, president of the coca growers associations, as it meant elections would have to be called and this was a favorable time for him to run for president. Thus, Morales won the national elections in 2005 and began planning to re-found the Republic by convoking the election of a Constituent Assembly in Sucre to re-draft a new constitution for the country. This was voted upon in 2006 and it was agreed in 2007 that the text of the draft of the new constitution would be debated due to disputes over autonomy that were taking place between La Paz and Santa Cruz and Sucre’s call to return the capital to Chuquisaca.

No agreements were arrived at. Instead, this opened up old wounds and memories of the Federal War when the governing party arbitrarily excluded the debate over the capital from deliberations. The city of Sucre protested and fights broke out in the streets. Residents of Sucre attempted to burn down the hall where the new Assembly was to meet and Morales’ government ordered them to be cruelly repressed, which only worsened the situation. The text of the new Bolivian constitution was approved sometime after midnight in the interior of a military barracks. Members of the Assembly of the opposing party were locked out and not allowed to participate. Police and military personnel used teargas and shots toward the crowds that were attempting to enter the barracks. Shortly after, the deliberations were moved to the University of Oruro where the constitution was once again approved without having been debated. This is the constitution which was then approved in a referendum in 2008. In it, the city of Sucre remains as the capital of Bolivia, although in name only.

After this Chuquisaca joined four other departments of Bolivia (Pando, Beni, Santa Cruz and Tarija) in their request for each Bolivian state to be autonomous. Chuquisaca elected Savina Cuellar, an indigenous woman of Quechua descent, as the first elected female prefect in the history of Bolivia. Soon after, the model of autonomous departmental governments was adopted by means of a national referendum and a few months later Chuquisaca approved new statutes for the new Autonomous Department of Chuquisaca. Curiously, when Savina Cuellar’s term was over, the next new governor elected by Chuquisaca was a man named Urquizo who is ideologically opposed to her. Urquizo is her nephew.

Correspondent Alura Gonzales

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