Question - cambas

by Rob
(Fairfax, VA)

Hi - Great site, I'm actually using it for a grad school paper on Bolivia. Part of the paper focuses on the differences between collas and cambas, the Andean Bolivians and the crucenos. I thought I'd throw you some questions:

-Is colla a derogatory term or just descriptive?

-Do you have an image (a photo or photos) that could be used in a slide show to represent "cambas"? Meaning, on one hand the image of indigenous Bolivians represents collas, do you have anything I could put on a slide that would be a "camba"? or if not, what would it look like?

-Do you know what major industries are in Santa Cruz besides natural gas, oil, and soybeans/sugarcane?

-Any other immigrant groups besides Brazilians, Paraguayans? A friend said he knew a Croatian who moved down there, any other places?

Thanks I appreciate any feedback. Great site, very inviting. I lived in Costa Rica one year, seems like moving to Santa Cruz is somewhat similar although people seem to go to SC more to work and farm whereas they go to CR to hang out and retire/gamble/evade taxes : )/etc.


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Dec 05, 2011
Camba Vs. Colla
by: Daniel

I also would like photo examples for a research paper. Thank you :)

Jan 31, 2011
para traducir
by: Monica

(el idioma ingles lo puedo leer, lo entiendo mas, pero escribirlo me cuesta, asi que espero que en la traduccion salga como lo quiero decir.)

el termino "colla" viene de Collasuyo, que es una parte de bolivia (denominada asi en tiempos pasados), y a las personas que no son de ese lugar, les molesta que les digan asi, entonces lo toman como un insulto.

se le denominaba "camba" a aquel trabajaba su tierra, o que trabajaba para algun hacendado del lugar; aqui en santa cruz no se molestan si les dicen "cambas", pero por ejemplo en el beni SI, en ese departamento lo toman como insulto.

Oct 21, 2009
the difference between collas and cambas
by: Bella

Hey Rob, good question! This argument has been going on for decades! Here's what I've learned after living here for the past 30 years. The terms "colla" and "camba" are both derogatory and not. It all depends on the context of the discussion and the tone of voice you use.

There's always been a sort of semi-serious, semi-friendly regional rivalry between the East and the West. When I was little it was never really that serious. During the past 3-4 years I have seen this escalate tremendously into very serious differences and even into outright hate - usually fomented by political parties from both the East and the West, and rapidly picked up upon by their followers.

What I've found after living here for 30 years is that most of the stereotypes associated with each word are only half-truths. For example, collas say cambas are regionalist. But if you really study Bolivian history, you'll find two things:

Cambas ARE regionalist - but there are some pretty good reasons for it.

Collas are also VERY regionalist.

So as to the derogatory-ness of the words, that's kind of how it works. Using them in a derogatory manner is based on stereotypes which, as we know, are not always well founded or true, but on the other hand usually exist for some reason and are, therefore, partially true.

On the other hand, people also use the words simply to describe where someone is from. In Bolivia you can usually tell where someone is from by their accent, race or the way in which they dress. For example, some indigenous groups have maintained some of their traditional garb (especially hat styles) and it's easy to see where they are from.

I might say, "that colla lady is wearing a really pretty poncho" or I might say "from your accent I can hear you are a camba" and neither one is meant, or taken as, derogatory.

Lastly, you also have to understand not everyone in the West is a colla or in the East is a camba. There are 33 known indigenous groups in Bolivia.

Also, the word camba does not only apply to cruceños. People from Beni (and some from Pando and some from Tarija also consider themselves camba). Camba is generally used for the Eastern REGION of Bolivia, not just Santa Cruz.

Immigrant groups in Bolivia: Mennonites, Japanese, Germans, Brazilians, Argentinians, Chinese, Dutch, Swiss, British, Americans, Mexicans, Cubans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Paraguayans, and MANY others.

I do have photos I can share with you and will by email.

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