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The Villager (el Aldeano) was an anonymous author who gave us some of the most important socioeconomic descriptions of life in early post-independence Bolivia. He was, however, far from being the provincial he claimed to be, explicitly quoting Enlightenment authors like Benjamin Constant, Jeremy Bentham, Gaetano Filangieri, Montesquieu, and Jean-Baptiste Say. The Villager questioned whether Bolivia was really independent and free, painting a portrait of “misery” five years after independence: the mining industry was in ruins and the manufacturing and agricultural sectors in decline. The fundamental dilemma that he analyzed was why a country with so much natural wealth could...

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