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The founder of the Aramayo mining dynasty, José Avelino Aramayo (1809–82) was a prominent advocate of industrial modernization, which he had witnessed under way during his travels in Europe. He championed Bolivia’s potential to attain the economic level of its neighbors Argentina and Chile, if not that of Europe itself. Mineral wealth would be the basis for economic development, he believed, yet Aramayo was also concerned with the advance of railroads, agriculture, public works, and political democratization. From a modest landholding family in the far south, near Tupiza, he eventually came to lead the revolution in the silver-mining industry, which hinged on technological innovation and expertise as well as national and international capital investment. In the following passages, from his Notes on the State of Industry, Economy, and Politics in Bolivia (1871), he recounts his rising economic fortunes and alludes to his political vicissitudes. He was exiled from the country by Presidents Belzu, Melgarejo, and Morales, all army generals, and was a fierce opponent of military government. In consistent liberal vein, he also opposed state regulation and taxation, state control of mineral purchasing, as well as the early republican state’s debased silver currency (moneda feble), a monetary policy that sought to protect domestic production and foment internal trade. Aramayo was an audacious entrepreneur, and his risky investments left him at the end of his life, in Paris, with more debt than fortune, although his offspring would maintain the family’s prominence in the mining industry.

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