The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
Regionalist demands from Santa Cruz were a recurrent feature of political life in the early twentieth century, and they met with a cool reception from the central government. When they escalated to open protest, as with the student movement in the early 1920s, they met with harsh reprisals. In the following speech from 1939, the cruceño Rafael Chávez Ortiz offers a lucid analysis of the Eastern Problem, not from the standpoint of regional elites or advocates of separatism but from a leftist and nationalist position. Chávez Ortiz was at the time a Trotskyist and a colleague of Tristán Marof, and he later joined the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (mnr), before his death in 1947. He argued that regional conflicts were not a cultural or racial problem, and that the complementary integration of east and west would overcome the historically skewed economic development in the country. The unbalanced western orientation of the country, he held, resulted from the influence of foreign imperialism and the highland mining interests with their narrowly external outlook.