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The Anatomy of National Revolution

Bolivia in the 20th Century

Marcin Kula

The Bolivian revolution in 1952 aimed at modernizing the country: the revolutionaries nationalized the large tin mines, limited the power of the upper classes, proceeded to the agrarian reform, and tried to strengthen the role of the state in the economic life. Because the success of the revolution was limited, it is necessary to discuss the economic instruments, which a country may use to limit its backwardness. The second important point, which makes the 1952 revolution interesting is the alliance of the intellectuals and the workers, an alliance which can also be observed in the Polish «Solidarity» movement at the end of the 20 th century.
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Bolivia is where Che Guevara’s life story came to an end in 1967. To this day it is not entirely clear why Fidel Castro’s closest friend and associate left Cuba. It is also not entirely clear why he chose Bolivia as his next battlefield. Everything seems to indicate that he didn’t particularly care about Bolivia as such but wanted to implement the idea of a continent-wide revolution. This may have been due not only to the overall global strategy but also to more specific circumstances. The USSR’s lack of involvement in the Vietnam War made the Cuban leadership nervous about the political security of its own achievements759. A continental revolution was in Cuba’s interest – just as expansion toward the west of Europe in 1920 had seemed to be in the interest of the revolutionary Russia, at the same time presenting itself as a fulfilment of the logic of history. The thought of maintaining the guerrilla which had operated in Peru a short time earlier probably recurred to Cuban strategists and in a way mirrored the Bolsheviks’ actions to keep up the revolution in Germany760. In a peculiar paradox – or perhaps the expression of the logic of history – it was the USSR that was unhappy with the attempts to start a continental revolution and – if later Russian reports are to be believed – opposed Guevara’s undertaking outright. In July 1967 in Havana, Prime Minister Kosygin supposedly even threatened to break off relations with Cuba if it lent support to Che761...

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