How Bolivia Lost Its Hat


Diplomacy hasn’t really changed that much over the years, has it?

In 1867, the British ambassador to Bolivia fell afoul of its dictator, Mariano Melgarejo, by refusing a glass of chicha, a cloudy drink based on fermented maize. Opting for cocoa instead, the ambassador got more than he asked for: Melgarejo, incensed, forced him to drink an entire bowl of liquid chocolate. He then paraded him three times around La Paz’s main square, tied up and seated back to front on a donkey, before shipping him back to London.

When the disgraced ambassador related his story to Queen Victoria, she was not amused at all. Her Majesty resolved to have the Royal Navy bombard Bolivia’s capital in retaliation. Consulting a map of South America, she soon discovered that La Paz lay far inland on the Andean altiplano, well beyond the reach of British cannon. So she simply marked the offending country with an X, pronouncing: “Bolivia does not exist”.

The story is related in the 1971 book “Open Veins of Latin America,” Eduardo Galeano’s critical analysis of imperialism in Latin America. The book rocketed up the best-seller lists when Mr. Chavez gave it to newly elected President Obama at a Summit of the Americas in April 2009.
Several variations of the original story exist, adding color but subtracting veracity: that Melgarejo invited the ambassador to the senatorial inauguration of his horse, or the official presentation of his new mistress; that he challenged the ambassador to kiss his mistress’s behind, or that the ambassador pooh-poohed the glass of chicha even though offered by Melgarejo in person; and that the dictator forced an entire barrel of cocoa down the ambassador’s throat.

(click here to continue reading How Bolivia Lost Its Hat –


Kiva Loan Numbr 1

My first Kiva loan1

Sandra Iris, Aleida Victoria, Florentina, Olmar, Rosario, Claudia Erica*, Rosario Del Carmen, Ninoska Diana*, Brindicia, Wilder Alvaro, Rossemary, Isabel Maria * not pictured About the Loan (For privacy reasons, the Field Partner has requested that last names and location be undisclosed)

Location: Location Undisclosed, Bolivia Repayment Term: 6 months (more info)

Activity: Retail Repayment Schedule: Monthly Loan Use: Operating capital Currency Exchange Loss: Possible

The group “Las Pioneras” (the Pioneers) is led by Sra. Sandra Iris and is comprised of 12 members. The majority of the group is involved in retail businesses that sell groceries, food, videos, cleaning supplies, and milkshakes. Other members are engaged in house painting and tailoring. They are not worried about the competition and each member maintains a vending location. They know how to get ahead because of their experience and dedication to their businesses.

This group loan will be used acquire merchandise, materials, and supplies that will help the members increase their earnings so that they can improve the quality of life for their families. Many of the members have previous experience working in solidarity groups and with other financial institutions, so they are aware that responsibility and cooperation is required in order to gain the confidence and support of Fundación Agrocapital.

Translated from Spanish by Ronan Reodica, Kiva Volunteer

El grupo “Las Pioneras” esta representado por la señora Sandra Iris y conformada por 12 miembros que en sus mayoría se dedican a la venta de barrotes en tiendas de barrio, venta de comida, videos, material de limpieza y batidos otros se dedican a la pintura de casas y otras a la confección de prendas de vestir. La competencia no les preocupa mucho ya que cada una es dueña de sus casetas y saben como salir adelante gracias a su experiencia y su dedicación a sus negocios. El financiamiento es para la adquisición de más mercadería para hacer crecer sus ingresos y materiales e insumos que ayuden a incrementar sus ingresos para mejorar así la calidad de vida de sus familias. En cuanto a la experiencia de créditos solidarios muchas de las socias ya contaban con ella gracias a anteriores financiamientos con otras instituciones por lo que conocen la responsabilidad y la unidad que se requiere para adquirir la confianza y el apoyo de la Fundación Agrocapital.

(click to continue reading Kiva – Las Pioneras Group from Bolivia has fully repaid a Kiva loan.)

  1. well, I think, anyway. Didn’t keep good records of this at first. Maybe this is just the first one I blogged []