The Chaco is an ecocultural region that contains significant portions of Paraguay and Argentina, and spans three of Bolivia’s nine provinces (departamentos) – Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz, and Tarija. The name “Chaco” derives from a Quechua word meaning “hunting grounds”, and the region’s dry forests and shrublands remain home to an impressive array of wildlife such as jaguar, peccary, and guanaco.
The Chaco is homeland to several indigenous groups, including the Chiquitanos, Ayoreos and especially the Guaraní, Bolivia’s most numerous indigenous group outside of the Altiplano. The Chaco War, which resulted in Bolivia ceding a large portion of its land to Paraguay in 1935, was the deadliest military conflict in South America during the 20th century.
The Chaco is one of Bolivia’s final frontiers, lacking all-weather roads and infrastructure in many areas. The region is traversed by a few year-round rivers, most notably the Pilcomayo and Parapetí. This part of Bolivia experiences an extreme climate, with below freezing temperatures in winter and 120 degree heat in summer.
In a few days, voters will go to the polls. They will decide the leadership of their country as they confront grave challenges to its democratic institutions against the backdrop of the ongoing ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying economic turmoil.
We are not all in this together. Sure, we are all experiencing the common disruption that is COVID-19. But some are shouldering the burden more heavily than others. One such group is women in Latin America.
In Bolivia, there are two holidays in each calendar year which recognize and celebrate women. By exploring the roots of these holidays, we open a window into Bolivian culture and history.