José Luis Tejada Sorzano bigraphy, stories - President of Bolivia

José Luis Tejada Sorzano : biography

January 12, 1882 - October 4, 1938

It can safely be argued that the military acquiesced to the assumption of Tejada to the presidency with the understanding that the latter would be far more malleable and agreeable to the wishes of the High Command than Salamanca had been. This indeed proved to be the case.

With Tejada's assumption to the presidency, the Liberals returned to power for the first time in 14 years. Almost immediately, Tejada engineered in the Congress the extension of his term by one year in order to see through the end of the war, whose cause had been rather disastrous to Bolivia. A spate of relatively small successes (mostly of a defensive nature) toward the end of the conflict did not prevent Paraguay from maintaining control of much of the disputed region at the time that agreement on a ceasefire was finally reached in June 1935. However, the Bolivian military and most political leaders concluded that no better terms could be achieved given the circumstances or in the conceivable future. Eventually, a final peace treaty would grant most of the Chaco to Paraguay, reducing Bolivia's territory considerably.

Despite his best intentions, Tejada seems to have been disdained by the Bolivian military leaders from the very beginning. He was considered part of the political elites that, as they saw it, got Bolivia into the war with their irresponsible demagoguery (for example, Salamanca's insistence that Bolivia 'stand firm in the Chaco" and his orders to build more forts in the disputed region, in direct competition with Paraguay) and then refused to provide the needed material support to win the conflict. They apparently had no explanation as to why Paraguay, which was even poorer and smaller than Bolivia and thus supplied even less adequately, still managed to prevail in the field of battle simply with better tactics and superior leadership. In any case, at this point two competing myths emerged as to why Bolivia had lost: one, advocated by important civilian political elites (but not President Tejada), placed all the blame on the personalistic, undisciplined Bolivian commanders, ever-eager to increase their own individual ambitions and even willing to overthrow the President of the Republic (as indeed happened in 1934) rather to expend all its energy in the conduct of the war. The alternative myth, emanating from the defeated armed forces themselves (who had to explain the debacle somehow), held that it was the politicians who had "sold out" the simple, honor-bound soldiers by leading them precipitously to war and then not suitably equipping them to win it. Of the two, the latter myth seemed more acceptable to the populace, and generalized anger began to be displaced toward Tejada.

At the same time, Tejada was still confronting crippling economic difficulties (made even worse by the long war). Furthermore, he was facing a looming crisis over the controversial role of the U.S.-based Standard Oil Corporation during the conflict. At the very least, Standard had refused to help Bolivia in its direst hour during the war, and at worst it was guilty of illegal activities contrary to the wishes and interests of the Bolivian government. Unable to make headway on either problem, Tejada provided the malcontent younger officers of the Bolivian military just the excuse they needed to overthrow the Constitutional order and install themselves in power. This would also allow them to continue to "cleanse" the image of the Bolivian armed forces and further propagate the myth that the war had been lost by politicians rather than by the men in uniform. It was thus that Tejada was finally removed from office in a coup d'état which was led by Major Germán Busch and which installed as de facto President of Bolivia Colonel David Toro on May 17, 1936.

Forced into exile, Tejada died in Arica, Chile, only 2 years later, on October 4, 1938.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine