The first proletarian revolution of the Americas remains almost unknown to the majority of the anglophone left, yet it had a decisive impact on Latin American History and the future of the revolutionary left. In miners rose up alongside the working class and urban masses, overthrowing the bourgeois government of Bolivia. Many of these miners had found an expression of their revolutionary interests in the ideas of the incipient but influential Bolivian Trotskyist movement. How this revolution was ultimately undermined, disarmed and betrayed is a vital story in the history of the left and of the Americas. Although the context has changed drastically since, the lessons to be drawn from this experience remain essential to our efforts to reconstruct a revolutionary alternative. The global demand created by World War One saw the growth of the mining industry and the emergence of individual oligarchs who held far more power than the state.
Pulacayo is the important mining center of the second part of the 19th Century which encompassed Huanchaca, the main silver mine in Bolivia and the second largest in the world, which belonged to Aniceto Arce, former president of Bolivia. With the riches stemming from Huanchaca, the country was able to develop democratically and the economical boom allowed for the creation of the liberal and conservative political parties, the creation of the Political Constitution of —which lasted until and brought great stability and growth— and the development of a group of experimented Bolivian professionals in banking, mining and export areas. During this time, the per capita income of the Bolivian citizens grew like in no other time. Bolivian history in the second part of the 19th Century is, in a big way, the history of the Huanchaca mine, located in Pulacayo. Bolivia saw in Pulacayo, for the first time, the use of steam engines and other modern machines —those of the industrial revolution— as well as the first railroads. Because of its silver production, it was the prime mining city in Bolivia. It has marked an era in mining history since the years from Aniceto Arce, who commissioned the construction of the first railroad in Bolivia in to connect the mine with Antofagasta.
The Thesis of Pulacayo is one of the defining documents in the history of Latin American Marxism and one which deserves a place of honor among the great foundational texts of 20th century Marxism. It represents the application of much of the theoretical ideas behind the transitional program to the living reality of the class struggle in Bolivia. The Tin Miners of Bolivia, brutally exploited in working conditions which guaranteed an early grave, found in the ideas of Trotskyism a powerful tool to assert their class independence and revolutionary aims. It is a powerful counter-example to those who seek to paint Marxism and Trotskyism as euro-centric ideologies tied to some mythical all-white, all-male working class. Accusations against Marxism and Trotskyism of being "Euro-Centric" come crashing against the historical reality of a powerful, indigenous workers movement in an oppressed country like Bolivia.