The name of Mauricio Hochschild usually generates more inquina than admiration. Member of the stigmatized feudal mining thread and one of the three barons of tin, along with Carlos Aramayo and Simón Patiño, revolutionary nationalism was responsible for calling it an antipatriota, vile and unscrupulous predator of natural resources, almost a synthesis of the evils that they afflicted the country.
Now, a book presented last week in La Paz seeks to show another facet, that of a visionary businessman who took advantage of the vicissitudes of the time, looked for ventures in other areas and even showed his humanity by getting an indeterminate number of Israelis to leave Germany Nazi to get to Bolivia.
The work “Mauricio Hochschild, his ventures in Bolivia and his economic growth in Potosí 1921-1939” is from the historian Carlos Tenorio Levandro and reflects the thesis he did eight years ago to apply for the degree of history graduate of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA).
“The revolutionary process of 52 put a stamp, an imprint, a mark, on the three barons of tin, that after sixty years of the revolution we cannot clean, historiography has not interested him in trying to understand if everything that we Revolutionary Nationalism has said it is true, ”says the author.
The book, seven chapters and 222 pages, tells the business that the businessman had especially in Potosí from his arrival in the country, in 1921 from Chile until the year in which World War II began. It was published thanks to the Israeli Circle of Bolivia and the UMSA History career.
It also has some social activities promoted by the tycoon, such as the creation of a recreation house for its workers in Cochabamba, or the efforts made so that thousands of Israelis obtained visas to work in Bolivia as farmers and thus escape the outbreak of the war.
Tenorio arrived in Hochschild at the hands of former union leader Édgar “Huracán” Ramírez, when he invited him to be part of the work team of the archive of the Mining Corporation of Bolivia, in 2007 and was responsible, among other things, for classifying the referred documents to the tycoon.
“We have dedicated ourselves to doing a study on Hochschild and its development in Potosí, what the Atocha Villazón railway means, what the unified company in Cerro Rico means and what Huanchaca is.”
The book highlights the acute smell that the businessman had for business, which made him bet, for example, on the rescue of minerals.
He also took advantage of the mineral, not only tin, of low grade, which was embedded in the stone that was scrapped by the miners. No one had done it until then.
Regarding the political influence of Hochschild, the author explains that it arises after the Chaco War (1934-1935), unlike the other two tin barons. The miner considered, says Tenorio, that he had certain rights after financially supporting Bolivia in the confrontation against Paraguay.
His contacts allowed him, among other matters, to save himself from the death penalty issued in 1937 during the government of Germán Busch, who accused him of treason to the country for formally opposing a decree prohibiting the rescue of minerals by private parties.
Its increasing incidence in the political and social world derived, says Tenorio, in his kidnapping in 1944, for 17 days, due to alleged conspiracy activity against the government of Gualberto Villarroel, which promoted a series of measures that went against The interests of the miner.
“I think that if there is any contribution to the work, I hope it is that, of trying at least not to clean the face, but to show another facet, that is the premise.”
Therefore, Tenorio insists, the concept of the three barons of tin must be relativized. “In the end, these people were men of their time, men who knew how to take advantage of the circumstances and in some cases modify them at their convenience, but because the circumstances gave for this.”
• Hochschild wanted to venture into agriculture to have food for the workers. That is why, together with Aramayo, he created the Agricultural Society of Bolivia that bought land in Santa Cruz, although later this did not bear fruit.
• He designed a project to harness the hydroelectric power of Lake Titicaca, which could not go ahead because the aquifer is shared with Peru.
The work “Mauricio Hochschild, his ventures in Bolivia and his economic growth in Potosí 1921-1939” is from the historian Carlos Tenorio Levandro