- Rider(s):Melgarejo, Manuel Mariano
(1820–1871) was President of Bolivia from 1864 to 1871. There are quite a number of stories about him. He was said to have given a vast amount of land to Brazil in exchange for a magnificent white horse. This and other incidents, such as the seizure and sale of communal land on the Altiplano (Bolivian high plateau) to the highest bidder, deprived virtually all indigenous people of their land within a few decades. It is also said that when Germany invaded France in 1870, he ordered one of his generals to send most of his army to help defend Paris, a city he was fascinated by, for its tales of sophistication and elegance, but also a city he could not even locate on a map. His general said it was impossible; it would take forever, as they would have to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Melgarejo was infuriated and is supposed to have said, ‘Don’t be stupid! We will take a short cut through the bush!’ He ruled with more incompetence than any Bolivian leader in his time. He ruthlessly suppressed the opposition and assaulted the traditional rights of the country’s indigenous population.
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