Revolutionary Connections: Repercussions of the Mexican Oil Expropriation in Bolivia, 1938


  • María Cecilia Zuleta El Colegio de México



Mexican and Bolivian diplomacy, Mexican oil expropriation, petroleum, revolutionary networks, YPFB (Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos)


This article deals with a relevant subject in Latin American historiography, that being the Mexican oil expropriation during the Lázaro Cárdenas government and provides original information as well as an innovative approach that goes beyond strictly national historiographies, with the intention of contributing both to Bolivian and Mexican history. The Mexican expropriation of 1938 reached a transnational dimension beyond its diplomatic implications; an experience perceived through quite different prisms in each Latin American country. How was the Mexican expropriation viewed in the Bolivian Andes? We have argued that in La Paz and Sucre, various sectors of the society read that expropriation through the filters of the conflict with Standard Oil of Bolivia and of the ideological and political debate surrounding the recently created YFPB. This nationalistic episode was charged with another meaning in adopting it to a Bolivian context, by simultaneously being in dialogue with the previous substratum of the reception to the Mexican revolution in the region, together with the particular Andean political, economic and diplomatic context. Reasons of national and international order explain the reactions in Bolivia when faced with the Mexican petroleum episode, as well as the perception of those reactions by the Mexican diplomatic corps.

Author Biography

María Cecilia Zuleta, El Colegio de México

Doctora en Historia de Colegio de México. Actualmente se encuentra asociada como profesora - investigadora en dicha institución.