Flag Of Bolivia: History And Meaning

The Bolivian flag is the official flag that nationally and internationally identifies this South American nation. It is made up of a tricolor of stripes of equal size with the colors red, yellow and green.

During colonial times, Bolivia used the flag of Spain. After the independence of the nation, a flag with three green-red-green stripes was created. At this time the Lesser Flag and the Greater Flag were created, which were differentiated from each other by the stars in their red stripe.

Source: pixabay.com

In 1826, Antonio José de Sucre changed the stars in the center for a higher yellow stripe. The tricolor would be yellow-red-green. Later, according to orders of the then president Manuel Isidoro Belzu, the tricolor was reorganized in red-yellow-green.

According to the Supreme Decree of July 14, 1888, the red color of the flag represents the blood of national heroes. Instead, yellow represents the wealth of the country and green represents nature and hope.

The Bolivian flag has variants specified in Decree No. 27630 issued in 2004. This decree details the characteristics and design that the flag should have according to the use given to it by diplomatic, civil or military bodies.

Article index

  • one

    History

    • 1.1

      First national flag. Minor Flag and Major Flag

    • 1.2

      Second National Flag of Bolivia (1826)

    • 1.3

      Current flag of Bolivia

  • two

    Meaning

  • 3

    Variants of the Bolivian flag

    • 3.1

      War flag

    • 3.2

      Naval Flag

    • 3.3

      Bow Flag

    • 3.4

      Maritime claim flag

  • 4

    The Wiphala

    • 4.1

      Meaning of the colors of the Wiphala

  • 5

    Festivities around the Bolivian flag

    • 5.1

      National flag day

    • 5.2

      Hymn to the Flag

    • 5.3

      Pledge of Allegiance

    • 5.4

      The flag

  • 6

    References

History

Spanish flag (1785-1873 and 1875-1931)

Since the beginning of the conquest, Bolivia was represented by the flag of Spain and this was the case during the years of colonization. The General Assembly of the new Republic created, on August 17, 1825, the new flag after the independence of the nation on August 6 of that same year.

First national flag. Minor Flag and Major Flag

The law established the use of the “Lesser Flag” and the “Greater Flag”. Both had three stripes. The upper and lower stripes were green, with a red stripe in the center. The ratio between these stripes was 1: 2: 1.

The Minor Flag for civil use (1825-1826).
The Lesser Flag had a yellow star with an olive branch on the left and a laurel on the right.

Greater flag of state use (1825-1826)

The Greater Flag had the design of the yellow star with the branches repeated five times in representation of the five departments of Bolivia.

Second National Flag of Bolivia (1826)

Antonio José de Sucre, then president of the Republic of Bolivia, decreed by law the change of the flag on July 25, 1826.
The five stars were exchanged for a higher yellow stripe. The arms of the Republic were represented with two branches of olive and laurel in the center of the flag. This would be the Greater Flag.

Greater Flag (1826–1851)
As for the Civil Minor Flag, it would be the same, although without the shield in the central strip. This flag lasted until October 31, 1851.
Lesser Flag (1826–1851)

Current flag of Bolivia

On October 31, 1851, the current Bolivian flag was approved by the National Convention held in the city of Oruro. The final design was established by law on November 5, 1851.

Bolivian flag since 1851

The idea of ​​this flag was the president of the moment: Manuel Isidoro Belzu. He traveled from La Paz to Oruro to analyze the concordat with the Holy See. The concordat had been negotiated by Marshal Andrés de Santa Cruz in the National Congress.

As he passed near Pasto Grande, Manuel observed a rainbow in which the colors red, yellow and green stood out. Then, he ordered Minister Unzueta to present a memorial to modify the flag.

On July 14, 1888, the use of the flag was regularized during Pacheco’s presidency. The decree established that the three stripes should have the same size, with the same length and width, and the order should be red, yellow and green.

The civil flag used in civic and public events and commemorations is used without the National Shield. The flag used by the State in official acts includes the shield in its center, according to the Supreme Decree of July 19, 2004.

Meaning

The Bolivian flag consists of a rectangle with stripes of equal size with the colors red, yellow and green, arranged in this order. During the government of President Gregorio Pacheco, the meaning of the colors was established in the Supreme Decree of July 14, 1888.

In its article 5, the decree established that the color red symbolizes the blood shed by national heroes in their struggle to procure the birth of the Republic of Bolivia. In turn, this blood would also mean the fight for the preservation of the country.

The color yellow represents the varied wealth of the nation, its natural resources and minerals. Finally, the green color symbolizes the value of hope of the Bolivian people, as well as the greatness of the meadows, forests and jungles that the country possesses.

Variants of the Bolivian flag

The different bodies that work in the defense of the nation, as well as the different actions that can be carried out with a civic character, inside and outside the nation, use a specific flag. It is important to differentiate the flag that characterizes each of them, as they are variants of the original Bolivian flag.

According to decree No. 27630, issued on July 19, 2004, the Bolivian flag has certain characteristics that depend on how it is used by diplomatic, civil or military bodies. In this decree the national flag, the state flag and the military flag are specified.

War flag

Military flag

The War Flag is a model delivered to the Bolivian Armed Forces and National Police. This is used during ceremonies, parades, parades, among other events. In the event of war conflicts, these bodies must carry the War Flag.

This model includes the National Shield in the center, with an olive branch on its left and a laurel branch on its right. The flags used by these bodies bear their name in gold letters under the National Shield.

According to article 4, section II, the Armed Forces, in its three forces, and all institutes and units, must use this flag model. This should be applied in any activity that is carried out from these bodies.

Naval Flag

Naval Flag

It consists of a navy blue cloth. In its upper left corner is the national flag surrounded by nine gold stars to its right and below it. These stars represent the nine departments of the country.

In the lower right corner is a gold star larger than the stars mentioned above. This star represents the Department of the Littoral, as well as the desire to recover the exit to the Pacific Ocean. This flag was created on April 13, 1966 according to Supreme Decree 07583.

Bow Flag

Bow Flag

The boats that are in rivers and lakes of the country must wear a Bow Flag. This consists of a square cloth. It has a red frame on its edge, followed by a yellow frame and finally a green frame. The first two frames are the same thickness.

For its part, the portable version of the National Pavilion is the National Standard. This can be used waving inside buildings and its size is 1.40 x 0.93 meters. Some models have the shield tilted at about 45 °. This is done so that it is easily seen while the flag is at rest.

Finally, the national flag used by the Legislative Palace and the Palace of Justice, Ministries, Prefectures, Embassies and International Organizations, must include the National Shield of Bolivia on both sides of the flag located in the center of the yellow strip. This is specified in article 4, paragraph 1 of the decree.

Maritime claim flag

In 2013, the Bolivian Government filed a lawsuit before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in order to demand the 400 km of coastline and 120,000 km 2 of territory with great natural resources that were taken from them by Chile when they were developed, between 1879 and 1883, the War of the Pacific.

For this reason, the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, under the slogan “with the sea we are united”, ordered the realization of a 70 km flag. For the making of this flag, the work of around five thousand people was required, joined by civilians. Approximately 100,000 Bolivians joined in this work.

This flag is very similar to the Bow Flag, the difference is that the national flag is represented as a square instead of a rectangle and on its left side is the wiphala.

The flag was extended on March 10, 2018 to accompany the oral arguments presented in The Hague. These were held on March 19 and 28.

The Wiphala

Wiphala

The wiphala is a quadrangular flag of seven colors: yellow, red, orange, purple, blue, green and white. It is used by some Andean ethnic groups. According to the 2008 constitution, it is recognized as a symbol of the Bolivian State. This insignia has the rank of a national flag, and is hoisted together with the tricolor.

Its colors are organized in 49 small squares arranged in rows. You start with the first box in the lower left corner in the order of colors described above. Each of the colors represents specific elements of the Andean ethnic groups.

Meaning of the colors of the Wiphala

Yellow represents energy and strength (ch’ama-pacha), principles of the Andean man. Red represents planet earth (aka-pancha) and orange represents society and culture, as well as the preservation and procreation of the human species.

Violet represents Andean politics and ideology, the harmonic power of the Andes. The blue represents the cosmic space (araxa-pancha), the green represents the Andean economy, its agricultural production, the national flora and fauna and its mineral wealth.

For its part, the white color represents time and dialectics (jaya-pacha). It symbolizes the constant change and transformation of the Andes and the development of technology, art and intellectual work in the region.

Festivities around the Bolivian flag

Bolivia, for historical reasons, has greatly enhanced its national flag. For this reason, different commemorations have been created for her. These events and celebrations are intended to honor the existence of the national flag and defend its use.

National flag day

On July 30, 1924, according to Supreme Decree, August 17 of each year was established as the national flag day. This in commemoration of the anniversary of the first Bolivian flag (green-red-green), created on August 17, 1825.

Year after year, events and commemorative acts are held, some of them with parades and ceremonies, where the national flag is honored. In these events the Hymn to the Flag is sung and, for the most part, the president of the nation is present.

Hymn to the Flag

The Hymn to the Bolivian Flag is used to pay homage to and exalt the flag of the nation. It consists of six stanzas and is sung on the day of the flag at the time of raising the flag at commemorative events.

The lyrics were created by Ricardo Mujía, a renowned Bolivian diplomat, poet, teacher and historian born in Sucre in 1861. The melody was in charge of the composition of the maestro Manuel Benavente. This was a Uruguayan writer, poet, essayist, playwright and lecturer born in Minas in 1893.

Pledge of Allegiance

The pledge to the flag consists of a Bolivian sonnet that alludes to national sovereignty and that is dictated to soldiers in national commemorative acts. When the sonnet is dictated, the soldiers should respond with, “Yes, I swear!”

In its composition, the defense of the flag is sworn by God, by the Homeland and by heroes and heroes. Behind this defense is the struggle for the Bolivian people and military discipline.

The flag

On March 10, 2018, “el Banderazo” was carried out, an act in which the loss of the Coast was remembered, as well as the premise of the return of the Bolivian Pacific coast. The day of the sea, celebrated on March 23, also commemorates this cause.

In this act, a chain of maritime claim flags was spread along 196.5 km of the highway between La Paz and Oruro. In this act the citizens marched as an act of support and union on the occasion of the lawsuit against Chile, which was held in The Hague.

References

  1. BBC. (2018). Bolivia unfurls ‘world’s biggest flag’ in row with Chile. BBC News. Recovered from: bbc.com
  2. Supreme decret. N ° 27630, (July 19, 2004). Official Gazette of the Plurinational State of Bolivia . Recovered from gacetaoficialdebolivia.gob.bo.
  3. DK Publishing (2008). Complete Flags of the World . New York. Recovered from: books.google.co.ve
  4. Morales, W. (2003). A brief history of Bolivia . University of Central Florida. Recovered from: books.google.co.ve
  5. Zamorano Villarreal, G. (2009). “Intervene in reality”: political uses of indigenous video in Bolivia. Colombian Journal of Anthropology, 45 (2), 259-285. Recovered from redalyc.org

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