On May 25th, 1809, students and nationalists in Sucre declared independence from the Spanish Empire. Known as the “Grito de la Libertad”, or Shout of Liberty, this was the first of many popular uprisings all across South America. Today, Sucre is rightfully proud to be the birthplace of South American independence.
The 25th of May has become as important a date to Chuquisaqueños as the 4th of July is to US Americans, and for days the city center is taken over by parades. Schoolchildren, labor unions, women’s groups, and a ear-numbing collection of marching bands provide an unceasing spectacle. We showed up to the main square at 10am, to get a glimpse of the President, Evo Morales, who was in town to help Sucre in its celebrations. I even had a chance to assist in a burnt offering to pachamama (Mother Earth) by pouring a little chicha on the ground.
Though it’s not one of Bolivia’s famous traditional, indigenous festivals with dancing and brightly-colored costumes, the 25th of May is remarkable simply for its size and history.