Bolivians celebrate their multicultural identity with the Plurinational State Foundation Day. Called ‘Dia del Estado Plurinacional’ in Spanish, this national holiday pays tribute to the nation’s new name — also known as the Plurinational State of Bolivia — and the adoption of their new constitution. The government made this re-foundation move to recognize Bolivia’s indigenous population and grant them better representation in the country’s political and social spheres.
History of Plurinational State Foundation Day
Bolivia has been a multicultural land for centuries, and its indigenous people have suffered marginalization and lack of representation for just as long. This situation only changed as the new century — the 20th century — emerged. Political and social movements to demand better representation for marginalized communities in Bolivia have increased. Reforms were passed, in 1991 and 1993, to increase indigenous people’s rights in Bolivia. However, these reforms were only temporary measures as the government simultaneously passed destructive environmental and anti-indigenous rules and regulations.
Then, in 2006, the country got its first indigenous president. Evo Morales, the son of a low-income family of the indigenous Aymara people, began his political career as the head of a trade union of coca growers. He stood for election in the 2005 presidential election, winning the post and making history as the first indigenous person in the office. Four years later, he proposed a change to the Bolivian constitution — it would now recognize the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural identity of so many of its people. While there was opposition from other political parties, Bolivia eventually became a plurinational state, which was mentioned in the Constitution during Morales’ second term in office in 2010. On the same day the Constitution was enacted, January 22, Morales also signed a decree declaring January 22 as the Plurinational State Foundation Day. And so, Bolivians got a new national holiday that celebrated their new identity.
Even though President Morales is no longer in office, the Plurinational State Foundation Day and everything it stands for is related to Bolivian culture and the Bolivian Constitution. Notwithstanding hiccups in the implementation of a framework for indigenous peoples, the addition of every ethnicity and culture into the mainstream has only bolstered Bolivia’s identity as a diverse and culturally strong nation.
Plurinational State Foundation Day timeline
The Bolivian government signs the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989, which is an international convention meant to protect indigenous rights.
On December 14, the newly elected Bolivian president Morales presides over the passage of the Bolivian Constitution that highlights the nation's status as a plurinational state.
As the new constitution comes into effect, Bolivia becomes the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
Bolivia appoints their first Indigenous President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Justice Pastor Cristina Mamani from the Aymara community, an indigenous community of Bolivia.
Plurinational State Foundation Day FAQs
What is the Plurinational State of Bolivia Anniversary?
Bolivia’s celebration of Plurinational State Foundation Day is also the anniversary of the day when former president Morales took office on January 22, 2006.
How is Plurinational State Foundation Day celebrated?
This day is celebrated with family and friends, and often, a feast containing traditional meals like Chola sandwiches or Silpancho.
What is a plurinational state?
A plurinational state is basically one with plural nationalities. Such a state acknowledges that there is more than one nationality inside the nation, and it is a place where all nationalities, cultures, and languages are officially recognized and integrated into the fabric of the country.
Plurinational State Foundation Day Activities
Learn more about this holiday
Read up on what the changes meant for the Bolivian people and the indigenous people in particular. Check out books, articles, and papers written about the 2009 declaration and what it means for present-day Bolivia.
Explore the Bolivian culture
Study the indigenous culture and ethnic people of Bolivia. You could speak to Bolivian natives around you, watch documentaries on the subject, or read reports detailing the nation’s multicultural identity.
Eat an authentic Bolivian meal
Enjoy delicacies that are uniquely Bolivian. If you have the time, interest, and ingredients, try your hand at a few recipes and impress your loved ones with your culinary skills
5 Cool Facts About Bolivia’s Population
The first plurinational state
Bolivia, with its 2009 declaration, became the first plurinational state in South America.
The country has a large indigenous population
Making 60% of the total population, Bolivia has the largest proportion of indigenous people in South America.
Official recognition for indigenous people
Thirty-six indigenous peoples have been officially recognized by the Bolivian constitution.
They have 37 official languages
As per the 2009 constitution, Bolivia recognizes Spanish and 36 indigenous languages as official.
Bolivia has two national flags
Since 2009, the country has had two official flags: one is their commonly used red-and-green tricolor flag, and the other is a multicolor, rainbow-squared flag used by the Andean peoples in Bolivia.
Why We Love Plurinational State Foundation Day
It represents change
Specifically, it celebrates the change from a nation that excluded the majority of its indigenous peoples into one that recognizes every citizen's worth, while acknowledging their differences. They're giving back legal and political rights to the diverse people who make up most of the Bolivian people.
They've created a new citizenship model
Ecuador joined Bolivia in adding the plurinational state idea into the Constitution. Still, only Bolivia actually went all the way and changed its name to reflect its commitment to institutional reforms. Their model attempts to remove the homogeneity that incorrectly defined their population and highlight the ethnic and cultural mores that make up their nation.
This idea is inspiring the world
Bolivia's acknowledgment of a plural nationality challenges other similarly diverse nations to revisit their policies and identities. This day shows the world that diversity and multiculturalism can indeed coexist and do so peacefully.
Plurinational State Foundation Day dates