Location: Beni Department Map


Description of Rurrenabaque

Rurrenabaque is a small town located on the banks of Beni river in Beni Department in Bolivia. The easiest way to get here is by plane. Three airlines that offer flights here are Aerocon, Amaszonas and Transporte Aereo Militar (TAM).



Rurrenabaque before the arrival of the Spaniards, it was inhabited by Arawak jungle and ethnic peoples, such as the Tacanas and Araones who grouped numerously to confront the highland villages, who entered into that region to exchange products such as feathers and leather for his clothes, wood and medicinal plants.

From 1560, Jesuit, Carmelite and Franciscan religious enter the region to evangelize along with civilians and military with the aim of settling down, finding a climate and a very adverse region, facing the original settlers who attacked them defending their territory that They were invaded.

The missionary activity brought about changes in the social and productive organization of the indigenous peoples. The new religious concepts were mixed with local beliefs, leading to religious syncretism. The introduction of cattle created a new productive dynamic, based on agriculture, livestock and the extraction of natural resources. The missions became food supply centers, which were marketed with other regions.

Rurrenabaque, in 1810, was a small village and resting port where travelers from the Mocetenes and Apolobamba region were rescuers of the quina shell, which became a very important medicinal product of exploitation, in the middle of the 19th century.

Father Giovani Gianelli is mentioned as founder of Rurrenabaque, on February 2, when the Virgin of the Candelaria is celebrated, as Patroness of the town, with the name of La Cruz; as there is no documentation on the date of foundation until then, it was the tradition of commemorating this holiday every February 2.

The date documented as the foundation of Rurrenabaque is November 15, 1844, which is recorded in Decree Law of November 17, 1844, issued by President Gral. José Ballivián, which cites

"... change the name of Rurrenabaque to that of Ciudad Ballivián and become the capital of the new department of Beni."

However, this decree was not fulfilled for various reasons, such as the lack of communication between peoples.

The rubber boom, by the year 1880, accelerated a process of colonization and economic movement, being Rurrenabaque, an important shipping port for rubber production, food and mass transport of labor for barracks and rubber, and transit unavoidable boats from La Paz, heading to the rubber and chestnut centers. At the end of this boom, migrants from other countries settled in Rurrenabaque, attracted by the economic flourishing, the rubber trade, the quina and then the gold.

Since 1995, Rurrenabaque is the capital and municipal government of the 4th. Section of the province Gral. José Ballivián, and today, continues to be a knot of transport, commerce and production, added to the flourishing activity of productive tourism.

Its cultural manifestations recalled the ancient traditions of the Tacanas groups in terms of dances, clothing and customs, which with fermented chicha and hunting meals, extended for several days.

On the day of the town festival, the main activity was to commemorate the Mamita de la Candelaria, who received the visit of all the people who, in pilgrimage, came to her altar to express gratitude for the blessings received.

With the passing of the years, the customs were changing and new groups were formed, with new dances, instruments and clothing during the festivity of the population; emerging thus, the puli pulis, macheteros, callahuayas, zampoñeros and the breasts, which accompanied the "procession" of the Blessed Virgin of the Candelaria, Patroness of the town, whose image was carried by the few streets culminating with the Holy Mass, as a reason for greeting and blessing to its 1500 inhabitants. Afterwards, the jocking of bulls, the race of horses, of "ring", of callapos and canoes, motivating the presence of all the inhabitants was carried out.


Movie The Shed
"La Vertiente" is the first sound feature in the history of Bolivian cinema, made in 1958 by Jorge Ruiz, who filmed the entire process and development, of a local-rural project for the capture of water from a slope, having participated in the film more than two thousand inhabitants of the town of Rurrenabaque located on the banks of the Beni River; a whole spontaneous mass movement, which at the orders of the director acquires enough dramatic power to move the viewer; power that resides in the feelings of men and women, even children who appear on the screen in a scenic mind, artistic manifestation.

The lack of leadership, indifference, the collective citizen abulia that is waiting for the solution to their basic problems such as drinking water, come from the central government or the departmental, local authorities, etc., has existed and exists in many communities; This motivated Oscar Soria Gamarra, to write a script that, in parallel to the filming of the construction of the aqueduct, tells a not-so-fiction story, that of a school teacher who, having lived through the tragedy of the death of one of his students, assumes the challenge of organizing them to carry out the work of a water catchment, with only their will and the indifference of the residents of the town.

"La Vertiente", is an important historical document, in which a skilled and determined team achieves approaches, frames, planes of great originality. Another important element is the film's soundtrack, the Anthem to work written especially for the film by Argentine composer Tito Ribero, a musical score that brilliantly sustains the action until the end. The success obtained, both in Bolivia and internationally, is attributed indistinctly to the universal interest of the central theme: communalism, as a form of social development, and the quality of the drama itself; the living conditions of communities far from the great urban centers that Jorge Ruiz once knew how to assimilate with imagination and moral honesty. The educational film was spread in many countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, made in 35 mm., Lasts 60 minutes.