Riva Palacios Colony, Bolivia
The Riva Palacios Colony, Bolivia, is located 60 km. (37 mi.) south of Santa Cruz. It was started in 1967 by ca. 50 Old Colony Mennonite families from Mexico with 100 more families arriving in 1968. In 1986 Riva Palacios had a population of 5,686 with 1,900 baptized church members. It was the largest Mennonite settlement in Bolivia, and its church affiliation was with the Old Colony Mennonites. Ben Peters was the bishop in 1986. There were five church buildings in different parts of the colony. Schools were found in most of the 39 villages. The colony owned about 33,000 hectares (81,500 acres) of land.
The colonists left Mexico to begin a new life in the jungle of Bolivia because of population pressures and scarcity of land, a desire to return to a more conservative life-style, and a desire for a new experience and adventure.
As in all the other Mennonite colonies in Bolivia farming was the main activity of the colonists. This colony consisted of many well-to-do farmers who had nice farmyards, spacious houses and barns or sheds, machinery (tractors with steel wheels), and large areas of cultivated land; but there were also many poor people, both young and old. Small gas motors or windmills were used to pump the water from good wells into water reservoirs which served as pressure tanks. In 1986 electricity was used only for welding and for small electric motors in the shops.
No bicycles, motorcycles, cars, pickup trucks, or other trucks were permitted. Neither did the church permit the use of radios, record players, or tape recorders. Church rules were very strictly enforced with the ban being applied freely. Higher education was prohibited. There were, however, self-taught dentists, doctors, midwives, and chiropractors.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 776. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Hiebert, Isbrand. "Riva Palacios Colony, Bolivia." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 25 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/R590.html.
APA style: Hiebert, Isbrand. (1989). Riva Palacios Colony, Bolivia. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/R590.html.