Tarija, BOLIVIA - Retiree


Interview made by Cyril Bruyelle​ in February 2017

I’ve been kindly invited to share a Sunday family lunch at Miguel’s house located in the centre of Tarija. A big nice barbecue with 3 generations of the family represented. Miguel was in a way the wise man of the family. A strong presence, not a lot of talks, and a visible feeling of pride when seeing his beautiful family surrounding him. His wisdom also expressed in his deep answers below. Before retiring, Miguel used to live in a bank and then became a carpenter.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Truth is, I never really pictured myself in any particular job, but rather in a family: I’ve always thought of having a wife, children, grandchildren, a home… I didn’t think in terms of getting a job, but rather of having a family.


With whom would you like to have a coffee?

I’ve always liked having coffee with people you can share ideas with, dive a little deeper into life, into what it is to be a man or a woman, not just talking about football or politics, but more about what is life, mankind, interpersonal relationships, that sort of things…


If you could choose something that could be taught in every school in the world, what would it be?

To learn. Meaning, we must teach children to have this thirst of learning things, in books, nature, movies, whatever… for them to be interested in learning, to crave learning.


To you, what’s the main characteristic that all human being have in common?

The ability to communicate; men are the only beings who can communicate with one another, that is how we achieved such a tremendous result, we are still alive today, precisely thanks to this ability to communicate.


To you, who is the happiest person on earth?

People always say that you don’t look for happiness, you find it along the way, you pick the best way; everybody was created by God to be happy.

Besides, happiness does not exclude pain, you can be happy in pain, because you are happy if your life has meaning; pain does not dare interfere within the meaning of your life.


If you were President of the US, what would your first reform be?

I think - to break borders. Mankind has always been free, that’s how we grew, we must be free to walk freely, anywhere in the world.

To me borders have never been a good thing.


What do you need?

Mostly people who dedicate themselves to growing, to making intellectual progress; we need people who are able to fraternize with others, demonstrate how good humans always are. Humans are fundamentally good.


What would you do if we gave you 1 million dollars now?

1 million dollars is a lot of money anywhere in the world, and here even more.

But that doesn’t make you happy, it’s only more issues. We have to remove a little of the weight of having so much money, by giving it away.


Which innovation, realistic or not, would greatly ease your day-to-day life?

If somebody invented something more simple than cell phone itself: merely by thinking you could communicate with somebody else.


What’s the news that affects you the most in your country these days?

In my country there are a lot of news, some very good ones, and a lot of bad ones.

These bad news are the ones who divide people, because they’re based on lies, not truths.

We don’t all have to think the same but we all need to be honest in our way of thinking.


If you had to create a company, what would it be?

I’m not sure if companies are very popular because most of it belongs to the owner.


But if the company is socially responsible … even if obviously the owner has to earn money, because he had the idea, he made the investment, if we don’t widen the gap between people, it’s better. That’s what I am interested in.

Can you draw something beautiful?


It’s a landscape, a peaceful one.

There’s a house to live in, a path to go fetch water …

The sun rises every day.

Can you sing something beautiful?

I like to sing songs from my village but right now,

I have a sore throat, I can’t raise my voice…


What are you afraid of?



What is your dream?

My family.


Close your eyes, you are in 2100, what do you see?

It would be watching from the sky because I don’t think I’ll live that long.

But as it is, perhaps I see a lot of progress, very big cities, crowded cities - that to be honest I wouldn’t like much.

Perhaps progress that would help people fulfil themselves better, be more happy …


What is the most beautiful thing that you’ve seen in your life?

My children’s births.


If you had to write a book about the current world, what would be the title?

Back to a quiet life. That would be the book, its title.


Who is God for you?

It’s the supreme creator, and obviously, in his concrete being, the incarnation of beauty, love and goodness.


Which of your country's cultural specificities are you the proudest of?

My country is, as of today, according to the new Constitution, made of 37 nations. The region in which I live, to which I belong, is one of them, and isn’t actually taken into account in the Constitution. We are the Tarijeños, the Chapacos. I am very proud of this: we have different music, we are different, we have different ways of thinking, of talking. We are given a specific name. Those from the West of Bolivia are called Collas, those from the East are called Cambas. The only part of the country where there are Chapacos is here; of this I am very proud.


If you could do any job regardless of money, what would you do?

Writing - writing about History, contemporary History, as a ways to spread values, to be educational.


If you had to explain our planet to an alien, what would you say?

Oh! A beautiful place to live in, made up of 75% of water, where the landscapes are very beautiful, where the sun rises and warms us, where we have winters …

It’s a blue planet, very beautiful and they should get to know us all!


And you, which question would you like to ask to the world?

What do you need ?