BOLIVIA: Look Homeward

High on the chill slopes of Bolivia's 12,000-ft. altiplano, a cholo (half-Indian) store clerk one day let a prospector settle a $250 account for a claim to a tin mine. The clerk's boss, outraged by the deal, gave him the claim and made him pay the bill. That was how, at the turn of the century, cholo Simón I. Patiño got into the tin business. For years, he and his sinewy wife wielded picks, hauled up buckets, smashed ore. By 1910, they were rich.

The tin can and the automobile (bearings) made Tin Baron Patio one of the world's five...

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