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Avaunt Issue 5

The Navy Without a Sea

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Echo Chamber

LAURENCE BLAIR ON DAILY LIFE IN BOLIVIA’S LANDLOCKED NAVY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NICK BALLON

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Navy students practice international maritime signals with semaphore flags at the Tiquina Naval Base in Bolivia. Bolivian soldiers in formation arrive at the San Pedro Tiquina Naval Base to celebrate the 48th anniversary of the foundation of the base.

The routine of the sailors at San Pedro de Tiquina is much like that of any navy around the world. They rise early for the morning’s drill – marching in parade formation or doing physical exercises, depending on the day – before a few hours of classroom instruction. Then they go out on to the water. “Sometimes we do an operation,” says Maria Isabel Mansilla, a 25-year-old instructor with the base’s scuba-diving team, “an amphibious assault or a reconnaissance mission.” On other days, Mansilla’s unit might be set a more mundane, or sombre, task – hoisting a tree trunk out of the water or searching the shallows for the body of a missing person.

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