Juan Rivero Torres

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Juan Rivero Torres
Juan Rivero Torres in 1947.jpg
Juan Ramón Rivero Torres

(1897-01-17)January 17, 1897
Cochabamba, Bolivia
DiedJune 29, 1951(1951-06-29) (aged 54)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Alma materETH Zurich
OccupationEngineer and entrepreneur
María Teresa Andrea Gutierrez-Guerra Reyes Calvo de la Banda (m. 1940–1951)
ChildrenMaría de la Gloria Rivero Gutiérrez-Guerra
RelativesAdela Zamudio (aunt)
AwardsOrdem Nacional do Cruzeiro do Sul (1941)
Juan Rivero Torres making a cross country railroad ride with Bolivia's Liberty Bell in 1941

Juan Ramón Rivero Torres (January 17, 1897 – June 29, 1951), was a Bolivian engineer and businessman responsible for the development of several cross-border infrastructure projects that improved regional integration in South America during the first half of the 20th century. The completion of the railroad connecting Santa Cruz, Bolivia to Corumba, Brazil effectively linked South America's Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

In 1941, President Getúlio Vargas awarded him with the Ordem Nacional do Cruzeiro do Sul, the highest award bestowed by the Brazilian government to a foreigner, for his services in the development of regional transport infrastructure.


Born in Bolivia, one of two landlocked South American countries, the son of industrialist Ramón Rivero and the nephew of poet Adela Zamudio, he was educated at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich, Switzerland, where in 1921 he received an honors degree in civil engineering. As a young engineer, he was driven and determined to address the special challenges faced by his landlocked country and help Bolivia overcome its geographical disadvantages.

Juan Terry Trippe of Pan American World Airways hosting an official dinner in honor of Juan Rivero Torres at New York's Union League Club in 1935

Pan-American Highway[edit]

After he took part as a student in the Bolivian delegation in Geneva, Switzerland, as the initial sessions of the General Assembly of the League of Nations were called to order, President Bautista Saavedra recognized his unique diplomatic skills and sent him as an engineer to the initial meetings of the Pan-American Highway Commission, in 1924 at Washington, D.C.,[1] and the following spring of 1925, at Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he served as vice president of the commission.[2] A modern highway from the northern part of North America to the southern part of South America had been under official consideration since 1923, when the Fifth International Conference of American States met at a Santiago, Chile. He came to believe in the project, and became an early advocate for it in Bolivia,[3] which signed the Convention on the Pan-American Highway in 1937.[4]

Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano[edit]

Between 1923 and 1937, he served as chief engineer of rail and air transport for the Ministry of Economic Development, where he was instrumental in the creation of Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, one of South America's oldest airlines.

Santa Cruz-Corumba Railway[edit]

In 1938, he was appointed chief of the Bolivian delegation to help organize the Mixed Bolivian Brazilian Railway Commission; until 1951, he served as delegate engineer of Bolivia in the construction of the Santa Cruz-Corumba Railway, thereby forming a rail corridor to connect South America's Atlantic ports with its Pacific ones.[5]


  1. ^ Highways of Friendship: An Intimate Account of the Tour of the Pan American Highway Commission, Its Genesis, Accomplishments and Plans for the Future, Together with Brief Biographies of the Men who Composed It, Some Summaries of the Work Ahead by Latin Members, and a List of the Names of Those Whose Public Spirit Made it Possible. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. 1924.
  2. ^ First Pan American Congress of Highways, General Minutes and Appendixes. Buenos Aires: Pan American Union. 1925.
  3. ^ Rivero Torres, Juan (1925), "La Comisión Panamericana de Carreteras y los problemas de vialidad moderna", Boletín de la Sociedad de Ingenieros de Bolivia, 4 (1): 52–63
  4. ^ Almost 80 years and 18,000 miles later, the Pan-American Highway has yet to be completed. The Darien Gap remains a roadless 250-mile stretch of jungle and swamp between Panama and Colombia. The highway has worked well, however, where it has been completed.
  5. ^ Patric, Anthony (January 19, 1947). "Railway Across South America Nears Reality". Chicato Tribune. p. 22. Retrieved 2 May 2016. The strategical railroad linking the Brazilian Atlantic port of Santos to the Chilean Pacific port of Arica is nearing reality. Despite wartime shortages of material and equipment, the Bolivian Brazilian Commission in charge of the construction of the line has performed a near miracle...