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Elías Salame, Zamorano philanthropist for 32 generations

duty to give back to the school by sharing their achievements and, above all, by cooperating to help disadvantaged youth who seek to attend Zamorano.

Motivated to know Europe and its windmills, Elías Salame, class of ‘62, decided to accept the invitation of two friends who woke him one dawn in the mid-1950’s apply to study at the Pan-American Agricultural School of Honduras, a country they confused with the Netherlands. This confusion changed the direction of his life and turned him into a leading agronomist. His gratitude to the institution that formed him translated into philanthropy that supported 32 generations of Bolivians graduating from Zamorano.

Love for his alma mater led Salame to work closely with Zamorano on institutional promotion and student management from 1970 to 2002. As a desire to give to others the same preparation that the school offered him, he freely donated his time, effort, and resources for 32 years in promoting activities in nine departments of his native Bolivia.

For 22 years, this altruist used his own funds to promote Zamorano in his country. It was not until 1992 that the then-president of the Association of Graduates of the Pan-American Agricultural School in Bolivia (AGEAP-Bolivia) was awarded 1,500 dollars, which he transferred to him by not having time to carry out the activities.

“He knew that I was doing this activity and he sent me the check, since I received it I began to render accounts and since then part of my expenses for promotion were paid by Zamorano,” he recalled.

Contribution to the development of Bolivia through Zamorano education

However, another motivation that moved Salame to offer his collaboration was the drive to support Bolivia – especially its Santa Cruz region, which is fundamentally agricultural. He knew they needed trained professionals to develop their agricultural sector and that it would only be possible to achieve that level with education from Zamorano.

After three decades of support, this Zamorano philanthropist says he feels satisfied to see the new graduates being successful professionals who contribute “immensely” to the development and growth of their country. “In our Santa Cruz region, Zamoranos are responsible for more than 15% of agricultural production. They also stand out as part of the leadership of all private and public groups, identifying with values of work, perseverance, and effort that Zamorano has inculcated in them,” he said.

He classifies the institution as a workshop that receives rough stone and forms diamonds from it. “I went to visit the school on many occasions and saw in person the constant evolution and academic improvement that is training innovative leaders capable of facing the current challenges,” he added.

He urged colleagues to contribute money to the financial aid fund for applicants and students with very limited resources so they have the same opportunity that he had to become Zamoranos. “Dear colleagues, you do not know the satisfaction and joy that you feel when you see those graduates and professional colleagues, many of them successful, and remember when they fought to be able to study at Zamorano and that it was possible because you helped with your bit. There are colleagues who support the school following their example,” he demanded.

His Professional Journey: Who is Elías Salame?

Don Elías was the first Bolivian honored with a scholarship, which he won after passing a test that Dr. William Paddock gave to 90 young people. However, after being the only one to pass the exam, he was curious to know what benefit he had earned, recalling, “I asked the examiner what career this exam was for and he answered me that it was to study agronomy in the EAP of Honduras and then gave me a brief explanation of what the institution was.”

This is how he discovered that his friends had confused Honduras with Holland, “so I mentally said goodbye to the mills and welcomed the tortillas,” he said. Although he had never thought about studying agronomy, his family had an agricultural-livestock property and this convinced him to accept the scholarship, becoming the second Bolivian student to study at school, the first being Rosalino Gómez.

 

Through his training at Zamorano, Salame acquired tools such as discipline and leadership and, above all, learned the meaning of the slogan “work conquers all,” which became the weapon he used throughout his professional life. He then returned to his country and started his own poultry company, but could find no market for its production of 1,200 birds per month. He then decided to travel to Brazil where he worked for two important forestry companies.

In 1965, he returned to Bolivia after being recruited through the Compulsory Civil Service Law by then-president General René Barrientos Ortuño, who appointed him to a position in the Ministry of Agriculture given their need for a forest engineer, as there were few in that era. He worked there for nine years in different positions, allowing him to carry out studies for the declaration of the El Choré forest reserves and the Isiboro Sécure National Park, among others.

After completing another degree in agronomy in 1982 at the David René Moreno Autonomous University, he became an ecology professor at that institution. In his professonial trajectory, several positions stand out, such as his role as president of the Forestry Chamber of Bolivia through 11 consecutive administrations, first as adviser and soon after director, while at the same time developing his companies: a forestry consultancy, a rice planting company, a rice mill, a mining company, and an ice factory.

In 1995, Salame organized Fundelzamo (Zamorano Development Foundation), which operated through 2010 when its funds were exhausted. Furthermore, he was the founder of the chapter of the Graduate Association of the Pan-American Agricultural School in Bolivia (AGEAP-Bolivia), which he presided over through multiple administrations.

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