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the other Mr Bolivia : Who is García Linera?
a 43 year old mathematician and intellectual and ex-armed rebel is about to be sworn in as vice president of Bolivia.
For a variety of reasons, a lot of attention is going his way, perhaps because outside of Latin American circles, no-one really knows much about him.
A very short profile of vice president elect Álvaro García Linera of Bolivia with links.
First off, he refutes any attempt to portray him as "the real power" behind the throne. Secondly he maintains that Evo Morales and his regime will be neither "Chavista" or "Lulista". Thirdly he is attempting a definition (as ideologue) of a new form of "collective socialism" which he insists has little to do with more traditional marxist analysis. Indeed he's underscoring the difference between the new Leftist regime of South America and many of those parties and individuals (in Europe generally and Ireland in particular) who support them.
His vision of the "route to socialism" is based on a rejection of older "1950s marxist directions" though he concedes there are still some of that wing in Bolivian politics generally and in the MAS in particular.
García Linera was born October 19th 1962 in Cochabamba, Bolivia where he attended schools displaying a gift for maths, and thus went to Mexico where he graduated and later got post graduate (sciences) as well 1981-1985. He then went back to Bolivia and became a member of the guerilla group Tupaj Katari (named after an indiginous rebel hero) which fought the state in the 80s. He served 5 years in prison for being their "idealogue". He has past from "thinking for rebels" to "thinking for the president" in less than 20 years.
He defines himself as "an intellectual who has comitted to both left and indiginous postures". Consistent with that, it was he who within the Bolivian party MAS (movement to socialism) who led the decision to only support a leadership (& presidency) of an indiginous indian. Thus one would not be surprised to learn Mr García Linera is _not indiginous indian_.
& I suppose that ethnic detail has caused many to "overestimate" his power, for simple reasons of racism. To which his response has been to define himself as "the bridge between [supporters of] indiginous and the middle classes". = Race doesn't come into it, class does. But certainly the US media are happy to use his face in news images as Morales had his first encounter with US diplomats this last day.
He goes to great lengths to reassure all who interview him however that this is not the case, he is not "the real king or even king maker": Morales may lack much formal education, but his qualities of leadership and personal charisma are enough to serve the creation of a "personality cult". Though he reminds all, that such cults find most fertile ground in countries with a weak social fabric, he sees no possibility that Evo will be a "caudillo" (in response to questions on the similarities with Chavez) as Bolivia is a country with a "strong social fabric"..."with very high memberships of councils, unions, parish councils, support groups, guilds &c..,"
He describes an "Evo" project of 25 to 30 years. Which means a series of changes within Bolivia ( "ever mindful of national unity" ) and its relationship to "colonial forces". As the "middle class face" his reassurances this morning of the independence of the judiciary seem to have been well received. But exactly how long this rôle of "bourgouis apologist" will play to all galleries is hard to know.
García Linera describes Bolivia as
"now being a country of commerce not of export". & this is where redefining the relationship with corporate energy interests comes in. For a mathematician the figures are easy. Before the 11 current players arrived the Bolivian state garnered 390,000,000$ ( in 1995) in revenue. Last year their revenue was only up 20million$ despite them now being committed in the most tortuous way to "development bilateral aid package and infrastrucutural investment" to the tune of around 3 billion dollars. [ = they got ripped off big time].
This reading material is in spanish, so far Mr García Linera doesn't even have a wikipedia page in spanish, and his profile comes from his own party MAS and the ever trustworthy rebellion and bbc news-sites.
latest interview with BBC spanish service-
Leftists asked in October ought MAS really be called "movement to capitalism" and analysed the rôle of García Linera
for comprehensive background to Bolivia read this article and comments. it was by no means the most important story of 2005, but certainly the left will profit (in Europe) if understanding of these issues increases in 2006-