August 11, 2005

The Tuto Quiroga Project

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More and more it looks like Bolivian politics is dividing itself in two very distinct and very obvious camps, the left and the right. On my previous post I spoke about the Garcia Linera project. This project is an attempt by Garcia Linera to unite the left behind his leadership as vice-president candidate and Evo Morales' presidential candidacy. On this occasion I'd like to especulate on Tuto Quiroga's own porject to unite the right.

According to press reports, it looks like Quiroga and his camp are working towards that goal. Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga, Cochabambino, former ADN and former President, has decided to step forward and enter the race with a new political "project", Alianza Siglo XXI (Alliance 21st Century or ASXXI). This project is more or less clearly defined in terms of its opposition to the nationalization of the natural resources and its belief in open markets and trade. Things that for the Bolivian left are taboo at this time.

Quiroga has been working hard and thus traveling extensively throughout Bolivia to consolidate support for his project. Press reports are confirming now that he was able to secure the support of around 33 citizens groups and indigenous organizations. The latest alliance with 15 organizations, in and around La Paz and El Alto, will be announced today in the rebel city of El Alto. In addition to those, Quiroga has alliances with 18 organizations in Cochabamba, Tarija, Potosí and Sucre (Chuquisaca).

In addition to this impressive (I am certainly impressed he has gained support in El Alto) result, Quiroga stands to gain support from two of the traditional parties, MIR and NFR. If Jaime Paz Zamora, the leader and founder of MIR, has his way, his party would be giving up presenting his own candidate in the next elections and instead support Tuto's candidacy. According to Paz Zamora, his party must now realize that it has to concentrate on the regional level because after regions gain autonomy, this level of government will be important. Paz Zamora has support from his son, who is a deputy from Tarija, Rodrigo Paz Pereira. Additionally, Manfred Reyes Villa, leader of NFR, has also expressed its intentions to examine a possible alliance behind Quiroga. This action more or less would unite the right behind Tuto Quiroga, thus setting up a clash between the left and the right on December 4th.

Notwithstanding, I find interesting the fact that Bolivia is betting (what I think all) on the complete renovation of the political class. Two reasons indicate this desire for renovation. First, Tuto's alliances with the civic and indigenous organizations have been based on the promise, from the part of Tuto, not to include politicians with strong ties to the worn out governments in recent years and to the neo-liberal policies applied by them. Tuto has been keen on keeping that promise. I am not sure if he will be able to keep it until election day. After all, precisely those people are the ones who have extensive experience in administration and government affairs. It is a hard promise to keep.

Secondly, the current MIR crisis is another indication. The MIR will have its national convention on August 18. In this date, the party is supposed to define itself all over again. There is a strong current within the party, lead by the congress woman, Erika Brockmann, which want a change in the leadership of the party. These people feel the need for Jaime Paz Zamora and long time political operative (who has considerable weight), Oscar Eid, to step aside and leave space for new leadership to emerge. According to people from the party, this is exaclty what will happen coming August 18.

Personally, I think this is a good move. Paz Zamora is worn-out as a leader. It is time for new leadership to take over and for it to re-define where the party stands. If the right achieves this feat (to bring new leadership to the parties), I think that the left will be pressed to differentiate itself and to come out with real and concrete proposals. Leaving aside that militant and populist rhetoric for a realistic proposal on how to achieve leftist ideals would seriously challenge the right. However, as I have been saying all along, at least there is a movement forwards. The elections are a-coming and road-blockades, disturbances and senseless protests are just bad memories (at least for now).


Fredrik Lindqvist said...

I am stunned! A even greater posting today... :-)

Tuto is the MAN!

If he gets backing of both MIR and NFR other centre-right parties like MNR and UCS might soon jump on the Quiroga bandwagon.

What social movments in El Alto is supporting Quiroga the same who supports El Altos mayor Peredes? Has his old party ADN given him support yet?

mcentellas said...

Yep, excellent post.

Javier said...

Every day the MIR disapoints me more and more and more...

And to think that Jaime Paz Zamora was almost killes because of his ideals...

Miguel said...

Well, surprisingly, there are people in El Alto who think Tuto would make a good president. Not everybody in El Alto supports FEJUVE and the COR. Many think blocking roads and disturbing the peace is not a good idea. The problem is that these trouble makers are well organized and can deliver an efficient roadblock any time of the day. The system is a bit complicated but it functions as a wheel, where one group has to only block a road once every 15 to 20 days.

I wouldn't be so quick as to say that MNR or the UCS will be supporting Tuto. As far as I know, MNR wants to present its own candidates. However, everything will play in the new parliament. There is where all the alliances and negotiations happen in Bolivian politics.

Finally, I would say that for Miristas, MIR is progressively dissappointing. It has steadily moved to the right since its inclusion in government. At the moment, I would say that MIR is a center-right government. It is trying to be a "catch-all" party, so to speak.

I would also be dissappointed at Paz Zamora, if I were Mirista. And Javier, you are right to wonder when Paz Zamora almost died because of what he stood for. That is a real wonder!

Boli-Nica said...

Actually, I am more disapointed with Hormando Diez Vaca than with Jaime Paz, Diez really wants the presidency and is pressuring the MIR to run its own candidate.

Not that I think that Jaime Paz is just being benevolent the Prefectura of Tarija is a big prize, no matter the ultimate scenario nationally.

Javier said...

I have never voted MIR, as a matter a fact, I have never voted to any party or president in Bolivia. But of course, the name Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionario is very powerful and attractive to any leftist voter.

When Zamora was in presidency and made a pact with the ADN was the start of their ending. Since then, MIR is in decay. Vaca Diez is just the last expression of this, and I blame Zamora, for letting his party become a, as Miguel says, "catch-all". I would be embarrased if I were Zamora. What would his brother and the widow of him, that died in the ELN fighting bolivian rangers, think? What's has changed so much in the mind of Zamora? I can't understand, as hard as I try, the less I understand.

My last hope on moderate left in Bolivia is the MSM, but...will see what happens when they become a "big" party.

Fredrik Lindqvist said...

What about other moderate left parties such as the MBL. Are they going with MNR och with Frente Amplio?

What happened with IU? Dissolve itself into MAS?

Miguel said...

MBL has been with MNR. I haven't heard anything to suggests a brake up in the marriage.

IU is till there, just not with many votes as it would like. :-)

The problem with MSM is that is a regional party. It has not national appeal. That will depend on how do they perform in these elections, though.

Fredrik Lindqvist said...

But Aydée Nava are a member of MBL but is in the Frente Amplio, how come?

What about the other parties in the Frente Amplio, are they all left-wing?
-CIU (Gonzalo Terceros Ex. NFR)
-AS (René Joaquino Ex. PS)

Have I forgotten anyone?

Miguel said...

One marked characteristic about Bolivian politics is that it is ok to change political afiliations. Thus, it is not rare to see politicians who belonged to one party, trying their "luck" in another.

This characteristic is marked in Bolivia but by no means only confined to that country.

Fredrik Lindqvist said...

What about Bolivia Socialist Falange then?

Javier said...

I think I can respond to that.

The falangist movement in Bolivia is almost a carbon copy of the falangist movement in Spain and the Franco dictatorship. I'm not sure how to categorize this guys.

In one hand they hate capitalism in the same way a communist or extreme-left party could do it, his economic model is to be self sufficient, kind of like the socialist system. They also have a likeness for social justice, equality, etc...

But, on the other hand they are very harsh nationalists, the opposite to the internationalism that is promoted in the left. They are catholic, profoundly catholic in contradiction of the atheims that's promoted on the left. They are also pretty conservative in "social" matters such as abortion, gay marriage, divorce, etc.

They now call "Falange neounazgista" since the "original" falange dissapear because of internal differences.

Anonymous said...

Tuto is the candidate of the old political establishment and has the support of the U.S. embassy as well. Everything else is pure rhetoric, as Samuel Doria Medina, Reyes Villa (NFR) and any eventual MIR/MNR candidates will come in behind Evo and Tuto, and inevitably support the latter in Congress.

MBL only has support in Sucre, nationally it is discredited for having stayed alongside MNR since '93 and Juan del Granado now MSM was its only strong card.

The Frente Amplio is self-described center left although they are not likely to change neoliberal (rightwing) economic and therefore social policy much. MSM's strength is that it has brought the La Paz municipality back from 10 years of extreme corruption and indebtedness to growing institutionality and trust from citizens. Unfortunately, for many of its projects it is dependent on foreing loans and therefore tied to the same economic system supported by the Tuto crowd

mariobossv said...

Regardless of the political party that assumes the presidency (although I would prefer Tuto)they must invest in social programs. Perhaps, they can emulate the "new deal" that was introduced to the U.S. by FDR during the 1930's.