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Viewing cable 06LAPAZ3400, WILL THE REAL OPPOSITION LEADER PLEASE STAND UP?

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06LAPAZ3400 2006-12-18 21:09 2010-12-03 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy La Paz
VZCZCXRO8185
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLP #3400/01 3522107
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 182107Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1676
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6399
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3723
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 7593
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 4843
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2095
RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA 0611
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2168
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 3228
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 1985
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4290
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 4732
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 9317
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 LA PAZ 003400 
 
SIPDIS 
 
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 LA PAZ 003400 

SIPDIS 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/18/2036 
TAGS: ECON PGOV PREL BL
SUBJECT: WILL THE REAL OPPOSITION LEADER PLEASE STAND UP? 

REF: LA PAZ 03178 

Classified By: ECOPOL Counselor Andrew Erickson for reason 1.4 (d). 

------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 

1. (C) Evo Morales' election in December 2005 was a political 
earthquake in Bolivia, sweeping aside political expectations 
that have defined Bolivian politics for generations and at 
the same time breaking open fissures and offering up new 
possibilities. While President Morales' popularity has risen 
and fallen since his election, his popularity has surged 
since the hydrocarbons nationalization and his successful use 
of political hardball tactics to overcome an 
opposition-imposed blockade of the senate. For now, the 
traditional opposition appears to be crumbling under the 
GOB's pressure. While it is too early to discern the final 
shifts of Bolivia's political tectonic plates this cable is 
an effort to explore the new political geography of current 
and potentially future leaders of the country. End Summary. 

----------------------------- 
INDIGENOUS & REGIONAL LEADERS 
----------------------------- 

2. (C) RENE JOAQUINO CABRERA: A mason by trade, Potosi Mayor 
Rene Joaquino Cabrera is an emerging politician known for 
competent management, reported honesty, and efforts to govern 
transparently. Despite a low public profile, Joaquino has 
been involved in politics since 1993 and has twice been 
elected mayor of Potosi. His political group, the Social 
Alliance of the People, has earned a reputation of acting 
independently and moderately to build consensus within 
Bolivia's Constituent Assembly (CA). However, Joaquino does 
not have the name recognition or funding necessary for a 
national campaign. Given the number of potential candidates 
for the next presidential race, there may not be enough 
political space for Joaquino to make a convincing bid for 
national office. Despite these challenges to Joaquino's 
emergence nationally, his indigenous background and personal 
biography as a former child laborer in the country's mines 
could galvanize popular support. 

3. (C) OSCAR GERARDO MONTES: A member of the Movement of the 
Revolutionary Left (MIR) party, Tarija Mayor Oscar Montes is 
an intelligent strategist who understands the realities that 
the political opposition faces in Bolivia's current political 
climate. With a wealth of political experience that includes 
positions within national and local government, Montes has 
regional name recognition within Tarija and enjoys a good 
reputation. Understanding the political chasm that separates 
the country's eastern and western regions, Montes has 
expressed interest in creating a politically viable 
alternative to the MAS that includes an alliance among 
Bolivia's southern-most departments (Chuquisaca, Potosi, 
Ouro, and Tarija). He is politically aligned with Joaquino 
(see above). Poloffs believe a national ticket featuring 
Joaquino as the presidential candidate and Montes as the 
candidate for vice-president could empower Bolivia's southern 
departments and garner wide national support. 

4. (C) PEDRO TICANA: Former minister of indigenous affairs 
under the Mesa and Rodriguez governments, Pedro Ticana is 
unaffiliated with a particular political party and is an 
effective political operator with a diverse political 
background. A former adviser to Movement Towards Socialism 
(MAS), Ticana is now closely aligned with Potosi Mayor 
Joaquino and eastern Bolivia. Helping Joaquino organize a 
new political party, Ticana could help establish a political 
block comprising the country's southern and eastern 
departments. Ticana's political experience with three 

LA PAZ 00003400 002 OF 005 


different governments demonstrates his ability to work beyond 
party lines to establish effective political connections and 
build consensus. As a Quechua, Ticana has the ability to 
take advantage of the political prominence indigenous groups 
now enjoy. Political analysts, however, note Ticana prefers 
to remain behind the scenes rather than seek a national 
leadership position. At a November 2006 indigenous 
roundtable with Ambassadors Goldberg and Shapiro, Ticana 
presented himself as a moderate political thinker who seeks 
to establish a political environment that values inclusion 
and dialogue. 

5. (C) MARIO COSSIO CEJAS: Touting a wide range of 
experience in academia and politics, Tarija Prefect Mario 
Cossio's potential as a rising opposition leader is aided by 
his hydrocarbons-rich prefecture. Given Tarija's 
hydrocarbons revenues, Cossio is well-equipped to advance the 
agenda of the media luna (Pando, Beni, Tarija, and Santa Cruz 
departments), especially on regional autonomy. A member of 
Camino al Cambio, a civic political group, Cossio enjoys 
broad public support and is viewed positively by the Bolivian 
national media. His ability to rise as a national opposition 
leader may also be aided by his discreet role in the highly 
publicized divide between the media luna and the GOB, which 
could help Cossio attract more wide-ranging political 
support. Physically mestizo, Cossio can tap into the support 
President Morales now enjoys by Bolivians who identify with 
him and his background. 

6. (C) RUBEN COSTAS: The public face of the media luna and a 
member of Autonomia Por Bolivia, Ruben Costas' position as 
prefect of the economic powerhouse Santa Cruz department 
gives him a natural edge in establishing himself as a 
regional opposition leader. Costas' willingness to work with 
the United States would make him a solid democratic partner. 
His politically savvy use of the media to advance the 
interests of the media luna have helped establish Costas as 
one of the primary political opposition leaders. His public 
confrontations with the Morales administration, the latest 
bringing a public retraction by Morales of his accusations 
that Costas was involved in a plot against him, have helped 
Costas score public victories against the GOB. Given his 
close relationship with other prefects in eastern Bolivia and 
his leadership on regional autonomy, Costas is well-known and 
respected in the east. However, his close association with 
eastern Bolivia may limit him to a regional leadership 
position, as the Altiplano has historically opposed 
candidates hailing from the east, especially the Santa Cruz 
department. 

------------- 
THE DINOSAURS 
------------- 

7. (C) JOSE LUIS PAREDES MUNOZ: A member of PODEMOS who 
values U.S. assistance in Bolivia, La Paz prefect Jose Luis 
Paredes stands out as a potential national opposition leader. 
In an October 11 meeting with ECOPOL, Paredes privately 
expressed his interest in obtaining U.S. support to run for 
the presidency (poloff explained that we do not intervene in 
Bolivia's internal affairs). As the former mayor of El Alto, 
Paredes has a strong base of support in the Altiplano, 
despite the efforts of several MAS-controlled social sector 
groups to drive him from office. With a history of 
demonstrating an ability to govern, Paredes has responded 
well to the enormous pressure he is under from his 
constituency and from the central government. With an eye 
towards his political future, Paredes is attempting to shore 
up support through a public relations campaign highlighting 
his accomplishments as prefect. However, Paredes remains 
very vulnerable to allegations of corruption in regard to 
charges filed against him on October 16 for actions allegedly 
committed while he was mayor of El Alto. 

LA PAZ 00003400 003 OF 005 




8. (C) MANFRED REYES VILLA: A former presidential candidate, 
Cochabamba Prefect and Agrupacion Unidad por Cochabamba (AUC) 
leader Manfred Reyes Villa has a wealth of political 
experience and broad name recognition although whispers of 
corruption haunt him. Known for delivering on his promises, 
Reyes is popular among his constituents, which is 
particularly challenging given his position in an otherwise 
MAS-dominated prefecture. Despite his political experience, 
Reyes' political potential may have peaked during his 2002 
presidential campaign, when he garnered approximately 22 
percent of the national vote. Lacking a politically relevant 
party, Reyes ties to Bolivia's old guard politicians will 
likely keep him from regaining a national position. Although 
Reyes may be unable to assume a national role, he will likely 
remain an important player regionally. 

9. (C) SAMUEL DORIA MEDINA: A wealthy prominent businessman 
and national political figure (since his third place finish 
in Bolivia's December 2005 national elections) Samuel Doria 
Medina is the head of the National Unity (UN) party and a 
delegate in the CA. An entrepreneur and former minister 
under ex-President Jaime Paz Zamora, Medina's financial 
resources and position within the CA enable him to coordinate 
a national opposition movement. Known for having political 
ambitions, Medina may try to thrust himself into the next 
presidential race without regard for his realistic chances of 
winning it. Medina's chances to run for the presidency, 
however, have been reportedly neutralized by his willingness 
to broker deals with the MAS in the CA and threats by the GOB 
to nationalize his businesses. While the impact of these 
reports are unknown, Medina would still have to find support 
outside his party and overcome the leftist, indigenous trend 
in Bolivian politics if he were to attempt a presidential 
campaign. In the meantime, Medina will likely continue to 
play a key role building consensus in the CA. 

---------- 
IRRELEVANT 
---------- 

10. (C) JORGE "TUTO" QUIROGA RAMIREZ: The recognized leader 
of PODEMOS, Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga is considered the glue that 
binds his party in the CA and in Bolivia's congress. 
Unfortunately, he seems tone-deaf to Bolivia's radically 
changed political environment, and has been unable to strike 
a chord with the population. As the leader of the largest 
opposition group in the CA and a former president, Quiroga 
remains Bolivia's primary opposition leader. Like Ortiz, 
Quiroga's leadership of PODEMOS may undermine his ability to 
win national office. Beginning late-November 2006, Quiroga 
has started to take a more public stance on divisive issues 
between his party and the GOB to build pressure and support 
for a two-thirds vote in the CA. While effective as a party 
leader, most political analysts concede Quiroga would not 
fare well in a future presidential race. In a recent meeting 
with the Ambassador, Quiroga appeared less interested in 
Bolivian politics than discussing foreign policy -- that of 
Bolivia as well as the U.S. 

11. (C) OSCAR ORTIZ: An influential and well-known 
opposition senator from Santa Cruz, Oscar Ortiz has made a 
name for himself by using his political position to publicly 
criticize the GOB. A member of PODEMOS, with a background in 
business, Ortiz understands the intricacies of economics and 
can use his experience to communicate policies that would 
resonate with a Bolivian electorate that is increasingly 
focused on employment. Like Costas, his ties to eastern 
Bolivia and his pro-business outlook may diminish his ability 
to rise through the political ranks, particularly in light of 
GOB rhetoric against free market economics. Ortiz's 
affiliation with the PODEMOS party may also prevent his 

LA PAZ 00003400 004 OF 005 


emergence as an opposition leader that can gain broad 
political appeal. 

------------- 
LEFT FIELDERS 
------------- 

12. (S/NF) SANTOS RAMIREZ: The president of Bolivia's senate, 
Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) senator Santos Ramirez is 
considered the political confidant of President Morales. A 
lawyer by education and a teacher by training, Ramirez has an 
extensive history in politics as a member of congress before 
being elected to the senate in 2006. Born in the Potosi 
department, Ramirez is well-known in Potosi and serves as the 
head of the MAS party there. With a political career closely 
aligned to President Morales' legislative agenda, Ramirez' 
political future is considered heavily dependent on the 
political successes of the GOB. Rumored to be a major player 
in the MAS' political playbook, Ramirez is in a position to 
assume a leadership position in the event President Morales 
stumbles (reftel A). Ramirez' role in railroading 
controversial legislative measures supported by President 
Morales confirms the opinions of many political analysts who 
consider him a radical. Emboldened by the newfound wave of 
popularity President Morales is enjoying, Ramirez may shed 
his politically adept style for a more radical approach. 
With his strong alliances with the GOB, Ramirez may ride out 
the wave of President Morales' strong popularity before 
revealing his personal aspirations to emerge on Bolivia's 
national stage. Sensitive reporting indicates that Ramirez 
may be very vulnerable on corruption and human smuggling 
charges. 

13. (C) FERNANDO HUANACUNI: A relative unknown in Bolivia's 
political sphere, professor, lawyer, and Aymara writer 
Fernando Huanacuni has raised the eyebrows of political 
analysts convinced President Morales' successor will hail 
from the country's indigenous community. Relatively young in 
political terms at thirty-nine years old, Huanacuni may 
present a fresh perspective that would be welcomed by a 
growing population of young Bolivians frustrated with a 
government they view as unresponsive. A resident of El Alto 
and born in the La Paz department, Huanacuni's ability to 
galvanize support for a national run would directly challenge 
President Morales' base of support. Despite his lack of name 
recognition, Huanacuni's television show on social pressures 
is helping him gain wider recognition if he uses it as a 
method to raise his political profile. Similar to the 
assessments made for other indigenous politicians, 
Huanacuni's indigenous background could help him galvanize 
greater support. 

14. (C) JUAN DEL GRANADO: Known as the "the Gardener" for his 
passionate support for environmentally-friendly public works, 
La Paz Mayor Juan del Granado is popular among his 
constituency for his efforts to reform La Paz and fight 
corruption. He stands as a likely candidate to emerge 
nationally from the MAS' rank-and-file if the opportunity 
presented itself. A former member of the MIR and the 
Movimiento Bolivia Libre (MBL), Granado is the founder and 
current leader of the Movimiento Sin Miedo (MSM), a political 
party he started when he ran for mayor that is now allied 
with the MAS. In addition to the publicity Granado enjoys 
from his position, his skillful use of radio and television 
for constituent outreach help him raise his profile among the 
electorate while highlighting his accomplishments in office. 
Despite his alliances with MAS, however, Granado political 
viability remains murky at best. Considered a member of the 
middle class, Granado would likely have to counter negative 
perceptions of the middle class among the indigenous 
community and traditionally marginalized groups to court 
their vote. A former minister in the Gonzalo Sanchez de 
Lozada administration, Granado would be an easy target for 

LA PAZ 00003400 005 OF 005 


this past association and this would present a high hurdle 
for Granado to clear in a national run for office. 

------- 
COMMENT 
------- 

12. (C) The December 2005 and July 2006 national elections 
exposed what turned out to be a hollow center of leadership 
in Bolivia's political traditional political classes. It was 
in this vacuum that Evo Morales took the presidency; 
Bolivia's traditional leaders are still reacting to the 
earthquake his victory represented. The rough-and-tumble 
politics favored by Morales have further exposed the many 
weaknesses of the traditional opposition. Most recently, the 
emergence of divisive issues within the CA has spurred some 
political leaders to action, and offered tentative clues to 
possible alternative opposition leadership. While a 
resurgence of the old opposition is possible, it is unlikely 
that Bolivia's future leader will be one of the political 
dinosaurs and irrelevant leaders of the past. Bolivia 
remains an overwhelmingly poor country. Given the leftward 
shift of rhetoric among many voters, a post-Morales 
environment would likely offer serious electoral advantages 
to a leader emerging from Evo's indigenous supporters. If 
Morales were to exit unexpectedly, an indigenous or strong 
regional leader would be the most likely candidate to fill 
his position. This year, President Morales has had a lucky 
run, with high hydrocarbons and other commodity revenues 
leaving him abundant room to maneuver. That situation will 
change dramatically, however, when his economic luck runs 
out. End Comment. 
GOLDBERG
SELECT * FROM `cable` WHERE `id` = '90016' ORDER BY `date` ASC