Cárdenas, Victor Hugo (1951–)

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Cárdenas, Victor Hugo (1951–)

Victor Hugo Cárdenas is a Bolivian politician and public intellectual. Born on July 4, 1951, in Sank'ay Jawira (River of Cactus Flowers) near Lake Titicaca, Cárdenas entered national politics in the mid-1970s as a partisan of Katarismo, a multifaceted movement favoring the indigenous majority. After serving in the chamber of delegates from 1985 to 1989, he became the leader of the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupaj Katari de Liberación (Revolutionary Liberation Movement of Tupaj Katari; MRTKL), a Katarist faction that supported alliances with other progressive political parties. In 1993 Cárdenas joined his party with Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada's Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR). This coalition carried the national elections, and Cárdenas became vice president, the first native American to occupy the post.

Cárdenas's political legacy is mixed. The MNR-MRTKL administration is best known for its now-discredited neoliberal agenda, which Cárdenas publicly supported. However, his concern for Bolivia's native people bore fruit through increased expenditures for rural education and a heightened awareness of native traditions as legitimate cultural expressions. Cárdenas lives in La Paz, researching and promoting rural education.

See alsoBolivia, Political Parties: Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR); Katarismo.


Albó, Xavier. "And from Kataristas to MNRistas?" In Indigenous Peoples and Democracy in Latin America, edited by Donna Lee Van Cott, 55-79. New York: St. Martin's, 1994.

Van Cott, Donna Lee. "From Exclusion to Inclusion: Bolivia's 2002 Elections." Journal of Latin American Studies 35, no. 4 (2003): 751-775.

                                        David Block

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Cárdenas, Victor Hugo (1951–)

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