Fernández, Max (1942–1995)

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Fernández, Max (1942–1995)

A self-made millionaire from modest roots in Quillalloco, Bolivia, Max Fernández had a brief political career. He rose to prominence in the business world, becoming the president and largest shareholder of the Bolivian National Brewery, the country's largest brewery. As a means of expanding his commercial markets, he distributed gifts of beer and provided modest public works such as public lighting and potable water. This strategy resulted in his growing following and popular image as a benefactor, which he parlayed into politics. In 1989, after aborting a presidential campaign with another party, he created the Unión Cívica Solidaridad (UCS; Civic Solidarity Union). He ran as its candidate in 1993, earning 13 percent of the vote (compared to the winner's 35%). Along with Carlos Palenque of Conciencia de Patria (CONDEPA; conscience of the fatherland), he presented a clear challenge to the country's main political parties. Both were outsiders who campaigned against the political establishment, appealing to the largely indigenous urban lower class. Supporters appreciated the attention; Fernández's provision of socially minded public works distinguished him from the political class, which was increasingly perceived as aloof and unresponsive.

Although neither won office, their emergence started a trend of declining fortunes for the traditional parties that culminated in the presidency of Evo Morales in 2005. Nevertheless, Fernández diminished his own outsider credentials by joining with the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) to form the governing coalition. His political career was cut short on November 26, 1995, when he and six others were killed in an airplane accident. His son Johnny took control of his party.

See alsoAlcoholic Beverages; Bolivia, Political Parties: Overview; Palenque, Carlos.


Mayorga, Fernando. Max Fernández, la política del silencio: Emergencia y consolidación de Unidad Cívica Solidaridad. La Paz: ILDIS y la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas de la UMSS, 1991.

Mayorga, Fernando. "Neopopulismo y Democracia en Bolivia." Revista de Ciencia Política 23, no.1 (2003): 99-118.

                                   Robert R. Barr

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Fernández, Max (1942–1995)

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