The Associated Press,
The lesser known half of the odd-couple leading
As the top government negotiator at a national assembly rewriting
Garcia also traveled to
Garcia "is no longer in a secondary role," said independent political analyst Cayetano Llobet. "He has begun projecting himself as the hard edge of the government — very coolly, but still the hardest edge."
Morales named the European-descended Garcia to his ticket to broaden his appeal to
In appearance, background, and temperament, the two could hardly be more different.
Morales is of Aymara Indian descent and grew up poor, herding llamas. Garcia's middle-class family sent him to college in
The burly, dark-skinned Morales favors leather jackets, tennis shoes, and a common man's haircut. Garcia, pale and slender, wears tailored suits and keeps his prematurely gray hair long enough to tuck behind one ear.
When speaking, Morales wags a defiant finger as he jumps from topic to topic.
Garcia stands motionless at the lectern, delivering well-structured political essays.
The two men do occasionally switch roles, however: while Morales spoke to a rapt student audience at
The personal relationship between Garcia and Morales remains something of a mystery. In response to rumors of friction between himself and the vice president, Morales has described the two as a "yoke of oxen, who together plow, sow and harvest the hope of the Bolivian people."
When pressed on the issue, Garcia has simply repeated the same metaphor.
Garcia grew up under the military dictatorship of Col. Hugo Banzer, and witnessed a November 1979 massacre in which soldiers gunned down a group of largely Aymara demonstrators. At least 100 people were killed; Garcia said the event had a "massive impact" on his political thinking.
He joined the leftist Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army, where "we learned to love, to struggle — and also to kill," Garcia recently recalled. Arrested in 1992 for allegedly plotting to blow up power lines, he was tortured and imprisoned without trial for five years, writing political treatises and reading hundreds of books while in jail.
Following his release, Garcia became a college professor, studying Marxist theory and the communal structure of
Television host Mario Espinoza, who worked alongside Garcia for three years and considers him a good friend, says the vice president's core ideas have changed little since his guerrilla days.
"He always was a man who didn't believe in democracy, a man with very clear ideas," Espinoza said, adding that Garcia has "always been a bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing," a "hard man" despite his boyish face and refined manners.
"He himself says he has no soul," Espinoza said.
The vice president, who declined requests for an interview with The Associated Press, has said his background in sociology allows him to govern with a "Siberian coolness." And while he's tried to bring that sensibility to the struggle over
Determined to push through a new framework reversing the traditional dominance of a European-descended minority, Garcia has fought to keep a tight government grip on the assembly. After orchestrating a compromise in April with the opposition requiring the assembly to approve a new constitution by a two-thirds vote, Garcia backtracked on the agreement after Morales' allies won only just over half the seats in the assembly.
In response, conservatives have said they will not recognize any constitution approved only by the slim pro-Morales majority.
"Unfortunately, Garcia's role as consensus-builder has been totally thrown out," said Jose Antonio Aruquipa, a delegate from the conservative opposition party Podemos. "He has become instead a hawk for the Morales administration's hegemonic and totalitarian policies."
Garcia's challenge will be keeping
"Ideologically speaking, Garcia is more radical than the president," said Fernando Molina, editor of the newsweekly Pulso. "But he doesn't act that way, because he realizes that what the government needs now above all are alliances with the sectors that allow them to govern."
According to a recent poll of residents in
"Alvaro has to keep the middle class on board, and Evo has to keep stirring up that imperialist rhetoric to keep the masses in line," said Eduardo Gamarra, a Bolivian political scientist at