Portrait of Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, a symbol of Bolivia’s fight for democracy

22 Nov, 2017 | Adriana Murillo

History & Politics

Illustration: Hugo L. Cuellar

In the 1980s, during the dictatorships of Luis García Meza and Luis Arce Gómez, many important leaders and figures of Bolivian civil society were disappeared or assassinated, such as the Jesuit priest Luís Espinal and the writer and socialist leader Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz. Espinal was brutally murdered. Quiroga was captured, tortured and killed, his remains still missing today.

I heard of Marcelo Quiroga for the first time coming from our old kitchen radio. This was followed by my father’s comments: ‘He was brave and he fought for democracy’ and ‘He is a real revolutionary.’ At the time I didn’t fully understand what my father meant, but I could detect a melancholic tone of courage in his voice when he said that. I was studying at university then, and I understood that Quiroga wasn’t just a name, but that he represented the fight for democracy. His face was reproduced on flyers and posters. Like Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Quiroga’s name and visage was used as a symbol to infuse a revolutionary spirit at all sorts of political events. I finally began to understand Quiroga’s message, though, when I read his novel Los deshabitados, a grandiose book in which he captures perfectly the subjective traits of his characters and describes what he called ‘the representation of the disorientation of the aimless middle classes.’

Quiroga was a multifaceted man whose interests touched literature, journalism and cinema, but who was caught in the web of politics. Born in Cochabamba to a father who worked for Simón Iturri Patiño (a tin baron who was one of the wealthiest men in the world at the time), Quiroga studied law, philosophy and literature. He was passionate about the arts and listened to the music of Beethoven and read the poetry of Góngora. In 1969, Quiroga was appointed as head of Bolivia’s Ministry of Energy and Hydrocarbons under President Alfredo Ovando, and he fought to nationalise the US-based Gulf Oil Company. Later, in 1971, he founded the Partido Socialista (PS-1), which participated in the general elections of 1978, 1979 and 1980. The PS-1 won five seats in 1979 and 11 in 1980. As a member of Parliament, Quiroga worked to bring ex-dictator Gen. Hugo Banzer Suárez to justice, a fight that would determine the course of his life (and death). ‘The 1980s were hard times; money was devalued, leftist leaders were attacked, the military acted in total impunity—we [the people] were the only ones who suffered,’ says Don Gerardo, a newspaper seller since 1970 who remembers those days as a time of hardship and repression.

On 17 July 1980, Gen. Luis García Meza, who had previously publicly threatened Quiroga, orchestrated a coup d’état. On that day, the CONADE (Bolivian National Council for the Defense of Democracy) met, bringing together all the country’s leaders who were standing for democracy. The opportunity was too good for the putschists. Paramilitaries interrupted the meeting with gunshots, wounding and capturing the leaders, amongst them Quiroga. They were taken to the army headquarters, where they were tortured for days, and Quiroga was killed. Meanwhile, in the Palacio Quemado, President Lidia Gueiler Tejada was forced to sign her resignation. ‘I had to renounce, my ministers were imprisoned, paramilitaries were in the streets…. And they had to humiliate me further by making me read my resignation as I was sobbing,’ remembers the ex-president in the documentary Siglo XX, by Carlos Mesa (himself president of Bolivia from 2003 to 2005).

Photographic records show signs of torture on Quiroga’s body, which, despite his family’s petition, was never released. On 2 September 1980, Quiroga’s family received a letter from Col. Luis Arce Gómez, one of the participants in the coup, informing them that the whereabouts of his body were unknown. Years later, when reading this, I could barely contain my indignation thinking that Quiroga never received a proper burial. During Bolivia’s many dictatorships, ‘desaparecido’ was one of the most difficult words for a family to live with, but one of the most frequently used. Only Quiroga’s watch and ring were returned to his family.

‘Desaparecido’ was one of the most difficult words for a family to live with, but one of the most frequently used.

Regarding the people responsible for the crime, and according to information the family had gathered, the mastermind behind his assassination was Gen. Hugo Banzer Suarez, carried out by the assassin Froilán ‘El Killer’ Molina, arrested in 2016. Molina worked in the security forces of Banzer’s wife. There are different theories and versions about what happened, but the latest one, according to an interview with Luis Arce Gómez, now serving time in the Chonchocoro jail, is that Banzer himself admitted that Quiroga’s body was buried on the grounds of his Hacienda Santa Clara. Banzer reportedly bragged that the man who tried to bring him to a criminal trial was now lying under his feet.

Quiroga was assassinated as he was reaching the apotheosis of his political potential. A lucid man and an outstanding speaker, he was committed to the Bolivian people’s interests – and the mark he left is indelible.

Throughout its history, Bolivia has fought against many enemies of democracy. Acts of terror and repression by military dictatorships, not only in Bolivia but in other Latin American countries, were commonplace. And Marcelo Quiroga, who died fighting for a democratic ideal, is but one of many revolutionary martyrs who are now part of Latin America’s genetic makeup. The Bolivian people, who have suffered and had their blood shed due of the indifference or malice of autocrats, are the heirs of those martyrs.

With time, Bolivians have become inured to the sounds of daily protests, to blockaded streets. I like to think that somehow this is a good thing, that these are not futile fights, and that the people who face it all are able to stand for the common good.


Bangalore Escort
22 Feb, 2019 | 06:48
Glad to be here on this website and i was hoping for this information and then i found many things from this website.
toystore dumps
17 Jul, 2019 | 05:14
It was extremely all around composed and straightforward. Not at all like different online journals I have perused which are truly not that good.Thanks a lot
Buy Instagram Followers
23 Jan, 2019 | 03:05
Outstanding article and great efforts. Highly appreciated.
burger king menu and prices
19 Jul, 2019 | 11:43
Thank you for your work on the blog! You're doing a good job!
learn colors
23 May, 2019 | 03:45
Regular visits listed here are the easiest method to appreciate your energy, which is why why I am going to the website everyday, searching for new, interesting info. Many, thank you
David Lehmann
22 Nov, 2017 | 05:53
Thank you. A salutary and necessary reminder both of Quiroga and his courage, and of the impunity of Banzer.
Natalie Brown
21 Sep, 2019 | 10:36
This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing a blog that understands the value of providing a quality resource. https://www.infotechlogy.com/
ethnic clothing
09 Dec, 2019 | 02:19
Unbelievable Article it its genuinely informative and innovative update us as regularly as conceivable with new redesigns. its was genuinely significant. thankful.
Delhi Escorts
25 Feb, 2019 | 08:34
Great article post, I really interesting the way you highlighted some important points. Thanks very much, I appreciate your post.
Chennai Escorts
25 Feb, 2019 | 08:35
It is really a great and useful piece of info. I’m glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.
Call Girls in Gurgaon
25 Feb, 2019 | 08:35
Your blog is really nice and unique.I like it so much. Looking forward to going over your web page again.
Gurgaon Call Girls
25 Feb, 2019 | 08:36
Your blog is filled with unique good articles! I was impressed how well you express your thoughts and sharing your experiences.I never regretted any moment that came to your blog.
넷마블 먹튀
21 Jul, 2019 | 09:33
bookmarking and checking back frequently!it people processing it really is another person's renowned company, you will never in the world of the 55 and other lavishness brands supra to uncover which..
I am very much overwhelmed by your thoughts for this particular story. A deeper and staged knowledge would be good for me.
Escorts in Delhi || Delhi Escorts
13 May, 2019 | 02:36
I have visited your website.It is very interesting and impressive.Thanks for sharing with us such a brilliant article.I want to come again.Keep updated.
Dutch consultants in seo
13 May, 2019 | 05:00
In 2019 you will no longer be bothered with just a good website that is fully optimized, including speed, structure and the quality of the content is fine. Of course this is a condition to achieve a good ranking uberhaubt but the next steps that we explain here are absolutely necessary. Google trends 2019 is that more and more value is attached to what others read and what visitors think offer you as information. Is this information valued or is it clicked away within a few seconds or are you going to browse your site? Do others find your information worth sharing or liking? What do your customers say in the posted reviews? The consultants at httpmarketing can tell you everything and advise you about all your wishes as a company to promote it online and findable through various channels and search engines. Call us for free advice about any online question. Or check the FAQ button first!
buy 100k instagram followers
17 Dec, 2018 | 06:27
Good and successful blog situation. The article is too little but valuable. I love the in sequence you share at this point. It’s a glowing written blog post. This is tremendous editorial you have shared in this post. Thanks!!
09 Dec, 2019 | 03:39
Numerous schoolwork on the nonstop chase alongside offstage making progress toward winning. Certainly not joined, easy to-fall because of wayside; And not examination, subsequently into a way travel toward the dark.
ncr securepay payment gateway
25 Jul, 2019 | 06:08
A debt of gratitude is in order for the significant data and experiences you have so given here...
cbr testing service
14 May, 2019 | 07:50
Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info
21 Jun, 2019 | 15:22
I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definitely enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog
Fitzrovia barbers
09 Dec, 2019 | 04:49
How do I start to learn how to Hip Hop dance?
Barbers near me
16 Nov, 2019 | 06:17
Have a great day!. After reading this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you taking the time to put this blog piece together. I once again find myself spending way to much time both reading and commenting. What ever, it was still worth it ! female libido booster
30 Nov, 2019 | 15:40
I truly appreciate basically perusing the majority of your weblogs. Essentially needed to educate you that you have individuals like me who value your work. Unquestionably an incredible post. Caps off to you! The data that you have given is useful.
Barbers Cleveland street
05 Dec, 2019 | 10:00
of course internet dating is the trend these days, you can meet lots of people on the internet.
05 Dec, 2019 | 10:11
Nice blog here! after reading, i decide to buy a blog
06 Dec, 2019 | 00:52
Rapidly this kind of fantastic web site will surely unquestionably often be well-known amongst many creating any website people, for your meticulous articles along with testimonies.
Thankful for sharing here I am especially energetic to break down your review.I look for you give a critical point after everyone.visit my site for the article is unfathomably captivating to inspect.
23 Nov, 2019 | 08:17
My companion suggested this blog and he was thoroughly right keep up the phenomenal work!
energy comparsion sites
11 Nov, 2019 | 02:36
I would state, you do the genuinely amazing.This substance is made to a wonderful degree well.
01 Aug, 2019 | 08:45
This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free.
Nail Salon Las Vegas
15 Dec, 2019 | 08:38
You have a very nice layout for your blog, i want it to use on my site too ,    
free download ig
30 Jun, 2019 | 06:34
Losing weight seems to be a health phenomenon nowadays as more and more people are engaging in this. Proper weight lose is essential and this include reliance on a natural and balanced form of diet combined with good exercise to the body. This article has highlighted the proper ways to lose weight and thanks for sharing this.
wedding DJ Melbourne
01 Jul, 2019 | 04:12
I'm constantly searching on the internet for posts that will help me. Too much is clearly to learn about this. I believe you created good quality items in Functions also. Keep working, congrats!
lucky dube songs download
05 Aug, 2019 | 02:43
I can set up my new idea from this post. It gives in depth information. Thanks for this valuable information for all,..
pubg servers are too busy
25 Nov, 2019 | 02:11
Extraordinary post brimming with valuable tips! My site is genuinely new and I am likewise experiencing considerable difficulties getting my perusers to leave remarks. Investigation demonstrates they are going to the site yet I have an inclination "no one needs to be first".
the ola showroom location
25 Nov, 2019 | 03:29
Extremely your blog is very interesting.... it contains incredible and special data. I delighted in to visiting your blog. Its equitable amazing.... Much obliged without question.
staff id crad info
17 May, 2019 | 06:24
You have a great sense of writing I must say. Your post has those facts which are not accessible from anywhere else. It’s my humble request to u please keep writing such remarkable articles
06 Aug, 2019 | 03:30
Best Place to Buy Instagram Followers & Get Likes from Instapple! Secure Payment via Paypal.Fast Delivery,24/7 Support.Trusted By Celebs and Brands. https://instapple.com/buy-instagram-followers/
06 Aug, 2019 | 03:32
Best Place to <a href="https://instapple.com/buy-instagram-followers"> Buy Instagram Followers UK </a> & Get UK Likes from Boostlikes! Secure Payment via Paypal.Fast Delivery,24/7 Support.Trusted By Celebs and Brands.
25 Nov, 2019 | 09:59
Prevent leaving behind large amounts associated with finance in any affiliate marketing or even event web page! Almost all sites employ a rigorous insurance plan on spamming along with for anyone who is at any time falsely accused (deservingly and also mistakenly) involving transmitting unrequested email messages, you’ll probably have your levels shut down, that may cause a person getting rid of the initial funds way too!
07 Jun, 2019 | 06:59
I am all that much satisfied with the substance you have specified. I needed to thank you for this extraordinary article.
avenue south residence condo
19 Nov, 2019 | 01:45
This was a stunning post. It has some take a gander at here principal information regarding this matter.
careers hiring near me
04 Jul, 2019 | 05:21
The first phase the preparation should, theoretically, be uninfluenced by the intended intensity and duration of the sound which is subsequently produced. In fact, however, so quickly are the three phases accomplished that the pianist rarely has capacity to think, in performance, of each phase separately.
coin master hack
08 Jun, 2019 | 10:28
Being a next coin master is simplest feasible whilst you are capable of earn many coins and spins
coin master hack
08 Jun, 2019 | 10:29
coin master is simplest feasible whilst you are capable of earn many coins and spins
10 Dec, 2019 | 06:10
Amazing write-up! I’ll subscribe right now together with my feedreader software package!?-
marina one residences
04 Dec, 2019 | 01:37
This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting Smile I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this!
free instagram followers
19 Nov, 2019 | 07:19
Are you looking for a fast way to grow your Instagram page? Do you want to gain Instagram followers for free?
london shubunkin goldfish
26 Nov, 2019 | 01:18
Always so interesting to visit your site.What a great info, thank you for sharing. this will help me so much in my learning
iphone x cover
11 Jun, 2019 | 14:39
I simply wanted to thank you a lot more for your amazing website you have developed here. It can be full of useful tips for those who are actually interested in this specific subject, primarily this very post.
Download web series
26 Nov, 2019 | 08:13
Interesting site. A great deal of web journals I see nowadays don't generally give whatever I'm keen on, however I'm undoubtedly inspired by this one. Recently imagined that I would post and tell you
voyance gratuite en direct
09 Jul, 2019 | 04:09
Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info
Online business retail winkels
09 Jul, 2019 | 07:51
"Verstevig uw concurentiepositie door betere online vindbaarheid van uw winkel of webshop woonsite t.o.v. uw woonbranche concurrenten! Onze online marketing specialisten geven u graag advies, èn wat wij voor uw winkel of webshop hierin kunnen betekenen! Betere online vindbaarheid betekent méér potentiële omzet! Consumenten kijken steeds vaker online zodat retailers en detailhandel hiervan kunnen profiteren door via Google maps zichtbaar te zijn. Belangrijke belangen en branche organisaties zijn: Detailhandel Nederland belangenbehartiger van 100.000 winkeliers. INretail is er voor iedereen die een (web)winkel heeft in retail non-food. CBL behartigt de belangen van de supermarkten en foodservicebedrijven. CBW garantie fonds erkende woonwinkels met erkend keurmerk."
Maui photographers
11 Jul, 2019 | 03:55
A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work
cc shop
06 Nov, 2019 | 05:18
I love this portrait. Nice draw.
digitize logo
12 Jul, 2019 | 07:56
I have read your blog it is very helpful for me. I want to say thanks to you. I have bookmark your site for future updates.
30 Nov, 2019 | 07:28
Oh my goodness! a tremendous article dude. Thank you Nonetheless I’m experiencing challenge with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting identical rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx
Bubble Shooter
27 Nov, 2019 | 07:22
abc news is of course one of the most reputable news sources these days’
voyance discount
14 Jul, 2019 | 08:10
You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.
consolidation payday loans
21 Nov, 2019 | 10:03
There are some interesting cut-off dates on this article but I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There may be some validity but I will take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like extra! Added to FeedBurner as nicely
Blog posting sites
14 Jul, 2019 | 16:10
It was extremely all around composed and straightforward. Not at all like different online journals I have perused which are truly not that good.Thanks a lot

Make a comment