EVO AND HIS ADVISORY CIRCLE (PART 1 OF 3)

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
06LAPAZ886 30 March 2006 Secreto Embassy La Paz

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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 LA PAZ 000886

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2016
TAGS: ECON, PGOV, PREL, BL, PINR
SUBJECT: EVO AND HIS ADVISORY CIRCLE (PART 1 OF 3)

Classified By: Amb. David N. Greenlee for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: President Morales is an astute domestic
political operator but lacks confidence in his economic and
international relations abilities. As a result, Morales has
surrounded himself with three compartmented groups of
advisers. The first are domestic political operators who
implement his political vision and serve as the attack dogs
for the President. The second group are Bolivian
intellectuals that help shore up his decisionmaking in
economics, intelligence and security, and international
relations, and implement policies on the ground, including
the Cuban doctors program, Venezuelan identification program,
and Bolivian land reform. The third group is his Cuban and
Venezuelan advisers, who seem to have growing influence with
the President, trumping even his intellectual advisers. This
cable is part one of three cables that looks at the
President, who is in his circle of domestic advisers, and how
he uses them, and their competition with the Cubans and
Venezuelans for the President’s confidence. End summary.


Evo: The seasoned Bolivian politician


2. (C) Radical cocalero union leader turned President Evo
Morales Ayma is a pragmatic leader whose domestic political
instincts are extraordinarily acute. Morales is an expert at
spinning stories in his favor, co-opting the platforms of his
adversaries, dividing his opposition, and appealing to his
bases. A leader with strong anti-democratic tendencies, over
the years he has been known to bribe, threaten, and even
physically intimidate anyone who has stood in his way,
including government officials, politicians, and cocalero
colleagues. He has shown great tactical flexibility and an
ability to out maneuver even his most formidable political
opponents to consolidate his own political power. Morales
has developed a reputation for consulting advisers and social
groups on domestic political issues, but is confident that he
is the expert, the advisor and the final decision maker for
those issues. (Comment: This is particularly true on the
coca issue.) His cadre of domestic political advisers
(SEPTEL), which include Senate President Santos Ramirez,
lower chamber President Edmundo Novillo, his personal
assistant Ivan Iporre, and Vice Minister of Government
Coordination and personal attorney Hector Arce, tends to
operate more as "yes men" who carry out the President’s
orders than as advisers with real influence on the
President,s decisions.


Evo: The struggling student


3. (C) While Morales excels at domestic political
machinations, he is more like a struggling student in the
areas of economics and international relations
decisionmaking. A man who likes to be in control, Morales
has shown an eagerness for learning what he needs to make his
own decisions in these areas. He has sought out intellectual
"experts," primarily from Bolivia,s public universities, to
provide him tutoring in the areas he lacks. Morales often
tunes out detailed economic discussions with foreign
officials and will at times defer to his "experts" when
speaking to the press, large groups, and even US officials on
issues he is uncertain about. His domestic intellectual
advisers (SEPTEL), who include Vice President Alvaro Garcia
Linera, Minister of the Presidency Juan Ramon Quintana, and
Minister of Planning Carlos Villegas, are largely leftist
ideologues and have tended to have more influence with the
President compared to his domestic political advisers because
of his difficulty grasping complex economic theories and lack
of experience in the international arena. Unfortunately,
some of this advice borrows from a storehouse of discredited
ideas and fantasyland assumptions.


LA PAZ 00000886 002 OF 002

Evo: The Cuban and Venezuelan conspirator


4. (S//NF) The third group is a pandora’s box of Cuban and
Venezuelan advisers, who may have growing influence with the
President. While we do not know the extent of their
presence, sensitive reporting indicates that Morales meets
privately with his foreign advisers multiple times a week
without any domestic advisers present. The same reporting
also indicates that he receives both political and economic
advice from the Cubans. Morales is implementing several
programs initiated by the Cubans and Venezuelans in the areas
of education, health, and citizen registration. Several of
the President’s domestic advisers are working hand in hand
with the Cubans and Venezuelans, seeking to replace US
markets with Venezuelan trade deals, and sensitive reporting
says that they are regularly traveling to Cuba for political
training.

5. (C) Comment: Morales has had a roller-coaster
relationship with several of his key domestic advisers,
especially Vice President Garcia Linera. He is highly
suspicious by nature and is unlikely to tolerate advisers
with their own agenda for power and recognition. Morales
likely sees the Cuban and Venezuelan advisers as
non-threatening to his domestic power. In addition, as an
admirer of Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez, Morales probably is drawn by the
longevity of their time in power and seeks to emulate their
"success." If Morales grows wary of his domestic advisers he
is likely to rely more heavily on his foreign advisers to
carry out his vision. End comment.
GREENLEE