Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario

From Bolivian Politics

Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario
MNR logo
Leader Mirtha Quevedo
Founded 7 June 1942
Headquarters La Casa Rosada
La Paz
Ideology Center-right
Affiliation None
Colors Pink

Founded in 1942, the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (National Revolutionary MovementMNR) is Bolivia's oldest currently registered political party and the most influential of twentieth century Bolivian history. Influenced by corporatist, populist, and fascist movements of the 1930s, it originally espoused a national revolutionary ideology and became the key protagonist of modern Bolivian nationalism. Responsible for the 1952 National Revolution, it held power under Víctor Paz Estenssoro and Hernán Siles Zuazo until 1964, when it was displaced by a military coup. Nevertheless, the party remained active throughout the following period and the state-capitalism model it installed in 1952 remained in place through the 1980s.

After the transition to democracy in the 1980s, the party shifted towards a center-right liberal-democratic orientation, promoted neoliberal economic policies, and became one of the so-called systemic parties. The party entered a crisis after its leader (and Bolivia's president), Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, was driven from office by popular protests in October 2003.



The MNR's ideology has changed over time.

In its early years, the MNR's ideology was influenced by the various nationalist, socialist, populist, corporatist, and fascist ideas sweeping across Latin America and Europe during the 1930s. It's most immediate influence was the military socialism of the Busch government. From the start, the MNR represented a bourgeois-nationalist movement that sought to overthrow the oligarchic liberal republic. The party lacked a clear ideological compass, beyond the ideals of revolutionary nationalism led by a multi-class vanguard party. This differentiated the MNR not only from the oligarchic liberal republic parties (the Liberals and Republicans), but also from the Marxist-Leninist Partido de Izquierda Revolucionaria (PIR) and the Trotskyite Partido Obrero Revolucionario (POR), as well as the more openly fascist Falange Socialista Boliviana (FSB).

After seizing power in the 1952 National Revolution, the MNR adopted policies of state capitalism.

By the mid-1980s, the MNR shifted away from state capitalism towards a neoliberal economic model.


Early years

The MNR grew out of the Chaco War (1932-1935) experience. By the 1930s, a number of nationalist and socialist tendencies (primarily of middle class origins) had emerged to challenge the existing liberal republic, which was viewed as "anti-national" in the face of mounting social and economic problems. The Chaco War is widely recongized as instrumental in pushing the so-called "Chaco generation" into radical politics. Several future MNR members actively supported the Busch government (1937-1939), including Paz Estenssoro, Augusto Céspedes, Wálter Guevara Arze, and Carlos Medinacelli. The party was founded on 25 January 1941, during the Peñaranda government (which it opposed), though its "official" founding date is 7 June 1942. One of the MNR's earliest "official" manifesto was the Tésis de Ayopaya, written by Guevara Arze. Within a few years, the party became the country's dominant national revolutionary party.

See list of MNR founding members

On 20 December 1943, the MNR participated in its first putsch, alongside the secret military group Razón de Patria (RADEPA) and FSB, which overthrew Enrique Peñaranda and installed Gualberto Villarroel. The new government convened the 1944 constituent assembly, in which the MNR held a majority of the seats. The Villarroel government (1943-1946) was similar in political orientation to the earlier Busch government, although it was more repressive. On 21 July 1946, a popular uprising ovethrew the government and hanged Villarroel in front of the presidential palace. Several MNR leaders went into exile, including Paz Estenssoro (who would remain in exile until 1952).

Between 1946 and 1952, the MNR sought political power through both electoral and insurrectionist means. The MNR participated in the 1947 general elections, naming Paz Estenssoro as its presidential candidate (he won 5.56% of the vote). On 27 August 1949, the MNR led a civilian uprising (known as the 1949 civil war), establishing a parallel government in the city of Santa Cruz. The revolt lasted until 14 September 1949, when it was put down by the armed forces. A number of the revolt's leaders were subsequently executed. An urban uprising in the city of La Paz, also led by the MNR, was crushed on 18 May 1950. The MNR participated in the 1951 general elections, again naming Paz Estenssoro as its presidential candidate. This time the party won a relative majority (43% of the vote). The MNR electoral victory was not recognized by Mamerto Urriolagoitia, who launched a coup against his own government to prevent the legislature from electing Paz Estenssoro, and handed power over to a military junta led by Hugo Ballivián.

The National Revolution (1952-1964)

For more history and bibliography, see 1952 National Revolution.

In 1943 the MNR participated in its first coup, alongside Razón de Patria (RADEPA) and Falange Socialista Boliviana (FSB), establishing the Gualberto Villarroel regime (1943-1946). After Villarroel was killed by a popular mob, a restoration regime of liberal republic and Marxist parties governed until 1952. During the late 1940s, the MNR established a multi-class aliance between the middle classes and labor. The party attempted an unsuccessful civilian putsch in 1949, before the successful 1952 April Revolution. The MNR would govern Bolivia until 1964, when it was overthrown in a military coup by René Barrientos (who was supported by MNR factions and opposition parties).

Between 1952 and 1964, the MNR governed under three governments:

The military interregnum (1964-1982)

During the following years, factions of the MNR participated in several de facto regimes. The pazestenssorista wing (MNRH) supported the 1971 Hugo Banzer coup, though the party was expelled from the government in 1974. MNRH represented the "official" faction and campaigned in the 1979, 1980, and 1985 general elections under the MNR banner; other factions campaigned independently or in alliances with other political groups.

The MNR after 1985

The post-democratization period saw the MNR transition from a national revolutionary party into a neoliberal party. This period also saw the first institutionalized transfer of power within the party, as Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada was voted party chief in April 1990 (replacing Víctor Paz Estenssoro, who led the party since 1942); he would remain party chief until April 2004.

In 1985, Paz Estenssoro won the second plurality (30.3% of valid votes) behind Hugo Banzer (32.8% of valid votes). An alliance of left and center-left parties chose to back Paz Estenssoro, rather than the former military dictator. Once in office, Paz Estenssoro formed an alliance with Banzer (ADN) and initiated a series of neoliberal economic structural reforms, epitomized by DS 21060.

In 1989, the MNR nominated Sánchez de Lozada, who won the first plurality (25.7% of valid votes). Because seats were closely split between the three front runners, parliament reached a deadlock. Unwilling to concede the presidency to the MNR, Banzer (the second-place winner) gave his party's support to Jaime Paz Zamora, the third-place winner (21.6% of valid votes).

The MNR after 1993

In 1993, the MNR again nominated Sánchez de Lozada. The MNR formed a pre-electoral alliance with Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Katari de Liberación (MRTKL), an indigenous party. The MNR-MRTKL ticket won a wide plurality (35.6% of valid votes). Coalition agreements with MBL and UCS secured parliamentary election. The election also made Víctor Hugo Cárdenas (MRTKL) the country's first indigenous vice president. The first Sánchez de Lozada government carried out a series of reforms, including: capitalization of state-owned industries, bilingual educational reforms, political decentralization and establishment of municipal governments, and a new 1995 Constitution.

In 1997, the MNR nominated Juan Carlos Durán, who placed second (18.6% of valid votes).

In 2002, the MNR again nominated Sánchez de Lozada. The MNR formed a pre-electoral alliance with MBL. The MNR-MBL ticket won a narrow plurality (22.5% of valid votes). Coalition agreements with ADN, MIR, and UCS secured parliamentary election. The second Sánchez de Lozada government was overthrown in October 2003 during the guerra del gas; he was succeeded by his vice president, Carlos Mesa.

The MNR after 2003

In 2005, a weakened and divided MNR nominated Michiaki Nagatani, who placed fourth (6.5% of valid votes).

In 2006, the MNR participated in the 2006 constituent assembly election. The party ran under its own banner in seven departments. In Tarija, the party ran under the banner Camino al Cambio, an alliance with Frente Revolucionario de Izquierda (FRI). In Santa Cruz, the party ran as A3-MNR.

The party is currently led by Mirtha Quevedo, who was elected party chief in April 2004.

The MNR in government

The following lists focus on the MNR as led by Paz Estenssoro (MNRH), ignoring other factions and offshoot parties. Thus, it includes the first Siles Zuazo government (before internal MNR splits), but not his second (when he was head of MNRI).

MNR-led governments

Other governments in which the MNR participated

MNR legislators elected


Among others: Humberto Guzmán Fricke, Juan Lechín, Walter Guevara, Ñuflo Chávez, Lydia Gueiler, Augusto Céspedes, Guillermo Bedregal, and Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada

Presidential candidates

Candidate lists

Factions and offshoot parties of the MNR

By the 1960s the MNR was split into various factions, including:

Parties and organizations allied with the MNR

Select bibliography

The following is a brief reference bibliography with links to WorldCat entries.

External links

See also

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