Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz
Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz (1931–1980) was a noted writer, dramatist, jourmalist, social commentator, university professor, and socialist political leader from Bolivia. In 1964 Marcelo won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his novel Los Deshabitados.
As a congressman of the Falange Socialista Boliviana, he was jailed by the regime of General René Barrientos (1964–69) for his loud denunciation of the "San Juan Massacre," in which dozens of dissenting miners were murdered by the Military of Bolivia in the Siglo XX mines at St John's Eve 1967. In 1969, he was appointed Minister of Mining and Energy by de facto President Alfredo Ovando Candía, who purported to be a populist dedicated to bringing major structural reforms. Quiroga recommended, and then carried out, the controversial nationalization of the Bolivian concerns of the U.S.-based Gulf Oil Company. This turned him into a national celebrity of sorts. Forced out of the Ovando government by conservative officers who consider him an enemy of the military institution, Quiroga went on to form, in 1971, the Partido Socialista. His portion of the party then came to be known as the Partido Socialista-1 following a split while in exile during the long years of the Hugo Banzer dictatorship (1971–78).
Upon returning to Bolivia in 1977, Quiroga participated in the presidential elections of 1978, 1979 (inconclusive) and 1980. He did particularly well in the 1980 contest, when he finished fourth with double the number of votes he had received in 1979. He was clearly on the rise, and, in fact, had become the most visible and popular spokesman for the Socialist left. From his congressional seat, he led the effort to bring to trial the former dictator Hugo Banzer, on charges of massive human rights violations and economic mismanagement. This may have cost him his life, for Quiroga was brutally abducted and subsequently assassinated during the early hours of the July 17, 1980, during the coup led by General Luis Garcia Meza. Many witnessed, at the headquarters of the Central Obrera Boliviana, his wounding and abduction by security forces. He had been participating in a high-level meeting to discuss ways to resist the coup. His body has never been found, nor those who killed him. His wife and sons are still searching for his body.
A gifted orator and uncompromising idealist, Quiroga is revered in Bolivia as one of the martyrs of the anti-authoritarian and pro-democratic struggles of the 1970s.
List of works
El Saqueo de Bolivia (1979)
Los Deshabitados (1964)