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Victor Hugo Cárdenas

Victor Hugo Cárdenas is a Bolivian Aymara politician, educator, and activist. He was the vice president of Bolivia from 1993 to 1997. Born into poverty in an Aymara village, Cárdenas was forbidden to speak his native language in school. His father—unable to obtain a state-approved job as a teacher because he was Aymara—changed his son’s family name, Chokewanka, to Cárdenas to avoid discrimination. In 1994, Cárdenas played a significant role in changing the country’s constitution to usher in a more multicultural society in Bolivia. Cárdenas has a Ph.D. in linguistics and is a university professor. Over the years, he led education reform in Bolivia, including bilingual and intercultural education, and worked to eliminate restrictions on indigenous dress. In 1985, he founded the Tupac Katari Revolutionary Movement of Liberation and ran for president in the 2009 Bolivian elections. While Cárdenas maintains a public presence as a teacher, public speaker, and advocate for education and indigenous rights issues, he has put his career on hold to care for his teenage son, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

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