GERMAN VELASCO – POLITICAL STRATEGIST AND CAMPAIGN MANAGER
German Velasco has over 20 years of experience as a political strategist in national and regional campaigns in Latin America. He has managed two presidential campaigns and more than 10 local or regional campaigns in Bolivia. He has been part of two other national campaigns as a director of media and communications and he has negotiated alliances in each and every one of these. German Velasco has also been an advisor on governance and public affairs applying strategic communications and crisis prevention to three democratically-elected presidents in his native Bolivia.
Educated in the United States, Europe, and Bolivia, German Velasco was privileged to work professionally in both the South and North American continents. He was also privileged to hold posts as a top-level public servant in his home country, and for two years he served as the Governor of La Paz, the most populous state in Bolivia. He also held the post of Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs in the Bolivian national cabinet. German Velasco is an experienced strategist, coach, and director whose career spans television, radio, documentaries, and newspaper columns targeting both U.S. and Bolivian audiences.
FIRST PUBLIC OFFICE
Once Velasco was in the eyes of political leaders, he had the opportunity to work on the other side of the equation, in public office. He served as a member of the City Council of La Paz for a two-year term. Then he was invited by President Jaime Paz Zamora to the post of Secretary of Urban Affairs in 1993.( He was the youngest member of the President’s cabinet at age 34.) More importantly than his college degree, Velasco’s skills as a campaign manager and understanding of the power of a good public image were key factors to turn public opinion to his side in several social conflicts with some social segments, most of them politically fueled by the opposition.
In 1997 Hugo Banzer invited German Velasco to manage his national campaign for the presidency. (Hugo Banzer’s fifth bid). For the first time , Velasco was in charge of a national campaign. He worked side by side with the foreign advisors and after 20 years and five attempts, Hugo Banzer won the election.
1993 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
In 1993 Velasco joined the Hugo Banzer presidential campaign as a director of media and communications. Here he wrote and directed over 200 media pieces for television and radio.
GOVERNOR OF LA PAZ
In the last two years of his presidency, Banzer appointed German Velasco as Governor of the State of La Paz, the most populated of the nine Bolivian states, home to 104 municipalities and the two largest cities in the country. Velasco, was 44 at the time. It was a period of intense social and political unrest, and Velasco negotiated all conflicts in person, including several in remote areas of the Amazon basin where he was held hostage for three days.
As a governor, Velasco was able to unify and work together with the two mayors of La Paz and El Alto who were political adversaries while one of them was also a fierce enemy of President Banzer. After a two-year period, both mayors publicly commented that Velasco had been ”the best Governor of La Paz ever.”
During the first THREE years of Banzer’s presidency, Velasco was an advisor to the President, wearing a variety of hats –mostly handling crisis and getting projects on track. At the request of President Banzer, for these five years, every morning by 6:00 a.m. Velasco sent a fax to the President, the Vice President, and every one of the members of the cabinet with a real-time analysis and specific directives on how to deal with the current day’s social climate and with the press.
During 2006 and 2007, years of high social conflict and the threat of a new form of socialism in Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina and Peru, two of the most important oil firms in the world trusted Velasco’s political insight as he was hired as a political analyst for Repsol YPF and British Petroleum. Based on his advice these firms made large scale decisions on their interests in the region.
LEARNING FROM THE MASTERS
In working as a campaign strategist, he has partnered with such political campaigning elite as Mark Penn, Duda Mendoça, Alfredo Keller, Adrian Kochen and Sally Hunter.
FROM FORMAL EDUCATION TO REAL LIFE
After graduating from The University of Boulder, Colorado and receiving his Master’degree in California in the 1980’s, German Velasco’s training in urban planning quickly evolved into a passion for public policy, which became his eventual door into political consulting and political strategy in public affairs.
German Velasco’s political campaign experience was born and grew quickly after moving back to Bolivia, working in city planning for the World Bank, and being immersed in public affairs. Once he became interested in politics, in 1989 he helped organize and chaired a key political group of young professionals called Bolivia Joven. This group became nationally iconic, and drew many young people towards a candidate who was not young and who had had serious difficulties changing his past public image in the eyes of new generations.
Velasco quickly became interested in political strategy, and became a campaign strategist and a campaign manager. After 1989, he managed two City of La Paz mayoral campaigns for Ronald MacLean, winning both.
U.S.A. AND THE CQ FACTOR
In recent years, German Velasco has settled back in Colorado. Here he has deepened studies in cross-cultural communications and cultural intelligence (CQ). This is a key skill that is applied in all his work.
Over the past eight years, Velasco has worked in understanding the subtle cultural differences that render a strategy effective or useless in the U.S.A. or in any other cultural context. (Thus far German Velasco has lived in Bolivia, Northern and Central California, South and North Florida, Washington D.C., Spain, Switzerland, Argentina and twice in Colorado,)
Currently German Velasco is an accredited sponsor to the Colorado Supreme Court Board of Continuing Legal Education. Velasco has created and teaches CLE courses to attorneys and judges. As a non-attorney, Velasco has focused on Cultural Intelligence applied to justice. These courses have been accredited in Colorado and Nevada.
German Velasco is also a contractor for the State of Colorado for the Office of Dispute Resolution.
ALWAYS IN POLITICAL CAMPAIGN MODE
Velasco’s gubernatorial administration was successful in large part due to his campaign experience. Organizing, logistics, levels of command and assigning high priority to a good relationship with the press worked wonders toward his image and getting things done in the executive branch. He left office with high praise from the press in his fight against corruption. (During his administration typical bureaucratic processing times went down from three months to five days.)
During this same period Velasco became a de-facto negotiator for high conflict situations; resolving small and large conflicts. The Banzer administration was waging a war against the cocaine trade as its flagship project. Many rebel groups were funded and fueled by the drug trade, and this situation was a constant threat to the survival of this administration.
HANDS-ON CREATIVE WORK IN MEDIA
German Velasco gained important production experience during the two years that he was invited to the board and eventually became executive Vice-President of the firm Foqus S.R.L., the largest movie television production house at that time in Bolivia. As a board member he also oversaw Grey Bolivia, an advertising agency and a subsidiary of Grey New York.
He has written and produced numerous educational radio and television projects in his native Bolivia as well as in the United States. He piloted a political analysis radio show for U.S. Latino audiences, Pulso de Washington; and during 2003 and 2004 worked developing educational programming for Hispanic Radio Network and the Self Reliance Foundation in Washington, D.C.
German Velasco was Executive Producer of a political documentary film by New York director Sally Hunter. The movie showed the life of Hugo Banzer in the contexts of the Cold War and of his formative years, before he became elected President in 1997.
In all his work, German Velasco is immersed in the Latino immigrant community in the U.S. and this has allowed him to provide useful findings from focus groups. He offers bilingual or Spanish language focus groups, and he has been hired by different political groups over the past eight years.
This broad view and field experience is what German Velasco offers as a consultant to individuals and organizations that have devoted their lives to democracy and public service.
- American Association of Political Consultants
- International Association of Political Consultants
- Boulder County Bar Association
- National Association of Hispanic Journalists
- Denver Open Media Foundation
- DC-TV (Washington DC)
- Miami Dade Community College
- University of Colorado, Boulder
- California University for Special Studies
- Universidad Mayor de San Andres