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A newspaper article about the coup

The Cocaine Coup took place on 17 July 1980 in Bolivia when General Luis Garcia Meza Tejada, backed by the Bolivian Army, foreign mercenaries, and drug lords, seized power from his cousin Lidia Gueiler Tejada. The coup was called the "Cocaine Coup" due to Garcia Meza being supported by narcotraffickers, and the coup led to a fascist military regime having power for one year before being forced to resign due to international pressure.


Klaus Barbie

In the aftermath of the overthrow of military dictator Juan Pereda on 24 November 1978, the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement of Victor Paz Estenssoro and Hernan Siles became a major political party, with Lidia Gueiler Tejada being chosen as interim President in 1979. She held elections in 1980 that clearly favored the left, which worried supporters of the Pereda and Hugo Banzer military dictatorships earlier in the 1970s.

The leader of the military faction, one General Luis Garcia Meza Tejada was financed by cocaine traffickers and supported by foreign mercenaries led by Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie. On 17 July 1980, he seized power in a coup, overthrowing his cousin Gueiler and leading a military dictatorship. Under his rule, Bolivia sold $850,000,000 worth of cocaine, and advisers from Argentina assisted paramilitary units in forcing the disappearances of political opponents and torturing others. The coup made international headlines due to its backing by cocaine traffickers, and international pressure and repeated coup attempts would eventually force Garcia Meza to resign in 1981 to prevent more violence.