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Rene Barrientos.jpg

Rene Barrientos (30 May 1919-27 April 1969) was President of Bolivia from 5 November 1964 to 27 April 1969, succeeding Victor Paz Estenssoro and preceding Alfredo Ovando.


Rene Barrientos was born on 30 May 1919 in Tarata, Cochabamba Department, Bolivia to a family of mixed Quechua and Spanish descent. Barrientos joined the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement and took part in Victor Paz Estenssoro's 1952 coup d'etat against the military government, and in 1957 he was given command of the Bolivian Air Force as a reward. In 1964, when Paz Estenssoro attempted to amend the constitution to give him another term in office to fix the divisions in his MNR party, Barrientos and Alfredo Ovando launched a military coup that landed them both in power. Barrientos appeared to be both a conservative and a populist, and in 1967 he had a chance to prove his anti-communist stance when Che Guevara led a communist uprising (most of the fighters were foreigners from Cuba and adventurers from elsewhere). Barrientos clamped down on dissent with heavy-handed measures and ensured that the uprising was crushed, with Guevara being executed in October 1967. Eventually, Barrientos appeared to be a ruthless dictator posing as a democratic leader, and he lost the support of the people. On 27 April 1969, his dictatorship ended when he died in a helicopter crash.