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Victor Paz Estenssoro.jpg

Victor Paz Estenssoro (2 October 1907-7 June 2001) was President of Bolivia from 16 April 1952 to 6 August 1956 (interrupting Hernan Siles' two terms), from 6 August 1960 to 4 November 1964 (succeeding Siles and preceding Rene Barrientos), and from 6 August 1985 to 6 August 1989 (succeeding Siles and preceding Jaime Paz Zamora). He was a member of the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement.


Victor Paz Estenssoro was born in Tarija, Bolivia in 1907, and was educated at the University of Mayor de San Andres, working in finance and banking in the 1930s before becoming a university professor of economic history and government economic adviser. In 1941, he co-founded the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, which was initially nationalist but became increasingly left-wing. He served as Minister of Finance in the populist Gualberto Villarroel government of 1943 to 1946, during which time he considerably improved his own popularity and transformed the MRN into the anti-establishment voice of the disadvantaged and dissatisfied. In exile in Argentina following the military coup of 1946, he returned in 1952 to head a new government which revolutionized Bolivian politics and society. The suffrage was granted to Native Americans, who also gained grants of arable land on the central plateau, and the tin mines were nationalized. He was succeeded by his Vice-President Hernan Siles in 1956, but was re-elected twice before an army coup forced him again into exile. He returned from Peru in 1971, but was forced to leave the country again (this time to Paraguay) in 1974. Following the reintroduction of democracy, he failed to be elected President in 1980 but succeeded in 1985, when the erstwhile radical leader instigated a draconian programme of economic liberalization and privatization which stabilized the country's economy and, implicitly, its democracy. He retired in 1989, and he died in 2001.