Colonel Huge Banzer ruled Bolivia with military support until 1978, when Siles won the election – but Banzer declared the election invalid. The same thing happened in 1979. And again in 1980. But this time General Luis García Meza grabbed the reins of power in the bloody coup. Finally in 1985, Paz was elected President again, for the fourth and final time – and immediately lurched to the Right, firing 30,000 miners from the government payroll, suppressing unions and raiding opposition meetings.
In 1989, Jaime Paz Zamora became President. He’d been a Marxist in the 1970s and the victim of an assassination attempt in 1980. But in 1989 he signed an accord with Banzar and lurched to the Right. Banzar was President again in 1997, declared martial law, arrested protest leaders and shut down the media.
Finally, in 2002, a poor, uneducated farmer and union leader, Evo Morales, ran for the Presidency, coming third, despite the US ambassador warning Bolivians that they would be punished if Morales won. Then, in the general election of December 2005, Morales did win, becoming the first indigenous President in a country where 62% of the population identified as indigenous. The US, of course, were furious and immediately tried to get him thrown out.
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