Paz Estenssoro, Victor
(b. 2 Oct. 1907, d. 7 June 2001).
President of Bolivia 1952–6, 1960–4, 1985–9 Born in Tarija and educated at the University of Mayor de San Andrés, he worked 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 National Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario, MNR), which was initially nationalist but became increasingly left wing. He served as Minister of Finance in the populist Villarroel government (1943–6) while transforming 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 the indigenous majority, who also gained grants of arable land on the central plateau, and the tin mines were nationalized. He was succeeded by his Vice‐President 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. In his final term of office, the erstwhile radical instigated a draconian programme of economic liberalization and privatization which stabilized the country's economy and, implicitly, its democracy.