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Enrique Hertzog


Enrique Hertzog Garaizabal was a Bolivian politician who was elected President of his country in 1947. He resigned in 1949.

A medical doctor by trade, Hertzog joined the Genuine Republican Party of Daniel Salamanca in the 1920s, and rose to become Minister of War during the 1932-35 Chaco conflict against Paraguay. In 1947, he ran for President on a ticket of united Republican factions calling themselves Partido de la Union Republicana Socialista (PURS). He won against the Liberal leader Fernando Guachalla and the reformist candidate Victor Paz Estenssoro, who led the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (Nationalist Revolutionary Movement).

Hertzog faced innumerable obstacles during his term, mostly in the form of constant rebellion from the lower sectors of society, as represented by striking miners and union workers. He was also saddled with the implacable opposition of Paz's MNR party and its allies, in addition to a declining economy. In essence, the attempt of the privileged sectors (led by Hertzog himself) to "turn back the clock" to the oligarchic pre-Chaco War status quo did not work. Rising expectations and demands from an increasingly activist and indeed, violent, popular class, combined with the unwillingness or inability of the governing elites to give concession that would undermine their power, led the country to the vey brink of civil war. Escalating repressive measures only bred further discontent. When the legislative elections of 1949 confirmed the dramatic ascendancy of the parties of the Left, the PURS leadership lost trust in the relatively more conciliatory Hertzog's ability to control the situation. They forced his resignation in favor of his far more combative Vice-President, Mamerto Urriolagoitia, specifying a non-existent illness. A few months later Hertzog was named Bolivia's Ambassador to Spain. Following the 1952 Revolution that brought Paz Estenssoro's MNR party to power, the ex-President remained exiled in the Spanish capital until his death (retired from any political activity) in 1981.

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