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Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada

Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada Sanchez Bustamante , familiarly known as "Goni", is a Bolivian politician, businessman, and former President of Bolivia. A life-long member of the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR), he is credited for using "shock therapy", the economic theory championed by Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs. This measure was used by Bolivia in 1985 (when Sanchez de Lozada was Minister of Planning in the government of President Victor Paz Estenssoro) to cut hyperinflation from an estimated 25,000% to a single digit within a period of 6 weeks. More broadly, he is credited with having engineered the restructuring of the Bolivian state and the dismantling the state-capitalist model that had prevailed in the country since the 1952 Revolution.

Sanchez de Lozada was twice elected President of Bolivia, both times on the MNR ticket. During his first term (1993-1997), he initiated a series of landmark social, economic and constitutional reforms. Elected to a second term in 2002, he resigned in October 2003 in protest after violent protests related to the Bolivian gas conflict in which some 60 protesters, soldiers and policemen died. In March 2006, he resigned the leadership of the MNR.

The son of a political exile, Sanchez de Lozada spent his early years in the United States, where he attended boarding school at Scattergood Friends School and studied literature and philosophy at the University of Chicago. He returned to Bolivia in 1951, on the eve of the 1952 revolution led by the MNR political party, which transformed Bolivia from a semi-feudal oligarchy to a multiparty democracy by introducing universal suffrage, nationalizing the mines of the three Tin Barons, and carrying out a sweeping agrarian reform. Sanchez de Lozada pursued film-making and participated in several cinematic projects in the 1950s, including the production of early footage of Bolivia's 1952 Revolution. In 1954 he founded TELECINE. His film Voces de la Tierra (Voices from the Earth) won First Prize for documentaries at the 1957 Edinburgh film festival. In 1957, he founded Andean Geoservices. In 1966, he founded the mining company COMSUR, later becoming one of the most successful mining entrepreneurs in the country.

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Interview from Commanding Heights, PBS documentary


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