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Jaime Paz Zamora

Jaime Paz Zamora was President of Bolivia from August 6, 1989 to August 6, 1993. He also served as Vice-President between 1982 and 1984.

Ominously, the ultra-right wing of the Bolivian military began to intimate that it would never stand for the installation in the Palacio Quemado of the "extremist" Siles and Paz, but the 1980 campaign continued unabated. In April, the small rented plane in which Paz and a delegation of UDP politicians were traveling crashed in the Altiplano near La Paz, with the resulting death of all on board except the Vice-Presidential candidate. The plane had belonged to a company owned by Colonel Luis Arce, who would surface as Minister of Interior in the upcoming (and quite ruthless) military dictatorship of Luis Garcia Meza. No one doubts that it was an assassination attempt. In any case, Paz recovered from his burns and resumed campaigning, buoyed by the increasing support received in the aftermath of the "accident." The winner of this third vote in three years was, yet again, the Siles Zuazo-Paz Zamora formula. The two would have been sworn in, weren't for the July 17, 1980, coup of General Luis Garcia Meza, which brutally interrupted the democratic process.

Paz fled to exile, but returned in 1982, when the military's experiment had run its course and the Bolivian economy was on the verge of collapse. With the reputation of the armed forces badly damaged by the excesses of the 1980-82 dictatorship, the only way out was a hasty retreat. In October 1982 the results of the 1980 elections were upheld to save the country the expense of yet another vote, and Siles was sworn in, with the MIR's Jaime Paz as his Vice-President. The economic situation was dire indeed, and soon a galloping hyperinflationary process developed. Siles had great difficulty in controlling the situation. In all fairness, he received scant support from the political parties or members of congress, most of whom were eager to flex their newly-acquiered political muscles after so many years of authoritarianism. The unions, led by the old firebrand Juan Lechin paralyzed the government with constant strikes. At this point, the MIR (led by Paz) dissassociated itself from the regime (1984), deserting the sinking ship when Siles' popularity sank to an all-time low. The 1982-85 hyperinflation would end up being the fourth largest ever recorded in the world.

Related websites

Vicepresidency of Bolivia

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