Guevara Arze, Walter (1911–1996)

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Guevara Arze, Walter (1911–1996)

Walter Guevara Arze (b. 11 March 1911, d. 20 June 1996), interim president of Bolivia (August 1979–November 1979). As a young lawyer, Guevara formed part of the post-Chaco War generation that founded the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) in 1941. Guevara was the author of the 1944 Ayopaya Thesis, a manifesto that advocated sociopolitical rights for Bolivia's indigenous masses. He joined Víctor Paz Estenssoro, Hernán Siles Zuazo, and others in leading the MNR revolution of 1952. In 1959, owing mainly to the MNR's refusal to recognize his claim to the presidency, Guevara split with the party and founded the Authentic Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Auténtico—PRA). Several years later, in 1964, Guevara joined General René Barrientos Ortuño to topple Paz Estenssoro and the MNR.

Guevara served several terms in Congress, was a cabinet officer for numerous governments between 1952 and 1974, and was Bolivia's ambassador to the Organization of American States, the United Nations, and France. The pinnacle of his career came in August 1979, when he was elected interim president of Bolivia following the failure of the nation's principal political parties to elect a head of state among the top three vote getters in the national elections.

Guevara was one of the principal opponents of military rule after the coup that toppled him on 2 November 1979. When democracy was reestablished in 1982, Guevara reclaimed his senatorship and played an important role as a frequent critic of the Siles Zuazo government. In the late 1980s, Guevara led a successful campaign to unite factions that had split away from the MNR. As a reward for his efforts, the MNR named him its vice-presidential candidate for the 1989 elections. His race was unsuccessful, however. In late 1993, he fell ill and ended most public appearances.

See alsoBolivia, Political Parties: Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) .


James Dunkerley, Rebellion in the Veins: Political Struggle in Bolivia, 1952–1982 (1984).

Horacio Trujillo, Los partidos politicos en América Latina: Partidos politicos y sistema de partidos en Bolivia (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Arze Cuadros, Eduardo. Bolivia, el programa del MNR y la revolución nacional: Del movimiento de reforma universtaria al ocaso del modelo neoliberal (1928–2002). La Paz, Bolivia: Plural Editores, 2002.

Burt, Jo Marie, and Philip Mauceri. Politics in the Andes: Identity, Conflict, Reform. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004.

Guevara Arze, Walter, and Mariano Baptista Gumucio. Fragmentos de memoria. La Paz: [s.n.], 2002.

Zavaleta Mercado, René. La caída del M.N.R. y la conjuración de noviembre: Historia del golpe militar del 4 de noviembre de 1964 en Bolivia. Cochabamba, Bolivia: Editorial "Los Amigos del Libro," 1995.

                                  Eduardo A. Gamarra

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Guevara Arze, Walter (1911–1996)

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