Mesa, Carlos (1953–)

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Mesa, Carlos (1953–)

An accomplished journalist, Carlos Mesa briefly served as Bolivia's president during a time of turmoil. Born in La Paz, he studied in both Bolivia and Spain, graduating with a degree in literature from the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz. Working in many media, he became an award-winning journalist, television personality, and historian noted for numerous documentaries and books. He also achieved financial success with the creation of a national television network. In 2002 Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada asked Mesa, who had no political experience or affiliation, to be his running mate in the presidential elections. His political inexperience may have been advantageous because of growing discontent with the political class. After a very close contest, Sánchez de Lozada and Mesa took office in August 2002.

A variety of protests plagued the government from the beginning, and controversial natural gas proposals provoked fierce demonstrations and violent clashes with security forces. In response to the rising death toll, Mesa withdrew his support from Sánchez de Lozada, who resigned on October 17, 2003, leaving Mesa as president. Although he had distanced himself from his predecessor, Mesa still faced the same difficulties and, as an independent, lacked partisan support in Congress. He took several steps to alleviate tensions, including holding a referendum on the contentious gas issue. Although he was somewhat successful with that referendum in July 2004, opponents were not satisfied and again took to the streets. Pressure mounted in early 2005, leading Mesa to threaten his resignation and propose early elections. Warning that the country was on the verge of civil war, he again submitted his resignation on June 6, 2005. This time Congress accepted it and offered the job first to the speaker of the senate, who declined, and then to supreme court head Eduardo Rodríguez.

See alsoBolivia, Political Parties: Overview .


Salman, Ton. "The Jammed Democracy: Bolivia's Troubled Political Learning Process." Bulletin of Latin American Research 25, no. 2 (2006): 163-182.

                                    Robert R. Barr

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Mesa, Carlos (1953–)

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