Famous Politicians from Bolivia

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The following are some famous politicians in Bolivia. You can read about more famous Bolivians by visiting our Famous People from Bolivia home page where you'll find many other categories. You can also ask questions about any famous Bolivian person or add another famous person from Bolivia to our list.

Famous People from Bolivia: Savina Cuellar

Víctor Paz Estenssoro
A politician born in Tarija in 1907. He is the only political leader who has been President of Bolivia four separate times. Along with other intellectuals, he founded the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR), artifice of the 1952 Revolution, and constitutional reforms which, among others, made education and voting a universal right. In addition to heading his party for 50 years through his death in 2001, he also held many other positions in public institutions, in the Bolivian equivalent of the House of Representatives, and as a member of the cabinets of other presidents and is one of Bolivia's most famous politicians.

Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz
A politician, writer and university professor, born in Cochabamba in 1931, he was a combative congress member, whose ideas eventually got him jailed. He was assassinated during the military dictatorship of the 1980’s for starting lawsuits against members of the military juntas. He was also the minister of mining, a newspaper columnist, and a political activist. He founded the Partido Socialista de Bolivia (Bolivian Socialist Party) and other organisms. In honor of his fight against impunity a new Anti-Corruption Law recently passed by the Bolivian government has been named after him.

Juan Lechin Oquendo
A union leader born in Corocoro (La Paz) in 1914. He worked as a miner in the mines of Oruro until he joined the Partido Obrero Revolucionario (Revolutionary Workers Party) in the 1940’s, going on to eventually be its leader. He made name for himself during the 1952 civil war during which he organized the miners to fight against the Army, in support of the MNR. He later became the mining minister and co-founder of the Central Obrera Boliviana (central labor union), which he led until 1987. He founded two other short-lived political parties with which he sought to re-enter politics but without much success.

Savina Cuellar
A union leader and politician, born in Tarabuco (Chuquisaca) in 1956. She entered politics as a leader of the Bartolina Sisa women farmer’s organization, and through this eventually allied with the MAS party (Movimiento al Socialism, led by Evo Morales). She earned a place in the Constituent Assembly of 2006. Soon after she split from her party over ideological differences and independently ran for governor of her department, which she won by a large majority. She was the first female Prefect (governor) in Bolivian history and also the first indigenous woman to hold that title and one of Bolivia's recent famous politicians.
Photo Credit: sededesucre.blogspot.com

Lidia Gueiler
A politician and diplomat, born in Cochabamba in 1921. She was a member the MNR and one of its grassroots leaders, in addition to serving as Ambassador to German and other South American countries. As chair of the Cámara de Diputados (similar to the House of Representatives) she briefly became president of Bolivia when a military coup overthrew the previous president. She held this post for nearly a year during which time there were various attempts to remove her, and she eventually was during another military coup in 1980 and was exiled during this dictatorship. Upon returning to the country, she did not return to politics.

Jaime Paz Zamora
A politician born in Cochabamba in 1939, he started his career as a youth leader in political activism groups and then co-founded the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR), a leftist party that was persecuted during the dictatorships of the 70s/80s and lost many of its leaders to political assassination, Paz Zamora surviving miraculously to a plane crash meant to kill the politicians flying on it, which left him with his characteristic burned face. He was elected Vice-President of Bolivia by parliament right after the return to democracy, and would become President also by parliamentarian decision when he arrived third from the popular elections. In office, he signed a treaty with Peru for a port for Bolivia in the Pacific to be exploited for a century. Afterwards and up to this day, he has been active in politics, participating in all national and one gubernatorial election, though he hasn’t been re-elected.

Samuel Doria Medina
He is from La Paz, and was born in 1958. A graduate in Economy and Business Administration from the Universidad Católica Boliviana, the Arizona University and the London School of Economics, he worked in the Finance Ministry, the BID band and the World Bank amongst others, and is owner of SOBOCE, the biggest cement and concrete plant in the country. As a wealthy businessman, he was once the target for kidnapping by a terrorist group during his early political career. He has won entrepreneurial prizes in Bolivia and outside for Best Industrialist. As a politician, he entered first the MIR party and was in office in economy-related government branches until 2003, when he founded his own political party Unidad Nacional, with which he’s been a candidate twice. Currently, he’s the main opposition leader for the upcoming nationwide elections.

Rubén Costas
An agronomist and politician born in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in 1955, he started as head of the Eastern aggrupation of cattle & beef ranchers and agro-industrialists called Cámara Agropecuaria del Oriente, as well as two other similar institutions. Then he became director of the Comité Civico Pro-Santa Cruz, a citizens’ group that promotes the interests of the departamento (state) in all areas; and in that office he started the very long process of campaigning, political lobbying, signature-collecting, fundraising, hunger strikes, and four massive “cabildos” (public gatherings to vote by acclamation on government policy originated from Spanish colonial customs) that resulted in the Departamento de Santa Cruz going solo to elect their own Governor in 2005 without the national government’s approval. Costas won that election, and thus become the first elected Prefecto, which until that day had been handpicked by the President of Bolivia. He was ratified in office by popular vote in the 2008 Referendum that the national government held for the Presidency and all gubernatorial offices in the country. Two years later, after much political trouble, the country was finally able to elect Governors and parliament-like assemblies for each Departament (state), in which Costas was again elected and is still in office to this day; and this time by reforms in the Constitution, the formal title is no longer that of Prefecto but of Governor of Santa Cruz.

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