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Context of 'May 1951: Coup Prevents Bolivian President from Taking Office'

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Bolivian voters elect Victor Paz Estenssoro of the populist Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR) as president, but the victory is stymied by a last-minute coup. (Library of Congress 1991; Klein 2003, pp. 206)

A coup in Bolivia provokes a popular armed revolt which becomes known as the April Revolution of 1952. The military is subsequently defeated and Paz Estenssoro returns to power. (Library of Congress 1991; Klein 2003, pp. 237, 240) The MNR introduces universal adult suffrage, carries out a sweeping land reform, promotes rural education, and nationalizes the country’s largest tin mines. (Library of Congress 1991; Klein 2003, pp. 237, 240)

Hernan Siles Zuazo is defeated in Bolivian elections by Paz Estenssoro, who promptly moves to curb the extremely high inflation levels, which at one point reach 35,000 percent annually. He imposes austerity measures under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange for temporary relief of Bolivia’s large foreign debt. (Library of Congress 1991; Langman 7/24/2002)


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