GONZALO SáNCHEZ DE LOZADA Y SáNCHEZ DE BUSTAMANTE (born 1 July
1930), familiarly known as "Goni", is a Bolivian politician and
businessman, who served as
President of Bolivia
Sánchez de Lozada was twice elected President of Bolivia, both times
on the MNR ticket. During his first term (1993–1997), he initiated a
series of landmark social, economic and constitutional reforms.
Elected to a second term in 2002, he struggled with protests and
events in October 2003 related to the
Bolivian gas conflict
The government of
* 1 Political life * 2 First presidency: 1993–1997
* 3 Second presidency: 2002–2003
* 3.1 Gas War and resignation
* 4 Trial of responsibility * 5 Attempts at extradition * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 External links
The son of a political exile, Sánchez de Lozada spent his early
years in the
At the age of 21, he returned to
In 1957, Sánchez de Lozada turned to resource businesses, founding Andean Geoservices . In 1966, he founded the mining company COMSUR, later becoming one of the most successful mining entrepreneurs in the country.
Sánchez de Lozada ran for president in 1989 as the MNR candidate.
While he won the plurality with 25.6% of the popular vote, in the
congressional runoff among the top three candidates, Jaime Paz Zamora
of the MIR, who had polled 21.8% of the popular vote and formerly been
in third place, won the presidency. Paz Zamora was backed in the
runoff by the second-placed, former military dictator
FIRST PRESIDENCY: 1993–1997
In 1993, Sánchez de Lozada again ran for president, this time in
alliance with the Tupac Katari Revolutionary Liberation Movement
(Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Katari de Liberación, MRTKL), an
indigenous party formed in 1985 whose leader Víctor Hugo Cárdenas
was the candidate for vice-president. The MNR-MRTKL ticket won the
first plurality with 36.5% of the popular vote, and Sánchez de Lozada
was confirmed as president by Congress. A coalition government that
included the center-left Free
The 1993–1997 MNR-led government initiated a series of
Constitutional, social, economic and political reforms. The
Constitution was rewritten to define
The Capitalization program was controversial: it was perceived as a privatization of five major state-owned companies that ceded management of these industries to foreign interests. Supporters believed that the requirement for private capital to be directly invested in the new joint ventures significantly reduced room for corruption. The program was intended to provide for development of these "strategic" resources,as the Bolivian government could not afford to do so. The revenues of the new companies were expected to yield funds for human and social, as well as infrastructure development. The dividend payouts for the Bolivian people were the foundation of a universal, annual old-age benefit, the BONOSOL. Although small on a per capita basis, it was expected to benefit primarily the rural elderly, the most marginalized sector of Bolivia's indigenous population.
Finally, the reforms also included changes to the country's electoral laws. A new electoral system was introduced. The change opened elections for 70 congressional seats to independent candidates who were elected by plurality, with the remaining 60 seats to be filled proportionally by members of parties reflecting the votes cast for the presidential tickets. If no presidential candidate won an absolute majority, the president would be elected in a run-off of the top two contenders. The presidential term of office was set at five years.
SECOND PRESIDENCY: 2002–2003
In 2002, Sánchez de Lozada again ran for president. He chose Carlos Mesa as his running mate, an independent historian and journalist who had MNR sympathies. Sánchez de Lozada hired U.S. political consultants James Carville , Stan Greenberg and Bob Shrum to advise his campaign.
After running a sophisticated campaign, de Lozada seemed positioned
to win a strong enough plurality to form a strong government. However,
three days before the elections, the US ambassador publicly warned the
Bolivian people against electing "those who want
When Sánchez de Lozada took office, he was faced with an economic and social crisis inherited from the preceding administration. Economic growth had plunged from the 4.8% at the end of Sánchez de Lozada's first presidency to 0.6% in 1999 and had recovered to only 2% for 2002. The fiscal deficit was running at 8%.
GAS WAR AND RESIGNATION
Bolivian gas conflict
From his inauguration in August 2002 until the end of the year, there
were fewer public tensions. In January 2003 and under the leadership
The acute economic crisis affected above all the urban workers and
the farming/indigenous populations; their struggles gave widespread
support for protests. Protests and demands became more focused: the
cocaleros continued protesting against eradication of a milenary plant
(coca) used to produce cocaine, although Banzer’s "Coca 0" policy
had been replaced by the earlier subsidized crop substitution policy,
in order to achieve gradual coca reduction but not total eradication.
The indigenous farmers of the
Demands rose for the government to return to the corporatist state
and nationalize Bolivia's hydrocarbon resources. Protesters demanded
Sánchez de Lozada's resignation. In late September, a convoy of buses
and trucks under a police escort was bringing back to
A few days later, in early October, it was falsely reported that
President Sánchez de Lozada had decided to export Bolivia's gas to
Mexico and the
After three days, fuel and other essential supplies were dangerously low in La Paz. On 11 October, President Sánchez de Lozada promulgated Supreme Decree 27209, ordering the militarization of the gas plants and the transport of hydrocarbons. This decree was intended to protect private and public property, noting in the third article: "whatever harm to property or persons that might be produced as an effect of fulfilling the objective of this supreme decree shall be compensated and guaranteed by the State". As a result, fully armed military troops were sent as a security force to open the way for diesel and gasoline cisterns to be transported through densely populated poor neighborhoods into La Paz.
Protesters tried to block the convoys at several points along their
route. Alteño residents reported that government troops started
shooting indiscriminately, killing a five-year-old child and a
pregnant mother. Sanchez de Lozada and some government ministers
attributed the violence to an armed 'coup', but
Vice-President Mesa publicly broke with Sanchez de Lozada, saying.,"Neither as a citizen nor as a man of principles can I accept that, faced with popular pressure, the response should be death." The Minister for Economic Development also resigned. 20,000 Bolivians began to march on La Paz, demanding the President’s resignation. Evo Morales' supporters from Cochabamba tried to march into Santa Cruz , the largest city of the eastern lowlands where support still remained for the president. They were turned back. While blaming the violence on 'narco-sindicalists', Sanchez de Lozada proposed a National Dialogue. He promised to put export plans to a national referendum, but demands for his resignation continued to rise. According to official figures, a total of 59 civilian deaths resulted from the Gas War, with around 400 persons wounded.
Faced with rising anger at the deaths, and with coalition partner Manfred Reyes Villa withdrawing political support, Sánchez de Lozada offered his resignation on 17 October in a letter to be read at an emergency session of Congress. He left on a commercially scheduled flight for the United States.
TRIAL OF RESPONSIBILITY
In 2004, after a concerted campaign by the families of the victims, the government and human rights groups, who gathered over 700,000 signatures on petitions, 2/3 of Bolivia’s Congress voted to authorize a "Trial of Responsibility" of the exiled president. It was intended to determine whether Sánchez de Lozada and his cabinet ministers should be held legally responsible for the violence of the Gas War. Supporters included many from the president's party, reflecting a broad consensus for an impartial investigation. to understand the responsibilities for the violence and deaths.
The Attorney General’s office took testimony from twelve ministers, and carried out detailed preliminary investigations. Their work included forensic studies, crime scene investigations, and eyewitness testimony. Evo Morales, one of the key protest leaders, voluntarily offered evidence. In August 2011 the Bolivian Supreme Court sentenced five members of the military and two politicians to between three and fifteen years in prison for their role in the events of September and October 2003.
ATTEMPTS AT EXTRADITION
On 11 November 2008,
On 10 November 2009, the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida ruled that the claims for charges of crimes against humanity against de Lozada had no case. The court ruled that charges of extrajudicial killings could be pursued in order to allow two related U.S. cases to progress against former president Gonzalo Daniel Sánchez de Lozada de Bustamante and former Bolivian Defense Minister Jose Carlos Sánchez Berzaín.
The plaintiffs in the cases, Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada, and Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez Berzaín, seek compensatory and punitive damages under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). On 20 May 2014, Judge James Cohn ordered that Plaintiffs’ claims under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) could proceed because they sufficiently alleged facts that "plausibly suggest that these killings were deliberate," and because they adequately alleged that Defendants were responsible for the killings. The case was stayed on 19 August 2014 pending defendants' appeal of the district court's decision. Appellants-defendants filed their brief to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on 14 January 2015. Plaintiffs-appellees filed their brief on 6 March 2015. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued their decision on 17 June 2016.
* Sánchez de Lozada is a member of
Club de Madrid
* ^ A B Carlos Quiroga, Reuters (7 September 2012),