December 18, 2004

Goni and his legacy

MABB is a registered TM.

How history will judge presidents is a mistery. The fate of Goni seems to be turning for the worst. Gonzalo "Goni" Sanchez de Lozada (MNR), president of Bolivia from 1993 to 1997 and 2002 to 2003, will be taken to court for his part in the Bolivian Gas War. The newly appointed Attorney General (Fiscal General), Pedro Gareca Perales, has promised to act with due diligence in the Sanchez de Lozada case. He is prepared to seek extradition from the US Government. He said, he will make the Sanchez de Lozada case a priority.

Sanchez de Lozada is largely credited with stopping Bolivian hyperinflation in the 1980s. He was Paz Estenssoro's (MNR)(1952 - 1965, 1960 - 1964 and 1985 - 1989) Economics Minister. He worked to stop hyperinflation applying what we now know as "shock therapy". Sanchez de Lozada said, "inflation is like a tiger. You have one bullet and if you don't kill it, it'll eat you".

PBS has an interesting interview with Goni. Here is an excerpt and a link to read more.

INTERVIEWER: Why has Bolivia seen so many military coups?

GONZALO SANCHEZ DE LOZADA: There has been a great deal of institutional instability, but it's interesting to note something that few people will realize: From 1825 to 1995 -- 1825 is when Bolivia was founded [and] became a republic, and 1995 is when the study was concluded -- Bolivia had fewer changes of government than Great Britain, and Great Britain is seen as the example of democratic stability, while Bolivia is seen as the example of instability in democracy. The reason we have had so many military coups is that many times, when we have had big problems, we haven't been able to really resolve them. We haven't had the flexibility that comes when you have the ability to change the prime minister of the party or take a vote of non-confidence. But undoubtedly it was institutional weakness and non-participation. You have to realize that it was only in 1952, after the national revolution, which my party led in Bolivia, that the people really were given the vote. Before that it was a very, very qualified vote. Two hundred thousand people voted, and today it's three million people. Back then women couldn't vote; peasant farmers couldn't vote. You had to take a literacy test, pay property taxes, and take a series of tests to make sure that democracy wasn't participated [in]. Only now have we achieved the basic stability of democracy, which is to have the people participate in elections.

Read more.