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Carlos Mesa

Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert
Carlos Mesa in Guatemala City (2014)
78th President of Bolivia
In office
17 October 2003 – 6 June 2005
Preceded by Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada
Succeeded by Eduardo Rodríguez
Vice President of Bolivia
In office
6 August 2002 – 17 October 2003
President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada
Preceded by Jorge Quiroga Ramírez
Succeeded by Álvaro García Linera
Personal details
Born (1953-08-12) August 12, 1953
La Paz, Bolivia
Nationality Bolivian
Political party no party affiliation
Spouse(s) Elvira Salinas de Mesa
Alma mater Complutense University of Madrid, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés

Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert (born August 12, 1953) is a Bolivian historian and former politician. He was Vice President of Bolivia from August 2002 to October 2003 and then became President, holding office from October 17, 2003 until his resignation on June 6, 2005. Mesa had previously been a popular television journalist and personality, known by many for his rectitude and impartiality. His widespread recognition prompted the MNR candidate Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada to pick him as running mate in the 2002 Bolivian presidential elections. The winning ticket of Sánchez-Mesa took possession on August 6, 2002.[1] As Vice-President, Mesa was quickly put into a difficult situation when a wave of protests and strikes shut down Bolivia in a bitter dispute known as the Bolivian Gas War. The demonstrations eventually forced Sánchez de Lozada to resign and leaving Mesa as President of the Republic.


  • Presidency 1
  • Works 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4
  • See also 5


In the year and eight months after assuming office, Mesa found himself, like president Sanchez de Lozada, under the same extreme internal and external political pressures over the use of Bolivia's 1.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, estimated to be worth billions of dollars (USD). Without political alliances, gave him popular support to summon an Asamblea Constituyente, Referendum of hydrocarbons and Referendum for regional autonomies.

After a resurgence of U.S. corporate interests, Mesa offered his resignation to Congress. Unanimously, the Congress rejected the presidential resignation. On June 6, 2005 the President offered his final resignation, which was unanimously accepted by the Congress. In June 9, 2005 the Congress sworn as interim president the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodríguez.

Carlos Mesa had been Vice-President to President Sanchez de Lozada since August 6, 2002. In that capacity, he was also the head of the Bolivian Congress.

As noted, Mesa was, prior to entering the political arena, a historian and journalist in radio, television and newspapers. He is a member of the Bolivian History Academy, and co-wrote (along with his parents, themselves noted scholars and professionals) an interesting and exhaustive compendium of Bolivian history from the pre-Hispanic period to the close of the millennium.

Despite his lack of experience in the political arena, Mesa's star rose quickly in the Sánchez de Lozada administration. In September 2003, he addressed the UN General Assembly, where he warned:

Democracy is in danger in Bolivia as the result of legitimate pressures from the poor. We cannot generate economic growth and well-being for a few and then expect that the large majorities that are excluded will watch silently and patiently. We poor countries demand that our products be admitted into the markets of rich countries in adequate conditions. [2]

As the gas conflict escalated, Mesa became discontent with the government's heavy-handed repression of the protests, which would leave over 60 people dead during September and October 2003. He did not resign, but he did withdraw his support for Sánchez de Lozada five days before the latter's resignation, saying: "I cannot continue to support the situation we are living through." It also placed him at the center of extreme political pressures – from both internal Bolivian and external foreign interests – regarding the use of Bolivia's natural gas reserves. Bolivia's next presidential elections were scheduled for 2007.

The referendum of hydrocarbons was the most important initiative of this term, done under strong preassure from radical groups. (See: Bolivian gas referendum, 2004.). Mesa changed the taxes rates and the property of the gas reserves for the Bolivian state. In addition, in January 2004 he announced that his government would hold a series of rallies around the country, and at its embassies abroad, demanding that Chile return to Bolivia a stretch of seacoast that the country lost in 1879 after the end of the War of the Pacific. Chile has traditionally refused to negotiate on the issue, but Mesa nonetheless made this policy a central point of his administration seeking the popular support he lacked.

Following protests, he tendered his resignation to Evo Morales in December 2005. later on Evo Morales's Government accused Carlos Mesa for economic damages to the country interests.


  • Cine boliviano, del realizador al crítico (co-author, 1979)
  • El cine boliviano según Luis Espinal (1982)
  • Presidentes de Bolivia: entre urnas y fusiles (1983)
  • Manual de historia de Bolivia (co-author, 1983)
  • La aventura del cine boliviano 1952-1985 (1985)
  • Un debate entre gitanos (1991)
  • De cerca, una década de conversaciones en democracia (1993)
  • La epopeya del fútbol boliviano (1994)
  • Territorios de libertad (1995)
  • Historia de Bolivia (co-author, 1997)
  • El vano de la vida incansable (co-author, 1999)
  • La espada en la palabra (2000)
  • El Vicepresidente ¿la sombra del poder? (co-author, 2003)
  • Presidencia sitiada: memorias de mi gobierno (2008)
  • Un gobierno de ciudadanos (editor, 2008)
  • Many documentaries made for television, including the series "Bolivia Siglo XX", a contemporary history of Bolivia consisting of 36 documentaries, each about an hour long, made in conjunction with Mario Espinoza and produced by Ximena Valdivia.


  1. ^ Vicepresidency of Bolivia

External links

  • Official web site of the president of Bolivia
  • Biography of Carlos Mesa at CIDOB (Spanish)
  • Bolivian president plans resignation, CNN, 6 June 2005
  • Spectre of Civil War for Bolivia – Financial Times
  • Bolivia on a Tight Rope – (background information)
  • The Carlos Mesa's referendum, 2004 (video, Spanish)

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
Jorge Quiroga
Vice President of Bolivia
Succeeded by
Álvaro García Linera
Preceded by
Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada
President of Bolivia
Succeeded by
Eduardo Rodríguez
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