- Lidia Gueiler Tejada
Infobox_President | name=Lidia Gueiler
16 November, 1979
17 July, 1980
Luis García Meza
birth_date=Birth date and age|1921|8|28|mf=y
President of Bolivia
Lidia Gueiler Tejada (born on
August 28, 1921, in Cochabamba) was the first female President of Bolivia, serving in an interimcapacity from 1979 to 1980. She was Bolivia's first (and thus far, only) female Head of State, and the second in Latin American history.
Gueiler was born in Cochabamba, and studied to become an
accountant. In the 1940s she joined the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario(MNR). When that party came to power as a result of the 1952 National Revolution, Gueiler became a member of the Congress of Bolivia, serving in that capacity from 1956 until 1964. In 1964 she went into exile abroad, after the MNR was toppled from power by generals Barrientosand Ovando. She spent the next fifteen years out of the country, and joined Juan Lechín's Revolutionary Party of the Nationalist Left(PRIN). Upon returning to Boliviain 1979, she again ran for congress and was elected President of the Chamber of Deputies of Bolivia(the lower house of the Bolivian congress) as part of the MNR alliance of former president Víctor Paz Estenssoro.
Since no presidential candidate in the 1979 elections had received the necessary 50% of the vote, it fell to Congress to decide who should be first executive. Surprisingly, no agreement could be reached, no matter how many votes were taken. An alternative was offered in the form of the President of the
Senate of Bolivia, Dr. Wálter Guevara, who was named temporary Bolivian President in August 1979 pending the calling of new elections in 1980. Guevara was shortly afterwards overthrown in a military coupled by General Alberto Natusch. The population resisted, however, led by a nationwide labor strikecalled by the powerful Central Obrera Boliviana("COB") of Juan Lechín. In the end, Natusch was able to occupy the Palacio Quemadofor only sixteen days, after which he was forced to give up power. The only face-saving concession he extracted from Congress was the promise that Guevara not be allowed to resume his duties as president. This condition was accepted and a new provisional president was found in the leader of the lower congressional house, Mrs. Lidia Gueiler.
As interim President, Gueiler was entrusted with the task of conducting the nation to new elections in 1980. Before these could be held, however, Gueiler herself was overthrown in a bloody
right-wingmilitary coup by General Luis García Meza. Gueiler then left the country, and lived in Franceuntil the fall of the dictatorshipin 1982. Later, she served her country mostly in the diplomatic sphere, having been appointed Bolivia's ambassadorto first Colombia, then West Germany, and finally -- after joining Jaime Paz's "Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria" -- to Venezuela(1989). She retired from public life in the mid 1990s.
Mrs. Gueiler has been involved in various Bolivian feminist organizations throughout her life. She opposed the U.S.-backed
war on drugsin Latin America, particularly the so-called Plan Colombia. In addition, she has written two books, publishing "La mujer y la revolución" ("The woman and the revolution") in 1960 and her autobiography, "Mi pasión de lidereza" ("My passion as a leader") ), in 2000. In the 2005 election she supported the candidacy of Evo Morales.
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