The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Bolivian Politicians of all time. This list of famous Bolivian Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Bolivian Politicians.
With an HPI of 72.78, Evo Morales is the most famous Bolivian Politician. His biography has been translated into 94 different languages on wikipedia.
Juan Evo Morales Ayma (Spanish pronunciation: [xwɑːn ˈeβo moˈɾales ˈaʝ.ma]; born 26 October 1959) is a Bolivian politician, trade union organizer, and former cocalero activist who served as the 65th President of Bolivia from 2006 to 2019. Widely regarded as the country's first president to come from its indigenous population, his administration focused on the implementation of leftist policies and combating the influence of the United States and multinational corporations. Ideologically a socialist, he has led the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party since 1998. Born to an Aymara family of subsistence farmers in Isallawi, Orinoca Canton, Morales undertook a basic education and mandatory military service before moving to the Chapare Province in 1978. Growing coca and becoming a trade unionist, he rose to prominence in the campesino ("rural laborers") union. In that capacity, he campaigned against joint U.S.-Bolivian attempts to eradicate coca as part of the War on Drugs, denouncing these as an imperialist violation of indigenous Andean culture. His involvement in anti-government direct action protests resulted in multiple arrests. Morales entered electoral politics in 1995, was elected to Congress in 1997, and became leader of MAS in 1998. Coupled with populist rhetoric, he campaigned on issues affecting indigenous and poor communities, advocating land reform and more equal redistribution of money from Bolivian gas extraction. He gained increased visibility through the Cochabamba Water War and gas conflict. In 2002, he was expelled from Congress for encouraging anti-government protesters, although he came second in that year's presidential election. Once elected president in 2005, Morales increased taxation on the hydrocarbon industry to bolster social spending and emphasized projects to combat illiteracy, poverty, and racial and gender discrimination. Vocally criticizing neoliberalism, Morales' government moved Bolivia towards a mixed economy, reduced its dependence on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and oversaw strong economic growth. Scaling back United States influence in the country, he built relationships with leftist governments in the Latin American pink tide, especially Hugo Chávez's Venezuela and Fidel Castro's Cuba, and signed Bolivia into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. His administration opposed the autonomist demands of Bolivia's eastern provinces, won a 2008 recall referendum, and instituted a new constitution that established Bolivia as a plurinational state. Re-elected in 2009 and 2014, he oversaw Bolivia's admission to the Bank of the South and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, although his popularity was dented by attempts to abolish presidential term limits. Following the disputed 2019 election and the ensuing unrest, Morales agreed to calls for his resignation. After this temporary exile, he returned following the election of President Luis Arce. Morales' supporters laud him as a champion of indigenous rights, anti-imperialism, and environmentalism, and he was credited with overseeing significant economic growth and poverty reduction as well as increased investment in schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. Critics point to democratic backsliding during his tenure, argue that his policies sometimes failed to reflect his environmentalist and indigenous rights rhetoric, and claim that his defence of coca contributed to illegal cocaine production.
With an HPI of 67.31, Hugo Banzer is the 2nd most famous Bolivian Politician. His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.
Hugo Banzer Suárez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈuɣo banˈseɾ ˈswaɾes]; 10 May 1926 – 5 May 2002) was a Bolivian politician and military officer who served as the 51st President of Bolivia. He held the Bolivian presidency twice: from 1971 to 1978 in a military dictatorship; and then again from 1997 to 2001, as a democratically elected president. Banzer, a participant in Operation Condor closely associated with former Nazi officer Klaus Barbie, rose to power via a coup d'état against socialist president Juan José Torres and severely repressed labor leaders, clergymen, indigenous people, and students during his 1971–1978 dictatorship. Several thousand Bolivians were either forced to seek asylum in foreign countries, arrested, tortured, or killed during this period, known as the Banzerato. After Banzer's removal via a coup lead by Juan Pereda, he remained an influential figure in Bolivian politics and would run for election to the presidency via the ballot box on several occasions, eventually succeeding in 1997 via a narrow plurality of 22.26% of the popular vote. During Banzer's constitutional term, he extended presidential term limits from four years to five and presided over the Cochabamba Water War, declaring a state of siege in 2000 that suspended several civil liberties and lead to violent clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement. After being diagnosed with lung cancer, Banzer resigned in 2001 and was succeeded by Vice President Jorge Quiroga.
With an HPI of 66.98, René Barrientos is the 3rd most famous Bolivian Politician. His biography has been translated into 29 different languages.
René Barrientos Ortuño (30 May 1919 – 27 April 1969) was a Bolivian military officer and politician who served as the 47th President of Bolivia twice nonconsecutively from 1964 to 1966 and from 1966 to 1969. During much of his first term, he shared power as co-president with Alfredo Ovando from 1965 to 1966 and prior to that served as the 30th Vice President of Bolivia in 1964.General Barrientos came to power after the 1964 Bolivian coup d'état which overthrew the government of President Victor Paz Estenssoro. During his three-year rule, Barrientos and the army suppressed leftist opposition to his regime, including a guerrilla group led by Che Guevara in 1967.
With an HPI of 65.79, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada is the 4th most famous Bolivian Politician. His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada Sánchez Bustamante (born 1 July 1930), often referred to as Goni, is a Bolivian businessman and politician who served as the 61st president of Bolivia from 1993 to 1997 and from 2002 to 2003. A member of the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement, he previously served as minister of planning and coordination under Víctor Paz Estenssoro and succeeded him as the MNR's national chief in 1990. As minister of planning, Sánchez de Lozada employed "shock therapy" in 1985 to cut hyperinflation from an estimated 25,000% to a single digit within a period of less than six weeks. 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. According to official reports, 59 protestors, ten soldiers and sixteen policemen died in confrontations. As a result of the violent clashes, Sánchez de Lozada resigned and went into exile in the United States. In March 2006, he resigned the leadership of the MNR.The governments of Evo Morales and Luis Arce have unsuccessfully sought his extradition from the U.S. to stand trial for the events of 2003. Victims' representatives have pursued compensatory damages for extrajudicial killings in a suit against him in the United States under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). In 2014, the U.S. District Court in Florida ruled the case could proceed under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). The trial, which began on 5 March 2018 and concluded on 30 May 2018, found Sánchez de Lozada and his former defense minister Carlos Sanchez Berzaín not liable for the civilian deaths after the judge declared that there was "insufficient evidence". Nevertheless, on 3 August 2020, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated this ruling. On 5 April 2021, a separate U.S. District Court ruling reaffirmed a 2018 jury verdict which found both Sánchez de Lozada and Carlos Sanchez Berzaín liable and required them to pay $10 million.
With an HPI of 65.17, Jeanine Áñez is the 5th most famous Bolivian Politician. Her biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
Jeanine Áñez Chávez (Spanish pronunciation: [ɟʝaˈnine ˈaɲes ˈt͡ʃaβes] (listen); born 13 June 1967) is a Bolivian lawyer, politician, and former television presenter who served as the 66th president of Bolivia from 2019 to 2020. A former member of the Social Democratic Movement, she previously served two terms as senator for Beni from 2015 to 2019 on behalf of the Democratic Unity coalition and from 2010 to 2014 on behalf of the National Convergence alliance. During this time, she served as second vice president of the Senate from 2015 to 2016 and in 2019 and, briefly, was president of the Senate, also in 2019. Before that, she served as a uninominal member of the Constituent Assembly from Beni, representing circumscription 61 from 2006 to 2007 on behalf of the Social Democratic Power alliance. Born in San Joaquín, Beni, Áñez graduated as a lawyer from the José Ballivián Autonomous University before working in the field of television journalism. An early advocate of departmental autonomy, in 2006, she was invited by the Social Democratic Power alliance to represent Beni in the 2006–2007 Constituent Assembly, charged with drafting a new constitution for Bolivia. Following the completion of that historic process, Áñez ran for senator for Beni with the National Convergence alliance, becoming one of the few former constituents to maintain a political career at the national level. Once in the Senate, the National Convergence caucus quickly fragmented, leading Áñez to abandon it in favor of the emergent Social Democratic Movement, an autonomist political party based in the eastern departments. Together with the Democrats, as a component of the Democratic Unity coalition, she was reelected senator in 2014. During her second term, Áñez served twice as second vice president of the Senate, making her the highest-ranking opposition legislator in that chamber during the social unrest the country faced in late 2019. In the midst of this political crisis, and after the resignation of President Evo Morales and other officials in the line of succession, Áñez declared herself next in line to assume the presidency. On 12 November 2019, she installed an extraordinary session of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly that lacked quorum due to the absence of members of the Movement for Socialism, who demanded security guarantees before attending. In a short session, Áñez declared herself, first, president of the Senate, before then using that position as a basis to assume constitutional succession to the presidency of the State. Her transitional government focused on pacifying the country, calling for new elections, and, later, combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Responding to domestic unrest, Áñez issued a decree removing criminal liability for military and police in dealing with protesters, resulting in the Senkata and Sacaba massacres, causing her to repeal it amid widespread condemnation. Her government launched numerous criminal investigations into former MAS officials —for which it was accused of political persecution and retributive justice— terminated Bolivia's close links with the socialist governments of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and warmed relations with the United States. Though Áñez succeeded in conducting free and fair elections, her decision to launch her own, ultimately unsuccessful, presidential campaign led to criticism that she was not a neutral actor in the transition and caused her to bear the brunt of the blame for the electoral victory of Luis Arce and the return to power of the MAS. Following the end of her mandate in November 2020, Áñez briefly retired to her residence in Trinidad only to launch her Beni gubernatorial candidacy a month later. Despite being initially competitive, mounting judicial processes surrounding her time as president hampered her campaign, ultimately resulting in a third-place finish at the polls. Just eight days after the election, on 13 March 2021, Áñez was apprehended and placed in preventative detention on charges of terrorism, sedition, and conspiracy relating to the alleged coup d'état carried out in 2019, a move decried as political persecution by members of the opposition and much of the international community. Áñez's extended incarceration at the Miraflores Women's Penitentiary was denounced as abusive by her family, and a marked decline in her physical and mental health was observed.
With an HPI of 64.33, Lidia Gueiler Tejada is the 6th most famous Bolivian Politician. Her biography has been translated into 29 different languages.
Lidia Gueiler Tejada (28 August 1921 – 9 May 2011) was a Bolivian politician who served as the 56th President of Bolivia on an interim basis from 1979 to 1980. She was Bolivia's first female Head of State, and the second republican Head of State in the history of the Americas (the first was Isabel Perón in Argentina between 1974 and 1976). She was the cousin of American actress Raquel Welch.
With an HPI of 64.20, Víctor Paz Estenssoro is the 7th most famous Bolivian Politician. His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.
Ángel Víctor Paz Estenssoro (2 October 1907 – 7 June 2001) was a Bolivian politician who served as the 45th President of Bolivia for three nonconsecutive and four total terms from 1952 to 1956, 1960 to 1964 and 1985 to 1989. He ran for president eight times (1947, 1951, 1960, 1964, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1985) and was victorious in 1951, 1960, 1964 and 1985. His 1951 victory was annulled by a military junta led by Hugo Ballivián, and his 1964 victory was interrupted by the 1964 Bolivian coup d'état.
With an HPI of 64.08, Luis García Meza is the 8th most famous Bolivian Politician. His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.
Luis García Meza Tejada (8 August 1929 – 29 April 2018) was a Bolivian general who served as the de facto 57th President of Bolivia from 1980 to 1981. He was a dictator convicted of human rights violations and leader of a violent coup. A native of La Paz, he was a career military officer who rose to the rank of general during the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer (1971–78).
With an HPI of 63.86, Andrés de Santa Cruz is the 9th most famous Bolivian Politician. His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.
Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana (Spanish pronunciation: [anˈdɾes ðe ˈsanta kɾuθ] (listen); 30 November 1792 – 25 September 1865) was a Bolivian general and politician who served as Interim President of Peru in 1827, the Interim President of Peru from 1836 to 1838 and the 6th President of Bolivia from 1829 to 1839. He also served as Supreme Protector of the short-lived Peru-Bolivian Confederation from 1836 to 1839, a political entity created mainly by his personal endeavors.
With an HPI of 62.14, Carlos Mesa is the 10th most famous Bolivian Politician. His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.
Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkaɾlos ˈdjeɣo ˈmesa xis̬ˈβɛɾt] (listen); born 12 August 1953) is a Bolivian historian, journalist, and politician who served as the 63rd president of Bolivia from 2003 to 2005. As an independent politician, he previously served as the 37th vice president of Bolivia from 2002 to 2003 under Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and was the international spokesman for Bolivia's lawsuit against Chile in the International Court of Justice from 2014 to 2018. A member of the Revolutionary Left Front, he has served as leader of Civic Community, the largest opposition parliamentary group in Bolivia, since 2018. Born in La Paz, Mesa began a lengthy twenty-three-year-long journalistic career after graduating from university. He rose to national fame in 1983 as the host of De Cerca, in which he interviewed the most prominent figures of Bolivian political and cultural life. His popular appeal led former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada of the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) to invite him to be his running mate in the 2002 presidential election. Though Mesa's moderate left-wing sympathies contrasted with the modern liberal conservatism of the MNR, he accepted the offer, running as an independent in a hotly contested electoral campaign. The Sánchez de Lozada-Mesa ticket won the election, and, on 6 August, Mesa took charge of a largely ceremonial office that carried with it few formal powers save for guaranteeing the constitutional line of succession. Shortly into his term, conflict between Sánchez de Lozada and Mesa arose. By October 2003, the increasingly tense situation surrounding the ongoing gas conflict caused a definitive break in relations between the president and vice president, leading the latter to announce his withdrawal from government after clashes between protesters and military personnel led to several deaths. Crucially, Mesa opted not to resign from his vice-presidential post and succeeded to the presidency upon Sánchez de Lozada's resignation. Mesa assumed office with broadly popular civic support but leading a government without a party base and devoid of organic parliamentary support left him with little room to maneuver as his public policy proposals were severely restricted by the legislature—controlled by traditional parties and increasingly organized regional and social movements spearheaded by the cocalero activist and future president Evo Morales. As promised, he held a national referendum on gas which passed with high margins on all five counts. Nonetheless, widespread dissatisfaction resurged, and his call for a binding referendum on autonomies and the convocation of a constituent assembly to reform the Constitution failed to quell unrest. Mesa resigned in June 2005, though not before ensuring that the heads of the two legislative chambers renounced their succession rights, facilitating the assumption of the non-partisan Supreme Court judge Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé to the presidency. With that, Mesa withdrew from active politics and returned his focus to various media projects and journalistic endeavors. In 2014, despite previous animosity, President Evo Morales appointed him as the international spokesman for the country's maritime lawsuit against Chile before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), a position he held until the final ruling at The Hague in 2018. Mesa's work for the maritime cause propelled him back into the national consciousness, and he soon emerged as a viable alternative to Morales as a contender for the presidency, even surpassing the president in electoral preference polls. Shortly after the ruling by the ICJ, Mesa announced his presidential candidacy. In the 2019 election, Mesa was defeated by Morales, who failed to garner a majority but won a wide enough plurality to avoid a runoff. However, irregularities in the preliminary vote tally prompted Mesa to denounce electoral fraud and call for mass demonstrations, ultimately ending in Morales' resignation and an ensuing political crisis. The following year, snap elections were held, but numerous postponements and an unpopular transitional government hampered Mesa's campaign, resulting in a first-round loss to Movement for Socialism (MAS) candidate Luis Arce. Mesa emerged from the election as the head of the largest opposition bloc in a legislature that does not hold a MAS supermajority for the first time in over a decade.
Pantheon has 34 people classified as politicians born between 1784 and 1967. Of these 34, 9 (26.47%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Evo Morales, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, and Jeanine Áñez. The most famous deceased politicians include Hugo Banzer, René Barrientos, and Lidia Gueiler Tejada. As of October 2020, 8 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Jeanine Áñez, Celso Torrelio, and José María Pérez de Urdininea.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.