Carlos Mesa

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Carlos Mesa

Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert (born August 12, 1953 in La Paz ) is a Bolivian politician and historian . He took over the constitutional successor to the office of Bolivian President on October 17, 2003 as Vice President and resigned on June 6, 2005. Carlos Mesa took over this position as a non-party . In the 2019 presidential election in Bolivia , he ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Evo Morales .


Mesa completed a Jesuit - High School in La Paz and then studied literary history . Before embarking on his political career, he worked as a historian and journalist , including as deputy editor of the daily newspaper Última Hora and television presenter. He has published numerous books.

His predecessor Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada had to resign against his government policy after the violent suppression of a popular uprising . The thematic core of the uprising was the handling of the country's energy resources, the so-called natural gas war (Guerra del Gas). His government planned to sell liquefied gas abroad well below world market prices and without added value in Bolivia. After the Masacre del Gas on October 12, 2003, the bloodiest day of the popular uprising, Mesa, then Vice-President and jointly responsible, had completely distanced himself from the military operations (at least 67 civilians killed) by President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada against the people proceeded, creating the possibility of a democratic transition. Six days later, Sánchez de Lozada and his cabinet fled abroad.

Mesa meets US President George W. Bush , 2004

Mesa has made resolving the energy resource dispute its government's goal. A referendum was held for this in 2004 , in which the population, divided into five questions, renationalized all industries in the energy sector, taxed up to 50%, used energy reserves as a diplomatic means to regain access to the Pacific , used the funds for education, health, Road construction and employment measures was proposed. With the referendum, for which the constitution had to be changed, Mesa had another goal. He wanted to strengthen direct democracy, to show people that problems can also be solved by democratic means. The goal of democratization also includes the establishment of two ministries at the time of Mesa's inauguration, a ministry for popular participation in politics and one for indigenous affairs.

Participation in the referendum nationwide was 60%, in the indigenous highlands, despite numerous calls for boycotts, it was even 67%. All proposals were decided positively, with varying degrees of approval. The second step was to implement the result in parliament. Mesa failed because of the resistance in parliament and the accompanying protests, namely the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), which ultimately led to his resignation. Mesa submitted his first resignation on March 6; it was unanimously rejected by Congress on March 9, 2005. On June 6, Mesa announced his resignation, but he wanted to remain in office until a new president was elected. On June 9, 2005, Parliament accepted Mesa’s resignation and declared the President of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodríguez , the new President.

Carlos Mesa is married and has two sons.

Presidential election 2019

For the 2019 presidential elections, Carlos Mesa ran as a joint candidate of the Allianza Comunidad Ciudadana (Alliance of Citizens' Community) and the Frente Revolucionario de Izquierda, which despite the name is in the political center, together with Gustavo Pedraza, under Mesa Minister for Sustainable Development.

Mesa represented center-right politics. He promised to curb public spending, encourage greater foreign investment in Bolivia's economy, and fight corruption in the government. In his election campaign, the main focus was on the threat that incumbent Evo Morales posed to the country's democracy from Mesa’s point of view. Morales was criticized because the constitution explicitly did not allow a renewed term in office. Morales had lost a referendum to change the constitution and allow another term in office. After that, however, he appealed to the constitutional court, which declared this restriction to be invalid.

During the vote count, everything seemed to amount to a runoff between Mesa and Morales. But then the announcement of the interim results was interrupted for 24 hours, and then Morales' share of the vote had skyrocketed: he certified 47.07% of the votes compared to 36.51% for Mesa. With more than 40% of the vote and a lead of more than ten percentage points on Mesa, that should be enough for instant victory, according to Bolivian suffrage. Morales was declared the winner by the Electoral Commission, sparking protests across the country. Mesa did not recognize the result and spoke of electoral fraud. Morales resigned on November 10, 2019 due to ongoing protests. Jeanine Áñez became interim president .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Walter Chávez: Water War, Natural Gas War , Civil War , Le Monde diplomatique , November 14, 2003
  2. Ten years ago: "Gas War" in Bolivia. Neoliberal Lozada government issued an order to shoot protesters in October 2003 , October 12, 2013
  3. Candidates for the primaries registered in Bolivia at the end of January In amerika21, December 3, 2018
  4. AQ Editors | April 15, 2019: Meet the Candidates: Bolivia. Retrieved October 26, 2019 .

Fonts (selection)

  • (with José de Mesa; Teresa Gisbert), Historia de Bolivia , 6th ed. actual. y aum. La Paz: Gisbert, 2007
  • Presidencia sitiada: memorias de mi gobierno , La Paz, Bolivia: Fundación Comunidad [u. a.], 2008


  • Yesko Quiroga: Referendum in Bolivia: More citizen participation to stabilize a precarious democracy . Institute for Ibero America Customers, Hamburg 2004 ( PDF )
  • Johannes Winter, Andre Schamansky: Are the Andean states ungovernable? Causes of the political crisis in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru . In: Zeitschrift Entwicklungspolitik , No. 14, year 2005, pp. 30–34.
  • Rafael Sevilla, Ariel Benavides: Bolivia - the misunderstood country? Horlemann, Bad Honnef 2001
  • Carlos Mesa Gisbert , in: Internationales Biographisches Archiv 06/2006 from February 11, 2006, in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of article freely available)

See also

predecessor Office successor
Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada President of Bolivia
2003 - 2005
Eduardo Rodríguez