Bánzer Suárez, Hugo

Bánzer Suárez, Hugo o͞oˈgō bänˈsĕr swäˈrĕs [key], 1926–2002, Bolivian military and political leader, president of Bolivia (1971–78; 1997–2001). Educated at military schools in Bolivia and the United States, he held a number of government posts in the 1960s. Following his service (1969–71) as director of Bolivia's military academy, he was exiled to Argentina, but soon returned and overthrew President Juan José Torres. Bánzer's military government was marked by severe repression, with thousands arrested, hundreds of political opponents killed, and the media suppressed. He survived 13 coup attempts but in 1978 was forced from office. He subsequently founded the Nationalist Democratic Action party (ADN) and was five times an unsuccessful candidate for president before he won in 1997, having meanwhile refashioned himself as a democrat. In office, he worked to eliminate coca growing and helped lead Bolivia toward democracy, but was widely accused of corruption. Ill health forced his retirement in 2001.

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