Carlos Mesa, a repeat offender in Bolivian politics fighting for a ballot

Former President Carlos Mesa (AP)

A centrist candidate for Comunidad Ciudadana, this 67-year-old historian and journalist affirms that he entered politics with “the idea of ​​being at the center of things and working to move and change them.”

Carlos Diego de Mesa Gisbert, born on August 12, 1953 in La Paz, is a descendant of a family from Alcalá la Real (Spain) and was an “outsider” in politics until two decades ago, when he was immersed in the eye of the storm.

Elected vice president in 2002, he tendered his resignation a year later while liberal president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada suppressed a popular rebellion that left more than 60 dead. “The dead are going to bury you,” he then reproached the ruler, as he evokes in his book “Presidency besieged”, in which he collects episodes from that time.

Criticized for being allegedly cowardly, Mesa later succeeded Sánchez de Lozada as president. He resigned twice – the first was rejected by Congress – and finally left in 2005.

His friend Alfonso Gumucio, with whom he shares a passion for film criticism, affirms that Mesa is “a man who reflects, perhaps also a man who dreams.” In a paper written in 2008 for the launch of “Presidency besieged”, Gumucio reveals features of the former president: “He is an incredibly methodical and systematic man, not only in his work, but in his daily life, capable of registering all of Bolívar’s goals. or the details of how to pilot a DC-3 ”.

“If there is something that Carlos can be criticized for, it is his fundamentalism in not drinking a drop of alcohol. The closest you get to it is smelling a glass of good wine; he is even capable of recommending a variety or a winery of his preference ”, he adds.

Those who knew him in his youth remember him with a beard and long hair competing on the television program “Premio del saber”. Years later, he won the King of Spain award, in 1994, and then the National Journalism Award in 2012.

Canceled elections

Mesa was president of Bolivia without a party to back him, a situation that complicated his management and led him to resign. Burdened by uncontrollable social pressure and political instability, he left the presidential chair to Judge Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé, who called for elections in 2005, won by Evo Morales.

Without the lesson learned, Mesa ran again in 2019 without his own party, but with the acronym borrowed from the Left Revolutionary Front (FRI), a minority party of the late Maoist leader Oscar Zamora, who ended up allied with the right in the 1990s. .

Around the FRI, he formed Comunidad Ciudadana, a group of small parties, citizen platforms and regional leaders.

In the 2019 elections, Mesa finished second behind Morales, according to official scrutiny. But the elections were canceled after allegations of fraud and protests that led to the resignation of the president.

“Nefarious Bolivarianism”

In this campaign, Mesa has proposed to end the ideologization in Latin American integration, sealed that – according to what he claims – was imprinted by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and allies such as Morales.

Mario Vargas Llosa supports Carlos Mesa

“The Bolivarianism of the 21st century that was disastrous for Latin American integration,” he said. In addition, he has minimized the economic achievements of Morales and his minister and dolphin Luis Arce.

Mesa assures that these achievements were not achieved “on their own merit”, but thanks to the high prices of raw materials that Bolivia exports, mainly hydrocarbons.

Despite his marked differences with Morales, Mesa agreed to be the spokesperson for the maritime lawsuit that Bolivia presented in 2013 before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, for which he visited several countries in search of support for the cause.

However, on October 1, 2018, the Court ruled that Chile had no obligation to negotiate access to the sea for Bolivia.

Days after this national setback, Mesa launched his application to challenge Morales for power, a challenge he now repeats against Arce.

With information from AFP

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