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Luis Adolfo Siles


In office
April 27, 1969 – September 26, 1969
Preceded by René Barrientos
Succeeded by Alfredo Ovando

Born June 21, 1925
La Paz, Bolivia
Died October 19, 2005
La Paz, Bolivia
Nationality Bolivian

Luis Adolfo Siles Salinas (June 21, 1925, La Paz, Bolivia – October 19, 2005, La Paz) was the Constitutional President of Bolivia for a period of five months between April and September 1969.

Born in La Paz, Luis Adolfo Siles was the son of former president Hernando Siles (1926-1930) and half-brother of another famous Bolivian politician and two-time president, Hernán Siles (1956-1960 and 1982-1985). Educated as a lawyer in his native country, he also obtained a doctorate in Spain. Siles eventually joined the small Partido Demócrata Cristiano (Christian-Democrat Party), which supported René Barrientos in the 1966 elections. In fact, Siles ran as General Barrientos' vice-presidential running mate, and was sworn-in in that capacity after their ticket prevailed at the polls. Siles became President when Barrientos was killed in a helicopter crash near Arque, Cochabamba, on April 27, 1969.

The Siles presidency was short and marred by disagreements with the powerful Commander of the Armed Forces, General Alfredo Ovando. The latter harbored ambitions to become president in 1970, when he was projected to run as Barrientos' successor. But Ovando's disagreements with Barrientos on a number of important issues during the 1967-69 period had displeased many die-hard Barrientos followers, including Vice-President Siles. For these reasons, in addition to resentment over the constant meddling by Ovando, Siles seemed to be throwing his support behind the surprise candidacy of the Mayor of La Paz, Armando Escobar Uría, as the true heir and successor to Barrientos (Bolivian laws do not allow direct re-election of a sitting president). This threatened to spoil General Ovando's carefully-laid plans. In the end he decided not to wait for the elections and instead launched a coup d'état on September 26, 1969, overthrowing Siles and with him, what was left of Bolivian democracy (or its appearances, in any case).

Returning to Bolivia during the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer (1971-78), Siles played a prominent role as a defender of human rights. He ran for president in 1980, but failed to garner much support. Despite leading a relatively small party, Siles vociferously opposed the 1980-81 dictatorship of Luis García Meza. Respected for his steadfast stance in defense of democratic principles, he died in 2005.

Preceded by
René Barrientos
President of Bolivia
1969
Succeeded by
Alfredo Ovando
Preceded by
Vacant
Vice President of Bolivia
1966-1969
Succeeded by
Vacant
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