Nuevo Estado Boliviano/Bolivian New State




Santa Cruz de la Sierra (de facto from 1953, de jure from 1965)

Head of State

Gualberto Villarroel Lopez (1943-1952), Hugo Ballivian Rojas (1952-1965), Rene Barrientos (1965-1968), Alfredo Ovando Candia (1968-1970), Hugo Banzer Suarez (from 1970)

Ruling Party

Frente Razon de Patria (1943-1970), Falange Nacionalsocialista Unzaguista de Bolivia (from 1970)

Head of Government

Julian Montellano Carrasco (1945-1946), Enrique Hertzog Garaizabal (1946-1952), Mamerto Urriolagoitia Harriague (1952-1953), Oscar Unzaga de la Vega (from 1953)


December 1943 coup establishes a pro-Axis regime along the lines of Juan Peron's Argentina, Getulio Vargas' Brazil or Carlos Ibanez del Campo's Chile.

The regime of General Gualberto Villaroel was characterised by its fluctuating relationship with the main mass party in Bolivia, the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario. After his coup, Villaroel brought members of the MNR into his government, but was forced to purge many in order to placate the country's oligarchy. In 1945 he appointed the oligarchy's candidate Enrique Hertzog as his Vice-President, and began incorporating members of the more rightist Bolivian Social Phalanx (FSB).

In 1952 Villaroel announced his intention to replace Hertzog with his own nominee as Vice-President. Oscar Unzaga, leader of the FSB was offered a cabinet position, but instead, in a radio address to the nation denounced Villaroel and refused to take part in government.

The MNR meanwhile was pushing for revolution. With Villaroel refusing to intervene, the FSB was the only significant power opposing the MNR's attempt at a putsch. Clashes between FSB and MNR militants made it clear the country was heading for civil war.

In the confused situation which followed, Villaroel as well as many military officers close to him were assassinated. General Hugo Ballivian crushed the MNR coup, and took up the Presidency, while Unzaga was given the Vice-Presidency.

In 1954 the Brazilian military, inspired by the Bolivian example, attempted to reverse the gains of the populist movements in their country. The dictator Vargas refused to comply and so was murdered, and his death blamed on a botched coup by US-backed revolutionaries. Similar plots took place in Argentina, though the Argentine leader Juan Peron was more flexible than Villaroel or Vargas, and agreed to purge several populists from his government and make wide-ranging concessions to right-wingers.

Ballivan's successors were Rene Barrientos and Alfredo Ovando, generals who had performed important roles during the 1952 troubles and had gone on to lead the Bolivian air force and army. The regime swung slightly back towards Villaroel's populism under the brief presidency of Ovando. Then 1970 saw a further purge against politicians and officers, as Hugo Banzer assumed the presidency.