Carlos Mesa : Bolivia's Historian-Turned President (Not Doing So Well)

Historians in the News

Hector Tobar, in the LAT (2-7-05):

The man who rules Bolivia has a gentle soul.

Before he became president, Carlos Mesa wrote a dozen books, and some here say he still has the temperament of a historian.

Last month, as protesters took to the streets over his decision to raise fuel prices, Mesa said he would not use force to restore order. In a televised address, the president solemnly declared he did not want blood on his hands.

Mesa begged the demonstrators to stop. They did not. And in the days and weeks since, he has given in to many of their demands.

"The president goes in the direction of whoever is protesting," political analyst Carlos Valverde Bravo said. "He makes agreements and promises according to the size of the protest. If it's a big protest, he'll give in a lot; if it's a small one, a little less."

A former vice president who was brought to power by an Indian-led revolution in October 2003, Mesa is fast earning a reputation for retreating in the face of barricades and raised fists.

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