General Juan Pereda Asbun is Bolivia's new President. He was sworn in on Friday (21?
General Juan Pereda Asbun is Bolivia's new President. He was sworn in on Friday (21 July) by an ad hoc military junta which had earlier taken over from former President Hugo Banzer. General Pereda was the right-wing candidate in Bolivia's recent abortive general elections and directed an army and airforce rebellion from a military base in the eastern city of Santa Cruz.
SYNOPSIS: Bolivia's armed forces supported the candidacy of General Pereda in the elections and on Friday they were out in force in the capital, La Paz as the political dramas ran its course. The Santa Cruz rebellion was launched following the annulment of the election results, after widespread charges that fraud and intimidation had been used on behalf of General Pereda. The results showed General Pereda clearly ahead when the annulment came.
The General and his supporters insisted that President Banzer's government abide with the results.When news of the rebellion broke in La Paz a state of siege was declared and press censorship was imposed -- and later three cabinet ministers were sent to Santa Cruz to try to negotiate an end to the rebellion. But eventually President Banzer announced that he was stepping down and handing over power to a three-man military junta.
The whole upheaval took place without bloodshed, but General Pereda has accused his left-wing rival in the Presidential elections, Hernan Siles Zouaz, of being financed by international subversive organisations. On his arrival in Santa Cruz to lead the rebellion General Pereda is reported to have said "Communism will not triumph". During President Banzer's six years in office an increase in world prices of Bolivia's two main resources -- tin and oil -- has helped the country's economy, but church leaders say the boom has only favoured the wealthy, while the vast majority of the population continue living in misery.
When he finally came to the point of resignation President Banzer emphasised in his speech that he was stepping down in order to protect the lives of the people of Bolivia.
When he came to power General Banzer, then a colonel, clamped down strongly on the left. Hundreds of left-wingers were arrested and many of their leaders fled into exile. Subsequently President Banzer attempted to get moderate and right-wing parties to participate in government, but without success. As he retired there were some who mourned -- and some who applauded.
The junta held power for only a few hours before handing over to General Pereda. On Saturday (22 July) the new ruler made his first appointment. General David Padilla was named as Army Commander.