Bolivia was part of the Inca Empire until conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century. In 1776 it became part of the viceroyalty of Buenos Aires. Independence was won and the Republic of Bolivia was proclaimed on 6 Aug. 1825. During the first 154 years of its independence, Bolivia had 189 governments, many of them installed by coups. Largely civilian governments from 1880 gave way to mainly military ones after 1936. In 1952 a revolution led by the MNR (National Revolutionary Movement) brought about agrarian reform and nationalization of the tin mines, Bolivia’s chief source of wealth. In the 1960s the Argentinian revolutionary and former minister of the Cuban government, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, was killed in Bolivia while fighting with a left-wing guerrilla group. In 1971, Bolivian instability reached a peak with the brief establishment of a revolutionary Popular Assembly during the regime of Gen. Torres. Later repression under Gen. Hugo Banzer took a heavy toll on the left-wing parties. An attempt to hold elections in July 1978 led to Gen. Juan Pereda Asbún (supported by the army) carrying out a military coup. In Nov. he was in turn overthrown by Gen. David Padilla Arancibia, the army commander. Elections in July 1979 proved indecisive, and an interim government was formed until it was overthrown in Nov. by yet another army coup, which won power for a mere two weeks.
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