Bolivia was part of the Inca Empire until conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century. 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. 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. Banzer was followed by a succession of military-led governments until civilian rule was restored in Oct. 1982 when Dr Siles Zuazo became president. He introduced a period of economic reform embracing free markets and open trade, which succeeded in restoring stability but also widened the gap between rich and poor. Amid growing discontent, in Dec. 2005 Evo Morales was elected to be the country’s first indigenous president. Bolivian foreign policy is likely to be influenced by his strong anti-USA stance, particularly over the issue of coca production.
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