Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert (born August 12, 1953) served as president of Bolivia from 2003 to 2005. He was vice president of Bolivia from August 2002 to October 2003. Mesa previously had been a television journalist. His widespread recognition prompted the MNR candidate Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada to pick him as running mate in the 2002 Bolivian presidential elections. The winning ticket of Sánchez-Mesa took office August 6, 2002.[1] Soon after becoming vice president, a wave of protests and strikes shut down Bolivia in a bitter dispute known as the Bolivian Gas War. The demonstrations eventually forced Sánchez de Lozada to resign, which put forward Mesa as president.

Carlos Mesa
Carlos Mesa, ex-President of Bolivia (cropped).jpg
Carlos Mesa in Guatemala City (2014)
President of Bolivia
In office
October 17, 2003 – June 9, 2005
Vice PresidentVacant
Preceded byGonzalo Sánchez de Lozada
Succeeded byEduardo Rodríguez
Vice President of Bolivia
In office
August 6, 2002 – October 17, 2003
PresidentGonzalo Sanchez de Lozada
Preceded byJorge Quiroga Ramírez
Succeeded byÁlvaro García Linera
Personal details
Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert

(1953-08-12) August 12, 1953 (age 66)
La Paz, Bolivia
Political partyMNR (2002-2003)
Ind (2003-2018)
FRI (from 2018)
Spouse(s)Elvira Salinas de Mesa
Alma materComplutense University of Madrid, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés

Mesa was a spokesman for Bolivia in the Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean case in the International Court of Justice, which was ultimately unsuccessful.[2]

Early LifeEdit


He is the son of an architect and historian: José de Mesa and Teresa Gisbert.


He grew up in La Paz, Bolivia. He enrolled in San Estaniis-lao de Kotska in Madrid.[citation needed] In 1971, He studied Literature in Las Universidades Complutense de Madrid . He entered the department of Political Science in the University of Madrid [3]. Three years later, he returned to his native La Paz, and joined the Language and Literature Department of the University of San Andres [4].


In 1969, Carlos Mesa was a radio intern at Universo de La Paz, where he made his first debut as a journalist. He later developed two radio programs Méndez (1974) and Metropolitana (1976)[5]

Vice-president of Bolivia (2002-2003)Edit

His widespread recognition prompted the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) candidate Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada to pick him as running mate in the 2002 Bolivian presidential elections. The winning ticket of Sánchez-Mesa took office August 6, 2002.[6] As vice president, Carlos Mesa also was the leader of Congress of Bolivia.

Soon after becoming vice president, a wave of protests and strikes shut down Bolivia in a bitter dispute known as the Bolivian Gas War.

As the gas conflict escalated, Mesa ended discontent with the government's heavy-handed repression of the protests, which would leave over 60 people dead during September and October 2003. He did not resign, but he did withdraw his support for Sánchez de Lozada five days before the latter's resignation, saying: "I cannot continue to support the situation we are living through". Mesa also resigned his membership to the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement.

In September 2003, he addressed the UN General Assembly, where he warned:

Democracy is in danger in Bolivia as the result of legitimate pressures from the poor. We cannot generate economic growth and well-being for a few and then expect that the large majorities that are excluded will watch silently and patiently. We poor countries demand that our products be admitted into the markets of rich countries in adequate conditions.[7]

Presidency (2003–2005)Edit

On 17 October 2003 Sánchez de Lozada resigned and fled to the United States of America. Mesa thus assumed functions as President of Bolivia.

Eight months after assuming office, Mesa found himself, like President Sanchez de Lozada, under the same extreme internal and external political pressures over the use of Bolivia's 1.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, estimated to be worth billions of dollars (USD). It also placed him at the center of extreme political pressures from both internal Bolivian and external foreign interests regarding the use of Bolivia's rates and the property of the gas reserves for the Bolivian state.

In addition, in January 2004, he announced that his government would hold a series of rallies around the country and at its embassies abroad, demanding that Chile return to Bolivia a stretch of seacoast that the country lost in 1879 after the end of the War of the Pacific. Chile has traditionally refused to negotiate on the issue, but Mesa nonetheless made this policy a central point of his administration seeking the popular support he lacked.

In July 2004, under pressure from the Movement towards Socialism (MAS) of the peasant trade unionist Evo Morales, he organised a "gas referendum" during which the majority of the population voted for the nationalisation of hydrocarbons. Faced with opposition from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and multinationals, he declared that this law was "impossible" to implement.[8]

Following a resurgence in protests, he tendered his resignation to congress on March 6, 2005; however, the legislators voted almost unanimously the next day to reject his offer. Still, domestic tensions between the poor and rural eastern highlands and the wealthier cities and oil-rich south continued to rise. Weeks of escalating street demonstrations and widening disorder reached a peak in June 2005 as tens of thousands of protesters marched into La Paz. Aware of his growing inability to control or influence events without resorting to violence, Mesa tendered his resignation to congress. This time, congress unanimously accepted his offer. The presidents of the two national legislative chambers at that point abdicated their constitutional powers in favor of Eduardo Rodríguez, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and new president of Bolivia. He was charged with the duty of swiftly organizing national elections, which led to the massive victory of MAS candidate Evo Morales in December 2005. Later, Evo Morales's government accused Carlos Mesa for economic damages to the country interests.

Bolivian spokesman before the ICJEdit

Leaving behind previous animosity, Morales agreed with Mesa that the latter would be the Bolivian spokesman in the case against Chile presented to the International Court of Justice.[9]

Return to politicsEdit

On 6 October 2018 Mesa Gisbert joined the Revolutionary Left Front (FRI) and announced on his YouTube channel that he would run for President in the 2019 election. On 13 November 2018 the FRI formed with Sovereignity and Freedom the Civic Community coalition to support Mesa's bid for presidency. His candidacy was also externally supported by the National Unity Front.

The election saw the victory of incumbent President Evo Morales of the Movement for Socialism; however, the election was marred by fraud and controversy, triggering protests and strikes by the opposition. Following two weeks of protests and under increasing pressure from the Armed Forces of Bolivia, Morales resigned along with Vice-President Álvaro García Linera, President of the Senate Adriana Salvatierra, President of the Chamber of Deputies Víctor Borda and First Vice-President of the Senate Rubén Medinaceli. Second Vice-President of the Senate Jeanine Áñez assumed functions as acting President of Bolivia.

Mesa recognised Áñez as legitimate President and announced he would run again in the 2020 election. He also called all sides to moderation and condemed acts of violence.


  • Cine boliviano, del realizador al crítico (co-author, 1979)
  • El cine boliviano según Luis Espinal (1982)
  • Presidentes de Bolivia: entre urnas y fusiles (1983)
  • Manual de historia de Bolivia (co-author, 1983)
  • La aventura del cine boliviano 1952-1985 (1985)
  • Un debate entre gitanos (1991)
  • De cerca, una década de conversaciones en democracia (1993)
  • La epopeya del fútbol boliviano (1994)
  • Territorios de libertad (1995)
  • Historia de Bolivia (co-author, 1997)
  • El vano de la vida incansable (co-author, 1999)
  • La espada en la palabra (2000)
  • El Vicepresidente ¿la sombra del poder? (co-author, 2003)
  • Presidencia sitiada: memorias de mi gobierno (2008)
  • Un gobierno de ciudadanos (editor, 2008)
  • Many documentaries made for television, including the series "Bolivia Siglo XX", a contemporary history of Bolivia consisting of 36 documentaries, each about an hour long, made in conjunction with Mario Espinoza and produced by Ximena Valdivia.


  1. ^ Vicepresidency of Bolivia Archived 2009-04-16 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Bolivia seeks to improve its international image El País 17 December 2004
  3. ^ "Carlos Mesa Biography". Carlos Mesa. 2019-11-27.
  4. ^ "Carlos Mesa Biography". Carlos Mesa. 2019-11-27.
  5. ^ Retrieved 2019-11-28. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Vicepresidency of Bolivia Archived 2009-04-16 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ World Court Accepts Jurisdiction in Bolivia-Chile Dispute

External linksEdit

See alsoEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Jorge Quiroga
Vice President of Bolivia
Succeeded by
Álvaro García Linera
Preceded by
Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada
President of Bolivia
Succeeded by
Eduardo Rodríguez