- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2002

LA PAZ, Bolivia Bolivia's Congress ended a presidential tie yesterday, picking U.S.-educated millionaire Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to lead the South American nation as it confronts economic malaise and growing social unrest.
Mr. Sanchez de Lozada, a centrist mining executive who was president from 1993 to 1997, won a congressional vote by a 84-43 margin over Evo Morales, a radical Indian leader of Bolivia's coca growers.
The men were the top two vote-getters in a national election in June. Neither won an outright majority, forcing a vote in Congress.
Two congressmen left their votes blank yesterday, while 26 voted for Manfred Reyes Villa, who came in a close third place in June. Two other legislators were absent.
The legislature convened Saturday and debated through the night for more than 24 hours. All 157 members gave speeches, with some wearing multicolored Indian clothing and speaking in indigenous languages. Others chewed coca leaf, the base material of cocaine but also an important part of centuries-old Indian culture in the Andes.
Mr. Sanchez de Lozada assured his victory in the legislative vote more than a week ago by securing an alliance with his rival, leftist former President Jaime Paz Zamora.
He will govern South America's poorest country. Bolivia is suffering not only an economic crisis, but also rising crime and social unrest.
Known by the nickname "Goni," Mr. Sanchez de Lozada spent most of his youth in the United States and still speaks Spanish with an American accent that is often the brunt of jokes among Bolivians. He grew up in Washington, where his father was a diplomat, and later studied philosophy and English literature at the University of Chicago.
Mr. Sanchez de Lozada will face an opposition galvanized by the blunt-talking Mr. Morales, whose Movement to Socialism party has given Bolivia's downtrodden Indian majority an unprecedented political voice.
Mr. Morales' party took 35 seats in the legislature and may ally itself with Indian leader Felipe Quispe's bloc of six congressmen. Mr. Sanchez de Lozada's Nationalist Revolutionary Movement party won the most seats with 50, but did not get a majority in the 157-seat legislature.
Mr. Morales' supporters gave divisive speeches during the congressional debate. "One candidate represents the oppressed of the countryside. The other represents the businessmen who oppress us," Mr. Quispe said.

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