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Lech Walesa

Lech Walesa was born in 1943, and was the president of Poland from 1990 to 1995.

In his early life, Walesa was somewhat rebellious. Working as a technician in the Gdansk shipyard in 1970, Walesa organized a worker strike. This strike was of course illegal, and the Polish government took military action which eventually killed 80 workers. Walesa was thrown in jail as a result of organizing the strike, but this did not put an end to his "anti-state" activities. After serving his jail sentence, he again led a strike in the same shipyard in 1980. This time the strike was more successful, resulting in negotiations with the communist government.

Walesa made one of his largest contributions to Poland in 1989 by forming the Solidarity Trade Union. This propelled Walesa into being a sort of politician, where he was constantly negotiating with communist party officials. At the end of 1989 Walesa was able to form a non-communist government, which led Poland down the road of market based economy.

Walesa's popularity with workers and his ability to negotiate with the Polish congress allowed him to run and win the presidency in 1990. During his tenure in 1990-1995 Walesa attempted to change the Polish government into a western style system. He slowly lost favor during his presidency and was defeated in his bid for reelection in 1995 by a slim margin. Though his has retired from his political carreer, Walesa's contributions to the westernization of Poland are unmistakable. He currently teaches as a guest professor in universities around Poland.

Joe Masrud