Recently declassified CIA documents on Bolivia demonstrate how Cold War power dynamics motivated U.S. engagement in Bolivian internal affairs. In a number of documents, U.S. government officials frame counter-narcotics aid, military training, economic investment and political support as effective strategies for securing U.S. influence in Bolivia, while eliminating potential insurgent threats. Although leftist insurgencies were fairly minimal in Bolivia compared to neighboring countries, U.S. officials heavily considered the potential impacts that economic or political action would have on these groups. For example, in the 1984 declassified document ‘Bolivia: Bleak Economic Prospects for a Threatened Democracy,’ U.S. officials express concern for how Bolivia’s economic crisis will strengthen insurgencies: “the greatest potential long term threat to US interests in Bolivia is the growing capability of the various radical leftist and communist groups to exploit economic deterioration and social and political instability.”
The Inter-American Dialogue’s daily publication, the Latin America Advisor, features Kathryn Ledebur’s comments in its Q&A section: “Will Morales Try for a Fourth Term as Bolivia’s President?”
Read her commentary below, or to read the entire publication, visit the Inter-American Dialogue website here .
Q: Despite losing a referendum nearly a year ago that would have allowed him to run for a fourth consecutive term, Bolivian President Evo Morales said last month that he may seek another term anyway. Morales made the statement after his Movement to Socialism party named him as its candidate for the 2019 election. Why is Morales floating the idea even though voters rejected amending the Constitution to allow him another term? What factors will determine whether Morales runs for and wins election to a fourth term? Will Bolivia’s problems, such as a severe drought, social unrest and an economic slowdown, erode Morales’ popularity? Is the opposition strong enough to mount a successful presidential campaign against him?
AIN’s Kathryn Ledebur participates in Featured Q&A. Excerpt from the Inter-American Dialogue’s newsletter, the Latin America Advisor for December 12, 2016. For the full version, please see the Inter-American Dialogue’s website.
Q: Bolivia’s government has declared a national emergency amid a drought that has severely limited the country’s water supply, 16 years after the so-called Water Wars in Cochabamba led to widespread conflict and sparked an international debate over privatizing water and sanitation services. The water crisis is expected to extend into 2018. How should Bolivia go about managing its limited resources as it struggles to adapt to what is likely to be the “new normal” with regard to water scarcity? Should Bolivia attempt to privatize water again, or is there another way to manage access and infrastructure? What will the drought mean for its agriculture sector? What will water scarcity mean for the country’s political and civil stability?
Below is the text of the White House’s Memorandum of Justification for Bolivia, used to justify the ninth consecutive “decertification” of Bolivia’s drug control efforts:
MEMORANDUM OF JUSTIFICATION FOR MAJOR ILLICIT DRUG TRANSIT OR PRODUCING COUNTRIES FOR FISCAL YEAR 2017
“During the past 12 months, the Bolivian government has failed demonstrably to make sufficient efforts to meet its obligations under applicable international counternarcotics agreements or uphold the counternarcotics measures set forth in Section 489 (a) (1) of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, as amended. Bolivia is the world’s third largest cultivator of coca leaf used for the production of cocaine and other illegal narcotics derivatives.
On September 19th, AIN director Kathryn Ledebur spoke on “The Takeaway” program, produced by WNYC Radio and Public Radio International. Ledebur and “Takeaway” host John Hockenberry discussed U.S. decertification of Bolivia, community coca control, and Bolivia-U.S. relations.
Listen to the segment here.
Setting the Record Straight on Bolivia
By Jean Friedman-Rudovsky
This past February, Bolivians voted on a constitutional reform that would have allowed Evo Morales to run for a fourth term as president. When all the ballots were counted, the “No” vote won by 132,509 votes, less than 3 percentage points. President Morales, rather calmly, conceded defeat.
I lived in Bolivia from 2005 to 2013 as the longest-tenured English language reporter during Morales’ presidency, writing mainly for Time Magazine. Unfortunately, U.S. coverage of the referendum missed the mark. The reporting fit all too neatly into a larger narrative of the waning “pink tide” of South American leaders. Evo Morales was depicted as a power-hungry dictator who would stop at nothing to extend his reign, and it would seem that the overwhelming majority of Bolivian people have rejected him and his policies.
In September 9th’s edition of the Inter-American Dialogue’s Daily Publication “The Latin American Advisor”, Kathryn Ledebur, along with academics and policy analysts on Bolivia, participated in a featured Q & A on Bolivia’s mining conflict.
Read Kathryn’s response below:
Latin American Advisor Q&A: What is Behind the Strife Between Bolivia & Miners?
September 9, 2016
On September 8, 2016, AIN Executive Director Kathryn Ledebur spoke with the Real News Network about updates in the Cooperative Miners Conflict. In particular, she explored the possibilities of future negotiations, investigations for the deaths of the 5 miners and Vice Minister Rodolfo Illanes, and the impacts of the conflict on future political developments.
To watch the full interview, click here.
Bolivian Government Regulates Cooperative Mining Sector with Executive Actions
September 2, 2016
Following the recent conflict with mining cooperatives, the Morales administration issued 5 decrees in a special cabinet meeting on September 1, 2016. Mining cooperatives escalated protests in August 2016 in retaliation against the new Mining Law and modifications to the Cooperatives Law. In particular, the mining cooperatives opposed efforts to limit direct contracts with private multilateral companies and allow unionization among cooperative members. The escalation of protests resulted in the murder of Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes and five miners, four from bullet wounds.