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date: 25 April 2017

U.S.-Bolivia Relations

Summary and Keywords

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, U.S. officials often viewed Bolivia as both a potential “test case” for U.S. economic foreign policy and a place where Washington’s broad visions for Latin America might be implemented relatively easily. After World War II, Washington leaders sought to show both Latin America and the nonindustrialized world that a relatively open economy could produce significant economic wealth for Bolivia’s working and middle classes, thus giving the United States a significant victory in the Cold War. Washington sought a Bolivia widely open to U.S. influence, and Bolivia often seemed an especially pliable country. In order to achieve their goals in Bolivia, U.S. leaders dispensed a large amount of economic assistance to Bolivia in the 1950s—a remarkable development in two senses. First, the U.S. government, generally loath to aid Third World nations, gave this assistance to a revolutionary regime. Second, the U.S. aid program for Bolivia proved to be a precursor to the Alliance for Progress, the massive aid program for Latin America in the 1960s that comprised the largest U.S. economic aid program in the Third World. Although U.S. leaders achieved their goal of a relatively stable, noncommunist Bolivia, the decision in the late 1950s to significantly increase U.S. military assistance to Bolivia’s relatively small military emboldened that military, which staged a coup in 1964, snuffing out democracy for nearly two decades. The country’s long history of dependency in both export markets and public- and private-sector capital investment led Washington leaders to think that dependency would translate into leverage over Bolivian policy. However, the historical record is mixed in this regard. Some Bolivian governments have accommodated U.S. demands; others have successfully resisted them.

Keywords: dependency, economic advisors, economic nationalism, reform, revolution, democracy, U.S. assistance, war on drugs

Divergent Histories

Bolivia’s relationship with outside powers (including the United States) can best be understood as that of a client in a patron–client relationship. The Andean nation has historically been on the receiving end of a dependent economic relationship with outside powers. Some observers have thus concluded that Bolivia was prostrate before its more powerful patrons. Yet, historically, Bolivia has proven adept at manipulating outside powers, exerting increased control over its relationship with those counties.

Bolivia and the United States have very divergent historical experiences, leading to divergent worldviews. Historian Kenneth Lehman, the top scholar of United States–Bolivia relations, has cogently argued that the two nations have had a difficult time forging any sort of partnership, largely because of these different worldviews. Bolivia’s history is littered with military defeats and loss of territory to its neighbors, whereas the United States has had the opposite experience. Further, Bolivians’ relationship with the free market (capitalist) economic system has led them to conclude that market relationships are inherently exploitative—and Bolivia has been the exploited one.1 The vast majority of the U.S. citizenry, however, views capitalism as not only the best engine of material accumulation but also a system that (with minimal governmental interference) can fuel the growth of a large middle class.2 Such a middle class has proved to be, in the U.S. context, important political and social ballast, providing for remarkable social and political stability over a long period of time. Bolivia, however, with its small middle class, has been one of the more socially and politically unstable nations of the Western Hemisphere, at least until the last thirty years or so.

For their part, foreign powers (including the United States) have focused their energies on the most lucrative sectors of the Bolivian economy—extractive industries and the production of primary products (in recent years the production of coca leaves, the raw material for cocaine). The extractive industries have been mainly in valuable metals: first silver, then tin, and later oil and natural gas. Bolivia has struggled to make the “jump” from producing and exporting primary products to industrialization. Instead, it has simply exported primary products that were most in demand in the attempt to earn as much foreign exchange as possible. Understanding Bolivia’s frustrations in its attempts to promote a diversified, industrialized economy helps to explain its relationship to the outside world. Its leaders, not surprisingly, have shown interest in working with foreign powers that show promise of helping the nation reach its development dreams. During the Cold War, U.S. officials wanted to stimulate economic development in the poor nation in order to promote anticommunist—and, importantly, pro-United States—political stability. Many Bolivians, in particular Bolivia’s leadership, wanted to cooperate with U.S. efforts in this regard. Starting in the 1980s, however, development policy became subordinated to another, more immediate, U.S. policy concern—the so-called war on drugs. U.S. policy became focused on reducing Bolivia’s activities as a producer of coca leaves, and coca paste, for the international cocaine trade—creating anti-U.S. sentiment. As a result, the U.S.–Bolivia relationship deteriorated.

It is important to understand that just because the Andean nation was a dependent client does not mean that it proved to be prostrate to outside power. Because of its remote geography and difficult topography, Bolivia often proved difficult for foreigners to work in, even for the most determined seekers of opportunity. Bolivians have skillfully used their remoteness from the centers of power in the world, and outsiders’ lack of knowledge of the country, to their advantage. Thus, Bolivia parlayed its location and perceived “exotic,” outsider, cultural status into a larger degree of autonomy over its own affairs, larger than would otherwise seem warranted, given the nation’s small, mostly impoverished population. One reason why outside nations view Bolivia as exotic is its ethnic makeup: The percentage of the Native American (Indian) population (about 60 percent of the total) is larger than in any other country.

A Long History of Economic Exploitation and the Early Years of U.S. Interest in Bolivia

Through the 16th century, Bolivia was on the periphery of the stratified, top-down Inca Empire, based in present-day Cuzco, Peru. After the Spanish conquest of the Inca, achieved with remarkably few soldiers, Upper Peru (Bolivia) moved from periphery to center since it provided a significant portion of the wealth extracted by the Spanish. Once the Spanish discovered that the cold, windswept city of Potosí, one of the highest-altitude cities in the world, contained a mountain (which became known as the Rich Mountain, or the Cerro Rico) with the world’s biggest silver mine, they systematically exploited the metal with Indian and African slave labor. Potosí grew into the third or fourth largest city in the Western world during its peak in the 1600s, with a population up to 150,000.3

Typical of the boom–bust pattern of mining cities, as the silver was mined out of Potosí and other sites, its population contracted and entrepreneurs shifted their attention to a more lucrative endeavor: tin mining. As tin replaced silver as the main exported metal, railroads made shipments to foreign markets much cheaper.4 With the mining industry expanding in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, European and U.S. mining companies made millions of dollars, even as wages for tin miners remained low and working conditions dangerous. Given the tremendous wealth produced in the mines, and the fact that few of the profits “trickled down” to the miners, eventually a powerful labor movement arose, abetted by the deadly repression of the movement meted out by military governments, repression that only spurred unions to increase their power by expanding their numbers, thus increasing their power. This labor movement would have a profound effect on Bolivian history.5

Due to Bolivia’s remote location and difficult terrain, the United States was unsurprisingly slow to offer official diplomatic recognition, which finally came in 1848. Although Washington’s interest in Bolivia proved minimal until the early 20th century, the U.S. government was interested in Bolivia’s natural resources and commissioned excursions by teams of experts to determine which resources could someday be exploited to the benefit of U.S. businessmen. Other outside powers, in particular Great Britain, were interested in Bolivian trade and investment, especially because of Bolivian tin. The British helped Bolivia float loans to build railroads, and U.S. businessmen followed suit.

In the mid-to-late 19th century, the different historical trajectories of the two nations carried important new consequences. The United States easily severed about one-third of Mexico’s territory after trouncing it in the Mexican-American War of 1846–1848. For its part, however, Bolivia lost the 1879 War of the Pacific against Chile, losing its coastline, a major economic and symbolic blow to the Bolivian psyche.6 Since that loss, Bolivia has persistently, but unsuccessfully, attempted to get Chile to give it access to the Pacific. Bolivia’s relations with its neighbor to the west have been poor since the end of the war. In addition, Bolivia has attempted to foster good relations with powerful nations (in particular the United States), hoping that these patrons could help Bolivia gain access to the Pacific.

For the most part, outside powers, including the United States, have devoted little attention to Bolivia’s desire for access to the Pacific. The Monroe Doctrine, announced by President James Monroe in 1823, called for the containment of European influence in the Americas. Many Latin Americans, including the Bolivians, incorrectly assumed that the Monroe Doctrine meant that the United States would serve as the protector of individual Latin American nations. However, the Latin Americans soon discovered that this was not the case, even as the Bolivians have often requested U.S. help in securing access to the Pacific.

Money Doctors and Economic Nationalists

Late 19th-century U.S. leaders became very interested in Latin America as a place to trade and invest, in particular because Latin American contained large amounts of natural resources that U.S. international businessmen desired. In addition, Bolivia’s growing population, and its proximity to the United States, made the country appealing to U.S. businessmen who wanted to sell goods abroad. U.S. leaders argued that both the United States and Latin America would benefit from increased economic ties, but, in reality, the United States benefited more from that economic interchange.

As U.S. power vis-à-vis European influence in Latin America dramatically increased after both world wars, Washington aimed to reform Bolivia’s economic and government institutions in order to facilitate investment in the Andean region. Significantly, U.S. officials were animated by a long-standing sense of “mission,” dating back to the 19th century-eras of “Manifest Destiny” and the “white man’s burden,” to reform Latin America in the U.S. image. Manifest Destiny called not only for U.S. control of North American territory but also for the extension of U.S. influence overseas. The idea of the white man’s burden meant that the Anglo-Saxon people thought they had a special responsibility to educate nonwhite peoples in Western cultures.

By the early 20th century, U.S. efforts to reform Bolivia became more focused. So-called Money Doctor Edward Kemmerer, an economist with an Ivy League pedigree and years of experience in finance, traveled to a number of Latin American countries, including Bolivia, in the 1920s. In the short run, Kemmerer was concerned that Bolivia would default on its debt, and he wanted to implement economic and governmental reforms to make the Bolivian economy and government more efficient in order to help the country repay its loans. Kemmerer’s ultimate goal was to strengthen economic ties between Latin America and the United States, which, he argued, would benefit both. 7 From the point of view of many Bolivians, Kemmerer’s missions were important for the country’s economic development. Kemmerer’s “stamp of approval” would be essential in allowing Bolivia to borrow money in the future. He successfully urged Bolivians to set up a national bank and improve governmental efficiency.

Bolivia, however, did not simply imbibe Kemmerer’s ideas in toto—far from it. In fact, a number of other Latin American nations also implemented policies that differed from Kemmerer’s (and Washington leaders’) free-market vision for the hemisphere. Thus, by the early 20th century, the battle for the economic hearts and minds of Latin America’s citizens was joined. Advocates of an economy open to foreign private investment squared off against those who proposed economic nationalism, a type of autarkic semi-self-sufficiency.

By the 1930s, in part due to Latin America’s frustration with the breakdown of the world trading system during the Great Depression, economic nationalism was on the rise, one of the more important economic trends in modern Latin American history. Economic nationalists desired the individual nations in the region to control critically important stocks of nonrenewable natural resources, such as oil and valuable metals, considering such resources a form of national patrimony to be carefully managed. Economic nationalists also called for state-driven economic policies to promote diversification, including industrialization, which would benefit the citizens of the state as a whole. They argued that declining terms of trade for agricultural products, as well as other raw materials, meant that Latin America would never prosper in the long run unless it industrialized its economy.

Economic nationalism led the Bolivian government to nationalize Standard Oil of New Jersey’s holdings in 1937, a year before the much more well known Mexican nationalization of its foreign-owned oil industry.8 Bolivian nationalists argued that this nationalization would serve to strengthen both the economy and the state. The decision to nationalize these oil holdings proved to be an important test of a new U.S. policy toward Latin America. Between 1933 and 1936, the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration introduced the Good Neighbor Policy. According to this policy, which had been desired by the Latin American nations for years, the United States would refrain from direct U.S. military intervention in the region—that is, sending in U.S. troops to occupy a Latin American nation. Significantly, the Good Neighbor Policy did not proscribe nonmilitary intervention, and, indeed, this type of intervention continued to be employed by U.S. officials.9

For their part, Bolivian leaders thought the expropriation of Standard Oil’s holdings an important act of economic nationalism necessary for strengthening both the Bolivian economy and state. When Standard Oil cried foul to the U.S. State Department, Washington leaders denied loans to Bolivia in order to pressure it to come to the conference table to hash out an agreement on compensation. Moreover, fear of Nazi influence led U.S. leaders to want to put the thorny controversy to bed (a fear that turned out to be unfounded). By July 1941, an agreement was reached. Bolivia would compensate the former oil company owners $1.5 million, in exchange for a $25 million U.S. government grant. This assistance proved to be an important turning point in U.S.–Latin America relations since it was the first significant U.S. government economic development grant to Latin America.

World War II, for U.S. leaders, highlighted Bolivia’s importance—in particular its production of tin, necessary for the war effort. This economic motive, in addition to the desire among U.S. officials that Latin America be politically stable and pro–United States, meant more involvement in Bolivian affairs.10 Evidence of this growing involvement is that in 1942, a U.S. government economic and technical mission, headed up by Merwin Bohan, issued a report recommending economic and infrastructure reforms. Interestingly, it was revolutionaries on the political left—the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR), the National Revolutionary Movement, that borrowed heavily from Bohan’s ideas a mere decade later.


Bolivia’s 1952 Revolution transformed the nation. The revolution was the second such upheaval in modern Latin American history, after Mexico’s (1910 to 1920). Spurred on by a disastrous defeat by Paraguay in the 1932–1936 Chaco War, in which Bolivia lost about one-third of its territory, the revolutionary group Movimiento Nacionalista Revoluionario arose. Calling for improved public services in Bolivia’s growing cities, the MNR’s leaders used Argentina’s populist movement in the 1940s as a model. The MNR also called for a diversification and industrialization of the Bolivian economy. It attracted miners and campesinos (farmers with small plots of land) who wanted a higher standard of living to its ranks. Some miners were animated by a desire to have a say over governmental policy. Fundamentally, the MNR wanted to destroy the power of a small economic elite supported by the leadership of the Bolivian military, and to make Bolivia a democratic and more egalitarian nation.11

The MNR’s achievements in its first few years were remarkable. Building upon the 1937 example of the nationalization of Standard Oil, Bolivia nationalized its three largest mining companies, all of which were partially owned by foreigners, with a large part of the profits being repatriated overseas. The MNR aggregated the assets of these three companies to form the Corporación Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL), the leader of which was a member of the president’s Cabinet. (The MNR indemnified the former mining-company owners for the nationalization of their assets.) The creation of COMIBOL was a multifaceted reform. First of all, it eviscerated the political power of the mining conglomerates, which before the revolution had produced about 80 percent of Bolivia’s total foreign exchange. Historically, the leaders of these giant mining companies had exerted significant political control, which meant that Bolivian government policy served their needs and not those of the public as a whole. Next, COMIBOL was to make money to provide for the diversification of the Bolivian economy. In addition, improvements in mineworkers’ safety and well-being were to be forthcoming.

Other important achievements of the revolution included an agrarian reform, one of the most thoroughgoing such reforms in Latin America, and constitutional assurances that women and Indians would have the right to vote. In part because Bolivia had historically been politically unstable and military coups had fueled instability, the MNR reduced the size and power of the Bolivian military. There are other reasons, however, why the MNR virtually decimated the military. The MNR disdained the military leaders because it (rightfully, in the minds of most) blamed them for the disastrous loss to Paraguay in the Chaco War. Moreover, the military had closely worked with the former owners of the three largest prerevolutionary mining companies to maintain effective economic and political control of the nation.

Divisions within the MNR led to its eventual downfall. The pro-U.S. moderates were headed up by the revolution’s first president, Víctor Paz Estenssoro, and held the majority of leadership positions. This segment desired to create a propitious environment for foreign private-sector capital to facilitate the diversification of the Bolivian economy beyond mining. For its part, the numerically superior left wing of the MNR, made up largely of miners and campesinos, wanted to build upon the creation of COMIBOL with further nationalizations (which never materialized). The Left was wary of private foreign investment, fearing that it would reinforce Bolivian economic dependence on powerful outsiders.

U.S. Economic and Military Assistance

With the nationalization of the three major mining companies and the loss of U.S. citizens’ investments (for which they later received partial compensation), Washington was afraid that other nations would copy Bolivia’s policy of nationalization. However, the United States offered official diplomatic recognition to the MNR by June 1952, deciding on this step because the MNR assured U.S. leaders that it was pro-United States and would not nationalize anything else. Moreover, MNR moderates convinced U.S. leaders that they could keep the left-wing segment of the revolution in check.

In the early years of the revolution, the MNR decided to work closely with the United States, which had a significant impact not only on the revolution itself but also on Bolivian history. For their part, the cautious moderates of the MNR emphasized in their conversations with top U.S. officials that Bolivia’s agrarian reform, by transferring land to the landless, would foster a vibrant, rural capitalism that would benefit the majority of the people in Bolivia’s rural areas. But the left-wing members of the MNR heatedly argued against working closely with the United States. Instead, these members wanted to reduce the influence of the United States and other nations on their country.

The moderates won out. The clearest evidence of the MNR’s desire to work with the United States can be seen in its request for U.S. assistance, to which Washington quickly and quietly acceded in late 1953. It proved to be a landmark decision on the part of the United States. Thus began a long period, lasting into the 21st century, of significant flows of aid, the first such sizable program to a Third World nation. Not surprisingly, the left-wing segment of the MNR opposed U.S. assistance, thinking it would promote increased dependence by Bolivia and thus cede significant control over the state’s decision making to the “colossus of the north.” Also, not surprisingly, the moderates brushed aside such concerns, arguing that the benefits of U.S. assistance far outweighed any risks.12

In part, Bolivian interest in such assistance was caused by its immediate, postrevolutionary fear that the dislocations caused by the revolution would eventually lead to its to collapse. However, the request for assistance reflected more long-term considerations, both political and economic. Politically, U.S. assistance would, in a sense, give the MNR “breathing room” to organize itself and come up with coherent economic plans laying the groundwork for future prosperity. Economically, U.S. assistance would aid Bolivia in its long-term desire to diversify and industrialize its economy. Unfortunately for Bolivia, a portion of that assistance in the early years consisted of surplus U.S. agricultural products, which, for domestic political reasons, the U.S. government purchased from U.S. farmers and stored at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. For their part, Washington leaders were only too happy to unload such surpluses on Bolivia. Bolivian leaders probably realized that these free foodstuffs would inhibit Bolivian agricultural production, to the detriment of its own agricultural sector—and the Bolivian agricultural system indeed suffered. Yet, these leaders concluded that it was more important to work with the United States in the long run, and so it accepted the free foodstuffs.

U.S. aid flows to Bolivia not only continued but also increased because of U.S. officials’ calculations that a breakup of the MNR might lead to significant political violence, and even chaos. Indeed, because the MNR was the only political entity that seemed to have the resources and wherewithal to navigate a fragile postrevolution polity in Bolivia, the stakes, for Washington leaders, were high. That is, the downside risk of a collapse of the MNR was palpable. Bolivia’s ambassador to the United States, Víctor Andrade, skillfully played on this fear to leverage increased flows of assistance to his country. But fear mongering would advance Bolivia’s interests only so far, and Andrade made a more positive-sounding argument as well. He repeatedly made the case to U.S. officials that Bolivia would be an important “test case” for U.S. policy toward not only Latin America but also the entire Third World as the Cold War intensified. The Bolivian ambassador maintained that Washington, by supporting the democratic, reformist MNR, would show that it could work with Third World reformist governments to produce policies that would strengthen a free-market system to benefit not just the wealthiest but all Bolivians. Such an argument appealed to U.S. officials, who very much wanted to show the developing world that it could promote a progressive, free-market system that benefited all Bolivians. Such a clear “model” would definitively put the lie to the Soviets’ argument that communism was the best system for the Third World to adopt.13

Washington’s economic assistance gave it a degree of leverage over Bolivia’s policy. However, the MNR leadership thought it had no choice but to accept U.S. assistance, given the economic challenges that Bolivia faced in the mid-1950s, especially the steep drop in tin prices. First, the post–Korean War economic slump crimped demand for tin. Second, and with a more profound impact on the Bolivian tin industry, other nations increased production not only of more tin but also tin that was of a higher quality than Bolivia’s. As tin prices continued their free fall, COMIBOL, not surprisingly went into deficit spending. To fill the yawning budget gap, Bolivia’s Central Bank printed money, stoking inflation, which hit 100 percent in some parts of the country by the mid-1950s. Invited in by Bolivia’s moderate minority, who, for their part, feared the growing power of the left wing of the MNR, U.S. economic advisors (another round of “Money Doctors”) not only facilitated stepped-up U.S. influence in the Andean nation but also laid the groundwork for the division of the MNR, greatly weakening it. Moreover, these U.S. officials, in 1950s Bolivia, laid out a framework by which future economic crises in developing world would be resolved by powerful, outside entities, in particular the International Monetary Fund, which would “stabilize” Third World economies by offering low-interest loans in exchange for promises by the recipient country to cut its money supply and some government subsidies, thereby hurting some of the poorer members of society.

Devolution of Revolution

U.S. economic advisors informed the Bolivian leadership that unless it cut the government budget and money supply, future aid flows would be threatened. Bolivian leaders decided to comply with this U.S. demand.14 As the cuts to COMIBOL’s budget required by the austerity plan began to bite, a series of important turning points occurred that would greatly affect the unfolding of events in the late 20th century in Bolivia—and beyond. Indeed, one can understand neither the military coup that ousted the MNR in 1964 nor the contours of present-day Bolivia without appreciating the importance of the turning points of the late 1950s and 1960s.

First, strike violence plagued the nation and proved deadly, as miners mobilized to resist the stipulated closure of inefficient mines. Fearing an unraveling of the Bolivian polity, U.S. officials quietly built up the power of the Bolivian military. Although Washington had sent military advisors to some of the Latin American nations going back to the 1920s, significant military assistance did not occur until the 1950s as Cold War fears animated U.S. officials. They were frank in their assessment that a stronger Bolivian military was in the best interests of the United States; U.S. leaders saw it as a sort of insurance policy against the implosion of the Bolivian political system. Should chaos break out, and the military take control of the situation, the United States would enjoy influence with the Bolivian military when it was in charge. Not surprisingly, as it grew in influence, the military became politically emboldened, becoming a key player in modern Bolivian history. During this time, Washington significantly increased military aid to Latin America and promoted the training of cadres of Latin American militaries to do development work, in particular in the countryside. Such programs were known as civic action programs. As their size and power grew, these militaries, mainly by staging coups, would become a more important player in Latin American politics in the 1960s.

Second, unemployed miners moved to unoccupied lands in the westernmost parts of the Amazon basin, most notably the Chapare region, in an attempt to make their living as farmers. Scratching out an existence in these remote areas of the Amazon basin proved challenging, to say the least, given a lack of access to infrastructure and credit to develop their farms. As it turned out, the most lucrative crop they could produce was coca leaves, some of which were consumed by Bolivians who had for centuries chewed the leaf or drunk tea made from the leaves. However, by the 1980s, the bulk of the coca crop went for cocaine production as demand for the drug in the United States and Europe sharply increased, thus setting the stage for violent confrontations between the coca farmers and the Bolivian police and military. Thus, the migration of unemployed miners to the Amazon basin set the stage for this ongoing confrontation.

Third, Bolivian leaders figured that they could get increased assistance from Washington if they reached out to the Soviet bloc, thereby playing one side in the Cold War against another. Even though a number of Third World nations used such tactics, U.S. officials were not amused. From Bolivia’s point of view, whatever could increase the flow of U.S. assistance was warranted. In the end, few Bolivians really thought that their nation would stray from the U.S. orbit in exchange for East Bloc aid. One could even argue that the Bolivian technique proved successful, as U.S. assistance to Bolivia increased in the early 1960s. Considering that President John F. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress (for which the U.S. aid program to Bolivia in the 1950s proved to be an important precursor) called for a vast increase in aid to Latin America, such aid would probably have increased anyway. Moreover, Bolivia, as a relatively poor and aid-dependent nation, could not seriously contemplate moving out of the U.S. orbit at a time when the benefits of working with the United States would be especially lucrative.

Evidence that Bolivia was willing to “play ball” with the United States can be seen in its acceptance of the “Triangular Plan” for reforming COMIBOL, which included infusions of fresh capital from the United States and West Germany. In return, COMIBOL would close unproductive mines, laying off tin miners. The inclusion of West Germany, which was interested in Bolivian tin, showed skillful diplomacy on the part of U.S. officials. Making the plan three-way and not just a U.S.–Bolivia affair defused critics who would otherwise have concluded that it was simply U.S. hegemony in another guise.

Bolivia and the Alliance for Progress

Indeed, in the early 1960s, the U.S. Alliance for Progress (or “Alliance”) granted significantly more U.S. economic and military assistance to Latin America than in previous years. The Alliance was the largest program of U.S. assistance to the Third World in U.S. history. There were multiple motives for such a large allocation of funds to the Alliance. U.S. officials feared that the charismatic Fidel Castro would be able to spread communism from Cuba around the region, and argued that aid-inspired economic (and social) modernization would stem such a development while promoting pro-U.S. policies.15

Increased U.S. assistance to Bolivia, however, could not promote political stability in that chronically unstable nation. As the MNR appeared on the verge of breaking into a number of different parts in the early 1960s, Víctor Paz Estenssoro made a fateful decision to run for a contiguous third term, considered unconstitutional by many in Bolivia. Thus, he provoked fears that he would entrench himself in power. Unfortunately for Paz, even as he won the 1964 election with covert support from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), his power continued to wane,16 and the military ousted him in November 1964. Although some of the revolutionary policies such as land reform would continue, democracy would not return to Bolivia until 1982. For their part, U.S. officials continued to support Paz Estenssoro until his ouster, viewing him, as they always had, as one of the only persons who could keep the MNR from fragmenting.

The leader of the 1964 coup, René Barrientos, proved politically adroit, if simultaneously ruling with a heavy hand, perpetrating some of the most violent repression of miners’ movements since the 1940s. However, the support he lost through repression of miners was recouped by his stating that he would continue the popular agrarian reform. The fact that Barrientos spoke Quechua, (the third most spoken language in Latin America) helped him politically, as he was the first Bolivian president to be fluent in this popular Indian language. It strengthened his charismatic appeal to campesinos. Barrientos strengthened his nationalist credentials when the Bolivian military, under his watch, captured and killed famed Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who had surreptitiously entered Bolivia in 1966 and organized a brigade of Cubans and Bolivians in the southeastern part of the country with the intent of fomenting a wider revolution. Guevara’s small band of revolutionaries was rounded up, and Guevara was executed the following year. Some might note the irony of a U.S. counterinsurgency “victory” in South America, even as simultaneously such efforts proved ultimately fruitless in the Vietnam War. Although U.S. military trainers, and intelligence-gathering from the CIA, helped the Bolivian military in this important operation, nonetheless the majority of Bolivians viewed the elimination of the Guevara threat as an important nationalistic triumph.17

Some Bolivians, however, were repelled by the U.S. intervention to capture Guevara, stoking existing anti-Americanism. Many Latin Americans perceived the U.S.-inspired Alliance for Progress in the 1960s as a failure; some even viewed it as a U.S. mechanism to reinforce the already existing economic dependence of Latin America on the United States. In Bolivia, there were tangible responses to this growing anti–United States sentiment. In 1969, the Bolivian government nationalized Standard Oil for the second time, and two years later forced the U.S. Peace Corps to sever its contract with the Bolivian state and expeditiously leave the country, which it did. Peace Corps workers were a visible symbol of U.S. influence and seemed especially pernicious to a number of Bolivians since they were stationed (perhaps one could conclude they were “embedded”) in smaller towns and the more remote corners of the country. Thus, those on the left politically perceived the tentacles of U.S. power to be reaching deep into the Bolivian countryside. Removing those tentacles, therefore, would significantly diminish U.S. power in the Andean nation.

For radical Bolivian leaders—in this case, a dictator, Juan José Torres, who briefly ruled from 1970 to 1971—getting rid of the Peace Corps was a politically astute move. On the one hand, leftist Bolivian leaders wanted to show their supporters that they were doing something tangible to reduce the U.S. presence in the country. On the other hand, these leaders did not want to sever all economic connections with the United States. Bolivia did not want to risk an angry United States that could cut assistance, causing the nation to suffer and turn against the Bolivian government that had forced such a cutoff. U.S. government assistance was a lucrative fillip to the Bolivian economy, and its leaders, no matter how radical, did not want to give it up. Thus, getting rid of the Peace Corps was a useful symbol for leftists because it showed that they were doing something to curb U.S. power; however, U.S. assistance continued to flow to the poor Andean nation.18

As for Washington, the growing anger over the increasing radicalism of the Torres regime led U.S. officials to secretly attempt to establish contact with anti-Torres groups in the Bolivian military in mid-1971.19 Arguably, U.S. meddling did not have much impact on the way in which events spun out “on the ground” since Torres’s government was facing multiple political, economic, and social challenges and confrontations. Even without such U.S. intervention, Hugo Bánzer, a general trained in the United States, would probably have staged his August 1971 coup successfully. It resulted in an ominous, sharp shift to the right in Bolivian politics and would have a big impact on the Bolivian polity.

Democracy’s Return as Neoliberalism Surges

The 1980s proved to be an important turning point in Bolivian history. A series of brutal dictatorships in the 1970s caused Bolivia’s citizens to roundly reject military dictatorship (some of which supposedly received generous secret funding from cocaine traffickers) as a form of government. In turn, U.S. support for these dictatorships—because they were firmly anticommunist—resulted in anti-Americanism remaining an important feature of U.S.–Bolivia relations. Indeed, in many parts of Latin America, in particular in South America, citizens tired of military leadership, even as the military leaders became tired of governing.

Bolivia reestablished democracy in 1982, but the young democracy was immediate threatened by economic crisis. As in the mid-1950s, increased inflation, now in fact hyperinflation, threatened the economy. Also as in the 1950s, an austerity plan was imposed by a team of U.S. and International Monetary Fund experts, who stated that future assistance to Bolivia was predicated on its implementation of painful economic reforms (known as “shock therapy” because the policies were to be implemented quickly)—cutting the money supply and government budget. The prescription was reminiscent of that of U.S. experts in the late 1950s. Unfortunately, cuts to government subsidies hurt the poor, and closures of COMIBOL’s mines led to large-scale layoffs. Ironically, it was Paz Estenssoro who would come out of retirement and serve his fourth and final term in office as president, managing the privatization of the Bolivian mining industry that had been nationalized during his first term. It is in a sense remarkable that Bolivian democracy survived the social upheaval spawned by the economic reforms.

Thus began the era of neoliberalism, also known as the “Washington Consensus” (with adherents around the globe) that called for less intrusion by government in the economy and the reshaping of the polity to promote economic growth. According to neoliberals, a nation needs to make whatever changes necessary to insert itself into a rapidly globalizing world economy, in a way that produces the maximum economic wealth possible. The neoliberals of the 1980s were not concerned with how such accumulated wealth is distributed, arguing that it would eventually be enjoyed by the middle and working classes. Neoliberalism in Latin America resulted in the dismantling of the Populist-era states that stretched back to the 1930s. Such states provided significant economic subsidies for poor and working-class Latin Americans, in particular in the growing cities. As such, the costs of neoliberal reforms were disproportionately borne by the poor and working classes, and the already wide gap between the wealthy and the poor widened further.

In a throwback to the heyday of export-driven economic growth and minimal government intervention of previous (prerevolution) decades, neoliberals advocated that Bolivia emphasize the production of products that would fetch high prices on world markets. Those with good historical memories would caution Bolivia about emphasizing such products, as world markets could change dramatically and demand for those exports could plummet. Neoliberals were unconcerned with such risks. In addition, their prescription called for Bolivia to reform its educational system in order to produce students with skills that could be marketed not only at home but abroad. Even the oil industry, considered national patrimony by many in the Andean nation, and which was nationalized in 1937, was not exempt from the neoliberal prescription. It was privatized by late 1996.

To U.S. policymakers, neoliberalism would benefit the Latin American nations. Indeed, for over a century, U.S. leaders had been calling for a free-trade zone in the Americans. If individual nations promoted free-market policies and opened their economies to the world economic system, the U.S. vision of a hemispheric free market would be realized.

Neoliberalism led to social pain and conflict as the “social safety net” for the working class and poor was shredded. With such social turmoil, the risk was high that an authoritarian leader would take over in a coup. Indeed, Latin American history is rife with examples of military coups that take advantage of social turmoil, offering people social stability after the takeover. But, remarkably, no authoritarian leader took advantage of the social conflict in Bolivia during those years.

The War on Drugs

Despite the neoliberal prescription that nations should focus on producing what other nations will buy, Bolivian coca farmers were not allowed to benefit from an increased worldwide demand for cocaine. The views of many, if not most, of Bolivia’s Indians with regard to coca leaves diverge from those held by others. According to some of the Indians, coca leaves are a gift from the gods. They have a hallowed history in the Andes going back to pre-Columbian times. They serve as a natural appetite suppressant—necessary for laborers who have to work long hours with short or no breaks for food. Coca leaves also have medicinal properties, supposedly helping to ameliorate altitude sickness, for example. Yatiris, or shamans, often “read” coca leaves, as fortune-tellers in Western culture read tea leaves, to predict the future or prescribe remedies for ailments.

According to international agreements, however, the coca leaf is a controlled substance because it forms the raw material for the production of cocaine, an illegal narcotic. Thus, coca leaves are illegal outside of the Andes. More importantly, U.S. officials decided that it was politically easier to try to force a supply-side solution to the drug problem than to demand reduction. The obvious problem with this decision is that as long as demand remains, suppliers will find a way to satisfy users because of the lucrative nature of the drug trade. So as drug interdiction and coca eradication efforts continued apace, reducing the supply of cocaine, the price sharply increased. Such increases, of course, fueled more coca-leaf production.

Because coca is much easier to grow than other crops, with farmers able to plant four crops per season, and because storing and transporting coca leaves is much easier than other crops, it is not surprising that coca farmers resisted pressure to get them to abandon coca farming for alternative crops. As some farmers earned enough to work themselves up into the middle class, they became especially resistant to any efforts that could send them back into poverty. They had organizational help, too. Since the majority of coca farmers were former miners, their organizations reflected the structure of the miners’ unions. Coca-farmer sindicatos (unions) worked to both mobilize farmers and protect them from attempts by the Bolivian police and/or military, funded in part by U.S military assistance, to suppress the production and shipment of coca leaves outside the country.

Thus, the conflict known as the “war on drugs” erupted.20 It was facilitated by an upsurge in demand, particularly in the United States, for highly addictive “crack” cocaine in the 1980s. As the Cold War wound down, the U.S. government changed its stated intention in its Latin American policy from containing communism to containing the production of coca leaves and cocaine, and interdicting as much cocaine as possible flowing out of Latin America into the United States. Washington went so far as to demand that Bolivia set up a “parallel” judicial system (maintaining harsher antidrug laws than were on the books) to crack down on drug production and sales or face a cutoff of assistance, angering many Bolivians.

U.S. leaders also implemented a version of the “certification” process used in a number of coca- and cocaine-producing nations, requiring those countries to take specific steps to reduce the production and export of the leaf and the drug. Should they fail to meet the agreed-upon benchmarks, aid flows could be threatened. Such paternalism vastly increased anti-U.S. sentiment. By the late 1990s, with Hugo Bánzer at the helm (democratically elected this time), Bolivia was exerting increased pressure on the coca sindicatos, creating an outcry and a backlash against the war on drugs.

Resisting Neoliberalism: Evo Morales’s Bolivia

The early 21st century brought not only vast changes in the Bolivian political system but also a major alteration in U.S.–Bolivia relations. First, the Bolivian political system, which had never served the interests of the poor, Indian majority, unraveled. Second, a charismatic former coca-sindicato leader, Evo Morales, ran for president in 2002. He was the standard bearer of Movimiento a Socialismo (MAS), or Movement toward Socialism, both a political party and social movement. Fearing that he would end the war on drugs, U.S. Ambassador Manuel Rocha declared, in the run-up to the election, that a Morales victory would spell the end of U.S. assistance to the Andean nation. Repulsed by this clumsy intervention in the Bolivian electoral system, Morales came close to winning the election. Three years later, hewon a decisive victory at the polls, becoming the first president of Bolivia to openly acknowledge his Indian roots. In the years between 2002 and 2006 (Morales’s inauguration), Bolivia was racked with controversy regarding neoliberal policies—in particular, a controversial decision to sell natural gas to Bolivia’s archenemy Chile. With more than sixty dead and scores injured in protests in 2003, and with President (and ardent proponent of neoliberal policies) Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada resigning and retiring in exile in the United States, the devolution of Bolivia’s political system continued, benefiting the outsider Morales.

Morales’s victory was due in part to his outsider status. Although he had been politically active for years, in particular as the head of coca-growers’ unions, he was not a political “hack” who had worked his way up through the ranks of the more established political parties. The parties in Bolivia had been struggling for years, in that many citizens cynically viewed them as simply vehicles for corrupt politicians to line their pockets. In addition, the more well known political parties represented only the mestizos (those of mixed European and Indian ancestry), and privileged middle- and upper-class mestizos at that. Thus, Morales triumphed in part because the Bolivian citizenry thought little of the traditional political parties. This free fall of the entire Bolivian political system by the early 21st century helps to explain why Morales, and his MAS party, generally fared well politically in Bolivia.

Morales decided to ratchet down the war on drugs, which many had perceived to be failing anyway. His government passed a law that allowed farmers to allocate a portion of their landholdings for the production of legal coca (that is, coca not destined to be turned into cocaine). In addition, he tried to reduce economic dependence on the United States. At the regional level, he has worked with the “Boliviarian Bloc” of nations on the left politically (referring to the 19th-century liberator of South America, Simón Bolívar, who had a vision of a unified northern tier of South Americans), in particular Venezuela and Ecuador. The “Bolivarian Bloc,” organized by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, challenged the neoliberal policy prescription in a number of ways, such as by nationalizing or raising taxes on foreign enterprises.

Morales desired to reduce Bolivia’s economic dependence on the United States by accepting less assistance. He increased state revenue by sharply raising taxes on the oil and gas sector of the economy, which helped in this regard. U.S. assistance to Bolivia dropped from $559 million in 2006 to a mere $36 million in 2015.21 Morales also asked the Peace Corps and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to leave the country. Both of these moves had symbolic value as well, sending a signal that Bolivia aimed to chart its own course economically. However, MAS’s Bolivia did not take any dramatic actions to “thumb its nose” toward Washington—in this sense it has been pragmatic.

In more than a century and a half of U.S.–Bolivia relations, the United States has attempted to exert its influence in Bolivia in ways typical of its relations with South America as a whole. Traditionally, in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, the United States has exerted influence not only through economic prodding but also by means of force, including military occupation. However, in South America, historically the United States has used subtler means of intervention, in particular military and economic aid. Bolivia was typical in this regard.

U.S. efforts at promoting reform in Bolivia have been stronger and more persistent than in other South American nations. U.S. leaders have leveraged painful reforms by means of economic assistance: Bolivians are told that if they refuse the reforms, aid will be denied. In addition, the United States has attempted to exert influence in other ways—especially by funding the Bolivian military. Given that Bolivia is one of the poorer nations of the hemisphere, it is not surprising that Washington leaders have gotten what they wanted from this country, at small cost to the United States. Often, however, U.S. officials have been frustrated with the slow pace of U.S.-sponsored reforms, and the imposition of Washington’s policies has frequently caused resentment in Bolivia. In the end, the Andean nation has not been prostrate before the colossus to the North. Bolivia, by means of skillful diplomacy, lobbying, and resistance to disliked U.S. policies, has managed to have a degree of influence over its relationship with the United States.

Discussion of the Literature

There have been three major trends in the literature on U.S.-Bolivia relations, and a fourth trend seems to be under way. Two strains that emerged from the late 1960s to the 1980s focused on Washington’s policy and its motives and used U.S. sources almost exclusively, while differing on how much emphasis to put on economic and security aspects of the United States–Bolivia relationship. The work of James W. Wilkie and Cole Blasier emphasizes the Cold War motives of U.S. policymakers: If the MNR had disintegrated in the mid-1950s, at the height of the Cold War, it could have left a political vacuum in Bolivia (which borders on all of the major South American nations except for the northern-tier Caribbean nations), to be filled by communism.22 For their part, Carlos Navia Ribera and Lawrence Whitehead argue that U.S. policy successfully created a neocolonial Bolivia, economically dependent on the United States.23

During the 1980s and 1990s, scholars made significant contributions to the field, employing both Bolivian and United States sources together in their work. Kenneth D. Lehman, in a masterful survey of U.S.–Bolivia relations put out by the venerable University of Georgia Press series on the history of inter-American relations, blends the economic and security motives discussed here in his narrative. James Dunkerley, analyzing both Cold War and economic aspects of the United States–Bolivia relationship, hewed more to the neocolonial argument than did Lehman, using an especially impressive amount of Bolivian sources in his works, including newspaper articles and interviews.24

At the dawn of the 21st century, a third trend emerged. Scholars Glenn Dorn and James Siekmeier emphasize Bolivian historical agency.25 Even as U.S. power in the world peaked after World War II, Bolivians managed to find ways to influence their relationship with the United States. Although Bolivia was one of the poorer Latin American nations, it was not prostrate before U.S. power. Branching out to include nondiplomat historical actors, such as the Peace Corps, that can influence United States–Bolivia relations, historical studieshave begun to examine issues at the societal level.26

Such trends reflect broader changes in how historians view United States–Third World relations. Instead of simply accepting the imposition of U.S. power, Third World nations have exerted a degree of agency in their dealings with the United States. As cogently presented in an excellent historiographic essay by Max Paul Friedman in 2003, arguments about the agency of Latin America vis-à-vis the United States had become common by the 21st century.27

Historians Thomas Fields and Kevin Young, however, have recently argued that U.S. policy toward Bolivia was heavy-handed enough to smother any significant attempts by Bolivia to influence its relationship with the colossus to the North. While not returning to the neocolonial stance of the 1970s and 1980s, this argument represents a significant, new turn in the literature and an emergent trend. 28

Primary Sources

A starting point is the official documentary history of U.S. foreign relations published by the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS). Although material on Bolivia is sparse before the 1960s, from the 1960s onward the American Republics volumes have very important, high-level documentation on the U.S. side, including documents on U.S. covert action in Bolivia. Also on the U.S. side, the typical archival sources of historians of U.S. foreign relations provide significant information for scholars of United States–Bolivia relations: the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), including the Presidential Libraries. In the Presidential Libraries, the most useful, high-level material can be found in the National Security Country Files (the name of these collections changes slightly, depending on the presidential administration). In NARA, Record Group (RG) 59 houses State Department Records. However, there are important materials as well in RG 286, the Records of the Agency for International Development (AID) and Predecessor Agencies.

On the Bolivian side, the Archivo Nacional de Bolivia (National Archives, in Sucre) has important information, as does the Archivo de Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriors y Culto (Archive of the Foreign Ministry, in La Paz). The Archivo de La Paz (City Archive) contains useful documentation as well. Newspapers and pamphlets are important primary sources; in the mid–20th century, Bolivia had a very active pamphlet culture. The University of Pittsburgh Hillman Library has a large collection of Bolivian materials, including pamphlets from the 1940s to the 1960s, which are also available on microfiche.

Further Reading

Abendroth, Hans Huber. La política exterior de los Estados Unidos frente a Bolivia entre 1952 y 1978.” Revista Ciencia y Cultura [La Paz, Bolivia], August 17, 2005.Find this resource:

Alexander, Robert J. The Bolivian National Revolution. 2d ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1974.Find this resource:

Andrade, Victor U. My Missions for Revolutionary Bolivia, 1944–1962. Edited by Cole Blasier. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976.Find this resource:

Blasier, Cole. The Hovering Giant—U.S. Response to Revolution in Latin America, 1910–1985. Rev. ed. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985.Find this resource:

Campero Prudencio, Fernando, ed. Bolivia en el Siglo X—La Formacion de la Bolivia Contemporanea. La Paz: Harvard Club De Bolivia, 1999.Find this resource:

Dorn, Glenn. The Truman Administration and Bolivia—Making the World Safe for Liberal Constitutional Oligarchy. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Drake, Paul W. The Money Doctor in the Andes—U.S. Advisors, Investors and Economic Reform in Latin America from World War I to the Great Depression. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989.Find this resource:

Dunkerley, James. Rebellion in the Veins: Political Struggle in Bolivia, 1952–1982. London: Verso, 1984.Find this resource:

Fields, Thomas C, Jr. From Development to Dictatorship—Bolivia and the Alliance for Progress in the Kennedy Era. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Ingram, George. Expropriation of U.S. Property in South America: Nationalization of Oil and Copper Companies in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1975.Find this resource:

Kirkland, Robert O. Observing our Hermanos de Armas: U.S. Military Attaches in Guatemala, Cuba and Bolivia, 1950–1964. New York: Routledge, 2003.Find this resource:

Klein, Herbert S. A Concise History of Bolivia. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Ledebur, Kathryn. “Bolivia: Clear Consequences.” In Drugs and Democracy in Latin America: The Impact of U.S. Policy, edited by Coletta Youngers and Eileen Rosen, 145–171. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2005.Find this resource:

Lehman, Kenneth. Bolivia and the United States—A Limited Partnership. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999.Find this resource:

Malloy, James. Bolivia—Unfinished Revolution. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1966.Find this resource:

Navia Ribera, Carlos. Los Estados Unidos y la Revolución Nacional—Entre el pragmatismo y el sometimiento. Cochabamba: Centro de Información y Documentación para el Desarrollo Regional [CIDRE], 1984.Find this resource:

Pike, Frederick B. The United States and the Andean Republics: Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977.Find this resource:

Ryan, Henry Butterfield. The Fall of Che Guevara: A Story of Soldiers, Spies, and Diplomats. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Siekmeier, James. The Bolivian Revolution and the United States, 1952 to the Present. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Whitehead, Laurence. The United States and Bolivia: A Case of Neo-colonialism. London: Haslemere Group, 1969.Find this resource:

Wilkie, James W. The Bolivian Revolution and U.S. Aid since 1952: Financial Background and Context of Political Decisions. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969.Find this resource:

Young, Kevin. “Purging the Forces of Darkness—The United States, Monetary Stabilization, and the Containing of the Bolivian Revolution.” Diplomatic History 37 (2013): 509–537.Find this resource:


(1.) Kenneth D. Lehman, Bolivia and the United States—A Limited Partnership (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999), 1–11.

(2.) Although his book deals with United States–Central America relations, Walter LaFeber makes this point in his Inevitable Revolutions—the United States in Central America, 2d ed. (New York: Norton, 1993), 14.

(3.) Herbert S. Klein, A Concise History of Bolivia, 2d ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 24–59, esp. p. 51.

(4.) Lehman, Bolivia and the United States—A Limited Partnership, pp. 60–90.

(5.) Robert Smale, I Sweat the Flavor of Tin—Labor Activism in Early 20th Century Bolivia (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), focuses on the late 19th century through the 1930s; Laura Gotkowitz, A Revolution for Our Rights—Indigenous Struggles for Land and Justice in Bolivia, 1880–1952 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), focuses on indigenous people and the labor movement; Robert J. Alexander, A History of Organized Labor in Bolivia (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2005), 1–74.

(6.) William Sater, Andean Tragedy—Fighting the War of the Pacific, 1879–1886 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007), 1–25.

(7.) Paul Drake, The Money Doctor in the Andes—U.S. Advisors, Investors, and Economic Reform in Latin America from World War I to the Great Depression (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989), 175–211; Emily Rosenberg, Financial Missionaries to the World—Politics and Culture of Dollar Diplomacy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 163–165.

(8.) Lehman, Bolivia and the United States, pp. 72–74.

(9.) Standard histories of the Good Neighbor Policy include Bryce Wood, The Making of the Good Neighbor Policy (New York: W. W. Norton, 1967); David Green, The Containment of Latin America—A History of the Myths and Realities of the Good Neighbor Policy (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1971), focusing on U.S. efforts to quell economic nationalism in the region; Irwin Gellman, The Good Neighbor: United States Policies in Latin America, 1933–1945 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979); and Frederick Pike, FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy—60 Years of Generally Gentle Chaos (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1995). Pike explores the cultural side of the Good Neighbor Policy.

(10.) Glenn Dorn, The Truman Administration and Bolivia—Making the World Safe for Liberal Constitutional Oligarchy (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2011).

(11.) Good studies of the early MNR years include Robert J. Alexander, The Bolivian National Revolution, 2d ed. (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1974); James Malloy, Bolivia—Unfinished Revolution (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1966); and Christopher Mitchell, The Legacy of Populism in Bolivia: From the MNR to Military Rule (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1978).

(12.) Lehman, Bolivia and the United States, pp. 109–113.

(13.) James Siekmeier, The Bolivian Revolution and the United States, 1952 to the Present (University Park; Penn State University Press, 2011), 55–72. Víctor Andrade tells his own story in his memoir, published in English, My Missions for Revolutionary Bolivia, 1944–1962, edited by Cole Blasier (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976).

(14.) For a firsthand account by a U.S. economic advisor to Bolivia in the 1950s, see George Jackson Eder, Inflation and Development in Latin America: Case History of Inflation and Stabilization in Bolivia (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, School of Business Administration, 1968). For a critical view by a present-day scholar, see Kevin Young, “Purging the Forces of Darkness—The United States, Monetary Stabilization, and the Containing of the Bolivian Revolution,” Diplomatic History 37 (2013): 509–537.

(15.) The best overview of the Alliance for Progress is Jeffrey F. Taffett’s Foreign Aid as Foreign Policy—The Alliance for Progress in Latin America (New York: Routledge, 2007).

(16.) Editorial Note, Foreign Relations of the United States, (FRUS) 1964–1968, Vol. XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico; Document 147.

(17.) Henry Butterfield Ryan, The Fall of Che Guevara: A Story of Soldiers, Spies, and Diplomats. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

(18.) Siekmeier, Bolivian Revolution and the United States, pp. 137–149.

(19.) Memorandum from Arnold Nachmanoff of the National Security Council, to Henry A. Kissinger, President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, August 19, 1971, in FRUS, 1969–1976, Volume E (Electronic)-10, American Republics 1969–1972.

(20.) Good overviews of the “war on drugs” include Edurardo Gamarra, “The United States and Bolivia: Fighting the Drug War,” in The United States and Latin America: The New Agenda, edited by James Dunkerely and Victor Bulmer-Thomas (Cambridge, MA: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Affairs, Harvard University Press, 1999); Kenneth Lehman, “A ‘Medicine of Death’? U.S. Policy and Political Disarray in Bolivia, 1985-2006,” in Addicted to Failure: U.S. Security Policy in Latin America and the Andean Region, edited by Brian Loverman (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2008); Kathryn Ledebur, “Bolivia: Clear Consequences” in Drugs and Democracy in Latin America: The Impact of U.S. Policy, edited by Coletta Youngers and Eileen Rosen, 145–171 (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2005.

(22.) James W. Wilkie, The Bolivian Revolution and U.S. Aid since 1952: Financial Background and Context of Political Decisions (Los Angeles: University of California, 1969); Cole Blasier, The Hovering Giant: U.S. Responses to Revolutionary Change in Latin America 1910–1985, rev. ed. (Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh University Press, 1985.

(23.) Carlos Navia Ribera, Los Estados Unidos y la Revolución Nacional—Entre el pragmatismo y el sometimiento. (Cochabamba: Centro de Información y Documentación para el Desarrollo Regional [CIDRE], 1984); Laurence Whitehead, The United States and Bolivia: A Case of Neo-colonialism (London: Haslemere Group, 1969).

(24.) James Dunkerley, Rebellion in the Veins: Political Struggle in Bolivia, 1952–1982 (London: Verso, 1984); in addition, see his “Political Transition and Economic Stabilization: Bolivia, 1982–1989,” in Dunkerley, Political Suicide in Latin America and Other Essays (London: Verso, 1992), 173–236.

(25.) Glenn Dorn, The Truman Administration and Bolivia—Making the World Safe for Liberal Constitutional Oligarchy (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2011); James Siekmeier, Bolivian Revolution and the United States.

(26.) James Siekmeier, “A Sacrificial Llama? The Expulsion of the Peace Corps from Bolivia in 1971,” Pacific Historical Review 69 (February 2000): 65–87.

(27.) Max Paul Friedman, “Retiring the Puppets, Bringing Latin America Back In: Recent Scholarship on United States–Latin American Relations,” Diplomatic History 27 (November 2003): 621–636.

(28.) Thomas C. Fields Jr., From Development to Dictatorship—Bolivia and the Alliance for Progress in the Kennedy Era (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014); Kevin Young, “Purging the Forces of Darkness.”