Magazine article Foreign Policy in Focus

Toward a New Foreign Policy

Magazine article Foreign Policy in Focus

Toward a New Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

Popular forces calling for democracy are growing in Bolivia, and the U.S. is standing on the wrong side. Bolivians from a wide spectrum of political persuasions resent U.S. economic and military policies and interference in their internal affairs. But because President Banzer and his small coterie of collaborators need U.S. dollars, they continue to bow down to U.S. pressure.

The U.S. needs to quickly and substantially change its policies in Bolivia. Otherwise, it risks fomenting what it has always sought to repress in Latin America: a leftist, anti-American revolutionary movement like the one that Che Guevara was trying to create in Bolivia three decades ago when the CIA tracked him down.

U.S. policies in Bolivia should be geared to eradication of poverty, not coca. About 70% of Bolivians live below the poverty line, per capita income is only around $1,000 per year, and social indicators are appallingly low, similar to sub-Saharan Africa countries.

First, the U.S. must change its strategy of forced crop eradication and drop the zero coca option for the Chapare region. More fundamentally, Washington needs to concentrate on controlling drug use primarily through education and treatment in the U.S. rather than eradication and interdiction in the Andean source countries. U.S. antinarcotics operations and assistance should target for arrest and prosecution money laundering and trafficking kingpins, not small-time growers and users.

Second, the U.S. should halt any funding for the Bolivian armed forces' three new bases in the Chapare region. If built, these bases will likely be used to carry out attacks on peasant growers, aggravating the Bolivian military's already sorry human rights record. Any U.S. military assistance to Bolivia should be for protection of its borders, not for controlling its civilian population.

Third, the Leahy Law must be carefully enforced in Bolivia. This provision states that no U.S. funding can go to police and military units implicated in human rights violations when those responsible have not been prosecuted.

Fourth, the U.S. should drop its annual drug certification charade, which forces Bolivia and other drug producing and transit countries (under pain of losing of U.S. aid) to demonstrate, at least in the days before the administration issues its report card, some level of support for the war on drugs. This program is deeply resented by Bolivians and other Latin Americans, who see this process as Washington meddling in their internal affairs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.