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Bolivia - Relations with U.S. (Notes)

Although President Morales has been publicly critical of U.S. policies, the United States and Bolivia have a tradition of cordial and cooperative relations. Development assistance from the United States to Bolivia dates from the 1940s, and the U.S. remains a major partner for economic development, improved health, democracy, and the environment. In 1991, the U.S. Government forgave all of the debt owed by Bolivia to the U.S. Agency for International Development ($341 million) as well as 80% (or $31 million) of the amount owed to the Department of Agriculture for food assistance. The United States also has been a strong supporter of forgiveness of Bolivia's multilateral debt under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiatives. The control of illegal narcotics is a major issue in the bilateral relationship. For centuries, Bolivian coca leaf has been chewed and used in traditional rituals, but in the 1970s and 1980s the emergence of the drug trade led to a rapid expansion of coca cultivation used to make cocaine, particularly in the tropical Chapare region in the Department of Cochabamba (not a traditional coca growing area). In 1988, a new law, Law 1008, recognized only 12,000 hectares in the Yungas as sufficient to meet the licit demand of coca. Law 1008 also explicitly stated that coca grown in the Chapare was not required to meet traditional demand for chewing or for tea, and the law called for the eradication, over time, of all 'excess' coca.

To accomplish that goal, successive Bolivian governments instituted programs offering cash compensation to coca farmers who eradicated voluntarily, and the government began developing and promoting suitable alternative crops for peasants to grow. Beginning in 1997, the government launched a more effective policy of physically uprooting the illegal coca plants, and Bolivia's illegal coca production fell over the next 4 years by as much as 90%.

This 'forced' eradication remains controversial, however, and well-organized coca growers unions have blocked roads, harassed police eradicators, and occasionally used lethal violence to protest the policy. In response, previous government security forces have used lethal force to respond to the protests, raising occasional human rights concerns. The Morales government has embarked on a policy of voluntary eradication and social control, the efficacy of which remains to be seen.

The United States also heavily supports parallel efforts to interdict the smuggling of coca leaves, cocaine, and precursor chemicals. The U.S. Government has, in large measure, financed the alternative development program and the police effort.

In 1996, the United States and Bolivia ratified a more effective extradition treaty that made it easier for both nations to prosecute drug traffickers and other criminals. Recent governments have supported U.S. Government counter-narcotics programs.

In addition to working closely with Bolivian Government officials to strengthen bilateral relations, the U.S. Embassy provides a wide range of services to U.S. citizens and businesses. Political and economic officers deal directly with the Bolivian Government in advancing U.S. interests, but are also available to provide information to American citizens on local economic and political conditions in the country. Commercial officers work closely with numerous U.S. companies that operate direct subsidiaries or have investments in Bolivia, providing information on Bolivian trade and industry regulations and administering several programs intended to aid U.S. companies starting or maintaining businesses in Bolivia.

The consular section of the embassy provides vital services to the estimated 13,000 American citizens resident in Bolivia. Among other services, the consular section assists Americans who wish to participate in U.S. elections while abroad and provides U.S. tax information. Some 40,000 U.S. citizens visit annually. The consular section offers passport and emergency services to these tourists as needed during their stay in Bolivia.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Philip S. Goldberg
Deputy Chief of Mission--Krishna Urs
Management Counselor--Kimberly DeBlauw
Political/Economic/Commercial Officer--Andrew Erickson
Director, Narcotics Affairs--William Francisco
Public Affairs Officer--Denise Urs
Consular Chief--Julie Grant
Defense Attaché--Col. Richard Jackson
Commander, U.S. Military Group--Col. James Campbell
Director, USAID Mission--Michael Yates
DEA Country Attaché--Alex Romero
Peace Corps Director--Javier Garza

U.S. Embassy
Avenida Arce #2780
La Paz, Bolivia
(tel. 591-2-2168000)

U.S. Consular Agency in Santa Cruz
(tel. 591-3 -330725)

U.S. Consular Agency in Cochabamba
(tel. 591-4-4256714).

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Main Switchboard: 202-647-4000 (

U.S. Department of Commerce, Trade Information Center, International Trade Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue
Washington, DC 20230
(tel: 800-USA-TRADE, Internet:

American Chamber of Commerce in Bolivia
Edificio Hilda, Oficina 3
Avenida 6 de Agosto
Apartado Postal 8268
La Paz, Bolivia
Tel: (591) 2-2432573
Fax: (591) 2-2432472

Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.

Facts at a Glance
Current Time
Ranking Positions

Notes and Commentary
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.

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