Any discussion of the effects of current U.S. Foreign Policy in Bolivia must start with an examination of both Bolivian history, at least as far back as the revolution of 1952, as well as of the history of Bolivian/U.S. relations since World War II. Both have had a profound impact in dictating Bolivia’s current maladies: corruption, poverty and coca cultivation. Recognizing this as the current state of affairs in Bolivia, the United States has taken a three-pillar approach in its foreign policy objectives in Bolivia. These include Promotion of Democracy, Stabilization of the Economy and Prevention of Drug Trafficking. It is readily apparent to anyone who may read a newspaper that the latter of these three is of utmost importance to the U.S. Embassy. What has been overlooked, however, is the interrelated nature of all three of these factors. The roots of the coca problem in Bolivia can be found in the economy and government that have developed since 1952. The United States must keep this in mind when attempting to tackle the problem of coca cultivation. Present interdiction and eradication efforts without sufficient emphasis being placed on Alternative Development simply exacerbate the economic and political conditions that forced the population towards coca to begin with. The issue of coca cultivation in Bolivia cannot be solved without first addressing the weaknesses in government and the economy.
Katie Sutton, ’99 Carbondale, CO
Majors: International Relations, Politics, Spanish
Sponsor: David Loebsack