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US-Bolivia (1951-2000)

Project: History of US Interventions
Open-Content project managed by Derek, mtuck

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Bolivian voters elect Victor Paz Estenssoro of the populist Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR) as president, but the victory is stymied by a last-minute coup. [Library of Congress, 1991; Klein, 2003, pp. 206]

Entity Tags: Victor Paz Estenssoro

A coup in Bolivia provokes a popular armed revolt which becomes known as the April Revolution of 1952. The military is subsequently defeated and Paz Estenssoro returns to power. [Library of Congress, 1991; Klein, 2003, pp. 237, 240] The MNR introduces universal adult suffrage, carries out a sweeping land reform, promotes rural education, and nationalizes the country’s largest tin mines. [Library of Congress, 1991; Klein, 2003, pp. 237, 240]

Entity Tags: Victor Paz Estenssoro

Notorious ex-Gestapo captain Klaus Barbie, convicted with the death penalty for his war crimes, escapes to Bolivia with assistance from the American Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC). Here he works as a US agent, assisting a succession of military regimes during the 1970s and 1980s, teaching soldiers torture techniques, and helping protect the flourishing cocaine trade before finally being deported to France to face his crimes in 1983. [US Department of Justice, 8/1983 pdf file; Central Intelligence Agency, 1997; San Francisco Bay Guardian, 5/7/2001; Klein, 2003, pp. 237, 240]

Entity Tags: Klaus Barbie

A military junta headed by General Ren Barrientos overthrows the MNR. Military regimes subsequently come and go with monotonous regularity until the election of the leftist civilian Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) under Dr Hernan Siles Zuazo in 1982. [Library of Congress, 1991; Klein, 2003, pp. 237, 240]

Entity Tags: Ren Barrientos, Hernan Siles Zuazo

1967: Che Guevara Executed in Bolivia

Che Guevara, having gone to Bolivia in the hopes of starting a revolution to overthrow the military government, is captured and executed by Bolivian soldiers trained, equipped and guided by US Green Beret and CIA operatives. [Kornbluh, n.d.]

Entity Tags: Ché Guevara

Hernan Siles Zuazo is defeated in Bolivian elections by Paz Estenssoro, who promptly moves to curb the extremely high inflation levels, which at one point reach 35,000 percent annually. He imposes austerity measures under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in exchange for temporary relief of Bolivia’s large foreign debt. [Library of Congress, 1991; Green Left Daily, 7/24/2002]

Entity Tags: Victor Paz Estenssoro, Hernan Siles Zuazo

Aguas del Tunari, a subsidiary of the privately-owned US corporation Bechtel through International Water, purchases a 40-year concession to operate the public water system of Cochabamba, Bolivia after the country is pressured by the World Bank and IMF to privatize its water services in return for a $25 million loan. It had been an apparent easy win for Bechtel, whose bid was the only one considered for the contract. Despite promises that the privatization of Cochabamba’s water would not send prices skyrocketing, that is exactly what happens. In December of 1999, Aguas del Tunari doubles the price of water and as a result, water bills in some households jump to over $20 per month. This is devastating to Cochabamba’s poor, many of whom earn monthly wages of about $67. But the privatization scheme is not limited to just the privatization of water services. The World Bank also pressures the Bolivian government to pass several other laws protecting the interests of the water company. One law pegs the cost of water to the US dollar in order to eliminate the company’s exposure to changes in the Bolivian currency’s exchange rate. Another law grants water privateers exclusive rights to Bolivia’s water. Now, Bolivians would have to pay for every drop of water they use, even if it comes from their own wells or is rainwater they collect on their own property. And to protect Bolivia’s creditors from the risk of Bolivia defaulting on the loan, the World Bank prohibits the government from using a portion of the aid money to help the poor pay for their water. Angered by the water privatization, Bolivians take to the streets. Hundreds of demonstrators are injured and one youth is killed during the protests. Finally, in April 1999, the company leaves Bolivia. Bechtel will later attempt to sue the Bolivian government for $25 million for breach of contract. [Z Magazine, 4/24/2000; PBS Frontline, 6/2002; Pacific News Service, 11/11/2002; Democracy Center, 9/15/2005]

Entity Tags: Bechtel

Timeline Tags: Water

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