June 28, 2008

USAID and the US Are Being Kicked Out of Bolivia

MABB © ®

The diplomatic relations between Bolivia and the US have turned sour. The latest development was the (virtual) expulsion of USAID (the development agency) from the Chapare region in Cochabamba. As I posted earlier, coca growers in that region "invited" USAID to get out. Wisely, USAID heard and took the invitation.

As you may realize, this is not a good development in the diplomatic relations between Bolivia and the US. The American government must be, to say the least, worried about these developments. Although, it doesn't show, but I am guessing it must be.

What is worrisome is the showing complacence from the part of the Bolivian government with these actions. This is to the extent that Morales has congratulated the coca growers for their actions against USAID and has also invited the US government to leave Bolivia.

The US government has taken these words as unfriendly and worrisome.

At this point, the question arises: What will happen to the US-Bolivia relations?

On my part, I think it is a significant defeat for the US. One, because it shows their diplomacy is not working. Two, because any loss of contact with a country like Bolivia will be a bad signal from the US vis-a-vis the world. Countries around the world are like investors looking and analyzing each and every move the US is making. Three, it contributes to the bad image the US currently has in the world. This is one thing, I am sure, the US government is working against. Four, the US government does not want to loose support in the region (in this case contact). It must be afraid of the domino effect it might represent. Other people around the region might decide that is a good way to proceed. I see what is happening in Bolivia as a very low point in American diplomacy.

I have to add, it might even be due to the little importance the American government has placed in the region.

I am not sure this might even be good for Bolivia. Granted I consider this move by Morales has placed Bolivia in a position of relative strength, cutting off diplomatic relations with the biggest donor, might not be the smartest thing to do. The Morales government says they prefer receiving help from Europe than the US. I am sure, the people in the government has seen how much comes from the EU and how much help from the US. Need I say more?

For the time being, the relations are very tense and, I would say, there is a tendency to get even worst. The government's comments are not the most conciliatory!