1. Top of page
  3. military-led development and the alliance for progress
  4. modernization and nationalism: revolutionary bolivia and the alliance for progress
  5. the triangular plan
  6. a view from the mines
  7. development and its discontents
  8. conclusion

When the Kennedy administration encountered the nine-year old Bolivian Revolution in 1961, there appeared a very real possibility that La Paz was headed toward the Soviet camp. By incorporating Bolivian fully within the new administration's development program known as the Alliance for Progress, Kennedy officials halted Bolivia's leftward drift and secured it within the US sphere of influence. This paper follows Kennedy officials' initial reaction to Bolivia in January 1961 through to its adoption of an aggressively interventionist policy of military-led development. Seizing on Bolivian leaders' interest in rapid modernization, Washington employed seemingly apolitical developmental theories for political, even imperial, ends. While failing at “development,” the Kennedy administration's militarized developmental intervention succeeded at de-Communizing the Bolivian Revolution and reversing its neutralist pretentions.

Bolivia is on the verge of being taken over by Communist elements favorable to Señor Castro.

—President Kennedy, April 6, 19611

On July 19, 1963, General René Barrientos, the Bolivian Air Force chief who would go on to lead a successful coup d'état against his country's civilian government in November 1964, met with U.S. Embassy Air Attaché Edward Fox to discuss a covert paramilitary operation against the Communist-led union at Bolivia's largest mining camp, Siglo XX. The miners were preparing to march to La Paz for a hunger strike in protest of mass layoffs required by an Alliance for Progress development program, and General Barrientos told Colonel Fox the goal of the operation was simple: “to get rid of the Communists.” According to the CIA, Claudio San Román, head of the Bolivian government's “covert action arm,” had prepared a “200–man battalion of civilians armed with 170 rifles and 30 machine guns and disguised as Indians.” The paramilitary force would “attack the miners to prevent their movement to La Paz, kill as many of the extremist leaders as possible, and force the miners into a defensive situation.”2

In a report to the White House the following day, Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Edwin Martin explained that the State Department was supporting the operation with a $4 million “contingency fund,” explicitly approved by Alliance for Progress Administrator Teodoro Moscoso.3 Three days later, Ambassador Ben Stephansky sent a limited distribution cable to Martin, Moscoso, and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, including a list of $110,000 of military equipment, to be drawn on the $4 million contingency fund, partly for use in equipping the paramilitary army. The embassy recommended that the entire shipment be “airlifted immediately to support [the] anticipated internal security action.”4 One day later, Secretary Rusk approved the entire shipment, and at 11:05 a.m. on July 26, the weaponry arrived at the offices of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in La Paz.5

Thus began the third phase of John F. Kennedy's much-heralded Alliance for Progress development program in Bolivia. It was no anomaly. Hours before General Barrientos's conversation with Colonel Fox, Alliance Administrator Moscoso told a summit of Latin American military leaders that economic development “has a great deal to do with the military,” before singling out the Bolivian armed forces for lengthy praise.6 In so doing, he was building squarely on President Kennedy's December 1961 National Security Memorandum 119, which called on third world militaries to play a central role in the development process.7 Kennedy expounded on this idea at a July 1962 gathering of Latin American officers in Panama, where he declared that “armies can play constructive roles in defending the aims of the Alliance for Progress by striking at the roots of economic and social distress.”8

Drawing on Bolivian and U.S. sources, this article seeks to identify the origins of militarism in Kennedy's Alliance for Progress. By following the aid program's adoption in Bolivia during the first half of 1961, the article finds an undeniable penchant for authoritarianism and uncovers the Kennedy administration's early affinity for the armed forces as harbingers of third world development. The Bolivian case is illuminating for several reasons. Firstly, in 1952 Bolivia authored Latin America's second social revolution, after Mexico's, in which a fifth of the country's arable land was divided amongst the country's Indian majority, and three of the world's largest tin companies were nationalized.9 For the Kennedy administration, this made the country a “test case of the thesis that social and political reforms are essential for development,” and the State Department warned that “[s]hould the effort fail in Bolivia, it will bring in doubt the underlying concept of the Alliance.”10 Secondly, U.S. foreign aid to revolutionary Bolivia far outstripped that given to neighboring nations, and by 1964, the country was the second highest per capita recipient of U.S. aid in the world with Alliance funding representing roughly 20 percent of Bolivia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).11 Finally, Bolivia began two decades of military rule in 1964, making it an ideal case study of developmentalism and militarism, both hallmarks of the global 1960s.

military-led development and the alliance for progress

  1. Top of page
  3. military-led development and the alliance for progress
  4. modernization and nationalism: revolutionary bolivia and the alliance for progress
  5. the triangular plan
  6. a view from the mines
  7. development and its discontents
  8. conclusion

As Friedrich Nietzsche writes, “philosophical concepts . . . grow up in connection and relationship to each other . . . [they] belong just as much to a system as all the members of fauna a continent.”12 Development economists employed by the U.S. foreign policy bureaucracy in the 1960s theorized within a system of strategic discourse similar to that described by Edward Said in his critique of oriental studies in imperial Britain and France.13 With academic theories firmly rooted in politics, it is unsurprising that developmentalism was also thoroughly infused by aggressive anti-Communism. This idea was powerfully articulated by Timothy Mitchell, in his study of neo-orientalism in Washington's technocratic approach to Egypt.14 Meanwhile, Arturo Escobar applied this critical framework to developmentalism in Latin America, arguing that economic theories pitching themselves as messianic paths toward modernity are actually intricately formulated strategies designed to maintain Western hegemony in the cultural dialogue of Latin American elites.15

Theoretical pioneers notwithstanding, some of the more fascinating works on the strategic underpinning of Western developmentalism are based firmly on empirical research. In his impeccably documented study of the World Bank's activity in Lesotho, James Ferguson found that development's apolitical, technocratic approach is highly useful for states seeking to extend political, even military, control over potentially rebellious populations. This side effect of development, according to Ferguson, helps to explain why the enterprise is adopted time and again, despite its failure to “develop” anything but state or “bureaucratic” power.16 Similarly, James C. Scott finds that development ideology is often a framework within which the strategic extension of state power is carried out. Resistance to development, in Scott's view, can be a rational response by communities seeking to maintain autonomy in political struggles against potentially hostile states.17 Peter Uvin takes this a step further, accusing Western aid organizations of excusing the racism that permeated Rwanda's development-oriented Hutu government throughout the 1970s and 1980s, for the precise reason that developmentalists viewed Rwanda's strong state capacity as a model for carrying out rapid economic and social change.18

Cold War history has not escaped this line of inquiry, something presented forcefully by Odd Arne Westad, who employs a wide range of case studies to demonstrate that first and second world elites employed development ideologies in their strategic push for political power in the third world. According to Westad, it was precisely this bipolar ideological competition that led to the tragedy and violence experienced by the third world during the latter half of the twentieth century.19 Westad's work complements excellent studies of 1960s modernization theories, which explore the role of ideology in the formation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy.20 Especially influential in this genre is Michael Latham's work on President John F. Kennedy's foreign policy in the third world, where he suggests that heady ideas of rapid economic and social progress drove policymakers to embark upon an adventurous policy of expansive interventionism.21

Examining specific case studies of U.S. “development” policy during the Cold War, scholars like Bradley Simpson and David Milne have uncovered crucial aspects of the enterprise's strategic underpinnings.22 Yet studies of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America during the 1960s remain divided on the question of ideology and strategy. While Latham's work preferences ideas, classic scholarship by Stephen G. Rabe demonstrates that geostrategy often played the preponderant role in Washington's approach to the region.23 Similarly, Jeffrey Taffet's survey of the Alliance for Progress finds an almost universal abandonment of ideology in favor of Washington's perennial drive to maintain political hegemony in Latin America.24

Despite receiving massive injections of U.S. aid during the Kennedy years, Bolivia has escaped the attention of scholars of the Alliance for Progress. This is the case both in Rabe's otherwise masterful survey of Kennedy foreign policy toward the entire region and in Taffet's up-close analysis of Alliance programs in Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Brazil.25 Even Jerome Levinson and Juan de Onís's standard text on the Alliance is remarkably brief on Bolivia, which is especially strange given de Onís's extensive coverage of U.S.-Bolivian relations as a correspondent for the New York Times in the early 1960s.26 Of U.S. diplomatic historians, only James Siekmeier, Kenneth Lehman, and Cole Blasier make more than passing reference to the Alliance for Progress in Bolivia, devoting twenty-two, thirteen, and five pages, respectively.27 Matters were hardly helped by the State Department's decision to omit Bolivia from the printed edition of its document collection for the Kennedy years.28

In considering the origins of militarism in Kennedy's approach to Bolivia, this article contends that the apparent divide between ideology and strategy is an illusion. As Ferguson, Scott, Simpson, and Milne have argued,29 development ideology serves states as a powerful intellectual tool wielded for distinctly political ends. If this is indeed the case, development's strategic foundation should reveal itself from the very inception of any development-oriented foreign intervention. This article finds that the Communist threat was indeed midwife to the Alliance for Progress in Bolivia.30 Revolutionary Bolivia's pesky nationalism, and its continued toleration of domestic communism, motivated Kennedy policymakers to redouble their efforts toward intervention. What Bolivia needed, in their view, was an extensive program of economic aid, large enough to convince the Bolivians to declare war on domestic leftists, unwaveringly depicted by development economists as the principal obstacles to progress. This confluence of ideology and strategy, laid bare in the earliest months of the Kennedy administration, demonstrates the powerful political side effects of the technocratic development project that was being launched. Far from abandoning ideology in favor of authoritarian anti-Communism, the Kennedy administration's approach was authoritarian from the beginning.

modernization and nationalism: revolutionary bolivia and the alliance for progress

  1. Top of page
  3. military-led development and the alliance for progress
  4. modernization and nationalism: revolutionary bolivia and the alliance for progress
  5. the triangular plan
  6. a view from the mines
  7. development and its discontents
  8. conclusion

In their adoption of authoritarian development as foreign policy, Kennedy officials were largely responding to an existing local paradigm of authoritarian nationalism. Bolivian President Víctor Paz Estenssoro (1952–56, 1960–64), the undisputed father of the revolution, had demonstrated that he was willing to accept foreign aid from any source—Western or Communist—in his unrelenting drive to “turn Bolivia into a real Nation.”31 The Bolivian leader had also begun to display a more favorable view toward the armed forces, which he hoped to employ in the service of national development. Finally, Paz ruled with an iron fist—directed at Bolivian conservatives during his first term—and he revived this repressive machinery when he resumed power in 1960.32 Kennedy officials were alarmed by the extent to which Paz was courting the Communist world and repressing the domestic rightwing, but they were also confident in their capacity to woo the Bolivian leader back into the Western camp. In early 1961, U.S. officials sought to bolster Paz's reliance on the armed forces as harbingers of development, while simultaneously convincing him to turn his repressive machinery against the Bolivian left.

A genuine nationalist, Paz sought to maintain neutrality in foreign affairs. “He loved Tito,” one lower-level Paz official recalled, “and he wanted to be a Latin American Tito, to play both sides of the Cold War.”33 Aside from fellow Latin Americans, the only foreign leaders to visit Bolivia in the early 1960s shared Paz's worldview: Indonesia's Sukarno, Yugoslavia's Tito, and France's Charles de Gaulle.34 For Paz, this desire for neutrality was nothing new. During World War II, he scored large propaganda victories as head of the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR; Revolutionary Nationalist Movement) by criticizing the Bolivian government's overt alliance with the Allied powers, claiming that it prevented the country from taking full advantage of global tensions to procure higher prices for Bolivian tin.35

Paz believed the Cold War was no different, and he actively sought economic and technical assistance from the Communist world. Building on a trip to Prague during his late 1950s ambassadorship in London, Paz signed a cultural agreement with Czechoslovakia on January 23, 1961.36 Meanwhile, the CIA worried that the Paz government was “under heavy domestic pressure” to accept a standing Soviet offer, first made in October 1960, to provide Bolivia with a long-coveted tin smelter and $150 million in economic and technical assistance. Moreover, in mid-January, Prague's vice minister of foreign affairs, Jiří Hájek, visited Bolivia to discuss a high-profile antimony smelter offer.37 Days later, Paz scandalized outgoing U.S. Ambassador Carl Strom with his view that “acceptance of Soviet bloc economic aid will not danger the U.S. grant-aid program.” When informed that such aid might enable the Soviets to “score politically in Latin America,” Paz precociously stated that he “feels no obligation to impede such a development.”38

These Soviet bloc “economic overtures,” in the words of the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), had introduced a “disturbing political issue.” INR also noted that it appeared the Czechs were permitting $2 million of their exports to be paid for in local currency to their embassy in La Paz, money that was pumped freely into “known Czech political and propaganda activities in Bolivia.”39 Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Thomas Mann worried that Washington's failure to provide massive economic aid would “create a vacuum into which the Communists would move,” since the “Soviets are genuinely interested in establishing a foothold in Latin America.”40

Paz's nationalist ideology also reserved a special, albeit complicated, role for the armed forces. Military officials bitterly recalled that the MNR temporarily closed the officers' academy in the aftermath of the 1952 revolution, purged the officer corps of 150 to 200 suspected “counterrevolutionaries,” forced remaining offers to swear loyalty to the party, and mandated that the new academy admit children from the “middle class, workers, and Indian peasants.” Despite opposition from his party's leftwing, however, Paz reconstituted the armed forces in mid-1953 as “an instrument that contributes to the economic development of the country thereby achieving the welfare of the Bolivian people.”41 Officers who survived the purges latched onto the military's newfound role as a force for development. Indeed, they had little choice. As one expert on the Bolivian armed forces notes, the MNR's early suspicion of the military forced enterprising officers to “develop the idea that the army should move toward self-sufficiency and play an active role in development.”42

When Paz prepared to return to the presidency, he made it clear that “the armed forces would be called upon to perform work of first magnitude,” with Bolivia entering its “revolutionary constructive development phase.” Meeting with the High Command in 1959, Paz repeatedly referred to officers as compañeros43 of the MNR, thanking them for providing “new evidence of the unity that exists in the revolutionary ranks.” Citing ongoing military-led development experiments in Indonesia, India, Iraq, and Egypt, Paz argued that it was “fallacy” to think that the military could not serve as an armed wing of the governing party.44 The 1960 MNR platform formalized this relationship, calling for extensive military involvement in the revolution's “fundamentally constructive phase.” The armed forces were “few in number, but well gifted and instructed with professional cadres,” the platform read, stressing the need for technical expertise in the development process.45 In his August 1960 inaugural address, PresidentPaz confidently declared that “after eight years of a revolutionary regime, it is safe to say that the armed forces have truly been returned to the people.”46

Aside from expressing a desire for international neutrality and seeking warmer relations with the Bolivian armed forces, Paz also revived his previous reliance on police repression in his drive for political power.47 On February 21, 1961, President Paz responded to a nationwide teachers' strike by declaring a ninety-day state of siege and rounding up dozens of rightwing opposition leaders—and one token Communist, Oruro University Rector Felipe Íñiguez—unceremoniously airlifting the majority into Paraguayan exile.48 This modified version of martial law meant that “public manifestations and political meetings are absolutely prohibited,” bars and cafés were forced to close at midnight, and after 12:30 a.m. no two individuals could be seen together in public.49 Citing “permanent subversive activity by certain far right and far left groups, who view liberty as an environment in which to hone their coup intentions,” pro-MNR Colonel Eduardo Rivas Ugalde, then serving as Paz's government minister, accused “petite bourgeois elements . . . and communist agitators” of “exploiting” the teachers' economic demands. Rivas vowed to “maintain public order, prevent bloodshed, and defend [the] conquests” achieved by the 1952 revolution.50

The following day, Kennedy's top aide for Latin America, Arthur Schlesinger, arrived in La Paz for a three day leg of his six-country regional tour. Ostensibly taking part in a fact-finding mission for Washington's Food for Peace program, Schlesinger was also seeking to identify political leaders who were dedicated to the “modernization of Latin American society.” The White House aide believed that the “chief obstacle to modernization” was precisely the “agrarian, semi-feudal economic structure” that had been destroyed by the Bolivian revolution nine years hence. Seeking a “middle-class class revolution . . . as speedily as possible,” Schlesinger warned that the Soviet Union, “in association with Cuba . . . [was] exploiting the situation and providing the US with unprecedented serious competition.” He characterized the situation as requiring an “extremely high degree of urgency,” since the middle classes were the only barrier to the “workers-and-peasants,” who would soon take matters into their own hands.51

Paz would eventually come to epitomize the middle-class revolutionary Schlesinger so eagerly sought. Nonetheless, in their first meeting, Schlesinger referred to the previous day's roundup of rightwing opposition leaders, preaching to Paz at length that “[i]t was not only necessary to protect the revolution from the oligarchy of the right; it was also necessary to protect it from the conspiracy and sabotage of the left.” Schlesinger drew Paz's attention to the Cuban revolution, which “may have begun as a national revolution, but . . . has now been clearly seized by forces from outside the hemisphere intent on destroying free institutions and establishing a Communist state.” President Paz responded confidently that the Cuban system “puts land in the hands of the state,” whereas the Bolivian revolution “puts land into the hands of the peasants,” adding for good measure that Cuban President Fidel Castro “must be eliminated.”52

At the time, Paz's attempt to demonstrate unswerving anticommunism left Schlesinger unconvinced. Citing Bolivia's burgeoning relations with the Soviet bloc, he characterized the meeting as “a typical Paz performance . . . His words are excellent, but his actions belie his words.”53 In his report to President Kennedy, Schlesinger's warned that Bolivia was

on the brink of a serious political convulsion . . . Bolivia might well go the way of Cuba . . . After Cuba, we simply cannot let another Latin American nation go Communist; if we should do so, the game would be up through a good deal of Latin America . . . One can already imagine the speeches in Congress on the theme, “Who lost Bolivia?” . . . The loss of Bolivia would be a catastrophe.

According to Schlesinger, the Kennedy administration needed to launch a “serious effort at economic development” alongside a “shrewd and tough politico-diplomatic offensive” that would “create the conditions which would drive Paz to take an anti-Communist line.” Schlesinger enthusiastically endorsed Kennedy's ambassadorial appointee, Russian émigré economist Ben Stephansky, who was a “liberal opponent of Communists and fellow travelers” who could “talk to Paz in Paz's own language and help nerve him into bolder action.” This “adroit and aggressive ambassador” would be well placed to implement a development program accompanied by “explicit economic conditions and implicit political conditions, reinforced by a stern and resourceful diplomatic determination.” Schlesinger also concluded that a stronger Bolivian military would “strengthen the government against the possibility of a revolt by the armed miners . . . [and] help Paz to recover his freedom of action.” Schlesinger ended his report by reiterating that “Bolivia must be saved,” adding that the new administration must “think through with care and precision the requirements of salvation.”54

Prior to Stephansky's arrival, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) William Williams seconded Schlesinger's analysis, agreeing that “[a]nother Cuba in Bolivia would obviously be disastrous.” Williams wrote that if Bolivia went the way of Cuba, a “purely national revolution would be superseded by one managed by International Communism, thus discouraging nationalists in neighboring countries who think it is possible to bring about thoroughgoing reforms under a non-Communist system.” U.S. aid to the Bolivian MNR since 1953 had had “an important and favorable influence on the thinking of South American revolutionaries,” Williams explained, adding that “we still have the chance to turn the Bolivian revolution to our advantage and make it the most potent counterweight to the Castro revolution in Latin America.” Success would require the “wit and will . . . [to] liberate” Paz from the “left majority in his own party,” Williams continued, recommending that the Kennedy administration “dole the money out bit-by-bit depending on [Paz's] performance” on key issues such as “Communism in the country, labor indiscipline, [and] relations with the Bloc countries.”55

With the teachers' strike and state of siege entering their ninth day on March 1, newly appointed Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Felipe Herrera began a five-day tour of Bolivia (Figure 1). If Herrera was bothered by the lack of political liberties, or the recent round-up of politicians, he made little fuss. On the contrary, the IDB president announced the tentative approval of a U.S.-backed $10 million economic development program, conditioned on harsh labor reforms in Bolivia's state-run mining sector.56 Albeit preliminary, Herrera's dramatic aid offer was just the sort of development-oriented impetus President Paz needed. One day after signing the March 4 IDB loan agreement, the Bolivian president told Ambassador Strom that he was preparing to “take decisive action [to] end [the] teachers' strike,” including the “arrest [of] communist trade union leaders [in] all sectors with [the] exception of mining,” where he would need “at least another month to strengthen [his] party position in [the] mines before attempting [to] arrest communist leaders there.”57


Figure 1. Between March 1 and 6, 1961, newly appointed Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Felipe Herrera toured Bolivia during President Paz Estenssoro's first state of siege decree. Far from being bothered by the lack of political liberties, Herrera announced preliminary approval of a U.S.-backed $10 million development plan, conditioned on anti-Communist labor reforms in the nationalized mining sector. A day after signing the memorandum of understanding, Paz Estenssoro vowed to “arrest communist trade union leaders.” (Photograph courtesy of the Archivo de La Paz, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, La Paz, Bolivia, ALP/AF G.3 C.17 S.5 F.2.)

Download figure to PowerPoint

President Paz further revealed that he would order the Bolivian Army to occupy major rail centers during the crackdown and that he was fully committed to “defend [the] Bolivian revolution against [a] communist attempt [to] sabotage economic recovery.” Ambassador Strom reported to Washington that this would be the “first use [of] uniformed forces to impose GOB [Government of Bolivia] policy” since the revolution began and that the United States would have “much to gain” if Paz followed through. Strom forwarded a list of military equipment Paz requested in connection with the operation, including hundreds of rockets (2.25-inch, 3.5-inch, and 5-inch), 1,450 bombs (fragmentary, chemical, incendiary, and pyrotechnical), 300 boxes of airplane ammunition, 20 airplane machine guns, and 5,000 tear gas grenades. Secretary Rusk immediately approved the shipment, and two days later, 28,400 pounds of weaponry landed in La Paz.58 The teachers promptly gave up their grievances.59

The following day, President Kennedy announced that he was dispatching his first special economic mission, which would arrive in Bolivia on March 9 to “review the status and effectiveness” of U.S. aid programs and provide recommendations that would “give strength and viability to the Bolivian economy . . . keeping [the] country in [a] friendly posture toward [the] US.”60 Incoming Ambassador Stephansky later explained that Kennedy dispatched the mission to see “whether or not Bolivia was really over the brink.”61

Five days later, Kennedy unveiled his heralded Alliance for Progress program of extensive development assistance to Latin American reformers. It was not a coincidence that his speech waxed lyrical on the benefits of rapid social and economic progress, while giving very short shrift to the importance of political democracy.62 Indeed, the Kennedy administration's very early commitment to Bolivia demonstrated that the Alliance's development ideology had little to do with democratic liberties. It did, however, have “a great deal to do with” military-led development, as Moscoso proclaimed, and Bolivia was well poised to play a central role in this emerging program. Military-led development in Bolivia predated the Alliance for Progress, but there is no evidence that U.S. liberals were bothered by it. On the contrary, they viewed Paz's strong-armed rule as well suited for a large-scale, politicized development intervention. With Paz continuing to court the Communist bloc, however, it remained to be seen whether or not he would live up to his promises, thus fulfilling Schlesinger's dream of saving Bolivia from the scourge of communism.

the triangular plan

  1. Top of page
  3. military-led development and the alliance for progress
  4. modernization and nationalism: revolutionary bolivia and the alliance for progress
  5. the triangular plan
  6. a view from the mines
  7. development and its discontents
  8. conclusion

After eleven days in Bolivia, President Kennedy's special economic mission reported back on March 24 that the country “offers substantial opportunities for economic development,” despite its “unfavorable trend.” The mission, headed by Marshall Plan economist and former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Willard Thorpe, condemned Eisenhower-era aid programs to Bolivia for having given Washington “no control over the secondary use of aid funds,” a leverage that these economists believed should be used to require aggressive development-oriented reforms. Recommending that the Kennedy administration incorporate future aid within an “integrated plan for development,” the Thorpe mission honed its sights on what it called “labor-coddling” in the nationalized mining sector. Noting that President Paz had intimated a willingness to crack down on the miners' unions, the mission estimated that he would only do so with “proper encouragement and assistance” from the United States. Due to the uncertainty of Paz's political will, the economic mission conceded that a large-scale program would be a “gamble, possibly against odds.” They nonetheless argued that Washington would “never have a better chance of achieving turn-about and take-off in Bolivia.” The mission concluded that it would be a “tragic error to abandon Bolivia under the current circumstances.”63

In its formal recommendations, the Thorpe mission reiterated the importance of cracking down on the miners, where the “hard and tough core of the labor movement is to be found.” The mission went on to argue that Bolivia's state-run mining company, Corporación Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL; Mining Corporation of Bolivia), was employing “four to five thousand more workers than are necessary for the efficient functioning of the mines.” The economists recommended that these miners be laid off as soon as possible to test Paz's willingness and capacity to “introduce increased labor discipline in the economy.” The Thorpe mission believed that the “principal roadblock” to this “rationalization” effort would be Vice President Juan Lechín, executive secretary of the Federación Sindical de Trabajadores Mineros de Bolivia (FSTMB; Union Federation of Bolivian Mine Workers), whose “strongly leftwing or Communist influenced and inspired . . . anti-American” sector of the governing MNR would resist any action against the “known Communist leaders” in the mines. The Lechín threat was aggravated, according to the economic mission, by the fact that the miners were organized into armed militias and thus able to impose their will on COMIBOL's management rather than the other way around. The mission therefore recommended strengthening the “morale of the army,” both by supporting military-led “economic development through construction and other engineering works” and by providing increased “internal security” equipment to counterbalance the armed miners.64

In a separate letter to the White House, mission member Seymour Rubin, who had been appointed as USAID legal counsel, stressed that the proposed “development” program would surely fail unless, that is, “labor leaders whose actions are dictated by pro-Communist and pro-Castro sentiment . . . [are] removed.” Rubin warned that “[i]f Bolivia turns the way of Castro, the failure of United States support to bring benefits to a country will be publicized throughout the continent.” Conceding that the “hazards and difficulties . . . are admittedly great,” Rubin concluded that “to resign from combat now, or to take the road that leads to chaos in the hope that a bright phoenix will somehow rise from the ashes, is a choice which prudence will not allow.”65

The Thorpe mission report made quite a wave in Washington. Time magazine hailed “Kennedy's fact-finders” for recognizing that under the Eisenhower administration, “the US [had] been acting too much like an indulgent uncle.” An unnamed Kennedy official told Time that Washington would no longer just “dump $50 million in there, or $10 million, and say, ‘Here you are, fellows, have a ball.’ ” Instead, the Kennedy administration would ensure that future aid went toward “businesslike development.”Time cleverly titled its article, “After the Ball.”66

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rusk's top aide, Theodore Achilles, reported to Alliance for Progress architects Lincoln Gordon and Adolf Berle that the Thorpe mission had recommended “not so much an increase in American assistance as its reorientation” toward “development.” Despite the fact that this would be “a gamble and will be dependent on the Bolivian Government taking the necessary measures to make our aid effective,” Achilles concluded that it was “difficult to see any alternative . . . Clearly we cannot abandon Bolivia.”67

Incorporating the Thorpe mission findings, the State Department released a “Proposed New Program for Bolivia” on March 30. Since the mission had been the “first that President Kennedy has sent specifically to any single country in Latin America,” the Department noted that “[b]oth the friends and enemies of the United States will be keenly awaiting the first news of any New Program.” State believed that the “greatest difficulty in achieving the objectives of our program . . . [is] Bolivia's dearth of adequate human resources” and it therefore proposed working closely with IDB economists, who were already conditioning development programs on tough COMIBOL labor reforms. Recognizing the difficulties of taking on armed miners, the State Department concluded by recommending that the United States provide the Bolivian military with “sufficient hardware to meet any internal threat.”68 Two weeks after reading the Thorpe mission report, President Kennedy warned British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan that “Bolivia is on the verge of being taken over by Communist elements favorable to Señor Castro.”69

Several days later, the head of U.S. Southern Command, General Andrew O'Meara, arrived in Bolivia to begin preparations to reinforce the Bolivian military's capacity to repel an attack by the miners. Since his visit coincided with Kennedy's CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba, General O'Meara was greeted by violent student and worker riots. American flags were burned, the U.S. and Guatemalan embassies were stoned, and hundreds of leftists queued up to give blood for Cuban army casualties.70

In Washington's impending battle with the Bolivian Left, it would count heavily on an important ally: Guillermo Bedregal, COMIBOL's young, headstrong president. A fervent modernizing nationalist, Bedregal actively sought to leverage foreign investment in his spirited drive to wrest control of the mining camps from leftist union leaders, who he referred to as “feudal lords,” whose “hatred of the State” was a “type of suicidal and anti-historical anarcho-syndicalism” that had to be destroyed. Bedregal writes in his memoirs that the miners “viewed and treated COMIBOL as if it were any other boss, as opposed to a company that had been recovered for the nation.” It comes as little surprise that Bedregal enthusiastically supported the U.S.-backed IDB proposal to condition foreign aid on harsh labor reforms.71 Bedregal had accompanied IDB President Herrera on his March 6 return flight to Washington, where he held two months of “truly satisfactory” meetings with State Department officials. In a letter back to President Paz in April, Bedregal boasted that his conversations had resulted in the “COMIBOL program constituting the nucleus around which all other [U.S. aid] programs will function.”72

In his memoirs, Bedregal recalled that Herrera's personal interest in COMIBOL put IDB economists in a position of exercising “leadership over the entire project.” When the West Germans signed on in late April, the Triangular Plan mine rehabilitation program was born.73 All three of Triangular Plan's partners—the United States, the IDB, and West Germany—shared the view that armed, organized labor was fully responsible for COMIBOL's problems, and the German participants wrote to Bedregal to stress the need for a “considerable reduction in the number of workers,” a reform that would require “strict administration” in the face of “opposition by the armed miners and especially their leaders.”74 No participant was more intransigent than the IDB, however, prompting embassy DCM Williams to worry that the development bank's economists were being “unrealistic” to insist that the Bolivian government proceed with “stripping labor leaders of their control in the mines” as a precondition for foreign aid.75

There was no doubt that Triangular's labor reforms would be fiercely opposed by Bolivia's mine workers. Yet as stipulated in the Control Obrero76 section of the 1952 nationalization decree, any change to COMIBOL's structure would require FSTMB approval. To overcome this obstacle, Paz asked Vice President Lechín to pass through Washington in April, on his way back from a five-month trip abroad. Ambassador Strom was concerned that the leftist firebrand would create the “impression . . . [that] he successfully negotiated increased aid during [his] US visit,” but Paz explained that Lechín's cooperation would be necessary if the Triangular Plan were to pass through the FSTMB Control Obrero hurdle.77 In his memoirs, Lechín claims that he was unaware of the harsh conditions attached to the Triangular Plan money, and when he arrived back to Bolivia, he boasted widely that he alone had “secured the Triangular Operation.” Lechín went directly to the eleventh FSTMB Congress on May 7 to defend the Triangular Plan by explaining that “countries which have not won economic independence” were justified in “do[ing] a series of [foreign policy] zigzags until we obtain objectives in the interests of the workers.” Despite attempting to couch his position as analogous to Stalin's 1939 pact with Hitler, Lechín was forced to rebuke charges that he had become an agent of American imperialism. “I am an agent only of the Bolivian people,” Lechín responded magnanimously.78 The Communist-led delegation from Bolivia's largest mine, Siglo XX, had already walked out of the Congress, however, issuing a statement that it would “reject the Triangular Plan because it understands that it is an imperialist plan.”79

In mid-May, the Kennedy administration officially announced the Triangular Plan, which included $13.5 million in technical assistance to COMIBOL, the first tranche of three.80 Hidden from public view was a confidential set of conditions known as the “Accepted Points of View,” which committed the Bolivian government to sharply restrict Control Obrero, lay off 20 percent of the mine labor force—approximately 5,000 workers—and remove Communist union leaders from their posts.81 Despite boasting the tepid support of Lechín's Left sector of the MNR, Paz realized he would have trouble with Communists outside the governing party, who were already planning a hunger march against the plan.82 In conversations with the U.S. embassy, President Paz vowed to “crackdown on communist elements” hell-bent on “sabotaging Bolivia's economic recovery.” Paz's military High Command subsequently informed U.S. officials that the government was preparing to arrest dozens of “communist trade union leaders, university rectors, and many teachers,” adding that army units would be deployed around Siglo XX to prevent its miners from marching to La Paz, or from mobilizing its militia in opposition to the crackdown.83

On the afternoon of June 6, fifty arrests were carried out without bloodshed. To facilitate one round-up, Bedregal called union leaders to La Paz under the pretense of discussing their complaints regarding the Triangular Plan. When they arrived, Bedregal never appeared. Instead, agents from Paz's Control Político arrived, permitted MNR union leaders to go free, and flew the Communists and Trotskyists to Puerto Villarroel, a makeshift detention camp in the Amazon jungle.84 One Communist union leader, Simón Reyes, was fortunate enough to have missed the meeting. When he heard of what had happened, he immediately called Bedregal, explaining that there was going to be a “terrible reaction in the mines.” The COMIBOL president feigned sympathy with Reyes's point of view and asked the union leader to come immediately to the presidential palace to formulate a plan. When Reyes arrived, he too was arrested and put on a plane with a score of university students and professors. This second group—all Communist Party members—was flown away to internal exile in the Amazonian village of San Ignacio de Velasco.85

Anticipating a violent reaction by sympathetic unions, the following morning President Paz announced the existence of a “communist plot,” and declared yet another ninety-day state of siege, his February siege having expired seventeen days earlier.86 Flaunting Paz's decree, 4,000 factory workers and students marched through the streets of La Paz on June 8, chanting slogans against the Bolivian government and the United States. The urban unions declared belligerently that they were “not afraid of repression because they are accustomed to defeating armies,” and the student federation erected barricades and declared a “state of emergency” throughout the country's universities.87 After dispersing these protests with copious amounts of U.S.-supplied tear gas, Paz's MNR organized a counterdemonstration that evening by loyalist Indian peasant groups. In front of 10,000 Indians chanting “Death to Communism!” President Paz proudly announced that his government was holding fifty Bolivian Communists incommunicado in Amazon detention camps. The crowd responded boisterously, “To the firing squad!”88 Meanwhile, MNR-affiliated Indian communities around the nation sent cables to President Paz expressing their “unconditional support for the government,” thanking Paz for once again invoking a state of siege to “defend the government, the homeland, and the Catholic religion.”89

Washington did not delay in showing its gratitude for Paz's decision to round up dozens of Bolivian leftists under the pretext of what the CIA conceded was a “government-fabricated coup.”90 In response to Paz's “favorable actions,” the State Department authorized its embassy to “release [USAID] cash grant payments for April, May, and June,” expressing satisfaction that “for the first time after ten months in office,” President Paz had taken “positive action toward controlling the Communist movement within Bolivia and to re-establish the authority of the Bolivian government over labor.”91

Meanwhile, Paz followed through on his plan to send a military regiment to the mining region, and on June 8, Bolivia's High Command requested U.S. assistance to create a “modified battle group” that would be “highly mobile with heavy power.” Designed to contain the “latent danger for Bolivia inherent in communism,” especially in the highland mining camps, Army Commanding General Alfredo Ovando “urgently” requested $650,000 in “emergency materiel . . . to be airlifted . . . for use [by the] Bolivian army in strengthening GOB to meet [the] current political crisis.” The request received an enthusiastic endorsement from Kennedy's recently arrived ambassadorial appointee, Stephansky, who reported to Secretary Rusk that a mobile artillery battalion “would strengthen anti-Commie forces in [the] present situation,” since the “army is loyal to Paz and is [the] force most likely [to] resist [a] further shift . . . [in the] government apparatus to [the] extreme MNR left.” On June 30, President Kennedy signed the request, and military airlifts began arriving on July 16.92

Nine days after Paz invoked his second state of siege and rounded up Bolivian leftists opposed to the Triangular Plan, Washington's UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson arrived in La Paz for a two-day leg of his regional tour. The liberal icon offered strong support for President Paz's actions, expressing confidence to members of the press welcoming him at the airport that the Alliance for Progress would “make Bolivia a leading example of free world development cooperation.” Echoing other U.S. modernizers, Stevenson declared that “rapid economic and social advance is urgently needed,” despite the fact that this would be “difficult and require painful sacrifices.” Nonetheless, Ambassador Stevenson was confident that “progress is certain if free men join together in a spirit of responsibility and discipline.” He closed his first speech in La Paz by proclaiming that “the Bolivian revolution will demonstrate to peoples of this continent that social and economic progress can be achieved under free institutions and Western Christian traditions.”93

Unfortunately for Stevenson, fatal street riots on June 15 prevented him from seeing much of the city. Instead, he spent three hours discussing economic and social development with President Paz at the latter's suburban home, while students and workers battled throughout the day with police and pro-MNR Indian militias, clashes that resulted in at least four deaths.94 A student delegation was dispatched to Stevenson's hotel, where they pled for Washington to end aid to Bolivia, as it “just enrich[es] the governing party.” They complained that the Triangular Plan was “an attack on national sovereignty, because its conditions require the firing of workers and the imprisonment of union leaders.”95

Stevenson was unfazed by what he witnessed in “that embattled city on top of the world,” telling U.S. embassy officials a few days later that he “found the whole thing fascinating—in spite of the altitude—and left full of anxieties and admiration.”96 A day after he returned to Washington, Stevenson wrote to President Paz that his trip had given him a “better understanding of the frustrating conditions you confront, and great hope for the way you are coming to grip with the political challenge.” He concluded his letter by stressing “my Government's deep interest in Bolivia's plans for that social and economic progress which is at once so difficult and so imperative.”97 The following day, Paz notified the U.S. embassy that his police services had “seriously depleted” tear gas supplies in street fights with students and workers. Secretary Rusk responded by authorizing an emergency shipment of 3,500 additional tear gas grenades from U.S. Southern Command in Panama and existing embassy supplies in Quito, Ecuador.98

Since this violence was directly related to the newly minted Alliance for Progress, President Kennedy could not remain a passive observer. Aside from personally approving the creation of a mobile artillery battalion to enforce implementation of the Triangular Plan, Kennedy also authorized $3 million to reimburse an expensive settlement President Paz made with urban factory workers in late June, an agreement that succeeded in breaking the general strike. When the payment was made four months later, Kennedy notified Paz that he had been “impressed by the courage and determination with which your government has undertaken measures to achieve social progress and embark upon a long-range development program.”99 On June 22, Kennedy took advantage of a sick day to pen a personal letter to Paz, in which he reiterated that his administration “regards the economic and social development of Bolivia as one of the principal goals of the Alliance for Progress.” Kennedy further expressed his “deep admiration for your courage and vision in confronting the difficulties which your nation is now undergoing, and to wish you every success.”100

Thus began Kennedy's foreign policy toward Bolivia, a technocratic development program that took dead aim at the country's leftist miners. Ambassador Stephansky later recalled that there had been a “sense of real anxiety and . . . unease about Bolivia” during the first half of 1961. Many U.S. officials believed the country was “half way over the brink to chaos,” worrying that “it could slide down and be the second Cuba.” With Kennedy's economists providing technocratic language regarding the importance of labor discipline for economic and social progress, U.S. policymakers waged an anticommunist crusade under the unabashed auspices of the Alliance for Progress. The enterprise was enthusiastically supported by President Paz, who Stephansky called “a real egghead, which is awfully nice . . . a man with an extraordinary breadth ofintelligence.”101 Yet Paz was an egghead with guns,102 which he was decisively turning against the miners.

a view from the mines

  1. Top of page
  3. military-led development and the alliance for progress
  4. modernization and nationalism: revolutionary bolivia and the alliance for progress
  5. the triangular plan
  6. a view from the mines
  7. development and its discontents
  8. conclusion

Despite U.S. support for the MNR since 1953, Bolivia's popular militias remained a thorn in Washington's side. Far outnumbering the armed forces, which barely outfitted 7,500 soldiers in 1961, Bolivia's Indian and worker militias boasted 16,000 men (Figure 2). The CIA reported that the militias had “enjoyed a privileged position in Bolivia because [they] are credited with playing the major role in the MNR defeat of the army in the 1952 revolution,” adding that the miners' militia was the “most effective paramilitary element . . . in part because of their access to explosives.” According to the CIA, the Communist-led militia at Siglo XX represented the “single greatest threat to the stability of the country.”103 A Pentagon handbook agreed that while the miners' militias were “not the largest forces,” they were still “considered the most effective because they are better organized, trained, disciplined, and equipped.”104


Figure 2. Bolivia's 1952 revolution profoundly changed the face of its society. Most notable were the popular militias that held sway throughout the country, groups that were aggressively co-opted by the ruling Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR; Revolutionary Nationalist Movement). Above is a photograph of the pro-MNR Indian peasant militia in the pro-Paz stronghold of Achacachi, near Lake Titicaca on the Altiplano. (Photograph courtesy of Luis Antezana Ergueta.)

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Despite having been officially disbanded when the MNR reorganized the armed forces in 1953, the miners' militia at Siglo XX continued to operate under the command of respected MNR left nationalist Octavio Torrico. Poorly armed in anything but dynamite, Torrico's militia relied heavily on the cooperation of the two leftist party militias, affiliated with the Partido Comunista de Bolivia (PCB; Communist Party of Bolivia) and the Trotskyist Partido Obrero Revolucionario (POR; Revolutionary Workers' Party), which organized late-night gangs of mineral-robbing jukus and used the proceeds to buy arms from soldiers, police officers, and members of the legal MNR-affiliated Indian militias. The POR juku was especially efficient, and by 1964 the Trotskyists had collected nearly one hundred weapons, including two U.S.-made M-1 carbine machine guns. Nevertheless, the miners' most effective weapons were homemade bombs, coffee cans filled with dynamite plastique and metal screws, which they launched using Indian-style slingshots or rigged underneath planks of wood as landmines to stymie the advance of military vehicles that dared approach the mining camps.105

Despite traditional Trotskyist strength in Siglo XX, the PCB had made large strides during the late 1950s, and by 1961, Communists controlled the entire union leadership.106 The party boasted hundreds of nonaffiliated youth supporters who, motivated by sympathies for the 1959 Cuban revolution, filled the red-shirted ranks of the party's Lincoln-Castro-Murillo Brigades.107 According to Arturo Crespo, a powerful MNR leftist at the adjacent camp of Catavi, the PCB used Siglo XX as a base from which it “played a very important role in Bolivia in its fight against U.S. imperialism and the MNR governments.” PCB members, according to Crespo, “were organized into cadres [and] observed an internal discipline and solidarity comparable only to the Trotskyist organizations.”108 The PCB was especially impressive in organizing security for the raucous visit of a Soviet parliamentary delegation to Siglo XX in December1960, a necessary precaution as Trotskyist leaders responded to the visit with a spirited anti-Moscow protest.109 A U.S. diplomat later recalled that Siglo XX

was politically volatile territory . . . I used to think when I traveled to the district that they should put a big red star up over the mine entrance . . . It was like traveling to North Korea or something like that. For me, it was just a Commie land of 25 different varieties.110

The Communist Party cadre in Siglo XX was headed by Control Obrero Federico Escóbar Zapata, a loose-tongued orator and rough-and-tumble miner who was loved and despised in equal measure (Figure 3). Affectionately called Macho Moreno by his followers, Escóbar—who had visited Havana in December 1960111—“knew how to understand everybody's needs.” As one miner recalled, “He was always seen solving problems for the benefit of his class, for his comrades and also for those who were not in the Party.” Another miner recounted that Escóbar “treated everybody equally, be it a woman or a man, an Indian or a miner. He made no distinctions . . . someone like Federico Escóbar had never been seen around here.”112 Escóbar's children recalled that their mother Alicia would complain that her husband was never home, nagging him to “just marry the union and go live there!”113 According to another miner's wife, when Escóbar was at home, there was a line of “twenty fellow miners and miners' wives with twenty different calamities waiting their turn.”114 The U.S. embassy shared these views, writing in 1963 that Escóbar was a “romantic Marxist and a hero to his people . . . He regards the interests of his miners as paramount.” The embassy added that Escóbar had “spent twenty-one years in the mines [and] knows as much about mining and mining conditions as most COMIBOL engineers,” a quality proudly confirmed by his friends and family.115


Figure 3. No union leader garnered more respect—and antipathy—than local Communist Party leader Federico Escóbar Zapata, who held the important position of Control Obrero in Bolivia's largest mine, Siglo XX. The U.S. embassy fretted that Escóbar was “a romantic Marxist and a hero to his people . . . He regards the interests of his miners as paramount.” Here he can be seen giving a speech (circa 1961) in Siglo XX's Plaza del Minero, below the mining camp's notorious revolutionary monument to the armed miner. (Photograph courtesy of Daniel Ordóñez Plaza.)

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Fully aware that Kennedy's Alliance for Progress had targeted them for extinction, these leftists prepared for battle. Siglo XX Trotskyist Filemón Escóbar (no relation to Federico) wrote that the Triangular Plan was “much more sinister” than anything that had come before, since it “sought nothing less than the liquidation of the revolutionary workers' movement . . . the liquidationof all union interference, and the sweeping out of the mines all workers considered ‘extremist.’ ” Filemón concludes that U.S. aid funds were nothing more than a “price paid to destroy the workers' movement.”116 Federico Escóbar's PCB comrade Víctor Reinaga agreed that “the Plan's foreign technicians saw only one problem with COMIBOL: the workers' so-called ‘high salaries.’ ”117 Despite the fact that Vice President Lechín was apparently “seduced” by the prospect of U.S. aid to COMIBOL,118 the FSTMB's disparate factions closed ranks in June by declaring a nationwide strike in the wake of President Paz's anticommunist crackdown. COMIBOL responded by closing the company commissaries and pharmacies, “paralyzing the sale of meat, medicine, and other supplies.”119

Fortunately for President Paz, the Bolivian government boasted an important ally in Siglo XX, a group of Canadian priests who had gone into the mining camp on a mission to ensure “the defeat of communism in Bolivia.” The Oblate priests of the Order of Mary Immaculate warned their superiors throughout the year that “communism had infiltrated the region like never before,” and solicited financial support, without which they said it would be impossible “not only to resist the avalanche of atheistic materialism that seeks to defeat us, but also to chalk up a huge triumph for our Holy Cause.” With generous donations from the Canadian faithful, the Oblates erected Bolivia's most powerful radio transmitter, aptly named Pio XII, from which they broadcast vitriolic anticommunist screeds and called for Federico Escóbar's permanent expulsion from Siglo XX.120

The Oblate mission leader, Father Lino Grenier, refused even to baptize Escóbar's children, prompting the union leader to take to the miners' radio, Voz del Minero (Voice of the Miner), and declare that “if there is a God who takes into account the human race, he will see that the majority is made up of the poor.” Escóbar added, “I am sure that Karl Marx up there in Heaven, with our Lord Jesus Christ, has more influence than the mercenaries who have wagered on the Church.”121

When Paz's Control Político rounded up communists in early June, Father Lino provided COMIBOL with lists of Siglo XX “troublemakers” and sent a constant stream of cables to La Paz vowing to “cooperate completely” with the government's anticommunist crackdown.122 One miner later recalled that the Oblates “shamelessly supported the Triangular Plan . . . they only saw communism in our demands.” When Pio XII began handing out food to miners who agreed to go back to work, union members declared, “If the priests want to bust our strike, we'll bust them first!” On July 4, Communist miners attacked the Catholic radio station, first clashing with a group of nuns and then with members of the Catholic Workers' League who rushed to defend Pio. When one of the union miners launched a dynamite stick onto the roof of the station, all hell broke loose. A Catholic miner inside Pio at the time recalls that “it was all rocks, pistol shots . . . They wanted to destroy the transmitter and drag Father Lino outside, eliminate him” (Figure 4).123


Figure 4. In exchange for a central role in the Alliance for Progress, President Paz Estenssoro ordered his security services to detain dozens of leftists and trade union leaders in June 1961, a move actively supported by conservative priests in the Siglo XX mining camp. After a violent fracas between leftists and Catholics on July 4, 1961, union members demanded the priests' expulsion and burned an effigy of Father Lino Grenier, the head priest at Siglo XX, in the camp's public square, Plaza del Minero. (Photograph courtesy of the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore, Fondo del Dirigente Sindical Federico Escóbar Zapata en la década de los 60 del Siglo XX.)

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Amid the chaos, Pio XII transmitted a nationwide call for help, declaring that “now is the time to put an end to communism in Bolivia!” Warning the population “not to be tricked by the miserable and disgusting communists,” the Catholic station declared, “Women of Bolivia: it would be preferable for you to kill your children this moment if you are not capable of defending the Catholic religion!” From inside the building, Father Lino—a black-belt in karate—told his followers, “God says you have to let yourself take punches, but we cannot tolerate this outrage! We must defend ourselves!”124 Local pro-MNR Indian communities cabled their unwavering support to President Paz, assuring him that they were “ready to march on Catavi” should he give the word.125

Amidst this chaos, Bolivia's High Command was growing anxious. The U.S.-built Max Toledo First Motorized Battalion had just been festively inaugurated in Viacha, outside La Paz, and the generals were feeling bold.126 On August 18, three of Bolivia's top generals informed embassy officials that Paz had “lost control of the situation and could not remain in office much longer.” Generals Ovando and Barrientos explained that “within the next six months it would be necessary to establish a military junta,” adding that they planned to “eliminate the MNR party and get rid of the gangsters.” Vowing to establish a “completely pro-Western civilian government,” the generals acknowledged that “they could not do this unless they had the support and backing of the US government.”127

Ambassador Stephansky conceded that Paz's “failure to take decisive action on [the] political-labor front,” and his inability to “provide some assurance [of the] successful implementation . . . [of] the Triangular Operation,” meant that his government was “politically weak and growing weaker.” Nonetheless, Stephansky believed that the United States should leverage the generals' threat, coupled with the intransigence of economists at the IDB and USAID, in order to “apply all available pressure [on] Paz to obtain GOB decision [to] take genuinely decisive action” in the form of an “all-out win or lose battle” against the miners at Siglo XX.128

The pressure worked. In “tense meetings” with IDB economists, Vice President Lechín finally agreed to accept significant restrictions on Control Obrero veto power, paving the way for COMIBOL to make administrative decisions—including mass firings and the removal of individual union leaders—without labor interference.129 Late on August 28, Lechín addressed a special FSTMB session in Oruro, with dozens of his leftist colleagues still sweltering in the Amazon jungle. The only voice to oppose the Triangular Plan was Siglo XX Trotskyist César Lora. Filling in for Siglo XX's detained union leadership, Lora angrily denounced the plan as “submissive” to the United States. Lechín responded that they were dealing with “an issue of food,” and accused Lora of turning the session “into a place to defend political positions . . . [and] put[ing] us where the reactionaries want, so that due to a lack of money they can denationalize the mines. They want to drown us in division.” Under the combined pressure of President Paz, the IDB, USAID, and the Bolivian High Command, Lechín delivered the unanimous votes of his MNR Left sector, and the Triangular Plan was “half-heartedly approved.”130

Having forced the FSTMB to capitulate, President Paz signed a supreme decree on August 31, stipulating that Control Obrero“would not be recognized if [its] veto will prejudice production,” and he privately committed his government to “make use of all power available to it in preventing strikes.”131 It was a time of jubilation for U.S. officials. Ambassador Stephansky gave special credit to the IDB economists, “without whose push it is probable [that the] decree, if issued at all, would have been watered down.” Stephansky also stressed the importance of providing U.S. support for an “intensive propaganda campaign,” including stuffing miners' pay envelopes with pro-Triangular literature and bringing “selected groups of workers” to La Paz for “indoctrination as propaganda agents [in] support [of the] mine rehabilitation program.”132

Meanwhile, the White House thanked Paz with a $7 million credit to cover losses during the strike, and authorized $750,000 in USAID funds and $260,000 in “Presidential Funds” to organize two new Bolivian army engineering battalions for development programs in the countryside.133 Stephansky was optimistic that “if we carry out [the Alliance for Progress] program with [a] sense of urgency before year's end, we could possibly channel GOB thinking into [a] constructive development approach.”134

Despite publicly rejecting charges that U.S. aid programs were conditioned on harsh labor reforms, Ambassador Stephansky and IDB economists were the very individuals driving the toughest line.135 Technocrats who sincerely believed their development theories, they served as ideological soldiers on the front lines of the Kennedy administration's anti-Communist crusade. The Bolivian miners refused to be depoliticized, however, and their organized resistance to the Alliance for Progress would continue to cause headaches in La Paz and Washington. Political strategists and liberal economists were firmly wed, however, in their eager desire to use “development” as a tool to drive communism out of the Bolivian mining camps.

development and its discontents

  1. Top of page
  3. military-led development and the alliance for progress
  4. modernization and nationalism: revolutionary bolivia and the alliance for progress
  5. the triangular plan
  6. a view from the mines
  7. development and its discontents
  8. conclusion

In order to obtain approval for the Triangular Plan, President Paz suspended constitutional liberties for almost the entire year. Yet his second ninety-day state of siege was set to expire on September 7, and fifty Communist leaders still remained incommunicado in Amazonian detention camps. Meanwhile, aside from battling Oblate priests and nuns, Siglo XX's Communist miners took advantage of the long strike in mid-1961 to organize fresh cadres, especially among the women of the mining camp. One miner's wife recalls that the Triangular Plan, and its accompanying repression, “awoke the indignation of the entire mining population.” Wives of those arrested had gone to La Paz one by one to demand their husbands' release, but the government “turned a deaf ear” to their pleas. When they returned to camp, several of the women met with Communist Party members, who agreed to help them organize the Comité de Amas de Casa de Siglo XX.136

In late July, the committee, which its founders later admitted had been “chiefly aligned with the PCB,” sent a delegation to the capital where they declared themselves on hunger strike pending the union leaders' release. The Comité lost one hunger striker, Manuela de Cejas, to death before President Paz finally agreed to release the prisoners. A poem written in homage to Manuela vividly demonstrates the level of anger amongst the Siglo XX miners and their families regarding Triangular and its U.S. backers.

You went to the La Paz hunger strikes,

arriving at the doors of COMIBOL,

tear gas surrounded your children,

launched by agents paid by the Yankee dollar.

Manuela de Cejas,

valiant woman without equal,

you offered your life for the working class,

fighting alongside your husband

against the Triangular Plan,

opposing the White Massacre . . . 

. . . Onward, women!

Toward the liberation of a people

oppressed by American capitalists,

tyrants, wagers of massacres, murdering dogs.

One day they will fall

into a disgusting, endless abyss.137

Hours after Paz signed the antilabor decrees on August 31, he agreed to release Escóbar and Siglo XX General Secretary Irineo Pimentel, thus bringing the women's hunger strike to a close.138 This prompted the CIA to fear that “Bolivia's most effective Communist agitators” were back at their posts, an ominous development that “enhanced the possibility of disorders.”139 Meanwhile, the State Department worried that Bolivia remained the “weakest of all the countries on the continent” and that it was still the “prime Soviet target in South America.” U.S. officials compared Bolivia to an “under-nourished, ill-clad, ill-housed individual who is exposed to tuberculosis” and believed that the only way to prevent the country from catching the disease—communism—was to do “everything we can to prevent Soviet access to the internal affairs of Bolivia.” The State Department warned that, if permitted, Moscow would have more success at rapid economic development since it would have the

assistance of a Castro-type government which, being less responsive to public pressure than is the present government, might well engage in sufficiently repressive measures to bring about by force the reforms we have been maintaining are necessary.140

If by “Castro-type government” the State Department meant authoritarian, U.S. policy was moving rapidly in that direction. On September 5, President Kennedy signed National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 88, in which he ordered his administration to take additional steps to “train the Armed Forces of Latin America in controlling mobs, guerrillas, etc.” Explaining his view that the “military occupy an extremely important strategic position in Latin America,” Kennedy—who days later heralded to the United Nations the “Decade of Development”—called on his government to “increase the intimacy between our Armed Forces and the military of Latin America.”141 The following month, Kennedy met with Pentagon officials at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he reiterated his desire for the U.S. armed forces to work “in conjunction with indigenous military forces toward the attainment of U.S. national objectives in Latin America.” The Defense Department responded enthusiastically with a list of ways it could support “existing US political, economic, and social measures” in Latin America, and contribute directly to the “implementation of the Alliance for Progress.”1425


Figure 5. The Latin American military was to play a central role in President John F. Kennedy's development program known as the Alliance for Progress. Here, Kennedy greets General René Barrientos Ortuño at the White House in May 1963. Eighteen months later, Barrientos ousted Bolivian President Paz Estenssoro. (Photograph courtesy of Colonel Edward J. Fox.)

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Nowhere was President Kennedy's interest in “controlling mobs, guerrillas, etc.” more evident than in Paz's Bolivia. One month after Kennedy issued NSAM 88, the Paz government announced yet another fabricated coup, its third such ruse that year, and rounded up what the CIA called a “heterogeneous group of rightists and leftists.” Two days later, on October 21, President Paz declared his third ninety-day state of siege in eight months and proceeded to implement a reform long sought by U.S. officials, the raising of fuel prices.143 These dual measures sparked violent riots by thousands of students, who destroyed a gas station, the offices of the government newspaper, La Nación, and two police stations. Paz responded by closing schools for the remainder of the year, imposing press censorship, and ordering his security services to brutally repress the demonstration.144

A Bolivian general told the U.S. embassy that the death toll was five times what the government had admitted, meaning as many as twenty students lay dead. Far from being moved to reproach, Ambassador Stephansky requested an immediate shipment of three thousand tear gas grenades, explaining that the Bolivian police were using them up at a rate of two hundred per day. Two days later, a CIA-contractor plane delivered 3,300 grenades to USAID's mission director in La Paz. Secretary Rusk asked Stephansky to stress to President Paz that this shipment was “clear-cut evidence of support for his government,” which should completely quash any thought . . . that elements [in] this government [are] sitting by waiting for Paz to fall.”145

After three more years, however, and tens of millions of dollars in U.S. assistance, Paz did fall. In the meantime, development-minded U.S. policymakers interpreted Paz's repressive machinery as providing the necessary “authority . . . [and] discipline . . . [to] bring [Bolivia's] illiterate, unskilled population into the modern world.”146 Celebrations would have been premature, and Stephansky noted that “the real test [of the] government's determination to live up to [its] commitments . . . will of course come when labor troubles develop” during the application period of Triangular's mass firings.147 With Escóbar and Pimentel back at the crucial Siglo XX mine, the Alliance for Progress in Bolivia was certain to meet with fierce resistance. It would continue to reveal a strongly authoritarian face.6


Figure 6. President Kennedy considered Paz Estenssoro's authoritarian development paradigm to be a model for the Alliance for Progress in Latin America. During Paz's visit to the White House in October 1963, Kennedy called the Bolivian leader a “pioneer of the Alliance for Progress” and publicly declared, “What you are attempting to do in your country is what I hope all of us in all of our countries in this hemisphere will try to do for all our peoples.” See “Kennedy Praises Bolivian President for ‘Revolutionary Efforts,’ ”Washington Post, Times Herald, October 23, 1963, A14. The short, thin military officer dressed in grey to the left of the podium is Armed Forces Commanding General Alfredo Ovando Candía, credited for rebuilding the postrevolutionary Bolivian Army and helping to lead the 1964 coup d'état. (Photograph courtesy of the Archivo de La Paz, Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, ALP/AF G.3 C.17 S.6 F.4.)

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  1. Top of page
  3. military-led development and the alliance for progress
  4. modernization and nationalism: revolutionary bolivia and the alliance for progress
  5. the triangular plan
  6. a view from the mines
  7. development and its discontents
  8. conclusion

By 1963, military modernizers in La Paz and Washington had grown impatient with President Paz's timidity in carrying out the anti-Communist development goals of the Alliance for Progress. When Alliance Administrator Moscoso sent a letter to President Paz in May 1963 threatening to cut off all aid unless the Triangular Plan conditions were implemented immediately, Bolivia's generals added crucial pressure. Paz vowed to follow through on Moscoso's letter “to [the] bitter end even if [a] national crisis results,” and Ambassador Stephansky promised him over $4 million in covert assistance for the impending mine invasion by Bolivian Special Forces dressed as Indians.148

Under the command of MNR leftist Octavio Torrico, the Siglo XX miners' militia struck the first blow in the early morning hours of July 29, 1963. When the paramilitary refused to surrender, and opened fire on the miners, killing Torrico and two others, the miners' militia unloaded its entire stock of dynamite, killing several members of the paramilitary force.149 According to the CIA, this clash demonstrated President Paz's “determination to win the issue in the tin mines, even at the cost of violence.”150 Colonel Fox reported through Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) channels that General Barrientos was “concerned over the violence . . . and the government's failure to use sufficient force in the fight against the Communists.” Barrientos stressed that the military “will not let [Paz] back down or quit the fight,” adding that “if Paz tried to back out, the armed forces would take over.” Colonel Fox concluded by warning that “the possibility of civil war is coming closer.”151 Meanwhile, using CIA station channels, Ambassador Stephansky cabled Rusk, Martin, and Moscoso a new laundry list of military necessities, to be used for the “immediate support [of] militia operations” in the Siglo XX region. Stephansky warned that a “failure to reply promptly” would mean the “failure [of] GOB will and capability [to] confront [the] mine situation.”152

It seems that the closer historians study President Kennedy's foreign policy in individual countries, the more heavy-handed it appears.153 From its very inception, political goals drove the Alliance for Progress, and the administration's fierce ideological bent served merely to exaggerate and radicalize the level to which Washington intervened. In Bolivia, Kennedy's much-heralded program brought with it a deep U.S. involvement in nearly every aspect of the country's social, political, and economic life. Taking the nationalized mines as its logical starting point, the Alliance for Progress adopted a violently antilabor mine rehabilitation plan that was the darling of Bolivia's modernizing nationalists. Resistance by leftist miners was swift and fierce, however, forcing the Alliance to rest squarely on political repression. Bolstered by Paz's apparent resolve, U.S. developmentalists showered the Bolivian government with police, military, and economic assistance, as they meanwhile provided the ideological framework within which to conceptualize the intervention. In so doing, “development” unequivocally served as a political weapon in Washington's battle against communism in the heart of South America.

Melvin Burke, a USAID economist working on the Triangular Plan in the late 1960s eventually came around to the miners' point of view, telling his superiors upon his resignation that “AID [has] nothing to do with the economic development of Bolivia.” For Burke, the Triangular Plan was a “Trojan Horse,” which “had no economic basis except to destroy . . . the communist union,” and he praised the miners for having “fought against the so-called ‘rationalization’ (elimination) of ‘redundant’ mine workers.”154 In academic work published years later, Burke provided extensive evidence that the Triangular Plan was a fig leaf that hid a “covert political” goal, which was to “destroy the workers' union and denationalize the mining industry of Bolivia.”155

The capacity of liberal foreign policymakers to wield “development” for such political ends tends to support a powerful contention by the great Bolivian intellectual, Sergio Almaraz Paz:

Under the inspiration of the short, intelligent Ben Stephansky, the methods evolved significantly . . . Surviving Rooseveltian, friend of writers and professors . . . He was the creator of a new style. He liked to fancy himself as an unbiased liberal, and perhaps deep down he was . . . Between smiles and handshakes, he did more damage than all his boorish predecessors: Texans who smelled like cattle, screwballs who collected lighters, and unimaginative bureaucrats.

Almaraz adds that the “brutality” of American conservatives, who strongly opposed U.S. aid to what they called Paz's “candy-coated despotism,” would have better preserved the revolution than “liberalism of Stephansky.”156 Another MNR member agrees: “the Republican Party is good for the true Bolivian nationalists—they leave you alone! It is the Democratic Party that always gets involved, intervenes.”157

  • 1

    “Record of a meeting held on President Kennedy's Yacht, ‘Honey Fitz,” April 6, 1961, CAB/129/105, United Kingdom Public Records Office, Kew Gardens, 10T (hereafter Kew).

  • 2

    This paramilitary operation, which is one aspect of my doctoral research, appears in recently declassified U.S. and Bolivian documents. Previously, it was only alluded to cryptically in the editorial note to document 147 and a high-redacted document 148 of U.S. Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968: Volume XXXI (Washington, DC, 2004) (hereafter FRUS, followed by appropriate year). I discussed the covert action with several miners as well as with Bolivian and U.S. officials. It marked the beginning of U.S. covert operations in Bolivia during the Cold War. See correspondence between the Cámara de Diputados and the Ministerio de Gobierno, PR 1035, Archivo y Biblioteca Nacional de Bolivia (hereafter ABNB), Sucre, Bolivia. Interviews with mining corporation president Guillermo Bedregal, Ambassador Douglas Henderson, Embassy Air Attaché Edward Fox, and CIA Station Chief Larry Sternfield, various dates in 2009 and 2010. Interviews also with miners Arturo Crespo, Leónidas Rojas, and Víctor Reinaga, various dates in 2010. The quotes above come from Stephansky to Rusk, July 19, 1963, and CIA, Information Report, July 20, 1963; “Bolivia, General, 4/63–7/63,” box 10A, NSF-CO, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston, Massachusetts (hereafter JFKL). See also Bolivian documents reprinted in Arturo Crespo Enríquez, El rostro minero de Bolivia: Los mineros . . . mártires y héroes (La Paz, 2009), 336; and an anthropological study on the Indian role in the paramilitary, Olivia Harris and Xavier Albó, Monteros y Guardatojos: Campesinos y Mineros en el Norte de Potosí en 1974 (La Paz, 1977), 94.

  • 3

    Martin via Reed to Bundy, July 20, 1963; and Smith to McHugh, July 20, 1963, “Bolivia, General, 4/63–7/63,” box 10A, NSF-CO, JFKL. Moscoso's approval is reported in State Department, “Contingency Plan for Meeting Possible COMIBOL Crisis,” August 9, 1963, “Bolivia, 7/63–5/64 and undated,” box 389A, NSF-Dungan, JFKL.

  • 4

    Stephansky to Rusk, Martin, Moscoso, July 23, 1963, “Bolivia, General, 4/63–7/63,” box 10A, NSF-CO, JFKL.

  • 5

    Rusk to Embassy, July 24, 1963, INCO Mining, Minerals, and Metals BOL, box 3540, State Department Alpha-Numeric Files (SDANF); OPS Technical Services Division to Engle, July 31, 1963, and Engle to Bell, July 31, 1963, “Special Group (CI) Meetings—August 1963,” box 6, OPS, Numerical File, Record Group (R) 286, National Archives and Records Service, College Park, Maryland (hereafter NARA).

  • 6

    Moscoso, Lo que he visto hacer las fuerzas armadas en Bolivia es impresionante (La Paz, 1963).

  • 7

    Kennedy, NSAM 119, December 18, 1961, National Security Action Memoranda, NSF-JFK, JFKL.

  • 8

    Kennedy, “Final Report, 3rd Conference of American Armies,” July 16–20, 1962, in William Brill, “Military Civic Action in Bolivia” (Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1965), 30.

  • 9

    Between 1953 and 1965, over six million hectares of land was redistributed, benefiting over 170,000 Indian families. A 1950 survey estimated total arable land at just under thirty-three million hectares. Source: Departamento de Estadística, Servicio Nacional Reforma Agraria (February 8, 1966), published in Melvin Burke, “Land Reform in the Lake Titicaca Region,” in James M. Malloy and Richard S. Thorn, eds., Beyond the Revolution: Bolivia since 1952 (Pittsburgh, 1971), 303. For studies of the Bolivian revolution, see James Dunkerley, Rebellion in the Veins: Political Struggle in Bolivia, 1952–1982 (London, 1984), 38–82; Herbert Klein, Bolivia: The Evolution of a Multi-Ethnic Society, 2nd ed. (New York, 1992), 224–45. A theoretical treatment is offered by Trotskyist leader Guillermo Lora, La Revolución Boliviana: Análisis Crítico (La Paz, 1963). A less sympathetic narrative can be found in Hugo Roberts Barragán, La Revolución del 9 de Abril (La Paz, 1971). For a well-documented, pro-MNR study, see Luis Antezana Ergueta, Historia secreta del Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario, Tomo 7: La Revolución del MNR del 9 de Abril (La Paz, 1988).

  • 10

    State Department, “Experimental Policy Paper on Bolivia,” July 19, 1962, “Bolivia, General, Experimental Policy Paper, 7/19/1962,” box 10A, NSF-CO, JFKL, 1–3, 16–17.

  • 11

    Between 1953 and 1964, Bolivia received $368 million in U.S. foreign aid, roughly $35 million annually. In 2007 dollars, this represents over $2 billion, or $187 million annually, the highest per capita amount given to any Latin American nation. Kennedy increased aid to Bolivia from roughly $23 million annually to $51 million. By 1964, Alliance for Progress funds made up around 20 percent of Bolivian GDP and 40 percent of the nation's public expenditures. Sources: United States Agency for International Development [USAID], US Overseas Loans and Grants [Greenbook], Bolivia data from USAID; Economic and Program Statistics, nos. 5, 11, supplemented by data from Bolivian Development Corporation, to calculate Bolivian government expenditures; and data from Dirección Nacional de Coordinación y Planeamiento, Bolivia cuentas nacionales, mimeographed (La Paz, January 1969). The Bolivian data is published in Malloy and Thorn, eds., Beyond the Revolution, 370, 380.

  • 12

    Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, trans. Walter Kaufman (New York, 1966), 27–28.

  • 13

    Edward Said, Orientalism (New York, 1978).

  • 14

    Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, and Modernity (Berkeley, CA, 2002).

  • 15

    Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton, NJ, 1995).

  • 16

    Ferguson draws heavily on Michel Foucault, contending that a policy's side effects, if sufficiently patterned and predictable, can have more to do with its repeated adoption than a policy's stated goals. “Development,” for Ferguson, meets this criterion. Apparently pitiful at reducing poverty, Western developmentalism has a better track record of strengthening state capacity. James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine: “Development,” Depolitization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho (Minneapolis, MN, 1990).

  • 17

    James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven, CT, 1998).

  • 18

    Peter Uvin, Aiding Violence; The Development Enterprise in Rwanda (West Hartford, CT, 1998).

  • 19

    Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge, 2005).

  • 20

    See Nils Gilman, Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America (Baltimore, 2003); and David C. Engerman et al., Staging Growth: Modernization, Development, and the Global Cold War (Amherst, MA, 2003). A classic text on the role of ideology throughout the history of U.S. foreign policy is Michael Hunt, Ideology and US Foreign Policy (New Haven, CT, 1987).

  • 21

    Michael Latham, Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and “Nation Building” in the Kennedy Era (Chapel Hill, NC, 2000).

  • 22

    Bradley Simpson addresses this concept in his excellent Economists With Guns: Authoritarian Development and US-Indonesian Relations, 1960–1968 (Stanford, CA, 2008). He provocatively recounts political interactions between U.S. liberal developmentalists and Indonesia's modernizing elites, discovering that military-led foreign policy ideologies of economic and social progress led directly to the military coup d'état and widespread violence in 1965. Similarly, David Milne's America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War (New York, 2008) provides a harrowing tale of militarized development ideology as it played out in Vietnam during the much-heralded “Decade of Development.” For other specific case studies of modernization as a foreign policy strategy, see “Towards a Global History of Modernization,”Diplomatic History 33 (Special Issue, June 2009).

  • 23

    This is partly due to focus: rather than concentrate on U.S. policymakers' perceptions, Stephen G. Rabe's The Most Dangerous Area of the World: John F. Kennedy Confronts Communist Revolution in Latin America (Chapel Hill, NC, 1999) centers its attention on target countries, where the effects of Kennedy's foreign policy—namely the rise of military governments throughout the region—belied the lofty development rhetoric so present in the Kennedy White House. Rabe's subsequent case study, US Intervention in British Guiana: A Cold War Story (Chapel Hill, NC, 2005), accentuates his underlying argument that the Kennedy administration harbored an obsession with strategic considerations from day one.

  • 24

    Jeffrey Taffet, Foreign Aid as Foreign Policy: The Alliance for Progress in Latin America (New York, 2007).

  • 25

    Rabe, The Most Dangerous Area in the World; Taffet, Foreign Aid as Foreign Policy.

  • 26

    Jerome Levinson and Juan de Onís, The Alliance that Lost its Way: A Critical Report on the Alliance for Progress (Chicago, 1970).

  • 27

    James Siekmeier, The Bolivian Revolution and the United States: 1952 to the Present (University Park, PA, 2011), 80–102; Lehman, Bolivia and the United States, 134–46; Cole Blasier, The Hovering Giant: US Responses to Revolutionary Change in Latin America, 1910–1985, rev. ed. (Pittsburgh, PA, 1985), 140–45.

  • 28

    A short section on Bolivia was included in the microfilm version. FRUS, 1961–1963: Volume XII—American Republics (Washington, DC, 1996).

  • 29

    Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine; Scott, Seeing Like a State; Simpson, Economists with Guns; Milne, America's Rasputin.

  • 30

    Pace Piero Gleijeses, who correctly points out that “Fidel Castro was midwife to the Alliance for Progress.” Gleijeses, “Book Review: A Sordid Affair: The Alliance for Progress in British Guiana,” Diplomatic History 31 (September 2007): 793.

  • 31

    Paz interview, in Eduardo Ascarrunz Rodríguez, La palabra de Paz: Un hombre, un siglo (La Paz, 2009), 47.

  • 32

    Paz's authoritarianism fell chiefly on the rightist Falange Socialista Boliviana (FSB; Bolivian Socialist Falange). The FSB repaid Paz by organizing a panoply of attempted coups throughout the 1950s. The mysterious death of FSB leader Óscar Unzaga in 1959 temporarily silenced the party and opened space on the right for a new political movement, headed by MNR breakaway Wálter Guevara Arze. When Paz returned from his ambassadorship in London, his main opponent was none other than Guevara, whose Partido Revolucionario Auténtica (PRA; Authentic Revolutionary party) waged a fiercely anticommunist campaign. For more on Paz's first term, and his 1960 electoral battle against the PRA, see Dunkerley, Rebellion, 38–82, 99–103; Klein, Bolivia, 227–41, 243–44; Lehman, Bolivia, 91–123; Malloy, Bolivia, 167–242.

  • 33

    Interviews with Luis Antezana, various dates in 2007–2010.

  • 34

    Sukarno visited May 4–7, 1961, Tito September 28-October 4, 1963, and de Gaulle September 28–29, 1964. See “Arribará Hoy el Presidente de Indonesia,”El Diario, May 4, 1961, 6; “Protocolar Acogida se Dispensó al Presidente Tito en Cochabamba,”El Diario, September 29, 1963, 7; “De Gaulle, Halfway Through Latin Tour, Arrives in Bolivia,”New York Times, September 29, 1964, 13.

  • 35

    In the early 1940s, Paz strongly advocating for selling—or threatening to sell—tin to the Axis powers, with an eye toward pressuring the Allies to pay higher prices. In short, Paz believed Bolivia should “take advantage of the circumstances so the country could obtain the maximum benefit possible.” Paz interview, in Ascarrunz, La palabra, 40.

  • 36

    CIA, Intelligence Bulletin, February 3, 1961, CIA Records Search Tool (CREST), NARA.

  • 37

    CIA, Intelligence Bulletin, January 13, 1961, CREST, NARA. For more on the Soviet aid offer, see Introduction, footnote 52. The Czech visit is reported in Foreign Ministry to Economic Ministry, January 13, 1961, RV-4-E-53, Bolivian Foreign Ministry Archives (hereafter RREE), Sucre, Bolivia.

  • 38

    CIA, Intelligence Bulletin, February 3, 1961, CREST, NARA.

  • 39

    INR to Secretary of State Rusk, January 9, 1963, “Bolivia, General, 1/63–3/63,” box 10A, NSF-CO, JFKL.

  • 40

    Mann to Ball, February 14, 1961, “Bolivia, 1961,” box 2, Lots 62D418 and 64D15, State Department Lot Files (SDLF), NARA.

  • 41

    Thierry Noel, “La génération des jeunes officiers issus du collège militaire Gualberto Villarroel : l'armée bolivienne, 1952–1985” (Thèse doctorat, Université Paris 7—Diderot, 2007), 11. Noel bases his doctoral work on interviews with scores of surviving officers, tracing the manner by which the military survived the aftermath of the revolution, going on to rule the country between 1964 and 1982. The 1953 decree reorganizing the armed forces is reprinted in Noel's annex, 473–75. See also Brill, “Military Civic Action in Bolivia,” 80.

  • 42

    Noel, “La génération des jeunes officiers,” 21. For an account based on Bolivian press, see Jerry W. Knudson, Bolivia: Press and Revolution, 1932–1964 (Lanham, MD, 1986), 295–329.

  • 43

    I have not translated compañero because the common translation, “comrade,” holds a communist connation that does not fit in the Bolivian context, where compañero is used amongst members of a noncommunist party, while comarada, or “comrade,” is heard amongst members of one of the country's plethora of leftist parties. Similarly, I have utilized “Communism,” with a capital “C” to refer to orthodox, or Moscow-oriented Communism, as well as to U.S. perceptions of the “International Communist threat.” The anticommunism displayed by Bolivia's revolutionary nationalists, however, included a general suspicion of leftism, including heterodox communist ideologies such as Trotskyism and (later) Maoism. For this reason, I have generally remained loyal to Bolivians' use of comunismo, or “communism,” with a lower-case “c” when discussing their perceptions of the “communist threat.”

  • 44

    Víctor Paz Estenssoro, Las Fuerzas Armadas y la Revolución Nacional (La Paz, 1959).

  • 45

    MNR, Programa del Gobierno: Tercer Gobierno de la Revolución Nacional, 1960–1964 (La Paz, 1960), 118.

  • 46

    Paz, August 6, 1960, quoted in Luis Antezana Ergueta, La historia secreta del Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario, Tomo 9: La contrarrevolución del 4 de noviembre de 1964 (La Paz, 2006), 2338.

  • 47

    Yet Paz shunned executions. As one lower-level Paz official explained, his rule was “It is better to have 100 prisoners than one martyr.” Interviews with Antezana.

  • 48

    “Grupo de 35 Detenidos Será Desterrado Hoy al Paraguay,”El Diario, February 23, 1961, 7.

  • 49

    “Consta de Medidas Estrictas el ‘Auto de Buen Gobierno,’ ”El Diario, February 22, 1961, 7.

  • 50

    Rivas, “Comunicado,” February 21, 1961, PR 945, ABNB.

  • 51

    Schlesinger to Kennedy, March 10, 1961, document 7, FRUS, 1961–1963: Volume XII—American Republics.

  • 52

    Schlesinger Journal, February 24, 1961, in Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger, eds., Journals, 1952–2000, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (New York, 2007), 104–06.

  • 53

    Schlesinger Journal, February 24, 1961, in Schlesinger and Schlesinger, eds., Journals, 1952–2000, 104–06.

  • 54

    Schlesinger to Kennedy, March 3, 1961, “Bolivia,” box WH-3, Schlesinger Papers, JFKL.

  • 55

    Williams to Strom, March 16, 1961, “320, General and International Political Relations, 1959-60-61, Vol. III,” box 1, Post Files, Bolivia, RG 84, NARA.

  • 56

    “Los Presidentes de Bolivia y del BID Firmaron Ayer una Declaración Sobre el Crédito de 10 Millones de Dólares,”El Diario, March 5, 1961, 7.

  • 57

    Strom to Rusk, March 5, 1961, 724.5411/3-161, box 1564, State Department Decimal Files (SDDF), NARA.

  • 58

    CIA, Intelligence Bulletin, March 7, 1961, CREST; Strom to Rusk, March 5, 6, and 7, 1961, Williams to State, March 6, 1961, and Rusk to Embassy, March 7, 1961, 724.5411/3-161; box 1564, SDDF, NARA.

  • 59

    “Comité Nacional de Huelga Suspende la Huelga,”El Diario, March 9, 1961, 7.

  • 60

    Kennedy, News Conference #6, March 8, 1961, Historical Resources, JFKL; Rusk to Embassy, March 8, 1961, 724.5-MSP/3-161, SDDF, NARA.

  • 61

    Stephansky Oral History, JFKL, 13.

  • 62

    Kennedy, “Address at a White House Reception for Members of Congress and for the Diplomatic Corps of the Latin American Republics,” March 13, 1961, Speeches, Reference Desk, JFKL.

  • 63

    Thorpe et al., “Report to the President,” March 24, 1961, folder 7, POF, JFKL, 2–4 (cover letter), 2, 39 (report).

  • 64

    Ibid., 5–8, 13, 15–17, 44–49.

  • 65

    Rubin to Kennedy, April 3, 1961, “Bolivia, General, 1961,” box 10, NSF-CO, JFKL.

  • 66

    “After the Ball,”Time, April 14, 1961.

  • 67

    Achilles to Gordon and Berle, March 27, 1961, 724.5-MSP/3-161, box 1563, SDDF, NARA.

  • 68

    State Department, “Proposed New Program for Bolivia,” March 30, 1961, “Special Mission to Bolivia, 3/9–20/61,” box 2, Lots 62D418 and 64D15, 1, 3, 8–9, SDLF, NARA.

  • 69

    Kennedy to Macmillan, “Record of a meeting held on President Kennedy's yacht, ‘Honey Fitz,’ ” April 6, 1961, CAB/129/105, Kew, 10T.

  • 70

    Ambassador Strom filed a complaint with the Bolivian Foreign Ministry regarding the attacks. See Strom to Arze Quiroga, April 19, 1961, LE-3-R-340, RREE; “Varias banderas Americanas Quemó la Multitud Exaltada,”El Diario, April 19, 1961, 7; “Existen 370 Voluntarios Para Cuba,”El Diario, April 19, 1961, 7; “Más de 25 Heridos y Contusos Atendió la Asistencia Pública,”El Diario, April 19, 1961.

  • 71

    Guillermo Bedregal Gutiérrez, De búhos, políticas, y exilios: mis memorias (La Paz, 2009), 263–65.

  • 72

    Bedregal to Paz, April 25, 1961, PR 985, ABNB.

  • 73

    Bedregal, Búhos, 299. West German participation was Bedregal's idea, as he attended high school there. But bringing Bonn into the program also dovetailed with the Kennedy administration's view that—given Washington's balance of payments problems—Bonn's payments surplus was “a bank . . . for our grandiose Third World programs.” Undersecretary Ball, quoted in Frank Costigliola, “Nuclear Arms, Dollars, and Berlin,” in Thomas G. Paterson, ed., Kennedy's Quest for Victory: American Foreign Policy: 1961–1963 (New York, 1989), 36.

  • 74

    Salzgitter to Bedregal, undated [April 1961], PR 985, ABNB.

  • 75

    IDB documents are dry, technocratic treatises on the urgent need for efficiency in Bolivia's tin mines. It is only possible to grasp their significance through an understanding of the authoritarian process by which the reforms were carried out. “Documents on the Triangular Plan,” IDB Archives, Washington, DC. Incidentally, the reforms had their roots in a 1956 study by the U.S. consulting firm, Ford, Bacon, & Davis, which argues that “[u]nless the government removes political activities from the management of the mines . . . the entire mineral industry will continue to suffer.” It even chides the government for, in an effort to “avoid violence . . . constantly yielding to the demands of irresponsible agitators” and fomenting a “lack of discipline . . . disregard for authority. Ford, Bacon, & Davis Report: Volume I, December 1956, 14, 25, 74, COMIBOL Archive, El Alto, Bolivia.

  • 76

    Control Obrero, literally, “Workers' Control,” refers to a revolutionary relic in which the miners' federation had wielded veto power over decisions made by the nationalized mining company, and held two seats on its board.

  • 77

    Strom to Rusk, April 21 and 26, 1961, Rusk to Embassy, April 24, 1961, and MEMCON, May 2, 1961, 724.5-MSP/3-161, box 1563, SDDF, NARA.

  • 78

    Juan Lechín Oquendo, El pueblo al poder, 2nd ed. (La Paz, 2005), 126–27; Williams to Rusk, May 8, 1961, 724.12/8-960, box 1563, SDDF, NARA; “ ‘Sólo Soy Agente del Pueblo Boliviano,’ ”El Diario, May 9, 1961, 7.

  • 79

    “Borrascosa Sesión Hubo en el Congreso Minero,”El Diario, May 4, 1961, 7.

  • 80

    “US Gives Bolivia 10 Million in Aid,”New York Times, May 15, 1961, 1; “La Casa Blanca Anunció un Préstamo de Cincuenta Millones de Dólares,”El Diario, May 15, 1961, 5.

  • 81

    The confidential “Accepted Points of View” have not emerged in U.S. government archives, but they were leaked to the Bolivian press in June 1963, and embassy officials reported that the document was “identical . . . [to the] Accepted Points of View.” Embassy to State, July 26, 1961, 824.25/5-961, box 2390, SDDF, NARA. See “La Operación Triangular muestra en otros 5 puntos su trágico sello anti-obrero,”El Pueblo, June 24, 1961, 1; “La Ayuda Norteamericana en Dólares Exigiría que se Cumplan Condiciones,”El Diario, July 23, 1961, 6.

  • 82

    “Amenazan con Movilización de Mineros Hacia La Paz,”El Diario, May 30, 1961, 6.

  • 83

    Williams to Rusk, June 7, 1961, 724.5/3-460, box 1563, SDDF, NARA; State Department, “Report on Current Situation in Bolivia,” undated [mid-June]; and Lane to Coerr, June 13, 1961, “Memoranda, Jan–June 1961,” box 1, Lots 63D389 and 63D61, SDLF, NARA.

  • 84

    When asked about these detentions, Bedregal shrugged it off. “I have read the sad tales of the detainees. Give me a break. They were held for a few weeks. No torture, nothing.” Bedregal denied that he knew anything of the detentions before they took place. “That was something between Paz and [secret police chief] San Román.” Interviews with Bedregal. See also “A San Ignacio de Velasco y Puerto Villarroel Fueron Confinados 50 Comunistas,”El Diario, June 8, 1961, 6. Trotskyist union leader from Siglo XX, Filemón Escóbar, recounts his detention at Puerto Villarroel in De la Revolución al Pachakuti: El aprendizaje del Respeto Recíproco entre blancos e indianos (La Paz, 2008), 52–61.

  • 85

    Interviews with detainees René Rocabado and Simón Reyes, various dates in 2009–2010. See also Simón Reyes's article, “Un complot fraguado en 1961,”Nuevo Sur, June 19, 2010.

  • 86

    “Dictóse Estado de Sitio y Auto de Buen Gobierno,”El Diario, June 8, 1961, 6.

  • 87

    Lane to Coerr, June 13, 1961, “Memoranda, Jan-June 1961,” box 1, Lots 63D389 and 63D61, SDLF, NARA; “Los Fabriles no Temen Represiones porque Están Acostumbrados a Derrotar Ejércitos,”El Diario, June 8, 1961, 7; “Empezó el Paro Universitario con Barricadas de Adoquines,”El Diario, June 14, 1961, 7.

  • 88

    Lane to Coerr, June 13, 1961, “Memoranda, Jan-June 1961,” box 1, Lots 63D389 and 63D61, SDLF, NARA; “Llegaron Ayer Campesinos de Achacachi,”El Diario, June 8, 1961, 6.

  • 89

    These cables can be found in PR 971, ABNB.

  • 90

    CIA, Intelligence Bulletin, June 13, 1961, CREST, NARA. Time magazine was not so wise, parroting the Bolivian line that “Castro agents working out of the Cuban embassy hatched a plot with local Communists to overturn the government of Reformer-President Víctor Paz Estenssoro.”“Who's Intervening Where?”Time, June 16, 1961.

  • 91

    Lane to Coerr, June 13, 1961; and State Department, “Report on Current Situation in Bolivia,” undated [mid-June 1961], “Memoranda, Jan-June 1961,” box 1, Lots 63D389 and 63D61, SDLF, NARA.

  • 92

    Commander-in-Chief Rodríguez to U.S. Embassy, June 8, 1961, Williams to Rusk, June 9, 1961, Rusk to Embassy, June 23, 1961, Stephansky to Rusk, June 25, 1961, Rusk to Embassy, June 30, 1961, and Bolivian Foreign Ministry to Embassy, July 14, 1961; 724.5411/3-161, box 1564, SDDF, NARA. Confirmation of shipment arrivals can be found in Stephansky to Foreign Minister Arze Quiroga, July 14 and 24, 1961, LE-3-R-340, RREE.

  • 93

    Stevenson, “Statement on Arrival at La Paz,” June 15, 1961, 5, box 453, Stevenson Papers, Mudd Library, Princeton University, 4–5, Princeton, New Jersey (hereafter Stevenson Papers). See also “La Ayuda Extranjera Hará de Este País un Ejemplo de la Cooperación del Mundo Libre,”El Diario, June 16, 1961, 6.

  • 94

    “Hello, but No Help,”Time, June 23, 1961; “Tres Horas Conversaron Reservadamente en Calacoto el Presidente y Stevenson,”El Diario, June 16, 1961, 6; “Cuatro Muertos y Más de Treinta Heridos es el Resultado de las Luchas Callejeras,”El Diario, June 16, 1961, 7.

  • 95

    “Permanecen en la Universidad Alrededor de 80 Estudiantes,”El Diario, June 16, 1961, 9.

  • 96

    Stevenson to Williams, 22 June 22, 1961, folder 5, box 453, Stevenson Papers. Stevenson did not respond to a FSB letter complaining that Paz was imposing a “dictatorship under the belated cover of anticommunism.” See “Al Amparo de Tardía Postura Pretende el MNR Implantar una Dictadura: Carta de Falange al embajador Stevenson,”El Diario, June 17, 1961, 9.

  • 97

    Stevenson to Paz, June 17, 1961, folder 5, box 453, Stevenson Papers.

  • 98

    Williams to Rusk, June 18, 1961, U.S. Embassy (Quito) to Rusk, June 18, 1961; and Rusk to Embassies (Quito and La Paz), June 19, 1961, 724.5411/3-161, box 1564, SDDF, NARA.

  • 99

    Paz to Kennedy, October 7, 1961, “Security, 1961–3,” box 112, POF, JFKL; USAID Director Hamilton to Ambassador Andrade, November 7, 1961, “Bolivia, General, 1961,” box 10, NSF-CO, JFKL; Weise to Lane, November 9, 1961, “Memoranda, July-December 1961,” box 1, Lots 63D389 and 63D61, SDLF, NARA.

  • 100

    Kennedy to Paz, June 22, 1961, “Bolivia, General, 1961,” box 112, POF, JFKL.

  • 101

    Stephansky Oral History, 11, 20, JFKL.

  • 102

    Pace Bradley Simpson, whose marvelous book on authoritarian development in Indonesia is one of my work's central influences. Simpson, Economists with Guns.

  • 103

    CIA, Current Intelligence Memorandum, 30 July 30, 1963, “Bolivia, General, 3/63–7/63,” box 10A, NSF-CO, 1–2, JFKL.

  • 104

    Special Operations Research Office, US Army Area Handbook for Bolivia (Washington, DC, 1963), 661.

  • 105

    Juku activity reached its apogee in 1964, but it began in the late 1950s. Interviews with PCB members Leónidas Rojas and Víctor Reinaga, POR member Filemón Escóbar, and MNR leftist Arturo Crespo, various dates in 2009–2010. For three political groups that rarely agree, their testimony was remarkably similar. See also a 1964 COMIBOL report on jukus, in Embassy to State, August 24, 1964, INCO Mining, Minerals, and Metals BOL, box 1190, SDANF, NARA.

  • 106

    The general secretary was Irineo Pimentel, an unaffiliated Communist who had previously belonged to the Stalinist Partido de la Izquierda Revolucionaria (PIR; Revolutionary Left party). Meanwhile, the union's Control Obrero was Federico Escóbar, the head of the PCB at Siglo XX.

  • 107

    Interviews with Crespo, Reinaga, and Lincoln-Castro-Murillo Brigades Vice President Rojas. Pedro Domingo Murillo was a martyr for Bolivian independence, executed in 1810 by Spanish authorities in La Paz's central plaza, which today bears his name.

  • 108

    Crespo, El rostro minero de Bolivia, 295. PCB member Rojas confirms Crespo's view that the Trotskyist POR had an “amazing nucleus of followers, and they knew how to inspire the masses.” Interviews with Rojas.

  • 109

    Crespo, El rostro minero de Bolivia, 295; interviews with Rojas and Reinaga. For an account of the Trotskyist counterdemonstration, see sections of Filemón Escóbar's unpublished manuscript, in Dunkerley, Rebellion, 106–07.

  • 110

    Anthony G. Freeman, Oral History, Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training, The Library of Congress.

  • 111

    Interviews with Emilse Escóbar, daughter of Federico, various dates in 2010.

  • 112

    Miners' interviews in José Ignacio López Vigil, Una mina de coraje (Quito, Ecudador, 1984), 55–56.

  • 113

    Interviews with Emilse.

  • 114

    Domitila Barrios de Chungara interviews, in Moema Viezzer, “Si me permiten hablar . . . ” Testimonio de Domitila, una mujer de las minas de Bolivia, 3rd ed. (Mexico, DF, 1977), 69.

  • 115

    Embassy to State, April 16, 1963, INCO-Mining, Minerals, and Metals BOL, box 3540, SDANF, NARA; interviews with Rojas, Reinaga, and Emilse.

  • 116

    Filemón Escóbar, Testimonio de un militante obrero: la frustración de la dirección revolucionaria en Bolivia a través de la crisis del POR (unpublished manuscript, 1977), 41.

  • 117

    Interviews with Reinaga.

  • 118

    Lechín, El pueblo al poder, 123.

  • 119

    After retiring from the mines, Crespo spent two decades in COMIBOL and miner archives. His account of the June strike is based on personal memories substantiated with official documents. See El rostro minero de Bolivia, 284–85. Interviews with Rojas, Reinaga, and Filemón Escóbar were helpful in corroborating Crespo's narrative. See also “Los Mineros han Estropeado la ‘Operación Triangular,’ ”El Diario, June 24, 1961, 7.

  • 120

    Siglo XX Missionaries, “La situación insostenible de los Católicos en Siglo XX y el campo circundante,” December 8, 1961, in López Vigil, Una mina de coraje, 63–65.

  • 121

    Escóbar, September 2, 1961, in López Vigil, Una mina de coraje, 57–58. Conservative Catholics and orthodox Communists alike were consistently frustrated by Escóbar's declarations that he was “100 percent Catholic . . . [and] 100% Communist.” Escóbar, in López Vigil, Una mina de coraje, 119.

  • 122

    Lino to COMIBOL, undated [June 1961], in Crespo, El rostro minero, 288.

  • 123

    Miners' interviews, in López Vigil, Una mina de coraje, 66–69. See also “Comunistas Promovieron Desórdenes en Siglo XX,”El Diario, July 5, 1961, 1.

  • 124

    Pio XII broadcast, July 4, 1961; aminers' interviews, in López Vigil, Una mina de coraje, 69, 70–71. One Communist recalled, “Father Lino's Catholic Workers were armed, as well! I know, because we clashed with them many times! Lino was enormous. More like a Marine dressed up like a priest!” Interviews with Reinaga.

  • 125

    “Laimes y Jucumanis Reiteraron su Adhesión al Gobierno del Presidente Paz Estenssoro,”El Diario, July 6, 1961, 6.

  • 126

    “Creóse Ayer el Primer Batallón Motorizado ‘Tnln. M. Toledo,’ ”El Diario, August 6, 1961, 6.

  • 127

    Army Attaché Wimert via Williams to Rusk, August 19, 1961, “Bolivia, General, 1961,” box 10, NSF-CO, JFKL.

  • 128

    Stephansky to Rusk, August 24, 1961, “Bolivia, General, 1961,” box 10, NSF-CO, JFKL; Stephansky to Rusk, August 25, 1961, 824.25/5-961, box 2390, SDDF, NARA.

  • 129

    “Tensas Discusiones Motivó la Conservación del Veto Obrero en la Corporación Minera,”El Diario, August 25, 1961, 7.

  • 130

    Prefect-Oruro to Paz, August 29, 1961, PR 975, ABNB. For a U.S. account of this meeting, which is almost identical to Bolivian reports, see Stephansky to Rusk, 2 August 29, 1961, 824.25/5-961, box 2390, SDDF, NARA. See also “”El Gobierno ha Quedado con las Manos Libres para Firmar y Aprobar hoy el Plan Triangular,”El Diario, August 30, 1961, 7.

  • 131

    “Por decreto supremo se aprobó ayer el plan triangular para la Comibol,”El Diario, September 1, 1961. Paz's strike-busting vow is referenced in COMIBOL Advisory Group to Paz, July 13, 1962, PR 985, ABNB.

  • 132

    Stephansky to Rusk, September 4, 1961, 824.25/5-961, box 2390, SDDF, NARA.

  • 133

    Prior to 1961, Bolivia had two engineering battalions. These funds built the “General Pando” 3rd Engineering Battalion, and soon afterward, Alliance funds covered the full expenses of the “Alto de la Alianza” 4th Engineering Battalion. See Noel, “La génération des jeunes officiers,” 463.

  • 134

    Stephansky to Rusk, September 1 and 15, 1961, 724.12/8-960, box 1563, SDDF, NARA. The $7 million package had been authorized in late August, but Stephansky withheld this from President Paz until after the Triangular Plan had been approved. See Rusk to Embassy, August 17, 1961, same folder.

  • 135

    Stephansky was publicly adamant that “the US government has not established any conditions to lending aid.” Meanwhile, IDB officials consistently swore that the Triangular Plan “has no conditions” and that it “does not contain negative measures for the workers.” See “El Gobierno de EEUU no ha Establecido Condiciones para Prestar Ayuda a Nuestro País,”El Diario, July 31, 1961, 4; “Afirma el BID que el Plan Triangular para Comibol no Establece Ninguna Condición,”El Diario, July 29, 1961, 7.

  • 136

    Amas de Casa means literally “housewives.” Here, it refers to a militant group of Communist Party–affiliated miners' wives at the Siglo XX mining camp who organized the Comité[Committee]de Amas de Casa de Siglo XX. At first, the Comité was ad-hoc. Later, it became a permanent fixture in Siglo XX.

  • 137

    “White Massacre”: mass firings. Comité member interviews, published in María L. Lagos, ed., Nos Hemos Forjado Así: Al Rojo Vico y a Puro Golpe: Historias del Comité de Amas de Casa de Siglo XX (La Paz, 2006), 37, 43–7. See also “Conmovedor Cuadro Ofrecen 200 Huelguistas en Sede Fabril,”El Diario, August 17, 1961, 7; “Hasta Ayer 11 Huelguistas de Hambre se Hallaban Graves y Había 46 Casos de Inanición,”El Diario, August 19, 1961, 7.

  • 138

    “Recuperaron su Libertad Tres Dirigentes Mineros Confinados,”El Diario, September 1, 1961, 6.

  • 139

    CIA, CIWS, 12 October 1961, CREST, NARA.

  • 140

    Belcher to Woodward, September 29, 1961, 724.5411/3-161, box 1564, SDDF, NARA.

  • 141

    Kennedy, NSAM 88, September 5, 1961, National Security Action Memoranda, NSF-JFK, JFKL.

  • 142

    Joint Chiefs to Kennedy, November 30, 1961, document 89, FRUS, 1961–1963: Volume XII—American Republics.

  • 143

    Stephansky later boasted that he had threatened to “hold back on [USAID] disbursements and programs” when he “required the GOB to increase gasoline prices.” MEMCON, May 28, 1963, INCO Mining, Minerals, and Metals BOL, box 3540, SDANF, NARA. See also “Fue Develado un Complot!”El Diario, October 19, 1961, 1.

  • 144

    CIA, CIWS, October 27, 1961, CREST, NARA; “Ha Sido Autorizado la Elevación del Precio de la Gasolina a 700 el Litro,”El Diario, October 21, 1961, 7; “Declaróse concluido el año escolar, 22 October 1961,”El Diario, October 22, 1961, 6; “Enérgica reacción estudiantil por el aumento de las tarifas de transporte,”El Diario, October 22, 1961, 7.

  • 145

    Stephansky to Rusk, October 26, 1961, 724.00/6-162, box 1560, SDDF; Stephansky to Rusk, October 25 and 26, 1961 and Rusk to Embassy, October 27, 1961, 724.5411/3-161, box 1564, SDDF, NARA. State Department cables refer to the airplane as a “private contractor” operated by “Southern Air Transport.” The former CIA station chief confirmed that this company “was ours.” Interviews with Sternfield.

  • 146

    Hilsman to Woodward, July 18, 1961, document 4, FRUS, 1961–1963: Volume XII—American Republics, microfiche supplement.

  • 147

    Stephansky to Rusk, August 29 and September 4, 1961, 824.25/5-961, box 2390, SDDF, NARA.

  • 148

    See note 2, above.

  • 149

    By capturing soldiers from Paz's Presidential Guard, the miners obtained documentation and testimony regarding the government's role in organizing the paramilitary. See Crespo, El rostro minero, 335–36. See also “Mineros de Catavi Atacaron una Población con Armas y Dinamita: Mataron a 6 Personas,”El Diario, July 30, 1963, 7.

  • 150

    CIA, Intelligence Memorandum, July 30, 1963, “Bolivia, General, 4/63-7/63,” box 10A, NSF-CO, JFKL.

  • 151

    DIA, Intelligence Summary, July 31, 1963 and CIA, Intelligence Memorandum, July 31, 1963; “Bolivia, General, 4/63-7/63,” box 10A, NSF-CO, JFKL.

  • 152

    Stephansky refers to his CIA cable in Stephansky to Rusk, Martin and Moscoso, July 31, 1963, POL 25 Demonstrations, Protests, Riots BOL, box 3830, SDANF, NARA.

  • 153

    See Simpson, Economists with Guns; Rabe, US Intervention in British Guiana; Victor V. Nemchenok, “In Search of Stability Amid Chaos: US Policy toward Iran, 1961–63,”Cold War History 10 (August 2010): 341–69.

  • 154

    Burke e-mail to author, October 9, 2009.

  • 155

    Melvin Burke, “The Corporación Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL) and the Triangular Plan: A Case Study in Dependency,” Latin American Issues 4 (1987); Melvin Burke, Estudios Críticas del Neoliberalismo (La Paz, 2001), 275, 279.

  • 156

    Almaraz Paz had been one of the founders of the Communist Party of Bolivia in 1950, but he joined the MNR in the wake of the 1952 revolution. See Sergio Almaraz Paz, Réquiem para una república (La Paz, 1969), 21, 27, 30, 32. Senator Barry Goldwater quoted in “Bolivian Rule of Paz Rapped by Goldwater,”Chicago Tribune, October 25, 1963, 15.

  • 157

    Interviews with Antezana.

  • *

    This article is a part of my larger work on U.S.-Bolivian relations during the early 1960s, which has been made possible thanks to grants from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, the University of London Central Research Fund, the George C. Marshall Foundation, and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. I would like to thank my department at the London School of Economics, and especially my supervisors Nigel Ashton and Odd Arne Westad, for commenting on an earlier version of this article. Additionally, I would like to thank Molly Geidel, Piero Gleijeses, Robert Karl, Jeremy Kuzmarov, Alvise Marino, Stephen Rabe, David Schmitz, Bradley Simpson, Carmen Soliz, Jeffrey Taffet, Marilyn Young, and two anonymous reviewers for reading the piece and offering insightful criticism. Finally, I would like to express my profound appreciation to Bolivian historian Luis Antezana and retired U.S. Colonel Edward Fox for spending so much time acquainting me with the complex reality of revolutionary Bolivia in the early 1960s.