Foreign relations of Bolivia

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Bolivia traditionally has maintained normal diplomatic relations with all hemispheric states except Chile. Foreign relations are handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by the Chancellor of Bolivia, since January 2006 David Choquehuanca Céspedes.


Relations with Chile, strained since Bolivia's defeat in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) and its loss of the coastal province of Atacama, were severed from 1962 to 1975 in a dispute over the use of the waters of the Lauca River. Relations were resumed in 1975 but broken again in 1978 over the inability of the two countries to reach an agreement that solved the Atacama border dispute, that might have granted Bolivia a sovereign access to the sea. In the 1960s, relations with Cuba were broken by the Bolivian dictatorship following Castro's rise to power but resumed under the Paz Estenssoro Administration in 1985, which was elected through democratic elections.

Bolivia pursues a foreign policy with a heavy economic component. Bolivia has become more active in the Organization of American States (OAS), the Rio Group, and in MERCOSUR, with which it signed an association agreement in 1996. Bolivia promotes its policies on sustainable development and the empowerment of indigenous people.

Bolivia is a member of the United Nations and some of its specialized agencies and related programs; OAS; Andean Community; INTELSAT; Non-Aligned Movement; International Parliamentary Union; Latin American Integration Association ALADI; World Trade Organization; Rio Treaty; Rio Group; MERCOSUR; and Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia (URUPABOL, restarted in 1993). As an outgrowth of the 1994 Summit of the Americas, Bolivia hosted a hemispheric summit conference on sustainable development in December 1996. A First Ladies' hemispheric summit was also hosted by Bolivia that same month.

Bolivia is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the United States-military (as covered under Article 98).

United Nations involvement

Bolivia has frequently been involved with the United Nations. In November 2008, the Bolivian contingent of UN peacekeeping troops with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was relocated to safety, as at least one other regional state was also reviewing its own mission's security. The country had a detachment of 130 soldiers that was working in Bukavu, but was moved to a location near Goma.[1]

International disputes

Bolivia has wanted a sovereign corridor to the South Pacific Ocean since the Atacama area was lost to Chile in 1884; dispute with Chile over Rio Lauca water rights.

Since the accession of Carlos Mesa to the Presidency, Bolivia has pressed its demands for a corridor to the Pacific. In March 2004, Mesa announced that the government would stage a series of public rallies across the country and in Bolivian embassies abroad in remembrance of those who died in the War of the Pacific, and to call for Chile to grant Bolivia a seacoast. Mesa made this demand a cornerstone of his administration's policy.

Illicit drugs

Bolivia is the world's third-largest cultivator of coca (after Peru and Colombia) with an estimated 218 km² under cultivation in 1999, a 45% decrease in overall cultivation of coca from 1998 levels; intermediate coca products and cocaine exported to or through Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile to the United States and other international drug markets; alternative crop program aims to reduce illicit coca cultivation.

Bilateral relations


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 ArgentinaSee Argentina–Bolivia relations

Brazil and Bolivia have been working on expanding and diversifying trade between the two countries in the last quarter of 2008. The 6th Meeting of the Commission for Monitoring Brazil-Bolivia trade was used to this end. As it stood, at the time Brazil was the main destination for exports from Bolivia, having bought, in 2007, 35.7% of the products that Bolivian companies sell to other countries. They were also the main exporter to Bolivia, sending 24.7% of products imported into Bolivia. As industrialized products represented 94.6% of Brazilian sales up to September of the year, Bolivian sales in the same period were limited largely to natural gas, which accounted for up to 92.7% of the total purchased from the country, or US$1.89 billion. The products with the greatest scope for an increase in trade from Brazil to Bolivia were crude oil, insecticides, aircraft, vehicle engines, soy in grain, vegetable oils and ironworks products, amongst others. From Bolivia to Brazil, products such as animal feed, vegetable oil, crude oil, tin, ores of precious metals, precious gems, dried and fresh fruit, plants, leather and garments were also capable of seeing sales grow.[4]

  • Bolivia has an embassy in Brasilia.
  • Brazil has an embassy in La Paz.
 ChileSee Bolivia–Chile relations

Bolivia and Chile have had strained relations ever since independence in the early 19th century because of the Atacama border dispute. Relations soured even more after Bolivia lost its coast to Chile during the War of the Pacific and became a landlocked country (Bolivia still claims a corridor to the Pacific Ocean.) Chile and Bolivia have maintained only consular relations since 1978 when territorial negotiations failed.

 MexicoSee Bolivia–Mexico relations

The two countries have good relations. A free trade agreement has been in effect between the two Latin American nations since 1994.[7]


Relations between Bolivia and Nicaragua have improved since the election of Daniel Ortega. In 2007, President Evo Morales stated that "Daniel Ortega's win gives strength and hope not only to Nicaragua but to all of Latin America." Both countries are members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).


In 2009 Bolivian President Evo Morales and Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo signed an agreement settling a border dispute, which led to a war in the 1930s. President Lugo expressed the hope that natural resources could now "be developed and used by both countries" [10]

 United StatesSee Bolivia–United States relations

Bolivia traditionally has had strong ties to the United States. Economically, the United States has been a long-standing consumer of Bolivian exports and a partner in development projects. In 1991 the United States forgave more than US$350 million owed by Bolivia to the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Presently, the United States leads an international contingent pressuring Bolivia to curb its illegal drug trade.

The election of Evo Morales strained relations between the two countries. Morales rose to power as the head of a trade union of coca growers. He has campaigned against coca eradication on behalf of the growers, citing the legitimate uses of coca leaves in traditional Aymara and Quechua culture. His policies directly conflict with the eradiction policy of the United States. In 2008 the Bolivian government suspended the operations of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) accusing the organisation of being a front for violating the country's sovereignty and supporting an unsuccessful coup d'état. Bolivia's government also expelled the US ambassador.[13] In 2008 Gustavo Guzmán, the Bolivian ambassador to Washington said "The U.S. embassy is historically used to calling the shots in Bolivia, violating our sovereignty, treating us like a banana republic", and Evo Morales, the Bolivian president said "Where there is a US ambassador, there is a coup".[14]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 China1985See Bolivia–People's Republic of China relations

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Bolivia in 1985, relations have expanded from economic and cultural ties to military, transport, infrastructure, raw materials, education and other areas. The two countries recently celebrated 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties in Beijing, July 9, 2010. In August 2010, China and Bolivia agreed to continue to develop military ties and cooperation.

  • Bolivia has an embassy in Beijing.
  • China has an embassy in La Paz.
  • Bolivia has an embassy in New Delhi.
  • Republic of India has an Embassy in La Paz.
  • Indians can travel Bolivia without a Visa.
 IranSee Iran–Bolivia relations

Relations between Iran and Bolivia were strengthened during the presidencies of Evo Morales and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Morales supported Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy, while Iran has expanded economic relations and investments in Bolivia. Morales visited Iran more than once. During a visit, together with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he said there was a need to "strengthen the resistance front formed by independent and freedom-seeking nations to fight against imperialism and global hegemony."[17]

  • Bolivia has an embassy in Tehran.
  • Iran has an embassy in La Paz.

In January 2009, Bolivia limited its foreign relationship with Israel in the wake of strikes in Gaza by Israel. Bolivia has reportedly promised to take Israel to an international court for alleged war crimes committed in Gaza. This was the statement of the Bolivian President Evo Morales. On 30 July 2014, Bolivian relations with Israel were further strained. The country's president, Evo Morales, has declared Israel a "terrorist state" after their attack on Gaza.[18] Following this declaration, the Bolivian president has stated that he would terminate a 40-year agreement which allowed Israelis to travel to the country.

  • Bolivia has an embassy in Tokyo.
  • Japan has an embassy in La Paz.

Bolivia's economy is growing rapidly thanks to income from natural resources, and the country's left-wing government is committed to distributing the wealth. In Pakistan, conversely, the economy is in crisis – because of religious fanaticism and political instability. The country's currency has been devalued, prices are rising and jobs are few and far between. As a result, few people think the country’s economic misery will be over anytime soon. Pakistanis are committed to the path towards a democracy based on the rule of law and a market economy anchored in principles of social justice. Islamabad insists Better incomes for the poor in Bolivia and hard times in Pakistan. These are two contrasting examples of the economic changes taking place around the globe.

 South Korea25 April 1965[19]See Foreign relations of the Republic of Korea
  • The establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Bolivia started 25 April 1965.
  • Bolivia has an embassy in Seoul.
  • South Korea has an embassy in La Paz.
  • The number of the South Korean living in Bolivia in 2013 was about 597.
  • Bilateral Trade in 2012 exports $38 million and imports $275 million.[19]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
  • Bolivia has an embassy in Vienna.
  • Austria is accredited in Bolivia from its embassy in Lima, Peru.
  • Belgium is accredited to Bolivia from its embassy in Lima, Peru.
  • Bolivia has an embassy in Brussels.
 DenmarkSee Bolivia-Denmark relations
  • Bolivia has an embassy in Helsinki.
  • Finland has an embassy in La Paz.
  • Bolivia has an embassy in Paris.
  • France has an Embassy in La Paz.

Diplomatic relations between the two states were broken during World War I. Relations were restored after the war under the agreement concluded on July 20, 1921.

  • Bolivia has an embassy in Berlin.
  • Germany has an Embassy in La Paz.
  • Bolivia is accredited to Greece from its embassy in Rome, Italy.
  • Greece is accredited to Bolivia from its embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Bolivia has an embassy in Rome.
  • Italy has an Embassy in La Paz.
  • Bolivia has an embassy in The Hague.
  • Netherlands has an embassy in La Paz.
  • Bolivia is accredited to Norway from its embassy in London, United Kingdom.
  • Norway is accredited to Bolivia from its embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Bolivia is accredited to Portugal from its embassy in Paris, France.
  • Portugal is accredited to Bolivia from its embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
 RussiaSee Bolivia–Russia relations

With Bolivia the focus on relations with Russia is mainly economic, as opposed to political and strategic, as an agreement to invest in Bolivia's natural gas fields shows. It is seen to "help Latin America...[as it] expands Latin America's economic opportunities, diversifies its relationships...that's healthy."[21]

2008 saw, as a first step to re-establish ties with Russia, the Bolivian government had plans to purchase a small batch of helicopters. Ambassador Leonid Golubev told The Associated Press that he would like to see Russia's ties to Bolivia one day "approach the level" of its growing partnership with Venezuela.[22] [23]

In 2009 amid improving relations between the two countries Bolivia and Russia signed various agreements pertaining to energy and military ties, mining activities and illegal drug eradication. [22][22][24]

  • Bolivia has an embassy in Moscow.
  • Russia has an embassy in La Paz.

A diplomatic crisis with Spain in 2005 due to a misunderstanding was quickly resolved by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Spain became the first European country visited by Evo Morales on January 4, 2006. However, there remain problems surrounding the exploitation of oil and gas fields in the country by Spanish corporations like Repsol.

Bolivian President Evo Morales met King Juan Carlos and held talks with Zapatero during a visit to Spain in September 2009 with the intention of resolving issues concerning the nationalisation of the Bolivian energy sector. The move has the potential to hurt some Spanish companies however relations were said to be "positive" between the Bolivian state and Spanish private sector energy companies. Evo Morales said that Bolivia is ready to accept outside investment in its energy and natural resource industries as long as foreign firms do not act as owners and that Bolivia is "looking for investment, be it from private or state sector. We want partners, not owners of our natural resources."

It was suggested that Bolivia would also negotiate with Spanish companies to produce car parts and lithium batteries in the future.[25]

  • Bolivia has an embassy in Stockholm.
  • Sweden has an embassy in La Paz.
  • Bolivia has an embassy/mission in Geneva[28]
  • Switzerland has an Embassy in La Paz.
 United Kingdom
  • Bolivia has an embassy in London.
  • United Kingdom has an embassy in La Paz.

Other regions

Country Formal Relations Began Notes

Bolivia and Australia work together on a wide variety of issues. Relations are good between the two countries. There is investment in mining services and technology. Bolivia and Australia are part of the Cairns Group. Still trade is quite small, In 2002 The Hon Mark Vaile visited Santa Cruz for the Cairns Group meeting.

  • Bolivia has an embassy in Cairo.
  • Egypt has an Embassy in La Paz.

See also


  1. "Congo violence prompts move of Bolivia's UN troops". Boston Herald. November 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  2. Embassy of Argentina in La Paz (in Spanish)
  3. Embassy of Bolivia in Buenos Aires (in Spanish)
  5. Consulate-General of Bolivia in Santiago (in Spanish)
  6. Consulate-General of Chile in La Paz (in Spanish)
  8. Embassy of Bolivia in Mexico City (in Spanish)
  9. Embassy of Mexico in La Paz (in Spanish)
  10. "Bolivia and Paraguay agree border". BBC News. 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  11. Embassy of Bolivia in Lima (in Spanish)
  12. Embassy of Peru in La Paz (in Spanish)
  13. "Bolivia halts US anti-drugs work". BBC News. 2008-11-01. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  15. Embassy of Bolivia in Washington, DC (in English and Spanish)
  16. Embassy of the United States in La Paz (in English and Spanish)
  18. "Israel Is A 'Terrorist State': Bolivian President". International Business Times. 2014.
  19. 1 2
  22. 1 2 3
  23. "Latin America". CBS. October 3, 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  24. "Russia to aid Bolivia drugs fight". BBC News. 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  26. Embassy of Bolivia in Madrid (in Spanish)
  27. Embassy of Spain in La Paz (in Spanish)
  28. Embassy and Mission of Bolivia in Geneva (in Spanish)

Much of the material in this article comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website

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