Bistand og venstredrejning: En analyse af bistandsforholdet mellem USA og Bolivia i det nye årtusinde

Anne Buchardt Kronborg & Rikke Marie Rusborg

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Western hemisphere is characterised by a historical political and economical dominance by the United States. Bolivia has historically has been very dependent on aid and the U.S. has been one of the largest donors of aid to Bolivia, and has therefore had a considerable influence on the political and economic agenda in Bolivia. Bolivia’s socialist president Evo Morales, who was elected in 2005, and his Movement towards Socialism party (MAS) ran on a platform of three central elements: to ensure the economic and social inclusion of the indigenous population and to end the neoliberal economic policies implemented since the 1980es and the U.S. driven with the U.S. War on Drugs. Therefore, the economic and political reforms of the Morales government do not adhere to the interests of the United States. This gives us reason to presume that this development in Bolivia might have an effect on the aid relationship between the U.S. and Bolivia. Thus, the aim of this thesis is to examine the changes in U.S. aid policy towards Bolivia after the election in 2005 of Evo Morales as president of Bolivia and discuss how much these changes can be understood by looking at the left turn in Bolivia. In order to examine the United States’ interests and stakes in Latin America and how aid is used as a political instrument, our theoretical framework revolves around McKinley and Little’s theory of donor interest, which helps us understand why aid is granted the way it is, and the theoretical concepts of conditionality and selectivity, i.e. the extent of conditions that are tied to aid and which tells us how a donor country grants aid. This study is based on a historical comparative analysis of U.S. aid policy between 2001 and 2009 followed by an interpretation and discussion of the results of the analysis. By aid policy we mean the concrete amount and allocation of aid in addition to the political elements that lie within the aid, focusing particularly on conditionality. Our discussion is based on a discussion of which aspects of the political left turn could be seen as being in conflict with U.S. interests. Our empirical data consists of both quantitative and qualitative data from U.S. government reports and documents. As an introduction to the analysis, we frame the historical relationship between USA and Latin America in terms of foreign politics and politics regarding aid. Our main findings in the historical comparative analysis of U.S. aid to Bolivia in the period 2001- 2009, are that overall U.S. aid to Bolivia experienced a rise in the beginning of the period, but declined considerably between 2006 and 2009. The beginning of the period was characterised by a paramount focus on the efforts to fight coca production and drug trafficking, but in the later part of the period the focus shifted from drugs to good governance and democracy promotion. The entire period displays elements of conditionality, but the consequences of conditionality are especially clear in 2008, when Bolivia was excluded from several aid and cooperation programmes, the most notable being the Millennium Challenge Account initiative, to which Bolivia had initially been deemed eligible in 2004. After having discussed these changes can be understood by looking at the political left turn, we have found that they can be seen as a manifestation of a sharper tone on the part of the U.S. from the examples presented, we argue that there is a connection between the decrease in the total amount of aid and the shifted focus to good governance, and Evo Morales’ wish to break away from the U.S. induced policies in Bolivia for the past several years and apparent repugnance to carry on previous governments’ close cooperation with USA in the war against drugs. But we are also able to establish that other factors like the foreign politics pursued by the Bush Administration in general display an increased focus on good governance and democracy. Therefore, we are not able to give an unambiguous answer to what impact the political left turn has had on U.S. aid policy, but we can conclude that there are clear signs of a connection. We also see the overall left turn in Latin America that has resulted in a closer regional collaboration, as a possible sign that the region has become less dependent on USA both economically and politically, and this strengthening of the region politically combined with the presented examples of how Morales and the Government of Bolivia are breaking away from cooperation on U.S. terms can, in our view, be interpreted as having a connection with the changes in the aid relationship.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages100