Country Listing

Bolivia Table of Contents



Government: Executive power vested in president of the republic, elected to four-year term either by majority popular vote or, in absence of majority winner, by National Congress (hereafter, Congress), which selects one of top three candidates. Reelection of incumbent not permitted until four years have elapsed. President heads Council of Ministers (representing sixteen ministries) and various other councils. Legislative power resides in bicameral Congress, consisting of Chamber of Deputies and Senate. Congress major actor in national politics, passing or modifying legislation and approving president's annual budget, economic policy, government loans, and treaties and other international agreements. Needs two-thirds vote to override presidential veto. Convenes annually on August 6 in La Paz.

Politics: Jaime Paz Zamora, leader of social democratic-oriented Movement of the Revolutionary Left (Movimiento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria--MIR) and third-place runner-up in May 1989 popular elections, assumed presidency August 6, 1989, after being selected by Congress. Prior to nomination, Paz Zamora allied with former president and second-place runner-up Hugo Banzer Suárez and his Nationalist Democratic Action (Acción Democrática Nacionalista--ADN) party, whereby Banzer's party was given vice presidency and half the cabinet positions. Paz Zamora succeeded his uncle, Víctor Paz Estenssoro, a founder of the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario-- MNR). Despite leftist reputation, Paz Zamora vowed to continue predecessor's antinarcotics efforts and successful economic reform policy.

International Relations: Long history of territorial losses to neighboring nations. Relations with United States have fluctuated since 1950s. Some sectors condemned United States support for rightist military regimes in 1960s and 1970s. United States human rights emphasis in late 1970s and nonrecognition of Bolivia's right-wing military regimes in early 1980s established new pattern in bilateral relations. Bolivian-United States relations cordial during third Paz Estenssoro administration (1985-89). In 1989 relations with Argentina somewhat strained, owing to Argentinean arrears on natural gas payments. Relations with Brazil improving in 1989, because of joint construction agreements and antidrug-trafficking measures. Relations with Chile remained contentious in 1989, owing to Chile's refusal to consider Bolivia's requests to negotiate a port outlet.

International Agreements and Membership: Party to Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance of 1947. Member of Organization of American States, United Nations and its specialized agencies, International Monetary Fund, Inter-American Development Bank, Andean Common Market, Amazonian Pact, Latin American Integration Association, Latin American Economic System, Nonaligned Movement, and International Parliamentary Union.

Data as of December 1989