Country Listing

Bolivia Table of Contents




Since 1904 military service has been compulsory for all fit males between the ages of eighteen and forty-nine. In practice, however, budgetary limitations strictly limited the number of eligible men conscripted, and those traditionally tended to be mostly Indians. Beginning in 1967, conscripts were legally held on active duty for up to two years, but funds seldom permitted even a full year's service. Noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and warrant officers, all of whom were volunteers, generally were drawn from mixed-blood cholos (see Mestizos and Cholos , ch. 2). In the late 1980s, the service obligation was one year, and conscripts had to be at least nineteen years of age. The FF.AA. commander reported in early 1989 that the largest percentage of conscripts came from the middle class. One explanation for this change could have been the flocking of youths to the lucrative coca paste-making business. Military authorities in the Cochabamba area in particular began to experience growing difficulty in enlisting volunteers in the mid-1980s. Consequently, the military reportedly was resorting to pressganging eighteen-year-olds off the city streets to fill their annual quotas.

Data as of December 1989