Country Listing

Bolivia Table of Contents


Mission and Organization


Figure 15. Organization of the Police Forces, 1989

The constitutional mission of the national police is to preserve public order, protect society through its specialized agencies, and guarantee enforcement of the laws. The police are also responsible for protecting foreign diplomatic missions. The police do not deliberate or participate in partisan politics. The Constitution stipulates that the president of the republic is the commander in chief of the police forces (see fig. 15). In this capacity, the president--acting through the minister of interior, migration, and justice--names the director general of the National Police Corps (Cuerpo de Policía Nacional), another name for the national police. In a national emergency, the president is empowered to administer directly the activities of the police corps. In time of international war, the police forces would be subordinate to the FF.AA. commander in chief and the Ministry of National Defense for the duration of the conflict. In that event, the Constitution requires that police activities be integrated with those of the army as though the police were reserve units called to active duty for the duration of hostilities. The director general, who may be a civilian but almost invariably has been a high-ranking career police officer (usually with colonel rank), normally exercises operational control.

The police corps, with at least 15,000 personnel in the late 1980s, consisted of the General Administration (Administración General) section; the 5,000-member paramilitary National Guard (Guardia Nacional), still referred to as the carabineers (Carabineros), which were reorganized in 1976; the Directorate of National Investigations (Dirección de Investigaciones Nacionales- -DIN), which cooperated with the International Police (Interpol); the Customs Police (Policía de Aduana); the Traffic Police (Policía de Tránsito); the National Highway Service (Servicio Nacional de Carreteras), which operated under the authority of the Ministry of Transport and Communications; the Fire Corps (Cuerpo de Bomberos), which was manned by police personnel; and the National Police Academy. All of these subordinate entities were separate administrative units within the director general's office. This office, which also served as national headquarters for all police and national guard activities, consisted of a command group, or Police General Command, which was established in the early 1980s, and a staff (Estado Mayor) made up of twelve numbered, conventionally established staff sections.

Data as of December 1989