Bolivia's Magical Realism


May 4, 2013


In an article published in the Financial Times’ “beyondbrics” blog, Eric Farnsworth—vice president  of the Council of the Americas and a regular AQ blog contributor—looks at Bolivian President Evo Morales’ decision on Wednesday to oust USAID and explores the ramifications for Bolivia’s development.

Bolivia’s magical realism

By: Eric Farnsworth

Bolivia is the poorest nation in South America. Along with Haiti and Nicaragua, it is one of the poorest in all of the western hemisphere. So what’s President Evo Morales’ latest strategy to improve social indicators? Expel USAID, the US government aid agency that spent some $28m last year promoting healthcare among poor Bolivians and working to protect the environment.

In the alternative universe of the Morales government, USAID is a tool of “political interference” stemming from a “mentality of domination and submission”. That’ll be news to Bolivia’s rural communities and aid recipients, including municipalities, which have relied on capacity building and technical training assistance. Since 1964, US taxpayers have willingly and generously offered the Bolivian people nearly $2bn in development assistance, much of it going to supplement Bolivia’s own health and education services and to work in coordination with Bolivia’s government to preserve sensitive environmental lands.

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