Pandora's box : the Nixon Administration and Bolivia, 1969-1972
Nicole Rae Day-Lucore
May 9, 2018
Department or Program
Between 1969 and 1972, Bolivia experienced three successful military coups and four different presidents. Two of them, Generals Alfredo Ovando Candía (September 1969-October 1970) and Juan José Torres (October 1970-August 1971), proclaimed themselves leftist nationalists. At the time, the administration of U.S. President Richard Nixon was operating under a foreign policy framework that prioritized anticommunism along with support for authoritarian dictators in an effort to create stability and stop the spread of communism abroad. This thesis examines how this policy framework came under strain in U.S.-Bolivian relations between 1969 and 1972. Since Ovando and Torres were leftist military dictators, they presented Washington with a dilemma of whether to maintain support based on the leaders’ military status or to withdraw it based on their leftism. Ultimately, the Nixon administration decided to use diplomacy to persuade Ovando and Torres to moderate their leftist rhetoric and positions, as Washington attempted to resolve the conflict between its policies of anti-leftism and support for military governments.