AUGUST 1980 - VOLUME 1 - NUMBER 7
Bolivian Coup-Makers Find Bankers Eager
In spite of international condemnation of the new Bolivian junta and strong popular resistance to the July coup inside the country, commercial and multilateral banks continue to look upon Bolivia as a worthy investment.
A consortium of 97 commercial banks, led by Bank of America, agreed in early September to refinance U.S$172 million in debts for loans falling due between August and December, 1980.
In addition, since the coup that brought General Luis Garcia Meza to power, Bolivia has drawn U.S $17 million on a stand-by loan negotiated with the International Monetary Fund by the previous government. Says Robert Tampe, the IMF's Bolivian loan officer: "Our lending policy has nothing to do with the government. It just has to do with the country. There are obligations; they have nothing to do with politics."
General Meza's coup marks one of the most brutal seizures of power in Bolivia's history. Since the July 17 takeover preempting the installation of the democratically-elected reformist coalition of Hernan Siles Suazo, hundreds have been killed, 4000 imprisoned, the universities have been shut down and all labor unions suspended.
In addition, reports in the international press suggest the coup has brought to the helm a military clique concerned primarily with the preservation of its stake in the country's $ I billion cocaine export trade.
The Carter administration, having pinned high hopes on a democratic transition in Bolivia, has reacted harshly to the coup. Announced Secretary of State Edmund Muskie in its aftermath: "We have terminated military assistance. We have ceased new commitments of economic assistance. We have recalled our ambassador."
Nevertheless, the U.S. private sector and multilateral. agencies may be giving to the new Bolivian government more than the U.S. public sector is taking away. "Cutoffs in economic and military assistance from the United States are more than compensated for by other U.S.-based funding sources available to Bolivia's new rulers," says Lawrence Birns of the highly regarded Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
At press time, officials of the new government were in New York initiating negotiations with the commercial banks for a new round of lending.