Friday, September 17, 2021
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Obama Follows Bush in Refusing to Restore Trade Benefits to Bolivia
Back in November of 2008, as ABC News reported on the 27th of that month ("US Suspends Bolivian Trade Deal Over Drug War"), then-"President George W. Bush [...] suspend[ed] a key trade pact" - the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act - "with Bolivia, saying the South American country failed to cooperate with U.S. anti-drug efforts." ABC explains that the "trade agreement gives Andean nations breaks on some U.S. tariffs as a reward for cooperation in the drug war." Bush primarily based his decision not to renew the trade agreement (which came up for renegotiation on December 15, 2008) on Bolivian President Evo Morales' "boot[ing of] the U.S. ambassador and Drug Enforcement Agency" early in the preceding month ("President Evo Morales Expels US DEA from Bolivia"). Morales accused both the DEA and the ambassador of "conspiring with the opposition," but "U.S. officials [...] repeatedly denied any political meddling." ABC also reported that "the suspension could jeopardize some 20,000 Bolivian manufacturing jobs and $150 million in trade between the two countries."
After current-President Barack Obama refused to reinstate Bolivia's trade benefits, Morales "accused [him] of lying" when Obama earlier pledged "to change America's historically heavy-handed relationship with Latin America," the Boston Globe reported on July 1, 2009 ("Bolivia Leader Says Obama 'Lied' About Cooperation"). As Morales put it, "President Obama lied to Latin America when he told us in Trinidad and Tobago that there are not senior and junior partners." Although the U.S.'s continued refusal of trade benefits to Bolivia stems in part from the aforementioned expulsions of both the DEA and the U.S. ambassador, the Obama administration also contends that it decided not to re-extend the benefits "because the world's No. 3 cocaine-producing country is not doing enough to reduce 'unconstrained' cultivation of coca."
For a more indepth analysis of the situation in Boliva, please see the Drug War Chronicle's July 3, 2009 feature "Obama Administration Declines to Restore Bolivian Trade Preferences, Cites Government's Acceptance of Coca Production".