Negotiating Interference: U.S. Democracy Promotion, Bolivia, and the Tale of a Failed Agreement

  • Jonas WolffEmail author
Part of the Studien des Leibniz-Instituts Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung book series (SLIHSFK)


This chapter applies the conception of democracy promotion as an interactive process that is crucially affected by conflicts over conceptions of justice to the relations between the US and Bolivia. Since 2009, the USA and the Bolivian government have been trying to fix their broken diplomatic relations. These negotiations culminated in 2011 in the signing of a bilateral agreement but, ultimately, failed to establish a basis for mutually acceptable development aid relations. The chapter analyzes these negotiations and suggests a partial explanation that accounts for their dynamics and results. Specifically it shows how the negotiations have pitted Bolivian demands for state sovereignty and mutual respect, based on an egalitarian understanding of inter-state relations, against the US emphasis on common obligations and universal rights, informed by a non-egalitarian notion of liberal hegemony. The failure to balance or reconcile these conflicting notions helps to explain why the negotiations were so difficult and eventually failed to produce a viable outcome.


  1. Achtenberg, E. (2011). A political victory for Bolivia. Resource document. NACLA Blog. Accessed 5 Jan 2012.
  2. Albin, C. (2001). Justice and fairness in international negotiation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Albin, C., & Druckman, D. (2010). The role of justice in negotiation. In D. M. Kilgour & C. Eden (Eds.), Handbook of group decision and negotiation (pp. 109–119). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bolivia Information Forum. (2009). US decertifies Bolivia. BIF News Briefing (September 2009). Accessed 7 Oct 2009.
  5. Bolivia & United States. (2011). Convenio Marco de Relaciones Bilaterales de Mutuo Respeto y Colaboración entre el Gobierno del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia y el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América (November 7, 2011). Accessed 30 Nov 2012.
  6. Burron, N. (2012). Unpacking U.S. Democracy promotion in Bolivia: From soft tactics to regime change. Latin American Perspectives, 39(1), 115–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carothers, T. (2010). The continuing backlash against democracy promotion. In P. Burnell & R. Youngs (Eds.), New challenges to democratization (pp. 59–72). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Carothers, T., & Brechenmacher, S. (2014). Closing space. democracy and human rights support under fire. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Google Scholar
  9. Crabtree, J., & Whitehead, L. (2008). Unresolved tensions: Bolivia past and present. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crandall, R. (2002). Driven by drugs. U.S. policy toward Colombia. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  11. Farthing, L. C., & Kohl, B. H. (2014). Evo’s Bolivia. Continuity and change. Austin: Texas University Press.Google Scholar
  12. House, Freedom. (2010). Investing in freedom: An analysis of the Obama administration FY 2011 budget request for democracy and human rights. Washington: Freedom House.Google Scholar
  13. Gamarra, E. A. (1999). The United States and Bolivia: Fighting the drug war. In V. Bulmer-Thomas & J. Dunkerley (Eds.), The United States and Latin America: The new agenda (pp. 177–206). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gershman, C., & Allen, M. (2006). The assault on democracy assistance. Journal of Democracy, 17(2), 36–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lehman, K. D. (1999). Bolivia and the United States. A limited partnership. Athens: University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar
  16. McMahan, J. (1996). Intervention and collective self-determination. Ethics & International Affairs, 10(1), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Molina, G. G. (2009). The United States and Bolivia: Test case for change. In A. F. Lowenthal, T. J. Piccone, & L. Whitehead (Eds.), The Obama administration and the Americas: Agenda for change (pp. 167–182). Washington: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  18. Müller, H. (2004). Arguing, bargaining and all that: Communicative action, rationalist theory and the logic of appropriateness in international relations. European Journal of International Relations, 10(3), 395–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Müller, H. (2013). Justice and peace: Good things do not always go together. In G. Hellmann (Ed.), Justice and peace. Interdisciplinary perspectives on a contested relationship (pp. 43–68). Frankfurt: Campus.Google Scholar
  20. Müller, H., & Druckman, D. (2014). Introduction: Justice in security negotiations. International Negotiation, 19(3), 339–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Poppe, A. E., & Wolff, J. (2013). The normative challenge of interaction: Justice conflicts in democracy promotion. Global Constitutionalism, 2(3), 373–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Spector, B. I., & Wagner, L. M. (2010). Negotiating international development. International Negotiation, 15(3), 327–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. U.S. Department of State (2009a). United States-Bolivia bilateral dialogue. Accessed 18 Nov 2009.
  24. U.S. Department of State (2009b). Secretary Clinton’s meeting with Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca. Accessed 18 November 2009.
  25. U.S. Department of State (2011a). Joint statement by the United States of America and the plurinational state of Bolivia. Accessed 8 Dec 2011.
  26. U.S. Department of State (2011b). 2011 International narcotics control strategy report. Accessed 21 Nov 2012.
  27. U.S. Department of State (2012). Congressional budget justification: Foreign operations. Annex: Regional perspectives. Fiscal year 2013. Accessed 3 Sept 2012.
  28. U.S. Embassy La Paz (2012). Statement by the joint commission of the plurinational state of Bolivia and the United States of America. Accessed 1 Oct 2012.
  29. Vicepresidencia de Bolivia (2009). Injerencia de los Estados Unidos en Bolivia. Accessed 21 Nov 2012.
  30. Walser, R. (2011). The State Department’s turn-the-other cheek policy. Heritage Blog. Accessed 21 Jan 2013.
  31. Welch, D. A. (1993). Justice and the genesis of war. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Whitfield, L. (2009). The politics of aid: African strategies for dealing with donors. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Wolff, J. (2012). Democracy promotion, empowerment, and self-determination: Conflicting objectives in US and German policies towards Bolivia. Democratization, 19(3), 415–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zartman, I. W. (2008). Negotiation and conflict management. Essays on theory and practice. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Zartman, I. W., & Rubin, J. Z. (2000). Symmetry and Asymmetry in Negotiation. In W. Zartmann & J. Z. Rubin (Eds.), Power and negotiation (pp. 271–293). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zartmann, I. W., Druckman, D., Jensen, L., Pruitt, D. G., Peyton Young, H. (1996). Negotiation as a search for justice. International Negotiation, 1(1), 79–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zegada, M. T., Arce, C., Canedo, G., & Quispe, A. (2011). La Democracia desde los Márgenes. Transformaciones en el Campo Político Boliviano. La Paz: CLACSO.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF/HSFK)Frankfurt am MainGermany

Personalised recommendations