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I've Got Those Mean Old Bolivian Visa Blues

With my departure for South America set for 10 days from now, the Bolivian government has put a hitch in my plans. Bolivian President Evo Morales announced yesterday that as of now, American citizens will need a visa to visit Bolivia. As the Associated Press reported:
LA PAZ, Bolivia -- The government of President Evo Morales approved a decree Monday requiring U.S. citizens to obtain visas to enter Bolivia. Morales said the decree "a matter of reciprocity." The U.S. government requires Bolivians to obtain visas to enter the United States. "We are a small country but we have the same dignity as any other," Morales said. The decree, approved during a Cabinet meeting, applies to other countries, including Serbia and Montenegro and Cyprus. In February 2006, Leonilda Zurita, a congresswoman belonging to Morales' Movement Toward Socialism party, had her U.S. visa revoked. Zurita said Washington cited an alleged link between her and terrorist activities, which she denied. Morales also cited security concerns for the rule. An American man has been charged with setting off bombs in two La Paz hotels in March. Two Bolivians were killed and seven people were injured, including an American woman. U.S. ties to Bolivia have been tense partly due to Morales' friendship with Presidents Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, as well as by Morales' background as the leader of coca growers fighting U.S. attempts to eradicate their crops.
What the AP did not make clear is that the visa requirement for Bolivians to enter the US is a recent, post-911 move by the US reversing years of visa-free travel for South Americans coming north. The Brazilian government has also imposed a visa requirement for Americans now in this game of diplomatic tit-for-tat. Thanks, Mr. Bush. What this means for my trip is unclear at this point. The Bolivian consulate in Washington wasn't answering the phone today. One of colleagues in the Washington office will run over there first thing tomorrow morning to try to find out what the new requirements are and how fast I can actually get a visa. I am going first to Peru, which hasn't imposed a visa requirement, and it may be possible to get a visa there, but I don't know that yet. I'll keep you all updated on the situation. (Read the comment I've posted to learn a little more about Leonilda Zurita. - DB)
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Visa requirement for Bolivias to US new?

The US has required visa for Bolivians to travel to the US for years, it's not a post 9/11 thing. It's gotten harder since 9/11, but it's not new.

psmith's picture

Tourist visits of up to 30 days did not require visas.

Until this week's announcement. So say the two guidebooks I have, as do visa service web sites, including this one, which still contains the old "BOLIVIA -- Business Tourist Visa not required for up to 30 days" information.

This is in response to the stiffening of visa requirements by the Bush administration after 911. That's what Morales was talking about "reciprocity."

bolivians and visas for the us

It is true, bolivians have needed a visa to enter to states for the longest time. My aunt needed on back in late 80s.

Not only that but bolivians traveling through the US (IN TRANSIT - which means they dont even leave the airport) requiere a US visa.

borden's picture

Leonilda Zurita

Wow, the US government must really be corrupted to accuse Leonilda Zurita of any ties to terrorism. That's ridiculous! She has traveled here to Washington before to speak out and to meet with people including US officials. She was a surprise last-minute speaker at a demonstration co-organized by our own David Guard (before he came to work at DRCNet, it was organized by the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation). Univision showed up and her speech was played on TV screens all across Latin America. The Bolivian government at the time liked that so much that they illegally detained her on her return. But they had nothing on her, and she of course was freed, and now is a respected member of the Congress. So what if some ideologues in the US don't like her or her party? They were elected and they have the right to have their point of view. I have complete confidence that she is innocent of any such allegation -- if she's not, why haven't they tried to go after her? It was only a short time ago that a very different administration was in charge in Bolivia, one that would have gladly taken out one of the cocalero leaders if they could have justified it. Anyway, it is ironic that our government's giving trouble to one of our allies in Bolivia wanting to come here has resulted in (much more temporary) trouble from the Bolivian government for us sending our person there (and for many other people).

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Visa not required until March.

In Tuesday January 9th El Comercio newpaper (Quito). The Bolivian government has postponed the visa requirement for Americans until March.

any update on the bolivian

any update on the bolivian visa requirements, seen as it is March?

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