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Reading: United States Assistance to the Bolivian Military 1958-1964


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United States Assistance to the Bolivian Military 1958-1964


Major Robert O. Kirkland

United States Military Academy, West Point
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On November 4, 1964, a military junta led by General René Barrientos overthrew Bolivian President Víctor Paz Estenssoro, ending the 12 year governance of the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR). The coup surprised many foreign observers. Robert Alexander, an early academic observer of the MNR, had written in 1963 that the party seemed well on its way to setting up a one party state similar to Mexico’s Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), which had ruled that country continuously since 1920. To Alexander, Paz’s landslide electoral victory in early 1964 confirmed that the MNR would continue its domination of Bolivian politics well into the future. Equally surprising to Alexander and others was the armed forces’ involvement in the coup. Their institution had Paz’s unqualified support and had been rebuilt with the assistance of the United States over the previous half-decade, becoming a central pillar of the MNR regime. Yet, only eight months after the presidential election, the country had a military government and Paz was in exile.

How to Cite: Kirkland, M.R.O., (2007). United States Assistance to the Bolivian Military 1958-1964. Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies. 12(1), pp.37–50. DOI:
Published on 01 Jan 2007.
Peer Reviewed


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