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Exchange of Letters Between the President and President Paz Estenssoro of Bolivia Concerning the Need for Economic Assistance

October 14, 1953

My dear Mr. President:

I have received your letter of October 1, 1953, in which you describe the very grave economic emergency now threatening Bolivia and in which you request financial and technical assistance from the United States.

The people of the United States feel deep concern for the welfare of the people of the sister Republic of Bolivia. The friendly spirit of cooperation between our two nations has in the past motivated the programs of technical assistance and the Export-Import Bank loans for economic diversification to which your letter refers. Our concern for the welfare of the Bolivian people motivated the recent decision to make a further purchase of Bolivian tin at a time when this country had no immediate need for additional tin. This concern is founded today not alone on the traditional friendship between our two peoples but also on the realization that the security of the entire Free World is threatened wherever free men suffer hunger or other severe misfortunes.

We appreciate fully the fact that the present emergency in Bolivia is one which the Government and the people of Bolivia are unable to meet without the assistance of friends. The Government of Bolivia is already taking wise and courageous measures of self-help looking toward the diversification and stabilization of the Bolivian economy, but unfortunately these measures cannot produce their full effect in time to prevent severe suffering by the people of Bolivia in the immediate future.

To assist Bolivia in this emergency, and to help accelerate the economic diversification of your country, the Government of the United States will provide the following emergency aid in response to your request:

(a) As announced on October 6, I have determined that up to $5 million of Commodity Credit Corporation stocks of agricultural products shall be made available to meet the urgent relief requirements of Bolivia;

(b) In addition, the Director of the Foreign Operations Administration is allocating up to $4 million of Mutual Security Act funds to be used in providing additional essential commodities and services required by the people of Bolivia;

(c) In accordance with your request, most of the Bolivian currency funds accruing from the sale of these commodities to Bolivian consumers are to be used by your Government for projects which will contribute to the economic development of Bolivia;

(d) The United States contribution to the cooperative technical assistance program in Bolivia has been more than doubled, and the additional funds, together with the matching contribution of your Government, are to be used for a program of emergency food production.

In closing I wish to express my deep personal appreciation for the kind reference in your letter to the visit to Bolivia of my brother, Dr. Milton Eisenhower. He has given me a first-hand account of the situation in Bolivia, and he has been among the strongest advocates of assistance to your country.

Sincerely yours,


Note: President Paz Estenssoro's letter follows:

- Your Excellency:

On August 13, 1953, the Government of Bolivia delivered to the Department of State and to other agencies of the Government of the United States of America a copy of a "Plan for the Diversification of Production."

That plan was formulated after the visit to this country of your brother, Dr. Milton Eisenhower, and his advisors, Messrs. Cabot, Overby, and Anderson of the Departments of State, the Treasury, and Commerce, respectively.

The qualities of an educator which Dr. Eisenhower possesses, his extraordinary comprehension, and his sympathetic grasp of the problems of my country made it possible for the conversations held with him and his advisors to be carried out with complete frankness and on the level of the broadest cordiality and mutual understanding. I therefore wish to express again to Your Excellency my appreciation for your vision in having asked Dr. Eisenhower to visit Bolivia as your representative.

The plan presented after those conversations for the study and consideration of the high officials of the Government of the United States of America deals with the technical and economic assistance which my country needs in order to diversify its economy, which is now dependent almost completely on tin, as well as to overcome the economic crisis caused by the low price of that mineral.

Since that moment the Bolivian financial situation has deteriorated dangerously. Our availabilities in foreign currency have diminished so considerably through the fall in the price of tin and other minerals that we find ourselves in the insurmountable difficulty of not being able to provide food and other essential articles for the people, since in order to import them we need foreign currency.

This circumstance impels me to address Your Excellency to ask you that those parts of the above-mentioned plan which refer to providing food and other essential articles for the people of Bolivia and to additional technical assistance indispensable for developing a program of emergency food production be considered and resolved urgently.

Such assistance, granted in time, will serve on the one hand to spare the people of Bolivia from the menace of hunger which hangs over them, and on the other hand will permit the alleviation of the present disequilibrium in our balance of payments.

Such measures as Your Excellency may take in this matter will constitute yet another step in the program of technical and economic collaboration which Bolivia has been receiving from the United States of America and which has made possible the construction of the important Cochabamba-Santa Cruz highway and of certain works in our petroleum and agricultural industries.

The Bolivian currency which would be obtained from the sale to the public of the food and other essential articles furnished us could be utilized to put into effect that part of the plan of diversification of the Bolivian economy which might be carried out through the use of local currency.

I believe that Your Excellency will receive this letter with sympathy and good will, since it concerns the furnishing of aid to a people who, as is the case in Bolivia, are sincerely pledged to improve the democratic institutions inherent in the free world, to which they firmly adhere, and who furthermore are solidly with the principles of mutual security which govern the nations of the Western Hemisphere.

In thanking Your Excellency in advance in the name of the people of the Government of Bolivia for the measures which you may be good enough to take so that this assistance may reach us opportunely, I express sincere wishes for the happiness of the great American people, whose destiny Your Excellency guides so wisely, as well as for your personal well-being.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Exchange of Letters Between the President and President Paz Estenssoro of Bolivia Concerning the Need for Economic Assistance Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232159

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