The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
A Beggar on a Chair of Gold
United Nations Mission of Technical Assistance, 2018. "A Beggar on a Chair of Gold", The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics, Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragán, Xavier Albó, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale
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As the new global order emerged in the aftermath of World War II, international institutions took up the dilemmas of what began to be called “development” and “underdevelopment.” Bolivia became an early test case for the United Nations Technical Assistance Administration, which in 1949 produced a country report based on a mission led by the Canadian offcial Hugh Keenleyside. The problem for the un mission was to understand how the country could be so poor when it possessed such great economic potential, given its rich endowment of natural resources. After visiting the country, the mission determined that Bolivia’s political and institutional instability was the critical factor that frustrated development, and it sought to correct for this by providing United Nations technical experts who could serve as administrators in the Bolivian government. The Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (mnr) initially opposed such assistance as a violation of Bolivian sovereignty, but after taking power, in 1952, it reversed its position and accepted the un offer. In 1958, the United Nations General Assembly extended the Keenleyside proposal to other countries, inaugurating the Operational Executive (opex) Program. Despite the un’s intervention, Bolivia would continue to be a primary recipient of international “development assistance” for the remainder of the twentieth century.