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Not So Fast! – Bolivia to Require Visas from U.S. Citizens

Este artículo también está disponible en español en el sitio Blogs de Bolivia

In a surprise move, the Bolivian government announced that it will no longer allow U.S. citizens to freely enter the country without a visa obtained at a consulate. Citing reciprocity and security concerns, any U.S. citizens including Bolivian-Americans that do not have double nationality or those Bolivians naturalized in another country must obtain a visa prior to entering. Bolivian citizens are required to apply for and are frequently denied visas to enter the United States and a bombing at a La Paz hotel was perpetrated by a U.S. citizen, although it appears to be an isolated incident by a mentally ill man. This was enough for Evo Morales’ government to announce the new requirements that may take effect by the end of the month.

Many bloggers disagree with this decision. Some cite that tourism will be adversely affected, as U.S. tourists do spend money in Bolivia. Hugo Miranda aka Angel Caido [ES] doesn’t think that Bolivia is an attractive enough destination for tourists to bother with the extra paperwork. He believes that neighboring Chile and Peru must be jumping at the chance to attract new tourists with their own version of Carnaval. El Alto blogger Mario Duran of Palabras Libres [ES] wonders, “When will we learn in Bolivia that tourism can provide more revenue than natural gas?”

Few have expressed concern about the plight of American citizens that hold special bonds with Bolivia, such as Bolivian-Americans. Miguel Buitrago of MABB, was born in Bolivia, but is now a U.S. citizen. Currently living in Germany, he would have to apply to receive a visa in order to visit his birthplace.

Also, it will not only be burdensome for US tourists, it will also affect Bolivian-Americans. A person like me will have to get a visa to enter his or her own country. I can think of many of my friends who, ironically, will be able to contribute to Bolivia's economic growth by sending remittances, but will have to apply to visit Bolivia, and perhaps only get a permission to stay three months. I know people who go to stay for longer than three months.

Josh Renaud, a US citizen married to a Bolivian, travels back and forth to Bolivia and cites four reasons why this is a bad decision, including hypocrisy. He notes that there are other countries such as Canada, Australia, Mexico, Honduras and Venezuela that require Bolivian citizens to obtain visa, “Why didn’t Evo (the Bolivian President) also demand reciprocity from these (especially Venezuela)? Because he doesn’t really care about reciprocity. It’s clear “reciprocity” is just a pretext to have a policy that antagonizes the U.S.”

However, others believe it is Bolivia’s right to implement the reciprocity guidelines. Sergio Asturizaga, who blogs at Así como me ves me tienes [ES] thinks that those tourists that really do want to travel to Bolivia will find a way in spite of the minor inconvenience.

Almada de Noche’s [ES]
Gustavo Siles is another that applauds the decision. For one, he hopes that it may make the work of the Bolivian consulates much more efficient. His experiences with the consulate in Madrid has been very unfavorable.

This time last year:

In a new feature to the weekly blog summary, we’ll take a look back at what the Bolivian blogosphere was talking about this time last year.

Post-election buzz dominated the conversations, as a couple of Bolivian bloggers were guests on Radio Open Source’s show about the Latin American’s New Socialism. Others were talking about the then new President-elect’s worldwide tour and plans for unique inauguration.

12 comments

  • Es una decisión, creo que más simbólica que otra cosa.
    ¿ qué cuesta ir a un consulado?
    Por nuestra parte, en Costa Rica, tenemos que pedir cita para pedir la visa tres meses antes, pagar $ 100 y a veces no la dan.
    Perdés los $ 100 por el tiempo que te hicieron perder.
    No se trata de “venganza” , sino de equidad.
    Cuando todos los países hagamos lo mismo, ellos se darán cuenta que mejor quitan las visas y las fronteras y los muros, y más que el libre mercado, que se libere el libre tránsito de personas.

    Translation of comment by Global Voices author Eduardo Avila:

    It is a decision, I think, that’s more symbolic than anything else. What’s the big deal in having to go to a consulate? In Costa Rica, we must make an visa appointment three months in advance, pay the $100 fee, and sometimes they turn us down. You lose the $100 and the time that they made you waste. This doesn’t have to do with revenge, rather it is about equality. When all countries begin do the same, they will realize that it might be better to get rid of visas, borders, the walls and like the free market, they will free up the free transit of people.

  • […] is up. By Eddie Feedbacks on this entry via RSS 2.0 Please leave a Comment or discuss via Trackback! Comments Please Leave aComment! […]

  • Gustavo Siles’ hope seems strange to me. This decree will require the Bolivian consulate to do more work than it does now, to deal with more people than it does now. How will that make the consulate more efficient? My limited dealings with the Bolivian embassy in the U.S. consistently have been a nightmare. If this decree does anything, it will make things WORSE.

  • […] 原文: Not So Fast! – Bolivia to Require Visas from U.S. Citizens 作者: Eduardo Avila 译者: Leonard校对: dreamf […]

  • I am still wondering if it was related to Harry Reid’s idiot trip to Bolivia. The guy was so patronizing and said such dumb things, calling Bolivia ‘the best lil’ country in South America’ – stuff you’d never say to any country’s president, even if the country really were small – that I think he rubbed Morales the wrong way and made him want to apply for a visa. The other thing is, I am sure Morales is looking for ways to raise money, given his hostility to creating a viable economy that would in turn supply him with a tax base, and an entry tax via visas is a nice easy way to do it. Especially if he can stick it to the expats who earn more money washing dishes illegally than he’ll ever make as president. I am sure it could be as base as that.

  • Raul Contreras

    I believe that the visa requirement for U.S. citizens makes no sense, and is most likely a hormonal and childish retaliation for the denial of U.S. visas to a couple of Bolivian government officials.

    But the contention of the previous poster that they are doing this as a way to raise money is simply preposterous. One thousand or two thousand visas a year, at the very most, at $100 a piece, is not any significant amount of money even for Bolivian standards. Just as preposterous is his/her assertion that Harry Reid’s visit caused it.

  • […] Después de unas semanas de vacaciones tenemos que volver a nuestras actividades cotidianas, el trabajo y la universidad nos esperan, y también nos espera al comunidad de blogs bolivianos. Es así que con las fuerzas repuestas regresamos. Para inaugurar este nuevo año traemos un artículo de la mano de Eduardo Ávila, Barrioflores. Aquí se encuentra la versión en inglés del texto (en esta ocación la traducción también es de Eduardo). […]

  • Denyse Chacaltana

    President Morales is only giving the Bush Administration some of it’s own medicine. The Bush Administration is putting many burdens which are costly and restrictive on people from other countries trying to visit the United States – through requiring passports, biometrics in passports, additional scanning devices, and probably some sort of tracking devices that track entry and departure – all in the fear mongering that they impose by continuously using the term terrorists and terrorism. Bolivia is made up with as many good, honest, hardworking people as the United States is and what goes around, comes around. It may put a burden on Bolivians in the United States wanting to travel to their home country, but the Bush Administration has already put additional burdens on people from Bolivia wanting to travel to the United States. Go Morales – I admire you and wish you the best. As for American citizens – why should they not have to bear the same burden as others have to bear? Get rid of your I am better than everyone else in the world attitude and try looking at the world as God’s instead of yours.

  • Nothing generates as much jobs and local income as tourism. So many countries try to attract tourists with beautiful television spots on CNN and other televison stations. Absolutely not understandable why Bolivia wants now to impose a Visa for Americans. Such big spenders that really travel spend a lot of money and are basically very Bolivian friendly. Even China and Cuba makes a lot of efforts to attract tourists. It is really sad that Bolivia has become so much anti American and now even puts up artifical borders on a free travel influx. But those that still visit Bolivia should visit Magdalena where Flora and Fauna comes before politics. Here have a look:
    http://magdalena-e.hwz-inc.com

  • Denyse Chacaltana

    Again, it is not so much Bolivian anti-American as the Bush Administration in the United States is anti Bolivian. Bush always publicly bashes the leadership of the Bolivian government and especially Evo Morales. Bolivians should be as welcome here as Americans are welcomed there.

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