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.