The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 45 B oth as a career Bolivian diplomat and as an official working with the Organi- zation of American States, I have had intensive firsthand experience dealing with the United States for more than a quarter of a century. This includes my time as Bolivia’s vice foreign minister during the 1990s and as Bolivia’s ambas- sador to the United States from 2002 to 2006. It’s been a mixed bag, with much good and some less so. While I am concerned by the drift toward authoritarianism visible throughout the hemisphere and the world today, I hope that in the future the United States will help correct that course by renewing its commitment to a foreign policy prioritizing the rule of law and democracy. A Heady Time My first impression of American diplomacy as a young Bolivian foreign service officer was, thankfully, positive; and that shaped my view that the United States can be a powerful Jaime Aparicio Otero was Bolivia’s vice minister of foreign affairs in the 1990s and its ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2006. He is currently Ambassador in Special Mission to the Organization of American States. A Bolivian diplomat reflects on more than two decades of personal experience dealing with the United States. BY JA I ME APAR I C I O OTERO force for good in the world. In 1980 Bolivian General Luis García Meza carried out a coup d’état with the support of the Argentin- ian military and European fascist mercenaries brought in by Klaus Barbie, a Nazi criminal refugee who had fled to Bolivia. Jimmy Carter was the president at the time, so U.S. foreign policy was focused on the pursuit of democratic principles and values over perceived short-term strategic interests. U.S. support for the democratic forces in Bolivia played a crucial role in ending the dictatorship in my country and in facilitating the return of democratic regimes throughout Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s. I recall the unconditional support for the restoration of democracy in Bolivia of then- Ambassador Marvin Weissman and of career diplomats such as Alex Watson. Thanks, in part, to U.S. diplomacy, by the time FOCUS HOW THEY SEE US Hope for a Renewed Partnership in theAmericas ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/OLEKSIILISKONIH