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Bolivia: Civic Action
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > The Armed Forces > Civic Action


The three military services contributed significantly to the national welfare by performing various civic action functions throughout the country. These included constructing roads, airstrips, agricultural and industrial works, and schools; clearing land for colonization in eastern Bolivia; conducting literacy campaigns; and providing medical services to the civilian population living in the vicinity of bases. During his second term (1960-64), Paz Estenssoro gave the military an important role in social and economic development through the Civic Action Program, which the United States introduced in Bolivia. For example, the military began paving the CochabambaSanta Cruz highway, which opened up the fertile areas of eastern Bolivia to colonization. Although scanty financing limited the army's contribution to economic development, in the mid-1980s almost all of the army's engineer units were engaged in civil engineering works, such as the construction of roads and bridges.

FAB's two civil transport airlines -- TAM and TAB -- played a major role in civic-action programs. TAM provided low-cost air services to the country's many remote areas, which were accessible only by air but could not be served regularly and economically on a commercial basis. TAB also provided air support during natural disasters, in coordination with the Bolivian Red Cross and Civil Defense, by delivering food supplies. In early 1989, Bolivia purchased a Spanish CASA 212-M aircraft specifically for civil defense missions by the army and navy. The navy provided mobile medical clinics on the country's extensive navigable lake and river system and carried out comprehensive hydrological and hydrographic work and fisheries research, principally in the waters of Lake Titicaca. Because of the need for river bridges and maps, as well as flood-control studies, in 1964 the navy created the Naval Hydrography Service of Bolivia (Servicio de Hidrografía Naval de Bolivia). In March 1989, the Bolivian Shipping Company (Empresa Naviera Boliviana -- Enabol) delivered a new vessel to the navy for use in health and other civic-action projects in Bolivia's eastern lowland.

Data as of December 1989

Last Updated: December 1989

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bolivia was first published in 1989. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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