Bolivia, Intelligence and Security
Bolivia gained its independence from Spain in 1825. Since then, the nation has weathered nearly 200 political coups and other incidences of political upheaval. Throughout the last century, power has shifted between large landowners and military interests. However, political reforms in the 1980s brought the first democratized government to power. The nation still deals with periodic unrest, but continuing reform policies and an expanding intelligence and security community have helped to stabilize the Bolivian government.
Bolivia's main civilian intelligence branch collects and processes both domestic and foreign intelligence. The Ministry of the Interior oversees government intelligence services, including the Special Security Group and the Multipurpose Intervention Brigade (BIP). Both agencies have garnered criticism from Bolivian citizens and journalists for conducting political espionage operations in recent years.
Illegal drug trafficking remains one of Bolivia's main political and social issues. In cooperation with international anti-crime and anti-trafficking efforts, Bolivia established the Special Anti-narcotics Force (FELCN). The FELCN maintains intelligence personnel and surveillance equipment to identify and track drug smuggling rings. The agency also has elite action units that infiltrate trafficking networks and made arrests. The FELCN also works closely with The Bolivian National Police.
Bolivia's intelligence community has a full-time antiterrorism department, the Special Elite Anti-terrorism Force (FEAE). This unit has been operational in Bolivia long before the recent international focus on global terrorism. FEAE focuses on collecting intelligence regarding threats to Bolivian national interests and government personnel, mostly from paramilitary groups in Latin America and from drug cartels.
Bolivia is a member of the United Nations (UN) and several pan-Latin American security organizations.
█ FURTHER READING:
Central Intelligence Agency. "Bolivia" CIA World Factbook < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bl.html > (April 8, 2003).