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Palace Intrigue: Missiles, Treason, and the Rule of Law in Bolivia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2009

John M. Carey
Dartmouth College. E-mail:


The Bolivian presidency is a precarious position, not only because so many presidents have left office under duress, but because former presidents are subject to legal jeopardy. The case of Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé illustrates the weakness of the rule of law in Bolivia and the political motivations that sustain it. Rodríguez was a respected Chief Justice of Bolivia's Supreme Court. He reluctantly assumed the presidency during a political crisis and shepherded the country through peaceful elections in 2005 that brought Evo Morales to the presidency. He was subsequently charged with treason in a case that involved the transfer from the Bolivian military to the United States of some obsolete surface-to-air missiles. The Rodríguez case was politically important enough to be useful for the Morales Government, but only briefly, and the moment passed. Now, the case's obscurity and the fecklessness of the Bolivian courts have left Rodríguez in legal and professional limbo. Full disclosure from the U.S. government regarding its involvement in the missiles case might clear Rodríguez's name.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 2009

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