Document Type


Publication Title

Latin American Caribbean Studies


Allegheny College, Department of Political Science

Publication Date


Publisher location

Meadville, PA

Volume Number


Abstract/ Summary

This monograph is a study of a nationalized industry in an underdeveloped country. The geographical setting is Latin America and the specific case study is that of Corporacion Minera de Bolivia, better known as COMIBOL. The intent of the study is to evaluate the Triangular Plan, a $62 million financial assistance program funded 1961 to 1970 by the Inter-American Development Bank and the governments of West Germany and the United States. After less than a decade of existence (1952-1960), COMIBOL was decapitalized, de facto bankrupt, and on the verge of collapse. The objective of the Triangular Plan was to rehabilitate the Corporation through financial and technical assistance combined with internal operational reforms. Unfortunately, there have been no comprehensive studies of this program until now. Hence, we have been unable to see if there was a need for the Triangular Plan in the first place, if the program was a success in recapitalizing and rehabilitating COMIBOL, and what were the major costs and benefits that accompanied the plan.

This study provides some answers to the above questions. The answers may not please individuals of widely divergent ideological persuasions. On the one hand we shall see that nationalization was not the panacea envisioned by Bolivian nationalists and revolutionaries. On the other, neither Bolivian private enterprise nor the Triangular Plan turned out to be the unlimited sources of investment funds, the bearers of advanced technology, or the engines of growth envisioned by many at the time. Bolivia is a model example of the failure of revolution and nationalization to liberate an underdeveloped country from dependency on mono production, on foreign finance, and on external dominance in general. Nationalization, like political independence, did not liberate the nation economically. Dependency, if it has changed at all since colonial times, has only become more subtle and disguised. In this case study of Bolivia and COMIBOL, for instance, we shall see how deceptive accounting was employed to discredit labor and their organizations. The objective of this practice coincided with that of the Triangular Pian itself: to destroy the workers' unions and denationalize the mining industry of Bolivia while ostensibly rehabilitating the Corporacion Minera de Bolivia. In this endeavor, the foreign creditors and the various military juntas of Bolivia were more than just a little successful. Bolivia's contemporary foreign debt crisis and its socioeconomic consequences are directly linked to the policies and practices adopted during this program. National bankruptcy in Bolivia, denationalization, and debt dependency are the legacy of the Triangular Plan. The first part of this study reports on the situation in Bolivia and COMIBOL prior to the Triangular Plan. The remainder of the paper is concerned with the specific findings of this study in dependency.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Burke, Melvin. (1987). The Corporacion Minera de Bolivia (Comibol) and the Triangular Plan: A Case Study in Dependency, Latin American Carribbean Studies, 4.

Publisher Statement

© Copyright 1987 by Allegheny College, Department of Political Science