From 25 to 28 February 2012 Hans Bruning, Executive Director of NIMD, undertook a mission to Bolivia; one of the oldest of NIMD's programme countries. While having visited various countries in Latin America in previous positions it was the first time he visited Bolivia's capital, La Paz.
Hans was accompanied by NIMD`s Programme Manager for Bolivia, Jan Tuit. His mission partly overlapped the presence of the active VVD-member and consultant Emile Klep who provided organisational advice to NIMD`s partner, the Bolivian Foundation for Multiparty Democracy (FBDM).
A series of meetings with the political leadership of Bolivia were held, including the side of government and opposition. Separate dialogues took place with the recently appointed presidents of both houses of the Bolivian parliament:
The voice of the opposition was heard in a meeting with Samuel Doria Medina, the leader of Unidad Nacional. The political picture that emerged from the meetings demonstrated the lack of mutual trust. The governing party MAS has a wide electoral mandate, with two thirds of the seats in both chambers of parliament. Its inclination to engage in dialogue with the fragmented opposition is minimal.
In a meeting with the Dutch Charge d`Affaires and his staff the financial support for the FBDM was discussed. As the Dutch embassy will close towards the end of 2013 the embassy`s support will come to an end. The possibility to create synergy with NIMD`s strategic partner International IDEA was also explored.
The presence of Hans Bruning provided an opportunity for FBDM to allow him to play a role in the final stage of an essay competition. Dozens of young Bolivians had submitted essays on a range of subjects linked to constitutional issues of Bolivia, a plurinational state. The well-attended award ceremony took place in El Alto, La Paz` poor satellite city and the home town of the top two essay writers. After handing over the awards to the winners Hans commended the participants for their important and visionary contributions.
FBDM and NIMD will intensify their efforts to make sure that activities to increase the quality of the Bolivian democracy will continue in the future, among others by the exploration of potential sources of funding.
The highest decision-making body of FBDM, the so-called Comite Ad Hoc, was urged to take clear steps in the near future towards a redefinition of its role in order to show to Bolivian institutions and potential donors that it is a body in which interparty dialogue takes place.