Bolivia failed to make a $10 million payment due Thursday to a consortium of 128 banks, the Bank of America reported yesterday.
But officials of several major banks said it is unclear whether the missed payment is due to technical problems in Bolivia, where a strike at the central bank has paralyzed the financial community, or is the first signal that the country will have to renegotiate its foreign debts.
Meanwhile, Mexico imposed additional monetary controls yesterday, regulating the entry and exit of Mexican pesos in a move that the Associated Press said could reduce or halt international trading in the crisis-weakened currency.
Bolivia, like many other developing countries, is in an economic slump because of declining commodity prices. The Bolivian peso already has been devalued nearly 100 percent this year. The military government apparently has been in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and is expected to introduce austerity measures soon.
In April 1981 Bolivia refinanced $460 million of bank debt. Bank of America led that refinancing. The payment that was missed Thursday was owed as part of those renegotiated loans.
The San Francisco bank said its Latin American division told headquarters that the Bolivian central bank attributed the failure to make the Thursday payment to "delays in the receipt of certain export proceeds" that "temporarily disrupted" the flow of dollars into Bolivia.
But Bank of America reported that the Bolivian central bank said "complying with the terms of the 1981 refinancing agreement remains a priority of the Bank of Bolivia and . . . they will remedy this past-due situation as soon as possible."
A major New York bank, which has a Bolivian loan payment due next week, said the central bank "has given us no guidance at all." He said that usually, if a government plans to stop paying its loans, it gives private banks some information before "going public." Mexico, for example, which is only paying interest on the $10 billion of loans that come due during the next 90 days and which wants to restructure its full $80 billion in foreign debts, began to give hints weeks before it made the formal request.
Argentina and Brazil also are expected to ask their lenders for new loan terms soon.
Bolivia's foreign debts are relatively small compared with those of Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Last year Bolivia owed foreign banks a little more than $1 billion at a time when Mexico owed nearly $47 billion.
A Commerce Department announcement in Mexico City said that pesos no longer can be taken from Mexico and can be brought there only in quantities of 5,000 pesos or less per person, Associated Press reported.
An announcement in the Official Gazette also gave a long list of silver and gold items and jewelry that no longer can be brought into or taken out of the country without government approval.
Silver handicraft items in limited quantities are exempt in the new ruling, which is to remain in effect until the end of 1983.
The measure makes it difficult for persons with dollars to take advantage of weak peso rates outside the country, AP said.
In a related development, Peruvian Prime Minister Manuel Ulloa said yesterday that the Mexican financial crisis--which probably will not be resolved until after the new government takes over Dec. 1 -- is hurting the rest of Latin America.
Ulloa told reporters here that banks have cut the amount of money they will lend to the region and raised their interest charges.
Ulloa, chairman of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund development committee, said that, if banks do not maintain the flow of funds into Latin America, the countries will be pushed into insolvency. He said that Peru -- which had a crisis in the late 1970s -- will be able to pay its debts this year.
Negotiations between Mexico and the IMF on a $4.8 billion loan from the international institution are moving slowly, sources said. The international rescue package that the United States helped arrange is conditioned on Mexico's agreement with the IMF on an austerity program.