Bolivia in Crisis! Another Military Coup in Latin America

by Henry Lowendorf, GNH Peace Council

US-supported rightwing fanatics just orchestrated a military coup against the constitutional government of Bolivia headed by Evo Morales. We must view this coup as one in a long train of US-engineered coups in Bolivia, throughout Latin America and the world.

Bolivian voters on Oct. 20 gave President Evo Morales a substantial plurality, 47.1% of the vote, enough to forestall a runoff, but the opposition refused to accept the results. Rightwing opposition gangs torched the homes of Morales and other government leaders, destroyed government buildings, assaulted a socialist female mayor. Then military generals demanded Morales step down. He and some other leaders fled to Mexico, others took refuge in the Mexican embassy.

“Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho [can be described] as a far-right multi-millionaire who arose from fascist movements in the [largely white, affluent fossil-fuel rich] Santa Cruz region, where the US has encouraged separatism.”

“Bolivia’s self-proclaimed president Jeanine Áñez Chavez is on records as having said, ‘I dream of a Bolivia free of satanic indigenous rites. The city is not for Indians; let them go back to the highlands or the Chaco.’ Apart from everything, this was a racist coup.” President Trump immediately recognized Chavez.

WHY DID THIS COUP OCCUR NOW?

Bolivia has been one of the poorest countries in South America. The election in 2006 of Evo Morales began to change that. His government is of course not above criticism. But the military deposed him without a doubt at the instigation of the US 1%, not because of his failures but because of his successes.

Morales is the first indigenous leader of Bolivia – indeed any American state – a country whose majority is indigenous. Since Morales’ first victory in 2006

  • “…Poverty plummeted from a boggling 60% to 35% by 2018, with those in extreme poverty declining from nearly 38% to 15% in the same period.”
  • “Bolivia has seen per capita income increase threefold and has rapidly transitioned from a low-income country to a lower-middle-income country in the eyes of the World Bank. Inflation and the exchange rate have remained exceptionally stable. And all the while, Bolivian levels of inequality went from well above the Latin American average to well below it.”
  • “Redistributed [land] to landless peasants. He placed the natural gas, oil, telecommunications and electricity industries under state control. And he continually raised the minimum wage, which has tripled since he entered office.”
  • “Dramatically increased social spending. He poured money into building roads, schools, and hospitals, an expansion of infrastructure that was particularly transformative in the countryside.”
  • Bolivia contains the world’s largest reserves of the mineral lithium that is used in electronics and batteries. Morales nationalized Bolivia’s incredibly valuable lithium deposits. The rich despise the idea that the vast expected income from sales of lithium would under Morales be fairly distributed to benefit all Bolivians.
  • The corporate media have, as always, described this coup according to the perspective of the billionaires.
  • President Donald Trump has threatened Venezuela and Nicaragua with similar coups.

RESISTANCE:

“Huge demonstrations in el Alto, La Paz [the capital], Cochabamba and other places, thousands and thousands of indigenous people in the streets proudly displaying the Wiphala [checkered rainbow flag]. Some police and military appear to have disobeyed their officers and joined the pro-Evo demonstrations.

The self-proclaimed President Jeanine Áñez Chavez has legalized free-fire zones and military forces have been shooting demonstrators from bridges and helicopters.

“The Bolivian congress, in which Evo’s MAS party has a two-thirds majority, is refusing to recognize the coup government. [It has] chosen one of [its] own to head the Congress.”

Trade union leaders internationally, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, have denounced the coup and the military’s role. They urge an end to political repression and violence. Political leaders Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar, Alexandra Ocasio Cortez in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK have denounced the coup. Too many others, including our own Congressional representatives, are silent.

ACTION:

  • Hands Off Bolivia; Hands Off Venezuela; Hands Off Nicaragua; Hands Off Cuba; No Sanctions, No Wars.
  • Letters to the Editor or Op-eds.
  • Utilize social media to call for the coup to be reversed and Morales safely reinstalled.
  • Call Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro: Condemn the coup, begin an investigation into the US role: (202) 224-3121.

References: The Nation; The Grayzone; The Tricontinental; The People’s World; Fair.org. For exact issues and websites, please contact the author at gnhpeacecouncil@gmail.com.

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