November 24, 2019 by epoetus
This is a complicated story that is inextricably tied to Bolivia’s history as a former colony of Spain, and its struggle to become a more democratic nation. And democracy is messy. Facts are important. The people of Bolivia are important. This might be a situation where withholding judgement in the short-term, while the facts become available, may be a prudent approach, but let’s see what we can deduce with what we have now.
What we know
Bolivia is named after Simon Bolivar, who led the Spanish American wars for independence starting in 1808. These wars resulted in the independence of Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and the area of Colombia at this time which eventually became Panama.
• President Evo Morales first became President in 2006
o He clearly represented indigenous people, and was against neoliberal colonizing policies
o Morales won the election for office following the resignation of numerous predecessors just before him
• Morales served three Presidential terms: 2006-2009, 2009-2014, 2014-2019
o It was determined that the first term didn’t count in the term limit calculation as it was before the constitution limiting terms was adopted
o Evo Morales is a socialist, and was not hesitant to criticize the US or other countries like Israel for terrorizing the Palestinians in Gaza
o In this time he was able to reduce the economic inequality, reduce poverty and raise living standards for the people of Bolivia
• Morales held and won the election for a fourth term on October 20, 2019
o In a Bolivian Supreme Court case it was decided that term limits were the fault of American Imperialism, and struck down a referendum which would have prevented a fourth term
o Irregularities during the election pointed out by the Organization of American States (OAS) led to Morales’s support of re-doing the election
• Then the chaos began, the police and the military joined the protestors in support, and asked Evo Morales to resign
• Evo Morales left Bolivia on November 12 and resigned
• Many of his supporters in the legislature resigned with him
• Jeanine Anez, the next in succession of the country, has taken control of the country provisionally while a new election is held to replace Evo Morales within 90 days. But will the conservative Christian hold that election? The rhetoric puts some doubts on that.
• The chaos has not improved yet, but the interim president Jeanine Anez has agreed to holding peace talks with Morales supporting opposition leadership.
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The murky waters of speculation …
Were there genuine reasons for the people of Bolivia to say “Enough!” to a fourth term for Morales?
It appears that the answer is “Yes.” One could argue as an outsider that Morales did not want to give up his Presidency. Clearly the racist conservative element of the country has viewed this moment as an opportunity to exploit for seeking revenge, because they believe that they have a plausible excuse for overthrowing the government. They’ve unleashed their rage against the ‘indios’ (indigenous Bolivians) who have benefitted much from Morales. These conservatives from the more elite areas have taken to jumping into 4X4’s with baseball bats, so that they can terrorize, and beat the poor ‘indios’ — in particular the women in native dress, who live in the poorest neighborhoods and work in the markets.
Was this an opportunity for neoliberal nations like the United States to topple the Morales Presidency?
There is the matter of Lithium – Morales cancelled Germany’s ACI Systems Alemania’s (ACISA) Lithium contract with Bolivia a week before he had to leave the country and resign. AICISA produces batteries for Tesla. Was that a factor in all of this? It is too early to tell.
For what it’s worth, so far it does not appear that the White House was behind this as it was in Venezuela. Maybe our assessment will change as more information becomes available. Certainly the Republicans and most Democrats would not find Morales’s rhetoric favorable to good international neoliberal trade relations between the two countries.
But was this a coup?
This seems plausible right now, but maybe not proven.
• Bernie Sanders says “Yes, this was a coup.” When the military kicks out a President, that is the definition of a coup. And he is the only Presidential candidate to say so.
• Right now it seems as though the use of the word coup depends on the definition you choose to use. On the one hand the military did step in and ask Morales to resign, but it also appears that their actions may have been part of a strategic assessment designed to de-escalate the situation. Given the continued and seemingly unchecked activities of anti-indigenous storm troopers terrorizing the “indios” it also appears that either the de-escalation strategy is not working or de-escalation was not the goal. Therefore a coup seems plausible, but who is behind it outside of the fascist Christians that Anez represents now that she controls the country is hard to tell. Is this nuancing of the word “coup” just more political double speak?
What do we do now?
• Support sanctions against Bolivia? That seems like a common US tactic.
• Send aid to Bolivia? Also a common US tactic.
• Press for justice against human rights violations in Bolivia?
• Appeal to Anera, the Bolivian military, and police force to stop the pointless violence and terrorizing of the “indios?”
• Get more factual on the ground information, and continue to withhold the temptation to take sides and make judgements? Maybe if
Clearly the people of Bolivia need our empathy and those “indios” who cannot protect themselves need safety. There is no shame in using the information we continue to get to put the pieces of this puzzling situation together, and with that refine our understanding and the positions we may take as the situation becomes clearer. A rush to judgement may produce unintended consequences.
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