Rosa Luxemburg, a german revolutionary in a 1916 anti-war pamphlet wrote- “Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism”. Now, more than a century of people’s struggles and political upheavals for a just and equitable society, the world is at crossroads again between Socialism for all and Barbarism of the rich.
Latin American political landscape is no stranger to class conflicts. Lately, the continent is witnessing a resurgence of Pink Tide after a series of right-wing governments (Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil) came to power in the last five years.
Recent elections in Argentina show that people have rejected right-wing Macri’s austerity politics. Similarly, the neighbouring country Chile is also witnessing unprecedented protests against its billionaire right-wing President Piñera. Massive protests have erupted in Ecuador against the IMF introduced austerity measures by Lenin Moreno and Venezuela has managed to withstand multiple coup attempts since January 2019.
Now, we see similar upheavals in Bolivia, where President Evo Morales who weeks after winning record 4th term presidential elections has resigned after a US-backed right-wing military coup.
Evo Morales: The first Indigenous President to be ousted in a US-backed coup
Evo Morales is the first indigenous leader in Bolivia’s history who came to power in December 2005 elections in a landslide victory through his Movement for Socialism (MAS). Till then, two-third of the population which consists of various indigenous communities was ruled by the country’s wealthy oligarchs. In his 13 year rule, he stood up for the poor, workers and peasants, opposed US imperialism and championed environmentalism by pushing through rights for the Mother Earth whom the indigenous population revere. His government reduced Bolivia’s poverty rate by more than half while quadrupling GDP per capita and sustaining one of the highest economic growth rates in the region.
How OAS and US-trained leaders help overthrow Morales
The OAS or Organisation of American States is a continental organization that was founded for the purposes of solidarity and cooperation among its member states within the Western Hemisphere. During the Cold War, this meant opposing leftism as a European influence; since the 1990s, the organization has focused on election monitoring.
As the results of Elections started pouring and it looked like Morales is winning the fourth term. On October 21, a day after the election, OAS issued a statement casting doubt on the process due to an “inexplicable” change in the trend of the vote count.
This statement was thoroughly debunked by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), which found that the trend did not change and that Morales widened the gap over his rivals due to late reporting rural precincts, where he enjoys a tremendous advantage. However, the damage was done: protesters took to the streets decrying electoral fraud. The OAS stoked protests despite their statement being debunked and ensured that the coup was successful.
Morales fell for OAS trap and invited OAS to conduct an audit. THE OAS instead of releasing results of the full electoral audit on November 12 repeated the older claims from the October 21st statement and called for new elections.
The OAS behavior in Bolivia was condemned by several countries called it shameful and manipulative.
Meanwhile, the oligarchic right-wing opposition started rioting on streets in an organised manner. They went on to attack Morales supporters, kidnap some politicians, attacked Venezuela’s embassy and have burnt their homes over some vote recount irregularities. So far the right-wing has insisted removal of Morales but has not offered any evidence to the Vote miscount/irregularities and insisted removal of Evo Morales. They mobilised the right wing groups into streets and started attacking government buildings and destroying properties.
Despite being victorious in the elections, Morales announced to hold fresh elections to control the chaos on the streets.
The military and police still asked him to resign, forcing Morales to step down to “avoid further escalating violence and bloodshed”.
Due to threats to his life, Evo Morales with the help of his supporters has managed to reach Mexico City after he was granted Political asylum by Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Earlier this year, a coup was attempted in Venezuela by a political unknown Juan Guido. A similar political outsider, Luis Fernando Camacho has risen to the international spotlight as the main opposition leader in Bolivia. This openly racist and misogynist opposition figure is known to incite people with his anti-indigenous and racist rants. He is a white supremacist who is always seen with a Bible in hand and denounces the Bolivian indigenous beliefs. He comes from the country elite and his family is associated with many Far right anti-democratic movements in the country. His family was also been involved in the Panama Papers scandal through the registry of three offshore companies: Medis Overseas Corp., Navi International Holding, and Positive Real Estates. According to El Periodico, the coup was orchestrated by three US senators Ted Cruz, Bob Menendez, and Mario Rubio along with Bolivia’s Clergy, right-wing elites and supported by military and Police.
Some of Morales’s decisions have not gone done well with the country elites. Morales had tried to change the country’s constitution through a referendum. The older constitution was pro elite. Lately, Morales has also decided to nationalise the country’s lithium reserves. This has also angered the country Elites.
Bolivia holds one of the largest Lithium reserves along with Argentina. Shortly before the coup, his government announced plans to nationalise the highly profitable lithium industry and to deal directly with the international market instead of exporting it at bargain prices to the West. Global demand for lithium, used to make cell phone batteries, parts of laptops and electric cars, is expected to triple in the next 15 years.
The right wing opposition has resorted to widespread violence attacking the state TV station, radio stations and Morales supporters and indigenous population of the country. In Chile, where the protesters waved Indigenous Mapuche flags, in Bolivia, the protesters, together with the police are seen burning the Indigenous Whipala flag. After the coup the security forces and right-wing para militias are rounding up and beating Indigenous people and Leftists in impoverished neighborhoods in La Paz. They have also arrested several government members threatening to kill them.
World leaders and organisations have condemned the coup and have expressed solidarity with Evo Morales and Bolivian people. After offering to resign he ended his resignation speech stating: “la lucha sigue” (“the struggle continues”). Bolivian people are fighting back against pro-coup police repression. Police stations have been burned down in several working class neighbourhoods in Cochabamba and El Alto as well as smaller municipalities. In spite of international condemnation, the opposition is threatening to kill the Anti-Coup protesters.
President Trump has supported the coup and has warned democratically elected Venezuela and Nicaragua governments of serious consequences. It only remains to be seen whether Bolivia will continue to support Evo Morales against the coup or plunge into a civil war fighting the security forces.
On 14th November, Bolivians flooded the streets of La Paz as trade unions and social movements called for a nationwide strike against the right-wing military coup and reject the self-appointed president Jeanine Añez.
People are being massacred in the streets of Bolivia. More than 23 people have been reported killed as they protested against the right-wing military coup and hundreds have been wounded from repressive means used by security forces.
(sources: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Defensora del Pueblo de La Paz and reporters on the ground)
Where are the outcries by world leaders? Where is the coverage by the international media?
The anti-indigenous backlash has also evoked memories of 2003 standoff between Bolivian indigenous ethnic groups and the national army that left more than 60 Aymaras ( Indigenous people) dead. Many analysts also fear a civil war-like situation.