[News] While Evo’s MAS party regroups, Bolivia’s coup leaders are eating each other alive
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Dec 16 12:50:19 EST 2019
While Evo’s MAS party regroups, Bolivia’s coup leaders are eating each
*Humiliating scandals are destroying right-wing leader Luis Fernando
Camacho and the right is fracturing as a more militant MAS party readies
for an uphill election battle.*
By Wyatt Reed - December 15, 2019
*La Paz, Bolivia* – Just one month after ruling elites and right-wing
politicians seized power in Bolivia with a military coup
the fragile unity they briefly enjoyed has erupted into a bitter public
Local analysts had predicted that coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho
and businessman Marco Pumari could unite the right from the country’s
east and west, both indigenous and white or mestizo. They were seen as
an insurmountable dream team.
That alliance now lies smoldering, with the two presidential
frontrunners openly airing their dirty laundry amid a vicious power
The battle between the two right-wing heavyweights began when Camacho
secretly taped and leaked a conversation in which he accused Pumari of
soliciting a bribe of $250,000 and control of two customs checkpoints in
return for his spot on the presidential ticket. Camacho fervently denied
leaking the tape, which has left Pumari’s presidential aspirations in
But just days after right-wing CNN personality Fernando del Rincón
shared a stage and smile with Camacho
accepting an award from his far-right Santa Cruz Civic Committee
for his part in helping “save democracy,” del Rincón dropped a bomb.
In a live December 13 interview on CNN en Español, del Rincón confronted
Camacho over sending him the tape.
A flabbergasted Camacho insisted that the hotel in which he and Pumari
met must have recorded the audio, because he had actually sent Rincon a
/different/secretly recorded tape of his closest political ally — an
accusation which the Hotel immediately and flatly denied
Amazing—watch as a flabbergasted Camacho is confronted live on air
after boldly telling *the same CNN reporter he leaked the Pumari
tape to* that he didn't know about it
Then he tries to cover by saying he actually sent him a DIFFERENT
secretly-recorded tape of his closest ally!
— Wyatt Reed (@wyattreed13) December 14, 2019
From right-wing golden boy to “damaged goods”
Luis Fernando Camacho rose to political prominence months ago, but
cemented his status as coup figurehead after he broke into the Palacio
Quemado,Bolivia’s presidential palace, with police assistance. In a
bizarre act of colonialist kabuki theater, he placed a Bolivian flag and
enormous Bible on the floor and declared that God had returned to the
Moments later, the pastor by Camacho’s side promised that “Pachamama
will never return to the palace,” in a reference to the Andean spirit of
As the former leader of the undeniably fascistic Union Juvenil
Crucenista paramilitary and the separatist Santa Cruz Committee, Camacho
has struggled to shake off a history of white supremacy and
Marco Pumari, as the leader of the rightist Potosi Civic Committee,
purports to speak for the “real indigenous people” – in contrast to
supposedly ‘fake indigenous’ President Evo Morales. As such, Pumari
would have offered political cover to Camacho’s campaign and helped to
divert indigenous voters away from Morales’ leftist party Movement
Toward Socialism (MAS).
But on December 7 Camacho announced he was running on his own, leading
Pumari to lament <https://www.eldiario.net/movil/?n=40&a=2019&m=12&d=08>
that “without hearing my position, the decision was made… I was
surprised by the decision of Luis Fernando Camacho.”
The numerically miniscule Civic Committee of Potosi, Pumari’s only real
constituency, had refused to play ball
They decided Pumari would be president or nothing at all.
In the end, the very real threat that the far-right civic committee
leaders would take the presidency now appears to have come undone thanks
entirely to their own selfishness. Much like the right-wing opposition
their failure to capitalize on momentary success orchestrated by outside
imperialist powers and a near inescapable chorus of complicit media seem
to have boiled down
to pure self-interest
In an attempt to justify this decision, Camacho, or someone close to
him, leaked a recorded conversation between the two men in which Camacho
accuses Pumari of attempting to solicit a $250,000 bribe in return for
his presence on the presidential ticket.
Furthermore, the tape revealed that Pumari had demanded control of a
number of Aduanas, the customs checkpoints which oversee the taxation of
all incoming commercial traffic, in what would have been a highly
lucrative side hustle for the right-wing political operator. In that
recording, Pumari did not deny soliciting the kickbacks but insisted he
had plans to spend the proceeds on campaign expenses.
Coup supporters are now taking to social media in a collective meltdown.
They are furious that they are forced to pick between an increasingly
fractured field of candidates that seems hellbent on splitting,
amoeba-like, from one to two candidates – and soon, potentially, four.
In what could be the final nail in the coffin for Camacho, allegations
of domestic abuse
by Camacho’s ex-wife leaked out to the media.
Adding insult to the serial tax-evading multimillionaire’s injury,
Camacho’s December 12 talk at the US government-funded think tank the
in Washington, DC descended into utter chaos when a group of Bolivian
and US anti-imperialist activists prevented him from talking with
State propaganda outlets in Bolivian attempted to mitigate the damage by
accusing the activists of being paid $15-an-hour by unspecified sources,
citing US-based pro-coup Bolivia expats and claiming no Bolivians were
part of the protests, despite clear visual evidence to the contrary.
But the ruses are wearing thin, even for erstwhile Camacho supporters.
“Camacho is damaged goods now, just like Mesa,” one upper-class coup
supporter from Santa Cruz remarked to me this week outside a ritzy bar
in Cochabamba. He sat in glum silence as his outraged companion thrust
his phone in my face and attempted to walked me through The Grayzones’s
of the well-to-do far-right candidate.
He looked ashen as his friend shook his head and displayed the video of
Camacho’s Union Juventud Cruceñista disciples sieg-heiling
“There’s no one we can vote for,” he lamented.
Within the span of just a week, Camacho and Pumari have gone from
theoretical frontrunners to national laughingstocks.
In an attempt to stanch the bleeding, Waldo Albarracín, the president of
the National Committee for the Defense of Democracy, perhaps the closest
analogue to a civic committee that exists in La Paz, referred to both
men as “unethical and antidemocratic
and urged them to step aside.
The main beneficiary in all this is likely to be Carlos Mesa, the man
best positioned to take advantage of what’s rapidly become a civil war
among the far-right.
And a minister recently fired by self-declared “interim president”
Jeanine Añez <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2cHKyqaRo8> insists she
intends to run as well. Although Añes has publicly downplayed the
prospect, indicating in a fawning hagiography by state propaganda outlet
doing so would be “dishonest,” the likelihood seriously increases as the
other far-right presidential hopefuls continue to destroy one another’s
Korean-Bolivian evangelical magnate Chi Hyun Chung, a renowned
misogynist and anti-indigenous bigot, has thrown his hat in the ring as
well. Chung managed to pull 8 percent of the votes in the October
elections, which Evo Morales won handily before his deposition amid
fabricated charges of electoral fraud
But the ranks of Chung’s far-right supporters have dwindled after he was
the only opposition figure to to accept Evo Morales’ call for dialogue.
In fact, now his own Democratic Christian Party refuses to endorse him
At best, he can play a spoiler role, further splitting the right.
*MAS re-emerges from the coup more militant and motivated for victory*
In Cochabamba on December 7, thousands of members of Bolivia’s MAS party
descended on the Coliseo de la Coronilla to determine the future of the
left-wing political powerhouse, which led the impoverished Latin
American country to unprecedented levels of shared prosperity under the
tutelage of President Evo Morales.
From exile in Mexico, Morales phoned in to announce to raucous cheers
that he had accepted his nomination as MAS campaign director for the
upcoming proposed elections. Outside, vendors hawking indigenous Wiphala
flags and DVDs documenting the recent army massacres in Sacana and
Senkata struggled to be heard above the roar of flyovers by Bolivian
military, who buzzed the massive crowd periodically with the same
aircraft the military used to unleash death upon MAS members
protesting the coup weeks ago.
Despite the aggressive surveillance, the mood inside was electric. A
packed stadium of jubilant supporters bearing flags representing the
party and the country’s indigenous population cheered as a succession of
leaders from the party, and the social movements at its core, took to
the stage to denounce the coup-mongers’ attempts to purge its ranks from
the spheres of power in Bolivia. And above all, they urged unity.
A packed house at the mass meeting of the MAS in Cochabamba, where
Evo Morales' party is deciding how to navigate the junta's planned
elections. Morales called in to thank supporters, urged unity, then
MAS frontrunner Andronico Rodriguez brought the house down w/ a
rousing speech pic.twitter.com/w5JijkrPMq <https://t.co/w5JijkrPMq>
— Wyatt Reed (@wyattreed13) December 7, 2019
In spite of its forced removal from power, MAS is poised to emerge from
the US-backed coup
with an unprecedented level of organizational rigor.
“This moment, that’s so crucial to our homeland, needs us all united”
announced Andronico Rodriguez, the frontrunner for the MAS presidential
nomination. “There will be another moment soon to deal with our
weaknesses and errors, and of course the traitors and opportunists we’ve
endured this whole time.”
But with the Añez coup regime having essentially criminalized basic
political organizing, the question remains: Can the upcoming elections
even be trusted, given the level of political repression leftists
leaders face on a daily basis? Will the elections be clean?
“We hope they’ll be clean — that’s what the people deserve,” former
Bolivian Foreign Relations Minister Fernando Huanacuni told me as the
convention was winding down. “If they [the coup government] talk about
democracy, it has to be a transparent democracy for everyone.”
Juanita Ancieta, the MAS party’s national secretary for international
relations, made it clear that absent protection from the police and
military, members of MAS would find other ways to ensure their own
safety. “If something happens, if someone is threatened, if someone is
kidnapped, we’re going to rise up in defense of that brother or sister,”
In regards to whether the elections would be clean, Ancieta commented:
“We’re going to exhort that the whole world, that the international
organizations participate as observers… We exhort that the United
Nations, immediately proceeds to guarantee transparency. We agree. The
Catholic Church, important sectors – guarantee transparency.”
The main legislative vehicle for their attempts to ensure the Añez
regime doesn’t hijack the elections is a comprehensive bill called the
Law of Guarantees. As Ancieta explained, “it’s already approved by our
Legislative Assembly–by our Chamber of Deputies. And today this
Convention has determined that immediately the legislation should
proceed to the Senate. And since the self-appointed senator Jeanine
[Añez] won’t want to enact it, ten days later, the President of the
Senate will be obligated to enact it.”
If nothing else, the leftist movement in Bolivia has reemerged from the
political crisis with a bolstered and more militant sense of unity. It’s
the one thing they have that the right doesn’t.
But overcoming a hostile electoral system, ruthless state security
forces, and powerful international economic interests is a challenge
only an unusually dedicated, disciplined political movement can overcome.
Wyatt Reed is a Virginia-based activist and journalist who covers
climate and racial justice movements and foreign policy issues. Follow
him on Twitter at @wyattreed13.
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