[News] While Evo’s MAS party regroups, Bolivia’s coup leaders are eating each other alive

Anti-Imperialist News 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
  other alive

*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 
<https://twitter.com/OVargas52/status/1203688688636616704?s=19>, while 
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!
    pic.twitter.com/fsycKUZ8GT <https://t.co/fsycKUZ8GT>

    — 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 
Presidential Palace.

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 
Mother Earth.

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 
anti-indigenous violence.

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 
in Nicaragua 
and Venezuela 
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 
Inter-American Dialogue 
in Washington, DC descended into utter chaos when a group of Bolivian 
and US anti-imperialist activists prevented him from talking with 
sustained protests.

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 
prior coverage 
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 
Pagina Siete 
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,” 
she said.

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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