[News] Bolivia Elections: 'We’ll Launch a Coup if Evo Wins'

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 21 16:27:21 EDT 2019


  Bolivia Elections: 'We’ll Launch a Coup if Evo Wins'

Cindy Forster - 20 October 2019

The U.S. embassy is always fighting the old race wars, but its ambitions 
are larger.

Elections in Bolivia on October 20 are being watched closely by those 
who have followed the astounding successes of that majority Indigenous 
nation, now led by an Indigenous social movement and its mestizo allies 
called the Movement toward Socialism (MAS). MAS, which is both a 
gathering of labor and grassroots coalitions and a political instrument, 
has presided over one of the hemisphere’s most vibrant economies, 
especially if measured by human happiness.

MAS President Evo Morales Ayma is seeking reelection and leads the 
contenders by some 20 percent in the polls. He is a survivor of 
brutalization by the elite troops of Bolivia and the U.S. Drug 
Enforcement Agency. When he was a union leader, they badly beat him and 
apparently thought he was dead. His neighbors were raped by the 
soldiers, their homes set aflame. Small coca farmers tell that the 
United States wanted to eradicate the poor and not the drug trade, 
because the oligarchy was deeply enmeshed in international cocaine 
trafficking and the U.S. worked with them hand in glove.

We can assume that Bolivians who think this way are always in the target 
sights of the United States. Women coca farmers, who are mostly 
Indigenous, took the initiative to organize collectively from the 1980s 
forward. At moments of national tension between the left and the right, 
Indigenous women across the country are beaten by rightwing militants, 
insulted, and driven out of public spaces in the cities. The 
twentieth-century elites are trying to win back their privileges through 
elections, however, facing probable defeat, they are calling for massive 
disobedience on the grounds of voter fraud – a claim with no evidence. 
Bolivia’s Indigenous cardinal, recently appointed by the pope, called on 
all the candidates to respect the vote of the people. The vote can be 
followed in real time on mobile devices.

Events in Bolivia are badly distorted by most mainstream press that 
prefers the old ways of doing things: The era when the U.S. embassy had 
an office inside the National Palace and another in Bolivia’s central 
bank, before MAS came to the presidency in 2006.

The wisdom of MAS lay in their decision to move with all possible speed 
to install the foundations of people’s power in this nation of 11.5 
million. Facing a recall referendum from the right in 2008, MAS launched 
a process of mass participation to invent a constitution worthy of the 
people. Bloody aggression was the response of their political opponents.

The same rightwing shock brigades in the large lowland city of Santa 
Cruz that brutalized the poor over a decade ago, a group calling itself 
the Union of Santa Cruz Youth (UJC) that is fond of the symbols of 
fascism, mobilized its members to create chaos at a huge MAS rally on 
October 15. Their homemade weapons and bombs were discovered. They beat 
a police officer, who was hospitalized in critical condition. The third 
candidate in the polls, corporate executive and now senator Oscar Ortiz, 
defends the UJC as upstanding youth. Ortiz promoted, unsuccessfully, the 
violent secession of the lowland regions in 2008, with the assistance of 
the U.S. ambassador who had presided over the partition of Yugoslavia.

The Constitution guarantees diverse practices of democracy: Indigenous 
or communal, participatory or grassroots, and representative or 
electoral. In the coming 5 years, MAS wishes to anchor rights already in 
place, to root them so deeply they can never be removed: economic 
sovereignty, cultural dignity for 36 Afro and Indigenous nations, full 
personhood for women and an end to violence, in a nation that now enjoys 
the third-highest ratio of women politicians on earth, universal and 
free health care, universal and free education, and universal retirement 

Starting in the first years of MAS governance, sweeping agrarian reform 
was enacted with generous credit. Over half of Bolivians receive state 
bonds based on need, and these have kept children in school, eased the 
hardships of elders, and cut infant mortality by half. Not even the 
leading rightwing candidate, Carlos De Mesa, dares to touch these 
programs, or so he says. De Mesa was the vice president of Gonzalo 
Sanchez de Lozada, the president who ordered repression that killed 67 
people in 2003, in the Indigenous city of El Alto during the 
working-class protests to defend Bolivia’s gas from sale to foreigners.

According to Evo Morales, De Mesa was anointed as the U.S. embassy 
candidate at an embassy function in 2017. De Mesa’s program is that of 
the International Monetary Fund.

Working-class and peasant politicians achieved majority control of the 
legislature years ago, many of them young because MAS was able to lower 
the age limit from 30 years to 18. Their presence has secured an array 
of gender rights, and respect for ancient spiritual practices that the 
evangelical right terms “witchcraft.” More recently, MAS legislators are 
trying to clean corruption out of the judiciary.

None of the eight opposition parties are socialist. They are opposed to 
an array of state programs subsidizing cell phones, cooking gas 
hook-ups, electricity, internet, piped water, and housing for those in 
need at low interest rates that has benefited hundreds of thousands of 

In thirteen years since coming to power, MAS has guided Bolivia from one 
of the hemisphere’s nations with the greatest indices of human 
suffering, to a ranking among the five countries in the region with the 
most egalitarian distribution of income. Poverty has been cut by more 
than half and Bolivia enjoys the healthiest economy in South America.

The economic strategy called miraculous by agencies of the United 
Nations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Economic 
Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, by rightwing journals, 
by the BBC, and even by the World Bank, is premised on “the bellies and 
the wallets of all Bolivians.” These are the words of Abrahám Pérez of 
the Bolivian Network for the Practice of Critical Economics, which in 
the 1990s devised a systematic plan based on “the constant strengthening 
of internal demand,” precisely “to withstand the shocks and assaults of 
the global economy.”

The strategy has involved, first, progressive nationalization of natural 
resources and companies serving fundamental needs. Second, building the 
industrial capacity to process subsoil resources has yielded many 
millions in added value. Third, the state invested the profits from 
expropriated companies and subsoil riches in the most pressing needs of 
the poor majority.  In addition, a significant amount of the 
redistributed wealth comes from the flattening or lowering of the 
highest salaries of public servants. These straightforward and 
successful measures are anathema to the opposition parties.

Coup plans

Since the beginnings of MAS power, the attempts to overthrow a 
government made up of Indigenous, youth and women have been varied and 
intense, but almost always with the same core actors, people who 
absorbed the riches of the country during the neoliberal era when they 
themselves governed.

The emotions of the right have reached a fever pitch with the elections. 
Constitutionally recognized flags of Indigenous unity –the wiphala– are 
being banned from opposition rallies, burned and dirtied. Women who are 
Aymara street vendors and Quechua MAS members have been attacked during 
rightwing rallies in public plazas. Men who attend public MAS meetings 
suffer greater physical violence from the gangs of opposition youth who 
attack the perimeters of the political meetings. One can see such things 
as an effigy of the Indigenous president held up on a stick, swinging 
like a lynched corpse.  While the neoliberal elites welcome into their 
midst Indigenous individuals who think like themselves, it’s clear that 
their party faithful are fighting the old race wars.

The U.S. embassy is always fighting the old race wars, but its ambitions 
are larger. Bolivia’s MAS is widely admired for its extraordinary 
economic skill, and for its courage in international arenas where 
Bolivian leadership has challenged the world to achieve peace, to 
reverse climate change, to honor the planet, its waters and of course 
its original peoples, to abolish borders, to dismantle U.S. hegemony, 
and to forge a coherent challenge to neoliberal thinking and practice.

The U.S. has staged coups with much less reason, and president Evo 
Morales reports that such coup plans are in progress according to 
“information gathered from so-called civic committees in Cochabamba and 
in La Paz, that involve former or inactive-duty military men, as well as 
some members of the Santa Cruz civic committee. They have been meeting. 
I have recordings of their conversations, they are preparing and saying: 
‘We’ll launch the coup d’etat if Evo wins’.”

Bolivia votes today to decide on a political project that serves us all.

/By Cindy Forster, professor of history in California, now collecting 
testimonies of African and Indigenous struggle in the Caribbean and 
Latin America./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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