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href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/12/15/mas-regroups-bolivia-coup-leaders-eating-alive/">https://thegrayzone.com/2019/12/15/mas-regroups-bolivia-coup-leaders-eating-alive/</a></font>
        <h1 class="reader-title">While Evo’s MAS party regroups,
          Bolivia’s coup leaders are eating each other alive</h1>
        <font size="+1"><b>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.</b></font></div>
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              <h3>By Wyatt Reed - December 15, 2019<br>
              </h3>
              <p><span><strong>La Paz, Bolivia</strong> – </span><span>Just
                  one month after ruling elites and right-wing
                  politicians seized power in <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/13/bolivian-coup-plotters-school-of-the-americas-fbi-police-programs/">Bolivia
                    with a military coup</a>, the fragile unity they
                  briefly enjoyed has erupted into a bitter public feud.</span><span> </span></p>
              <p><span>Local analysts had predicted that <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/11/bolivia-coup-fascist-foreign-support-fernando-camacho/">coup
                    leader Luis Fernando Camacho</a> 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. </span></p>
              <p><span>That alliance now lies smoldering, with the two
                  presidential frontrunners openly airing their dirty
                  laundry amid a vicious power struggle. </span></p>
              <p><span>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 shambles.</span></p>
              <p><span>But just days after right-wing CNN personality
                  Fernando del Rincón </span><a
                  href="https://twitter.com/OVargas52/status/1203688688636616704?s=19"><span>shared
                    a stage and smile with Camacho</span></a><span>,
                  while accepting an award from his <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/11/bolivia-coup-fascist-foreign-support-fernando-camacho/">far-right
                    Santa Cruz Civic Committee</a> for his part in
                  helping “save democracy,” del Rincón dropped a bomb. </span></p>
              <p><span>In a live December 13 interview on CNN en
                  Español, del Rincón confronted Camacho over sending
                  him the tape.</span></p>
              <p><span>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 </span><i><span>different</span></i><span>
                  secretly recorded tape of his closest political ally —
                  an accusation which the Hotel </span><a
href="http://eju.tv/2019/12/en-respuesta-a-camacho-hotel-cortez-aclara-que-no-realiza-grabaciones-de-reuniones-en-sus-instalaciones/"><span>immediately
                    and flatly denied</span></a><span>.</span></p>
              <blockquote data-width="550" data-dnt="true">
                <p dir="ltr" lang="en">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</p>
                <p>Then he tries to cover by saying he actually sent him
                  a DIFFERENT secretly-recorded tape of his closest
                  ally! <a href="https://t.co/fsycKUZ8GT">pic.twitter.com/fsycKUZ8GT</a></p>
                <p>— Wyatt Reed (@wyattreed13) <a
href="https://twitter.com/wyattreed13/status/1205895600962752512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December
                    14, 2019</a></p>
              </blockquote>
              <h3>From right-wing golden boy to “damaged goods”</h3>
              <p><span>Luis Fernando Camacho rose to political
                  prominence months ago, but </span><span>cemented his
                  status as coup figurehead after he broke into the
                  Palacio Quemado,</span><span> Bolivia’s presidential
                  palace, with police assistance. </span>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.</p>
              <p><span>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. </span></p>
              <p><span>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. </span></p>
              <p><span>Marco P</span><span>umari, 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).</span></p>
              <p><span>But on December 7 Camacho announced he was
                  running on his own, leading <a
                    href="https://www.eldiario.net/movil/?n=40&a=2019&m=12&d=08">Pumari
                    to lament</a> that </span><span>“without hearing my
                  position, the decision was made… I was surprised by
                  the decision of Luis Fernando Camacho.”</span></p>
              <p><span>The numerically miniscule Civic Committee of
                  Potosi, Pumari’s only real constituency, had </span><a
href="https://www.lostiempos.com/actualidad/pais/20191207/comcipo-determina-que-pumari-sea-candidato-presidencia"><span>refused
                    to play ball</span></a><span>. They decided Pumari
                  would be president or nothing at all. </span></p>
              <p><span>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 <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2018/06/19/ned-nicaragua-protests-us-government/">Nicaragua</a>
                  and <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/06/18/exxon-ambassador-carlos-vecchio-venezuela-coup-lobbyist/">Venezuela</a>,
                  their failure to capitalize on momentary success
                  orchestrated by outside imperialist powers and a near
                  inescapable chorus of complicit media seem to have <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/09/03/the-citgo-conspiracy-opposition-figures-accuse-guaido-officials-of-scam-to-liquidate-venezuelas-most-prized-international-asset/">boiled
                    down</a> to <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/06/17/from-coup-leaders-to-con-artistry-juan-guaidos-gang-exposed-for-massive-humanitarian-aid-fraud/">pure
                    self-interest</a>.</span></p>
              <p><span>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. </span></p>
              <p><span>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. </span></p>
              <p><span>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.</span></p>
              <p><span>In what could be the final nail in the coffin for
                  Camacho, <a
href="https://www.nodal.am/2019/12/a-un-mes-del-golpe-denuncian-a-luis-camacho-por-violencia-intrafamiliar/">allegations
                    of domestic abuse</a> by Camacho’s ex-wife leaked
                  out to the media.</span></p>
              <p><span>Adding insult to the serial tax-evading
                  multimillionaire’s injury, </span><span>Camacho’s
                  December 12 talk at the US government-funded think
                  tank the <a
href="https://www.erbol.com.bo/nacional/camacho-es-increpado-en-evento-en-eeuu-en-medio-de-protesta-e-incidentes">Inter-American
                    Dialogue</a> in Washington, DC descended into utter
                  chaos</span><span> when a group of Bolivian and US
                  anti-imperialist activists prevented him from talking
                  with sustained protests.</span></p>
              <p><span> 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. </span></p>
              <p><span>But the ruses are wearing thin, even for
                  erstwhile Camacho supporters. </span></p>
              <p><span>“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 </span><span><a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/14/golpe-bolivia-cristiano-fascista-millonario-extranjero/">The
                    Grayzones’s prior coverage</a> of the well-to-do
                  far-right candidate</span><span>. </span></p>
              <p><span>He looked ashen as his friend shook his head and
                  displayed </span><span>the video of Camacho’s <a
href="https://twitter.com/GrayzoneProject/status/1194137427474038784?s=19">Union
                    Juventud Cruceñista disciples sieg-heiling</a></span><span>.
                  “There’s no one we can vote for,” he lamented.</span></p>
              <p><span>Within the span of just a week, Camacho and
                  Pumari have gone from theoretical frontrunners to
                  national laughingstocks.</span></p>
              <p><span>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, </span><span>referred
                  to both men as “<a
href="https://www.brujuladigital.net/politica/como-antietica-y-antidemocratica-califico-el-conade-actitud-de-camacho-y-pumari">unethical
                    and antidemocratic</a>” and urged them to step aside</span><span>.</span></p>
              <p><span>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. </span></p>
              <p><span>And a minister recently fired by self-declared
                  “interim president” <a
                    href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2cHKyqaRo8">Jeanine
                    Añez</a> insists she intends to run as well. Alt</span><span>hough
                  Añes has publicly downplayed the prospect, indicating
                  in </span><span>a fawning hagiography by state
                  propaganda outlet <a
href="https://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2019/12/8/jeanine-anez-la-chica-que-no-queria-ser-ama-de-casa-que-llego-la-presidencia-239792.html#!">Pagina
                    Siete</a></span><span> that doing so would be
                  “dishonest,” the likelihood seriously increases as the
                  other far-right presidential hopefuls continue to
                  destroy one another’s careers.</span></p>
              <p><span>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 <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/12/12/latin-america-neoliberalism-ecuador-assange-guillaume-long/">fabricated
                    charges of electoral fraud</a>. </span></p>
              <p><span>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,
                </span><span>now his own Democratic Christian Party <a
href="https://www.lostiempos.com/actualidad/pais/20191129/pdc-anuncia-que-chi-hyun-chung-ya-no-sera-su-candidato-proximas-elecciones">refuses
                    to endorse him</a></span><span>. At best, he can
                  play a spoiler role, further splitting the right.</span></p>
              <h3><strong>MAS re-emerges from the coup more militant and
                  motivated for victory</strong></h3>
              <p><span>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. </span></p>
              <p><span>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 <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/27/right-wing-coup-bolivia-complete-junta-hunting-dissidents/">unleash
                    death upon MAS members</a> protesting the coup weeks
                  ago.</span></p>
              <p><span>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.</span></p>
              <blockquote data-width="550" data-dnt="true">
                <p dir="ltr" lang="en">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 <a
                    href="https://t.co/w5JijkrPMq">pic.twitter.com/w5JijkrPMq</a></p>
                <p>— Wyatt Reed (@wyattreed13) <a
href="https://twitter.com/wyattreed13/status/1203409899297882112?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December
                    7, 2019</a></p>
              </blockquote>
              <p><span>In spite of its forced removal from power, MAS is
                  poised to emerge from the <a
href="https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/14/oas-us-coup-bolivia-evo-morales/">US-backed
                    coup</a> with an unprecedented level of
                  organizational rigor. </span></p>
              <p><span>“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.” </span></p>
              <p><span>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?</span></p>
              <p><span>“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.”</span></p>
              <p><span>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. </span><span>“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. </span></p>
              <p><span>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.”</span></p>
              <p><span>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.”</span></p>
              <p><span>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. </span></p>
              <p><span>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.</span></p>
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                  <p>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.</p>
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