Bolivia is Just the Latest US-Backed Coup in Latin America

(MPN— Bolivian President Evo Morales “resigned” at gunpoint Sunday, after army generals publicly demanded his resignation, despite convincingly winning re-election just three weeks ago.

The preceding 21 days were filled with fractious demonstrations and counter-protests from Morales’ supporters and opponents. On October 20, Morales had secured enough votes to win the election outright in the first round without the need for a run-off against his closest challenger, Carlos Mesa. However, Mesa cried fraud, citing supposed irregularities in the vote-counting procedure, claiming Morales did not receive the requisite vote share to ensure his victory. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the U.S. government repeated this claim, although neither group provided evidence of fraud. Morales invited the OAS to audit the election as he was confident of its veracity. Indeed, a report by the Washington-based Center for Economic Policy Research found that the vote totals were “consistent” with those announced, finding no irregularities whatsoever. Despite this, the local U.S.-backed opposition went on the attack.

Right-Wing Rampage

On Saturday, veteran political scientists Noam Chomsky and Vijay Prashad warned that “a coup is brewing against the elected government” of Bolivia, expressing their concern at the “fascistic” violence percolating throughout the country. In Santa Cruz, a stronghold of the wealthy white elite who oppose Morales, the office of the electoral authority was burned down. Meanwhile, in Vinto, opposition groups kidnapped local mayor Patricia Arce, cut her hair off and painted her body red, publicly dragging her through the streets and abusing her, forcing her to commit to leaving office.

Victor Borda, President of Bolivia’s Chamber of Deputies, was also forced to resign after coup forces attacked his house and kidnapped his brother.

As soon as Morales stepped down, the police, who had refused to serve his government, ordered his arrest and vandals ransacked his house. Meanwhile, the conservative opposition joyously burned the flag of Bolivia’s indigenous people (a majority of the country’s population), in the clear hopes that the coup would mark a return to rule by the white elite who had been in power since the time of the Conquistadors.

The United States Applauds the Coup 

The Trump administration released an official communication Monday, not just endorsing the coup, but all but stating “we did it.” “The resignation yesterday of Bolivian President Evo Morales is a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere,” it read, claiming the events constituted the “preservation of democracy.” It also sent a clear threat that more regime change operations were to come, and they already knew who the targets were:

“These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail.  We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also welcomed the events, claiming that Bolivia could now be “ensured free and fair elections.” Michael McFaul, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, was even more pleased. “Morales has fled. Excellent!” he exclaimed on Twitter. The U.S. government has long opposed Morales and his Movement for Socialism party’s agenda of nationalizing Bolivia’s resources to help its people. However, it inadvertently helped him get elected in the first place. Shortly before the 2006 election, the U.S. embassy in La Paz put out a public statement saying it could, under no circumstances, accept a Morales presidency. This enormous election meddling backfired, however, as his polling numbers surged as a result.

While the Trump administration intimates that this will not be the last, the Bolivia case is merely the latest in a long line of U.S.-backed coups in the region. Historian and former State Department employee William Blum calculated that the U.S. has overthrown over 50 governments since 1945, many of them in the region it considers its “backyard.” For example, in 2009, the U.S. supported a coup against the leftist government of Manuel Zelaya, blocking any regional or international response. Hillary Clinton later boasted that, in her role as Secretary of State, she had “rendered the question of Zelaya moot.” Since 2009 the country has been ruled by a right-wing military dictatorship that brutalizes its population, leading to a mass exodus of refugees northward, one of the principal (but unspoken) drivers of the so-called refugee caravan crisis on the U.S./Mexico border. In 2002, the U.S. sponsored and took part in a briefly successful coup against Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, only for it to be reversed by a massive display of collective solidarity from Venezuela’s people who refused to accept the situation and inspired loyal units to retake the presidential palace and rescue Chavez. Haiti was not so lucky. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, leader of a grassroots people’s movement, was overthrown in U.S.-backed coups in 1991 and 2004, leaving the nation with a corrupt puppet government that turned the country into the huge, impoverished sweatshop for Western corporations it is today.

This continual interference gave rise to the wry comment in Latin America that the safest place in the world is the U.S. because it is the only nation without an American embassy.

In 13 years in office, the Movement for Socialism has revolutionized Bolivia, nationalizing the country’s key resources and putting the proceeds towards social programs tackling the population’s most pressing concerns. Poverty was reduced by 42%, and extreme poverty by 60%, with unemployment halving. School enrollment and the provision of electricity has greatly increased, and the government has built over 150,000 social houses and has instituted a free state pension for all those over 60 years old.

However, Morales courted controversy when he lost a national referendum that proposed to end term limits. Despite the result, the Supreme Court ruled that he could stand anyway. He had also drawn criticism from environmentalists for continuing Bolivia’s extractive economic model.

Corporate Media Obscuring Reality

There is a perfect word in the English language for when army generals appear on television demanding the resignation of an elected head of state while their allies detain and torture government officials. Yet corporate media are steadfastly refusing to frame events as a coup, instead uniformly describing Morales as “resigning.” Many did not even mention the actions of the army generals. CBS News, for example, claimed that Morales was “resigning” due to “election fraud and protests.” The New York Times asserted he “stepped down” amid “weeks of mass protests by an infuriated population that accused him of undermining democracy.” It expressed relief that his “grip on power” had finally been weakened, giving space to one commenter to claim that this marked “the end of tyranny.” Thus, the media presented the military overthrow of a democratically-elected leader as the welcome demise of a “full-blown dictatorship” and the “restoration of democracy,” rather than just the opposite, highlighting their remarkable skill with language.

Denunciations of the Coup

On the other hand, there has been a forthright rejection of the events from much of the Western left. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), for example, who recently expressed her pride in endorsing Bernie Sanders, who, she said, promises to fight Western imperialism, stated via Twitter:

Sanders himself was “very concerned” about the coup against the leader who he met at the Vatican and who had praised him deeply. UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was more forthright, claiming he was “appalled” by what happened:

Noam Chomsky and Vijay Prashad described what they saw as another U.S.-backed Latin American coup.

“The coup is driven by the Bolivian oligarchy, who are angered by the fourth election loss by their parties to the Movement for Socialism. The oligarchy is fully supported by the United States government, which has long been eager to remove Morales and his movement from power. For over a decade, the US embassy’s Center of Operations in La Paz has articulated the fact that it has two plans – Plan A, the coup; Plan B, assassination of Morales. This is a serious breach of the UN Charter and of all international obligations. We stand against the coup, and with the Bolivian people.”

The Future 

Morales has been offered asylum by the Mexican government. It is far from clear whether the Bolivian people will accept the new events, but what is clear is that the Trump administration is pursuing a much more aggressive line than Obama with regards to regime change.

Those who follow Latin America will hope this is not a return to the days of the dark days of dirty wars and coups d’etat.

By Alan Macleod / Creative Commons / MintPress News / Report a typo

This article was chosen for republication based on the interest of our readers. Anti-Media republishes stories from a number of other independent news sources. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect Anti-Media editorial policy.

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  • isabel gorena

    In my opinion, I’m very grateful that other countries get involved in Bolivia situation, also they help us to communicate and spread what is really happening in the country. However, what this page publishes is a bad informacion because in Bolivia there wasn’t a status hit. The ex President Evo Morales resigned from his position of President. This is a very important event in Bolivia history and I hope that we can solve this problem.

  • Mariana Molina

    I am very grateful for the help and interest in my country since, thanks to them, the world can know what happened. Sadly, not all media have information about what really happened. In Bolivia there was no coup because what really happened was that the military and police advised him to withdraw from power. Morales after that requested asylum in Mexico, therefore, what happened was a constitutional succession. In addition, how can it be said that there was a coup if after Morales resigned the armed forces did not take power. Also, what kind of coup leaves a country for the next two days without government.

  • Elvis Tek

    In my own opinion this page isn’t a page that can’t have an impact in us poblation, this page have bad information, also I think that this page have nothing to do with Evo Morales like some peaple think. This don’t have relevance and doesn’t have good information. I think that’s a foolish think to believe everything people said to us.

    Show 1 Replies
    • John Paul

      In my own opinion this page isn’t a page that can’t have an impact in us poblation, this page have bad information, also I think that this page have nothing to do with Evo Morales like some peaple think. This don’t have relevance and doesn’t have good information. I think that’s a foolish think to believe everything people said to us.

  • Samuel Valdez

    It is very impressive how lack of information can distort reality, and more when people around the world try to expose the situation of a country and doesn’t have clear and true background about what really happens. In my opinion this page has some true facts but most part of them aren’t completely true making this document unreliable. First, there wasn’t a coup in Bolivia, Evo Morales made fraud in the elections of 20 of October and it was verified by the OAS along with many other organisations, a coup happens when the military forces the president to leave the government with violence, which is not the case because the Bolivian military only recommended Evo Morales to leave the government. The problem of the lack of information initially comes from the same government and all the people that is in favor of it, putting Evo Morales in a victim position so that the whole world feels sorry and supports the idea of a coup in Bolivia when the whole country only fought for their ideas and to recover democracy, an important element in the whole world that has been lost in Bolivia since a long time thanks to the government of Evo Morales. Also and to clarify, this document sets aside many facts as the sudden stopping of the preliminary vote counting which is a very suspicious action and results in a possible fraud that was subsequently ratified by many organisations. I hope that this clarification will serve to improve and change data for some that are really true and that really express the reality and the current situation in the country of Bolivia. Thank you.

  • Miranda Peredo

    Well, personally I think that this web page is wrong, they are also informing people with false information, and I am surprised to read that people and not common people, an important web page, thinks that there is a coup in Bolivia. Well, I say, and not only me, that there wasn´t a coup in Bolivia, because:
    First of all, military must to help to be considered a coup, but there wasn´t any help from military, they only suggested the president to quit. Nobody forced him to do it. Although, his conscience about doing a tremendous fraud is the real reason.
    Second, he postulate to the elections, in a fraudly way. In 2016, Evo Morales made a referendum to let the people vote if they wanted him to postulate again for a FOURTH TIME consecutively (in Bolivia, presidents can only postulate two times consecutively). At the end of the counting of votes, the results were that the NO option had won the YES option with a 51% percent of votes. With that result, Evo Morales couldn´t postulate for the elections of 2019. But, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal let him postulate (what a surprise).
    Third, in the elections, when the count of voting was at 83% everything seem that there will be a second round. But out of nowhere, the vote counting stopped, and many days after, it appeared that Evo Morales had won in the first round.
    Fourth, Evo Morales was president for 13 years. So, people just were tired of him and the fraud he committed. They fought for 21 days to make justice. The protests were peacefully, and nobody from the opposition had weapons. Although there were deaths, because of the violence that people belonging to MAS (Evo Morales’ political party).
    Fifth, The Organization of American States (OEA) made an audit, because many people denunciated that there was fraud in the elections. Evo Morales trusted that the OEA audit will say that everything was okay, but the report said the opposite, proving by an international organization that existence of fraud. Evo Morales also said that he will respect the results that the OEA gave, so he quit also because of the results.
    Many people around the world know the truth about the situation in Bolivia. Bolivian people started to spread the truth about how there wasn´t a coup in Bolivia, because Evo Morales started lying and saying that he was a victim of the coup, giving pity to other presidents and important people of the world. It´s pretty obvious that people that didn´t been in the situation think and say things that aren´t truth, because they didn´t live the crisis. But isn´t always their fault. Evo Morales started to spread false information, so if people don´t research further, they don´t know the truth. Important people like the chancellor of Russia (who before was in favor of Evo Morales) admitted that the opposition was right.
    Ps: I lived all the crisis and saw how Evo Morales make himself look like the victim of a coup, but send his people to loot, burn, be violent and scare Bolivians just because they defended democracy.