In one of Latin America’s greatest tragedies in recent years, a hard-right coup is currently underway in Bolivia – where a successful progressive government had ruled for just under 14 years.
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned this coup in no uncertain terms, saying:
To see @evoespueblo who, along with a powerful movement, has brought so much social progress forced from office by the military is appalling.
I condemn this coup against the Bolivian people and stand with them for democracy, social justice and independence. #ElMundoConEvo
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 10, 2019
The devastating loss of Latin America’s ‘most successful’ left-wing government
The military forced President Evo Morales out of power on 10 November, after weeks of violent hard-right protests. Earlier in the day, he had already called for a new election in an attempt to calm tensions. But he later said he was resigning in the hope of stopping right-wing destruction, kidnappings, and attacks and death threats against politicians and their families. Armed intruders later broke into Morales’s home in Cochabamba:
Bolivia’s guarimbas demolish President Evo Morales’ home. We are still trying to tally the number of homes, belonging to lawmakers of the MAS, which have been burned and destroyed in recent days by terrorists of the right. pic.twitter.com/58SE9vNyZj
— Camila (@camilateleSUR) November 11, 2019
The coup left no natural successor to Morales, because it also forced the resignation of the country’s vice president and the Senate president, who was next in line to lead. The only other official listed by the constitution as a successor – the head of the lower house – had already resigned.
Morales was the first member of Bolivia’s large indigenous population to become president, and he remains deeply popular among many Bolivians. While no government is perfect, many people considered Morales’s administration to be the “most successful” left-of-centre government in Latin America – and perhaps even the world. As The Canary previously reported, his government lifted “millions of people out of poverty” and oversaw very impressive economic growth despite “deep economic crises and an economic slowdown elsewhere in Latin America”. For these reasons, Bolivians recently re-elected his government (though with a reduced majority). Corbyn congratulated Morales on his victory and praised his government’s achievements.
Morales believed in using Bolivia’s natural resources to benefit its inhabitants rather than powerful corporations:
Why was Evo Morales overthrown? He was nationalizing the highly profitable lithium industry and planning to deal directly on the international market rather than exporting the commodity at bargain prices to Western corporations https://t.co/eaBrsre1ff
— Scott T. Patrick (@PompeiiDog) November 11, 2019
He was also a stauch critic of US imperialism:
This is the leader the world has lost.
This from 2018, when Evo listed the crimes of the US, whilst sitting next to Trump at the UN. He was never defeated democratically, they could only win with a military coup. pic.twitter.com/BRvP8vIiF4
— Ollie Vargas (@OVargas52) November 11, 2019
A “fascist coup” with US backing
Just days before his resignation, Morales had warned that a “fascist coup” was underway.
For many decades, the US has sponsored and supported terrorism throughout Latin America to prop up hard-right corporatists and undermine democracy and human rights. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in the process. And amid the coup in Bolivia, intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Vijay Prashad pointed firmly to US involvement, saying:
The coup is driven by the Bolivian oligarchy, who are angered by the fourth election loss by their parties… 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.
Indeed, former US senator Mike Gravel tweeted irreverently:
Congratulations on winning power in Bolivia, @CIA!
— Mike Gravel (@MikeGravel) November 10, 2019
People also highlighted the involvement of the highly controversial Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), which receives most of its funds from the US and has been accused of serving US foreign policy interests:
“This is a military coup — there’s no doubt about it now,” @ceprdc‘s @MarkWeisbrot says of Bolivian President Evo Morales stepping down Sunday, shortly after the Bolivian military called for his resignation. pic.twitter.com/ilaHWSHn4Q
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) November 11, 2019
It is unfortunate but not surprising to see a Guardian editor credulously accept the debunked claims of the OAS, which is 60% funded by the US & has been used repeatedly to undermine US-mandates targets of regime change & subversion: https://t.co/VNKVtcD2hO https://t.co/i4nMQPSyIx
— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) November 11, 2019
— CODEPINK (@codepink) November 11, 2019
Others pointed out the presence of racism among those backing the coup:
The ugly face of Latin American right is on full show today in Bolivia as demonstrators burn the indigenous flag in celebration of a successful coup against the country’s only indigenous President. https://t.co/bQdRlQr0xs
— Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) November 11, 2019
Supporters of Morales and his achievements, meanwhile, are already resisting the coup. And so should everyone around the world who believes in democracy, social justice, and human rights.