Yesterday’s News Today: A coup by any other name

Andrew Gilkey, World News Editor

    In the wake of Evo Morales’ exit from office and subsequent social unrest in Bolivia, pundits, journalists and politicians have all tried to identify the unrest in the South American country. The Intercept calls it a “failure in Latin American socialism.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls it “standing up for human rights.” With labels and agendas being subscribed to the turmoil it’s important to take an inventory of what we know of the major parties and issues at play in this conflict.

    Morales exited office last week amid accusations of election fraud by Bolivans and the Organization of American States. He has been exiled, and granted asylum in Mexico City. Morales, in addition to being the first indigenous president in Bolivian history, expanded social services and increased economic growth in the poorest South American country at the time of his first term. However, he abused his official power and ran for a third term, which is outlawed by the constitution that he helped write in 2009. Mass demonstrations followed his fourth election win, in which voting software froze before presenting a victory for Morales by 10%, according to Reuters.

    Jeanine Añez filled the vacant presidency after Morales and his officials fled to Mexico City. The former second vice president of the senate is the antithesis of Morales. Añez is a hardline religious conservative who has packed her cabinet with conservative politicians from the largely ethnically European Eastern-Lowlands, according to The New York Times. She claims her goal is to bring stability to the country. Her ally, Catholic right-winger and paramilitary leader Luis Fernando Camacho stated in a public address, “We have tied all the demons of the witchery and thrust them into the abyss. Satans, get out of Bolivia now.”

    Eight people were killed and over 100 were injured in demonstrations by security forces, according to Reuters. The majority of those demonstrating are indigenous Coca farmers, a population Añez have mocked, calling the indigenous people “satanic” and “poor Indians” in tweets dating back to last year.. Añez has also cut ties with precious diplomatic allies, expelling hundreds of Cuban doctors and alienating her government from established allies the wishes of the U.S. The transitional government has also cut back several of Morales policies that benefit poor and indigenous people but restricted international business.

    With all of this information, can a proper label be attributed to the upheaval in Bolivia? Certainly, the rise of Añez and and the quick “anti-Evismo” policies speaks to a political coup, especially since she has done so without the support of the majority of the senate needed to even claim to be an interim president. Arson attacks in pro-Evos neighborhoods and the use of deadly force against dissenters comes straight from the CIA coup playbook instituted in Chile, and Argentina during the Cold War, according to the National Security Archive andThe Guardian  The Bolivian newspaper El Tiempo published a statement by Minister of Government Arturo Murillo that announced the creation of an arrest list of opposition leaders and journalists. All of this is happening as major German and American companies are beginning to encroach on the wealth of Bolivian oil and lithium resources.

       It is clear that freedom from tyranny is excluded from Pompeo’s list of human rights. The goal was never stability. The goal of Añez and her allies was the return of Bolivia as resource bank and political lapdog for the Western powers.