Hands off Bolivia

I sincerely apologize if I miss a lot of nuance here, or accidentally say something offensive, but I’m absolutely furious right now and wanted to get it off my chest.

Either way, did ya’ll see this shit? How yet another democratically elected Latin American president, this time the indigenous, socialist, Evo Morales, has been overthrown by a violent U.S. backed coup?

https://www.npr.org/2019/11/10/778042181/bolivian-president-evo-morales-calls-for-new-elections-amid-protests?utm_medium=social&utm_term=nprnews&utm_campaign=npr&utm_source=twitter.com

This makes me sick to my stomach, Morales was open to a second election, but the fascist thugs kept turning the screws, ransacking homes, attacking political allies, demanding more concessions, until he stepped down, just to keep the country from exploding. All my love and respect to the rightful leader of that country, I don’t think anyone sensible could hold anything against him for doing what he did in this crisis.

Look, there’s still a lot of news coming out about this situation, and yeah, there’s a lot of finer details I’m leaving out because I can barely think straight and don’t wanna get rambly. I actively encourage you to go out and find out more information, but for now, I’ll just say:

EL MUNDO CON EVO, HANDS OFF BOLIVIA

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Have to reset my ‘Days Since the United States Backed a Coup’ counter. Two or three times this year, at least. I am so, so sick of how the media justifies it - propagandises for it - and I know another cycle of that is all that will be in the news for the next week. Just a good time to remind people to read a diversity of news sources (from many countries), and also ask why America gets to be the judge, jury, and (often) executioner on who is and who is not allowed to be a world leader.

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Are there any sources attesting that this is a US coup? The consensus I’m reading (admittedly from establishment Western sources) appears to be that Morales has been engaging in constitutional shenanigans like running for extra terms and using a packed court to reverse voter referendums. And it seems that this latest election has credible accusations of fraud. I am by no means an expert in Bolivia so I could definitely be wrong in my interpretation here.

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Shenanigans or not, it should be a matter for folks in Bolivia to figure out, especially given our history in the region.

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Oh absolutely the US should not be involved, but the news I’m reading doesn’t seem to indicate an American connection. Am I missing something here?

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Well you have a socialist South American leader who opposes US influence, detests the IMF and neoliberalism, and has worked for land reform. This reads like every US-backed coup I’ve ever heard about. The CIA has definitely earned being the first suspect here.

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The things I’ve heard are that the OAS, the Organisation of American States, has a history of giving passes to suspicious right-wing elections, while scrutinising above-board leftist wins. That is the organisation alleging irregularities that lead them to suspect meddling in the election. I’m struggling to find the paper again, but there was an analysis from another group showing no irregularities, and suggesting that it makes perfect sense that the later ballots from more rural areas (where Morales is more popular) would take him over the cutoff for a second round. I have not seen any links to the analyses that the OAS presumably did, and have seen accusations that they have no basis for thinking the results are in any way irregular.

Morales has apparently had a two-term limit instituted during his first term, had a second term, had a third questionably-valid term during which there was a referrendum about officially enforcing the term limit. The public voted against allowing more than two terms, but the supreme court ruled that there was no consitutional basis to do so and allowed Morales to run for a fourth term. I have heard that the supreme court is elected, and so it’s not as suspect as it otherwise might be. Morales ran for a fourth term, and the results say that he won in the first round. The OAS disputed those results, and Morales agreed to a second election to confirm the result, but the military forced him to resign before that could happen.
EDIT: Correction and addendum, he agreed to an OAS audit of the results. Worth noting that his opponent in the election did not.
It’s worth noting that there have apparently been twenty days of protests against the results before he resigned. I have seen accusations that Morales’ supporters (and employees?) instigated violence against a university (or more than one?), including raping a number of women from those universities, but I don’t speak or read Spanish so I haven’t seen more detailed reports about that, it’s much easier to find information on the election stuff in English.

Morales was apparently involved in nationalising natural resources, including lithium, that the US would like to have access to and have a much better chance of securing with a non-leftist government. And the US has a history of backing coups against socialist leaders in South America. He’s also indigenous, and reversed a trend of minority white Bolivians holding the majority of governmental offices, from what I’ve read. There have also been accusations that the opposition party has been in frequent communication with the US, presumably to an unusual degree? But I haven’t looked into that aspect, it seems like a difficult thing to verify.

All of this is what I’ve gathered from twitter, so huge grain of salt. But it seems like there are legitimate greivances with Morales’ conduct, and also that he won an apparently fair election, was willing to have those results fully audited by an outside body, and was then forced to resign by the military.

Definitely look into it yourself, I only speak English and I’m British, so the information readily available to me is limited and coming through a lot of biases.

EDIT: https://twitter.com/kevinmcashman/status/1193703918624108544 This is the thread from which I’ve drawn a lot of this information, from an author of the paper which claims to show that the results are probable as well as possible.

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Michael Brooks talks about it here and I found it informative, not knowing much about it myself.

I didn’t hear much about those acts of violence from Morales’s supporters and I do not wish to downplay them, for all I know they can certainly be true, but it’s probably worth it to talk a bit about acts of violence from the opposition, which weren’t mentioned in your post. Supporters of the coup dragged Patricia Arce (mayor of Vinto and supporter of Morales) through the streets, covered her in red paint and forcibly cut her hair (link to very upsetting video). Morales has said his sister’s house, and the house of some key political allies of his, were being burned down to put pressure on him to resign. Morales’ Minister of Health has said Morales’ own home has been ransacked. Right-wing protestors invaded pro-government newsrooms, took the workers hostage and refused to let them go until they stopped covering the crisis.

Not to mention, you know, the right-wing coup, an act of violence in itself. Worth pointing out that the whipala, symbol of the indigenous peoples of Bolivia and the country’s official second flag, has been lowered and removed from the governmental palace. Key right-wing leader Fernando Camacho entered said palace (presumably with the support of an army that let him do it) and kneeled down in front of a Bible and the country’s other flag. A pastor who’s an ally of Camacho has said Pachamama, a key goddess of the indigenous people of the Andes, “will never return to the government palace”.

Again, not trying to downplay whatever Morales supporters might have done, nor to turn the conversation about that, just offering some context.

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This part makes me so sad. I lived in Bolivia for a few years, and the most incredible thing there was how much indigeneity was respected and celebrated. Each square on the Whipala represents a language spoken by Bolivians, and each one is the same size because they all matter. Children there learn the indigenous language most closely associated with the region in school. I saw children as young as 8 translating from Quechua to Spanish for their parents on visits with great grandparents. Many state owned walls and fences were adorned with murals honoring indigenous culture and beliefs. To see all of that being challenged by right wing thugs is really tough.

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This is a really good explainer thread; thanks for linking.

Thank you for raising that. I was mostly bringing up those accusations to counter my own bias, it didn’t seem necessarily super credible, but I didn’t want to be ignoring a serious problem because I’d only seen it pointed out by right-wing and liberal people. Unfortunately, in my attempt to be as fair as possible to the “other side”, I forgot to mention their abuses and maybe gave too much credit to accusations possibly made in bad faith.
Obviously a military coup is inherently violent, and those who support it are not innocent of that.

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GQ’s primer on the events is a pretty good introduction to the basic events with lots of links to other articles, and Al Jazeera’s coverage has been pretty helpful as well.

The fact that it is the Organization of American States that amplified cries of electoral fraud, an organization that was founded during the Cold War with an explicit goal of preventing the growth of left-wing movements in the American continents, makes my skin crawl. I haven’t been able to find too much about it’s current organization/politicies, nor have I been able to find the actual report that found evidence of fraud?? Just endless articles saying “yep, they found the corruption”. If anybody has a link to the document I would love to see. This whole situation is terribly frustrating and sad all at once.

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I think that among all the controvery about the election results it’s important to remember that THIS IS A COUP REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE ELECTIONS WERE FRAUDULENT OR NOT. Morales was pressured to step out of office under threats from the head general of the Bolivian military. Even if he had lost he would have still served as the Bolivian president until the end of his term which is another 2 months. The fact that he was forced to step down and SEEK ASYLUM IN MEXICO is irrefutable proof that this is a military coup

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This is true.

It is also true that Evo is a dictator and his country has a questionably functional democracy. I have a few friends who live in South America and the running theme with their posts whenever English speaking leftists start championing the newest victim of a coup in that continent is getting annoyed that said leftists don’t bother looking into what said leader has actually done. Guy has been in power for nine years, which should draw a few raised eyebrows on that fact alone.

It’s Marudo all over again. A North American centric understanding of socialism and social justice does not apply exactly the same way down south. It’s another situation where both major factions are bad news for the country, but in different shades in degrees (the people leading that coup being worse).

I think we all need to take a step back whenever stuff like this happens and just listen and read instead of breaking out takes, because it becomes clearer and clearer whenever I actually see people from the area talk about this stuff that those of us in English speaking areas usually know jack and shit (like the variety of more questionable factions in the Hong Kong protests alongside the revolution we’re siding with). World politics are sometimes pretty simple good and bad, and other time you may find yourself siding with dictators and nationalists because we’re too busy projecting our limited framework on a completely different country.

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This…is not true? At all??? Morales is nothing close to a dictator, he is democratically elected president who operated within the law, won the election with more than 10% more votes than his main competitor and complied with every single rule on the book. The only argument the right wing had is the report by the OAS, an organization known for dishonest, corporation-empowering false reporting which LITERALLY DECLARED THE RESULTS AS FRAUDULENT BEFORE THEY HAD DONE ANY ANALYSIS.

Also conveniently unmentioned is the fact that Morales is highly popular in Bolivia because he has fought for greater worker power, social welfare for the poor and strengthening unions. He is especially popular in rural poor areas of the country who routinely experience voter suppression much in the same way they do in the US, yet he still won the elections handily. Morales is the first Indigenous president of Bolivia EVER and has put a lot of effort into combating anti-indigenous racism in the country.

The real cherry on top of all this? Morales was actually ready and willing to go for a runoff elections against his main opponent, Carlos Mesa, a right wing stooge supported by nationalists and anti-abortion groups (who also happens to be the former president that largely sold out Bolivia’s natural gas resources, triggering mass protests across the country which he had quelled by using military against the protesters and overseeing the killing of over 60 people).

His first act after the elections was to call for the reassembly of the Independent Electoral Tribune (who was largely staffed by his political opponents) and his first reaction to the OAS report on the preliminary results was to allow them in the country for a full audit of the results, which his opponent OPPOSED. He said that if any irregularities were to be found he would gladly go for a new round of elections, which Mesa also opposed, instead rallying up fascist street violence in order to force Morales to resign.
Interestingly enough, Morales was not the only one ousted from his position by the coup, but also the head of the democratically elected senate and the head of the independent electoral tribune. What a win for Democracy!

This is all to say, I am absolutely appalled by the above comment. Posing Morales as some sort of vicious dictator despite him being in office for less time than the chancellor of Germany and the fact that he won the elections with a larger margin of the vote than the sitting US president, and then citing “North American-centric understanding” and “south american friends” as an excuse for this vile act of imperialism is both laughable and incredibly misleading. Like, I don’t usually get riled up on the forum but this comment disgusts me.

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That feel when your CIA psyops disinformation campaign has a black budget of 15 dollars.

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I’m sharing what I heard from people who live around there, people I’ve known for a decade. I’d rather trust their views than westerns trying to pretend they know everything about South American politics.

Speaking first hand, having lived in the country while he was in office, he is not seen a vicious dictator by Bolivians. I use Facebook for the sole reason of keeping in touch with friends and loved ones in Bolivia, and only people on the far right there see him as dictator. There is a lot of frustration with the term limits question, even on the left, but Evo was still generally pretty popular up until the upset referendum last year.

There’s a lot of problems around how people in other South American countries talk about Evo and Bolivia in general. Many people from the area caricature Evo, and Bolivian people because of their indigenous heritage. Quite a bit of the way South Americans talk about Bolivia is problematic to say the least.

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I am Brazilian, thanks. If you want “Bolivian voices”, though, try listening to these.

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