We talked about the coup with the collective 'Open and Intercultural Group of Studies for Revolutionary Critical Thinking' form south of Bolivia: 'Bolivia is a territory rich with natural resources, such as lithium, gas and fresh water sources. Having a government like the MAS, represented by Evo Morales, is an obstacle for USA geopolitical immediate plans to take control of these territories'.


After the resignation of Evo Morales, we saw that global mainstream media refused to call this situation a coup, to name some: “Bolivian President Evo Morales steps down following accusations of election fraud”
(CNN), “Bolivia’s Morales resigns amid scathing election report, rising protests” (The Washington Post), “Bolivian President Evo Morales resigns amid fraud poll protests” (BBC). What do you think about the media coverage of the recent events?

As Chomsky suggests, whoever controls the media has the real power. In this sense, many of the international and national media are part of the coup d’état that has been perpetrated in Bolivia. They have had the role of misrepresenting the facts and covering up violence, building instead a sense of "freedom and democracy", distorting acts of violence and repression.

The disastrous role of some international media contrasts with the role of certain alternative media that have "raised the blind" to show the world what was happening. It is important to mention TELEFE, TELESUR media in this; as well as academic networks such as CLACSO[1] and others[2] that have denounced and amplified to the international community the coup d’état that took place and that ended with the self-proclamation of Añez.

After almost a month since the resignation of President Evo Morales, the media have developed a strategy to show that the country "has been pacified" and that the bases are being built for democracy to return. There is a strong campaign to install an image of the division of the MAS, and of an identity of the masista people (people affiliated to the MAS party) as a liar, corrupt, terrorist, seditious, and more.

Even some prominent figures on the left, such as the ex-representative of Bolivia in UN from 2009-2011, Pablo Solon, claimed that the coup did not occur, that he stepped down amid massive mobilizations of people because there was overwhelming evidence of electoral fraud. How do you comment that?

The position of Solón and many other academics such as Zegada, Tamburini, Rivera and others, which are considered references to the international community, has taken a rightward trend. They are the producers of narratives that conceal the coup d’état. On the other hand, echoing the denunciation of the coup d’état are CLACSO investigators such as Gambina, Calloni, Klachko, Borón, Lizárraga, Paredes, Kohan, among others. As well as Aymara feminist groups such as the Feminismo Comunitario y Antipatriarcal[3].

What about the role of national and local media?

The national media coverage was limited even before Evo Morales resigned. A day before his resignation the government television channel (Bolivia TV), as well as the radio belonging to this channel (Radio Patria Nueva), were taken by groups opposed to the MAS government. Similarly, there was the violent capture of a journalist who worked in the Radio Comunidad, belonging to the media of the Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia[4] (CSUTCB). Also, private media such as Unitel and journalists who supported the idea of "electoral fraud", also denounced that they were intimidated by people close to the MAS Government. 

Picture 1 - violence and repression of the army and police is mainly covered by alternative media

However, after Evo's resignation and with the new self-proclaimed president, Jeanine Añez's, the situation worsened. The de facto government generated the silencing and intimidation of the communitarian and alternative media of the country, as well as international media that covered the violence that occurred during the first weeks of the current government. This was accompanied by declarations by the de facto Communication Minister of Bolivia, Roxana Lizárraga, mentioning that these media could be accused of "sedition crime."

Was there any alternative media coverage of the events?

During the weeks that preceded the self-proclamation of Añez and after, during the conflicts in Senkata and Vila Vila, it was the communitarian radio stations and other alternative media that played a key role in informing what was happening in these territories. These radios, such as the Wayna Tambo in the city of Alto, were important for the international denunciation of violent events in the country. In turn, other alternative radios such as Radio Deseo (that belongs to the feminist collective Mujeres Creando) created spaces for denunciation and promotion of other public meetings for political discussion in the middle of the conflict (Parlamento de los Cuerpos). However, this last radio is a space in which certain alternative narratives, anarchists, ecologists, among others, justify the coup d'etat.

Picture 2 - After a massacre in Senkata, in which protesters were killed by repressive force of the government, the commemoration for the dead was also repressed 


Currently the oral and written Bolivian mass media mostly reproduce the positions of the new self-proclaimed government. The communitarian and alternative radios continue with hard work, which tries to show a greater diversity of perspectives of the situation in Bolivia. They are also accompanied by social scientists who played an important role in condemnation of the coup in the international community, and other self organized people who became reporters on the repression and resistance.

So, what actually happened in Bolivia?

What happened in Bolivia was a coup d’état that was achieved within the framework of a strategy based on the installation of the fraud slogan. This slogan led to establishing a social base to articulate the actions that lead to the breakdown of the democratic process.

As Evo Morales indicates, his resignation was for Life. So that “Carlos Mesa and Camacho do not continue burning the houses of the masistas authorities. So that Carlos Mesa and Camacho do not continue to harm the humblest. So, they don't continue to harass the militants…” His resignation occurred in a context of mass mobilizations of people who believed the accusation of "electoral fraud". As well as a mutiny and treason of the police to his chain of command, and a "suggestion" of resignation by the Armed Forces to the Constitutional President Evo Morales.

Picture 3 - armed fascist grup 'Unión Juvenil Cruceñista' which is led by Camacho, one of the coup leaders

Regarding the above, we highlight some facts that deserve analysis:

●        Evo Morales and Álvaro García resigned after one part of the state ministers and some local authorities belonging to the MAS also did so. The resignation came at a time of crisis in which some authorities indicated that they are resigning to pacify the country, for personal reasons, and because of pressure and fear, since their relatives were threatened.

●        Before the resignation of Evo Morales, the civic leader Camacho suggested the formation of a board of people to call for new elections. Although this did not happen, it was supported by the Armed Forces and the Police.

●        The OAS presented a preliminary report before the date on which the final report should have been delivered. Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, indicated that this was done in order to pacify the country. However, the OAS delayed more weeks to deliver the final report. This report indicated irregularities in the electoral process. It was questioned by other reports, such as the one presented by the Latin American Strategic Centre for Geopolitics (CELAG). This last one is not the only report that contradicts what was presented by the OAS.[1]

 
Picture 4 - Whipala, symbol of the indigenous population (majorty of Bolivian population, repressed for centuries), was burned on several occasions by opposition forces



In this scenario, the burning of the whipala, the aggression against the indigenous identity expressed in Evo's resignation and his subsequent exile in Mexico generated a new wave of protests and mobilizations of the indigenous people. These people, outraged by the acts of racism and violence that was conducted by Camacho and the rector of the UMSA (Waldo Albarracín) began mobilizations that ended with a balance of 29 dead[5], thousands arrested and disappeared.

This year in April, John Bolton "proudly" proclaimed that the Monroe Doctrine is "alive and well", and Trump issued a statement that Morales resignation sends a strong signal to the "illegitimate regimes" in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Was there an involvement of the foreign powers, especially the USA?

The president Donald Trump was the second to recognize the self-proclaimed president Jeanine Añez, after Jair Bolsonaro - president of Brazil - did so. Currently, the US representation will return to the country due to the political negotiations of the current presidency. In the words of the business manager of the US embassy in Bolivia, Bruce Williamson, this is the first case that could lead to the reinstatement of the DEA[6] in Bolivian territory. Obviously, the geopolitical game generates the conditions for the United States to once again take greater control of the Bolivian territory.

What is the interest of USA in overthrowing Morales?
Evo Morales expelled the Embassy of the United States of America from Bolivian territory (in 2008, in the first government mandate). This occurred at a scenario of crisis in Bolivia in a dispute that aimed to destabilize the MAS government (which in 2008 had 61% electoral votes). During this crisis the interventionist role of the USA was verified, and this was the reason why the US representation was expelled. Similarly, the DEA and USAID were expelled, because they were considered operators for the interference in Bolivia.

Picture 5 - During the unrest in 2008., eastern parts of the country rebeled against socialist government - they had support of the USA


The Empire aims to expand in the territories of the Global South, since in the framework of the global crisis it requires having resources that can balance and generate conditions for its reproduction. Bolivia is a territory rich in natural resources such as lithium, gas and fresh water sources. Having a government like the MAS, represented by Evo Morales, is an obstacle for USA geopolitical immediate plans to take control of these territories. This plan would require changes of the institutional structure and the rules that Bolivia has put in the commercial relationships with the USA and the rest of the world.

And the role of OAS in these events?

As international analysts like José Antonio Ejida suggest, the OAS is an instrument of Trump's interference. The MAS government knew it and it was a high risk to open this channel to pacify the convulsion that was installed by the counterrevolution.

The OAS generated the final conditions for the coup in Bolivia. Its performance corresponds to its ideological and financial position, considering that 60% of its budget comes from the US government and that the OAS is an operator for the geopolitical interests of this country.

Picture 6 - Self-proclaimed president gives honors to the military few days after they massacred the protesters

In this sense, it was a tactical error of the MAS government to designate this institution as the one responsible for issuing a final report. It should be remembered that the Electoral Integrity Analysis board conformed by the OAS should have been supported by some countries of the region and the EU. However, they did not provide any independent investigation of the OAS and their performance was merely passive.

Therefore, declarations of some left-wing intellectuals that deny the coup d'etat' and support the fraud slogan, join the claims of the OAS and consequently the USA interference. A self – contradictory position.

One of the most disputed moments of the Morales presidency is the 2016 referendum where he failed to get popular support for his fourth mandate as president. Why did Morales want to run for the fourth term, so badly that he refused to acknowledge the results of the referendum?

This is one of the most complex issues to address and this requires opening new political readings that do not correspond to conventional and orthodox ones. We say this because the central debate of this fact lies in the legality and in the political times defined by liberal democracy. As a collective we think it is necessary to look at different aspects, among them at the conditions that preceded the 21 F Referendum. Also, to consider that these conditions affected the collective and political rights of Evo Morales and the people that support him. The framework in which that referendum takes place is a scenario in which political law is violated from the installation of misinformation - the collective decision of whether or not to participate in the next elections is therefore affected. But it is also important to mention that in the referendum the question was “whether or not the Political Constitution was to be modified”. And after the Referendum the Constitution was not modified.

Picture 7 - 2016. referendum results were "very tight". The "No" option won with a total of 51% of the votes, while the "Yes" option got the remaining 49% of votes.

In this context, the MAS proposed the candidacy of Evo and Álvaro alluding to the Constitutional Court by posing the constitutional interpretation according to the Pact of San José de Costa Rica. This approach is based on undermining of Morales political rights.  Hence, this interpretation alludes to the respect for human rights over the State Political Constitution.

How come that there was not another candidate to run instead of Morales? What led to that situation?
The decision of who assumes the representation of the candidature is collective one. The PNIOC[7]  determine this with a criterion that differs from the conventional and orthodox criterion of the parties. In the MAS there are other candidates who are in the process of formation and leaders with great and diverse experiences. However, Evo Morales is considered by the PNIOC as the leader who has the capacity and characteristics to articulate on the national scale. Hence, the long political cycle mandate is justified in that sense.

Did that decision damage his and the MAS party legitimacy since we can see that electoral support (even though it remained high) dropped compared to the previous elections?

We are analysing a process of more than 13 years of management, which has been able to transform the substantive conditions of coloniality and has been able to form the basis for an inclusive society. The economic and social indicators are eloquent.

The decrease in the percentage of voters in the last elections, including that of 2019, has several explanations. One of them is related to the fact that every process generates political wear, but this is minimal in relation to the solid base and the legitimacy that it maintained. One of the central elements to understand the reduction in electoral support is that the increased middle class, that was constituted by the process and government policy, looks forward to the pattern of “American consumerism”. This created a change of expectation, considering that this class improved its life conditions.

Was this also reflected inside the party?

However, the democracy is plural and there are various interpretations of what had happened after the Referendum. The indigenous-native-peasant subject is the subject of the revolution for the Bolivian proceso de cambio[8]. The horizon of transformations of the Plurinational State is based on this subject and on the Pueblos y Naciones[9]. However, in the process of state transformation, tensions between different concepts such as democracy, political alternation, continuity of processes, do not necessarily mean a discontinuity of the process of state transformations. In that sense, the continuity of Evo Morales to power is also a concept that is disputed by different ways of reading democracy within the same social bases that support the process of Bolivian change. This was evident in the 2016 Referendum and in the period that followed it.

We consider that the figure of Evo Morales is important for state transformations as a cohesive subject of the struggles within the MAS IPSP. However, the process of Bolivian change is based on the struggles of indigenous and peasant people as a collective subject, and not as an individual one. As Lizárraga Pilar proposes, in the image of Evo is the utopia of a revolutionary and transformative project. The powerful idea is dignity, and this is what will summon the convergence in the elections that are expected to be completed by 2020 to recover democracy.


Second part of the interview can be read HERE

Interviewed people are members of "Open and Intercultural Group of Studies for Revolutionary Critical Thinking - Comunidad de Estudios JAINA (Tarija, Bolivia)"; an open space built from civil society for the construction of critical thinking, conformed by people of different backgrounds that have in common the construction of alternative views of society. They share the anti-colonialism, anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, anti-patriarchy and internationalism as principles and meet under the framework of Jaina, a research collective that works mainly supporting the agenda of rural and indigenous organizations in the south of Bolivia. (http://www.comunidadestudiosjaina.org.bo/Jaina.php)


Cover photo source: Wikipedia commons

Interview conducted and edited by Jakov Kolak


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[1]Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (Latin American Council of Social Sciences)

[2]   Declaration of the Network in Defense of Humanity, Latin American networks such as SEPLA (group of intellectuals chaired by the Haitian Camille Chalmer), Our America Trade Union Encounter (ESNA) and the World Federation of Trade Unions. Among others.

[3]    Feminist collective that born in the proceso de cambio boliviano.

[4]  Workers Union of the Peasants of Bolivia

[5]  3 people died before the resignation of Evo Morales and García Linera. Total of 32 victims in this period.

[6]   Drug Enforcement Administration: agency of the United States of America Department of Justice that shares jurisdiction with the FBI.

[7]  Pueblos y Naciones Indígena Originario Campesinas: Indigenous People and Peasants. The subject of revolution of the bolivian process. Recognized with collective rights in the Political Constitution of the State.

[8]  Process of change: It represents the path followed in the period of transformations of the State with the social movements in the MAS IPSP

[9]   PNIOC

 

 

 

Jakov Kolak


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