The coup in Bolivia: five lessons

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A new sociopolitical figure: military coup d'état "by omission"

By Atilio A. Boron*

The Bolivian tragedy eloquently teaches several lessons that our peoples and popular social and political forces must learn and engrave in their consciences forever.

Here a brief enumeration, at the time of events, and as a prelude to a more detailed treatment in the future.

First: no matter how exemplary the economy is managed as Evo's government did, whether growth, redistribution, the flow of investments are guaranteed and all macro and microeconomic indicators are improved, the right and imperialism will never accept a government that does not put itself at the service of your interests.

Second: it is necessary to study the manuals published by various US agencies and their spokespersons disguised as academics or journalists in order to be able to perceive the signs of the offensive in time. These writings invariably emphasize the need to destroy the reputation of the popular leader, which in specialized jargon is called “reputation murder”, qualifying him as a thief, corrupt, dictator or ignorant.

This is the task entrusted to social communicators, self-proclaimed “independent journalists”, who, in favor of their almost monopoly control of the media, pierce the population's brain with such defamations, accompanied, in the case at hand, by hate messages directed against native peoples and the poor in general.

Third: once the above has been accomplished, the time has come for the political leadership and economic elites, demanding “a change”, demanding the overthrow of Evo’s “dictatorship” who, as the unpresentable Vargas Llosa wrote a few days ago, is a “demagogue who wants to immortalize into power”.

I suppose you'll be toasting champagne in Madrid as you see images of fascist hordes looting, burning, chaining journalists to a pole, shaving a mayor's head and painting it red, and destroying the minutes of the last election to carry out Don's order. Mario and free Bolivia from an evil demagogue.

I mention his case because he was and is the immoral standard-bearer of this vile attack, of this limitless betrayal that crucifies popular leaders, destroys a democracy and installs a reign of terror in charge of bands of traffickers hired to punish a worthy people who had the audacity to want to be free.

Fourth: enter the “security forces”. In this case we are talking about institutions controlled by numerous agencies, military and civilian, of the US government. These train them, arm them, do joint exercises and educate them politically.

I had the opportunity to prove it when, at Evo's invitation, I inaugurated a course on “Anti-imperialism” for senior officers of the three branches. On that occasion, I was embarrassed by the degree of penetration of the most reactionary North American catchphrases inherited from the Cold War era and by the frank irritation caused by the fact that an indigenous person was president of his country.

What these "security forces" did was to withdraw from the scene and leave the field free for the uncontrolled action of the fascist hordes - like those who acted in Ukraine, Libya, Iraq and Syria to overthrow, or try to do so in this last case, uncomfortable leaders for the empire – and, in this way, intimidate the population, the militancy and the government figures themselves. In other words, a new sociopolitical figure: a military coup “by omission”, letting reactionary gangs, recruited and financed by the right, impose their law. Since terror reigns and in the face of the government's lack of defense, the outcome was inevitable.

Fifth: security and public order should never have been entrusted in Bolivia to institutions such as the police and the army, colonized by imperialism and its lackeys of the indigenous right. When the offensive against Evo was launched, a policy of appeasement and of not responding to the provocations of the fascists was chosen. This served to encourage them and double the bet: first, demand the election; then fraud and new elections; then elections, but without Evo (as in Brazil, without Lula); later, Evo's resignation; finally, given his reluctance to accept blackmail, sow terror with the complicity of police and military and force Evo to resign. By manual, everything by manual. Will we learn these lessons?

*Atilio Borón is professor of political science at the University of Buenos Aires.

Translation:Fernando Lima das Neves

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