The military in the coup in Bolivia

Image Elyeser Szturm

Designations such as “legal-media coup” or “legal-parliamentary coup” cover up the fact that a coup d’état is always an illegal use of brute force

By Manuel Domingos Neto*

With the coup in Bolivia consummated, here are the criticisms of President Evo Morales: “he should not have been a candidate”, “he should have resisted”, “he bet on the appeasement of irreconcilable forces”… Hastily, without further information, attributing lukewarmness to the great leader Bolivian, some say “I shouldn't have left the country!”.

The first solid analysis I read about the Bolivian tragedy was the article by Atílio Boron, published in A Terra é Redonda (see, which shows how the United States behaved in this country and warns Latin Americans to learn the lesson.

But Atilio slipped up when he mentioned a supposed “coup by omission”: the Army would have washed its hands of truculent police and fascist troublemakers.

This unreasonable conclusion is shared by many and derives from the tergiversations in the analysis of the forms of rupture of the Rule of Law in Latin America, reflected even in the attempts to reclassify the 1964 coup in Brazil as a “civil-military coup”, which is very pleasing to the public. uniformed.

There is no “coup by omission” and designations such as “legal-media coup” or “legal-parliamentary coup” cover up the obvious: coup d'état is the illegal use of brute force, whatever its covering for consumption by the affected society.

Without weapons in hand, no one strikes. In turn, without support from social sectors, without help in forming a favorable public opinion, without support from jurists and shady judges, brute force is not effective. As extensive as the list of coup plotters is (big press, big businessmen, judges, police, militiamen, parliamentarians, religious etc.) only and exclusively the holder of force manages to break the Democratic State of Law.

In Latin America, who holds this force is the Army. This is the main responsible for attacks on democracy and for the fulfillment of imperialist designs.

Evo believed in the Army, as did all Latin American leaders who have attempted social reforms over the last twenty years. Lula, like Evo, committed himself to strengthening this institution by granting it equipment, resources and dignified remuneration. Trying to improve the quality of command, Evo even offered courses on imperialism to the military. Evo relied on institutions designed and prepared to obey the Empire's command. This has been the great mistake of the Latin American democratic forces.

For the military to have political weight, it is enough to exist. Just be equipped and trained. He doesn't need to shoot. You don't have to move, especially if others can do the dirty work, as was the case now in Bolivia.

Quietly, the Army let the police and fascist bandits terrorize the people and the rulers. It was enough to have given a short message to the rioters that they would not accept disrespect for the laws. Everyone would back off. But, on the contrary, they silently encouraged disorder. They appeared only in the final act, “suggesting” that Evo resign.

Let's think of Brazil. Would the coup against Dilma have occurred if the Army had prosecuted half a dozen truck drivers and fascist militants who openly asked for military intervention?

These fascists were mocking the Armed Forces. Effectively legalistic corporations feel morally assaulted when someone suggests disobeying the Law. But, on the contrary, the Brazilian commanders felt honored.

Some even, as was notably the case of General Mourão, still on active duty, who even openly threatened the use of force and was not arrested. Just as Bolsonaro was not arrested when over the years he preached the dictatorship. Instead of punishment, propagandists of military terror, such as Bolsonaro and Mourão, were raised to command the country.

The biggest lesson provided by the Bolivian events cannot be any other: beware of the big mutes armed and trained by the big industries of the United States!

* Manuel Domingos Neto is a retired UFC/UFF professor, former president of the Brazilian Defense Studies Association (ABED) and former vice president of CNPq

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