Friday, May 29, 2020

The ‘Bolsonarization’ of Bolivia

Last November’s coup removed Bolivian President Evo Morales from power. Since then the world's media has fallen silent. 

Morales and the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party governed the country for 14 years. Certain negative actions and policies of the MAS government over these years in power contributed to its own crisis of legitimacy in the lead up to the October 2019 elections.  In the lead up to the October 20, 2019 election, the MAS and Morales were already mired in a crisis of legitimacy, making them an easier target for the right, which had been consolidating forces and capitalizing off of the errors of the MAS. The issue of fraud during the October 20th elections, which indicated Morales won another term, has been widely debated and investigated. Following the election, protesters against Morales allied with right-wing leader Fernando Camacho and other racist figures, fomenting destabilization and violence in the country in an effort to force Morales out of office. These efforts ultimately created the pretext for a police and military intervention   Regardless of the extent or existence of fraud, the Organization of American States strategically threw gasoline on the fire during a critical moment of the October crisis with their early claims of fraud, pushing the country into violence. On November 8, police across the country mutinied against the government, and the military “suggested” Morales step down on November 10. Morales and other MAS leaders were forced to flee or go into hiding. Morales left the country for Mexico.

The Right, having planned for a seizure of the government, took advantage of the power vacuum and entered office with the crucial blessing of the Bolivian armed forces and the US embassy. 

Senator Jeanine Áñez declared herself president in front of an empty Congress on November 12.  State repression immediately following the coup left dozens dead of unarmed protesters and bystanders dead in Senkata and Sacaba, key areas of resistance to the coup regime. and the government has been throwing political enemies behind bars. 

Following Áñez’s seizure of power, Bolivia has endured the worst state violence and political persecution it has seen in decades.

“They’re criminalizing social protest…" Bolivian journalist Fernando Molina explained. “There’s a ‘Bolsonarization’ of Bolivia.”

The Áñez government threatens to roll back major progressive policies of the MAS, as well as victories won in the streets by Bolivia’s broad social, labor, and indigenous movements.

“The coup d’état is not just against the state, the government, but also the social movement organizations,” Aymara feminist activist Adriana Guzmán explained.

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