Across the spectrum, corporate media has endorsed last year’s rightwing takeover of Bolivia, refusing to label it as a coup. Coverage of Sunday’s historical elections hasn’t been much better.
by Alan Macleod
Part 4 - What’s Next?
If Añez’s government does indeed step down, it will represent only the second time in Latin American history that a U.S.-backed coup against a progressive administration has been overturned.
However, in Venezuela in 2002, the countercoup took less than 48 hours. In Bolivia, people have organized for nearly a year to achieve the same ends, giving the government far more time to embed and establish itself. The Bolivian people have a long history of organized struggle bringing down governments. In the early 2000s, nationwide protests against gas and water privatizations rocked the country, toppling unrepresentative regimes (including that of Mesa’s in 2005), setting the stage for Morales to become the most influential figure in Bolivian politics of the last 15 years.
The first indigenous president in the majority indigenous country’s history, Morales ran on the idea of 21st-century socialism, using his country’s considerable mineral wealth to fund social programs that cut poverty by half and extreme poverty by three-quarters, halving unemployment and increasing the country’s GDP by 50 percent. Yet his nationalization program and his outspoken criticism of capitalism and American imperialism on the world stage made him a prime target for regime change in Washington, who strongly supported the events of November, immediately recognizing and supporting Añez’s legitimacy.
Despite the fact that the MAS’ electoral victory looks certain, it is far from clear what sort of resistance they will face from other sources of power. “The next few days will be key for consolidating democracy in Bolivia. The MAS will need to embrace the patriotic elements within the police and military, to ensure the U.S./Murillo don’t launch a second coup against the majority of Bolivians,” Vargas warned.
And how will the MAS deal with the coup plotters themselves, clearly guilty of serious human rights abuses. Are they really in any position to exert authority over the situation?
Of late, wherever there are governments critical of U.S. power (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Iran, etc.) they are met with crushing sanctions in an attempt to destroy their ability to oppose Washington. Bolivia under Morales had already been labeled by some in the U.S. as a “narco-dictatorship.” If Arce does indeed come to rule his country, will he receive the Nicolas Maduro treatment?
For MAS supporters, however, those are questions for a different day. Today, they are celebrating a stunning and historic victory cheered by progressives the world over but angering Washington and corporate journalists in equal measure.