The United States is currently backing a military coup against Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, who recently won re-election. Bolivia has enjoyed relative calm during the length of Morales’ presidency which began in January 2006. In 2008, Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and counter-narcotics agents. The two countries have not had an ambassadorial relationship since 2009.
Despite what the mainstream media headlines would have you believe, a military coup is underway in Bolivia. Morales was forced to step down in an attempt to avert further violence and destruction at the ends of the violent right-wing opposition.
Sunday night’s headlines read:
- “Bolivian Leader Evo Morales Steps Down”
- “Bolivian President Evo Morales steps down following accusations of election fraud“
- “President of Bolivia steps down amid allegations of election rigging”
- “Bolivia’s Morales resigns amid scathing election report, rising protests”
- “Bolivian President Evo Morales resigns amid fraud poll protests”
Nowhere in these headlines do we see the word “coup” or any mention of the history or the violence at the hands of the opposition that includes the burning of a governor’s home, the dragging of a mayor through the streets after her hair was cut off and her body painted red, and most recently the destruction of Evo Morales’ home.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Evo Morales won re-election on October 20th
A Bolivian court gave Morales the “green light” to run for a fourth term as president after opponents said doing so would be unconstitutional. Bolivians went to the polls on October 20, only weeks ago, to select their president. When all was said and done, Morales walked away with 47.1 percent of the vote while his main opponent, who came in second place, had 36.5 percent of the vote. Because Morales secured more than 40 percent and had higher than a 10-point margin over the runner up, in accordance with the rules, a first-round win was declared with no need for a runoff.
2. Reports of election fraud are unfounded
Even before the election was concluded, Mesa declared that he would not accept the results if Morales were declared the winner.
— Carlos D. Mesa Gisbert (@carlosdmesag) October 21, 2019
The following day, after much outrage from the opposition, the Organization of American States (OAS) released a statement. While the statement did say that the elections took place in a “peaceful and orderly manner,” the OAS expressed “its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results revealed after the closing of the polls.”
The statement failed to include any actual evidence or data.
Prior to that statement, Senator Marco Rubio tweeted the following false information:
In #Bolivia all credible indications are Evo Morales failed to secure necessary margin to avoid second round in Presidential election. However some concern he will tamper with the results or process to avoid this. Both @OAS_official & @EU_Commission have observers in the country.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 21, 2019
The main criticism of the OAS is the significant increase in votes for Morales that came in near the end of the count. While this can sometimes be a red flag, simply looking at the voting records shows that it is a result of the geography of Bolivia. Morales has more support in poor and rural areas, areas whose votes often come in later.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) said in a statement on Friday:
Statistical analysis of election returns and tally sheets from Bolivia’s October 20 elections shows no evidence that irregularities or fraud affected the official result that gave President Evo Morales a first-round victory.
It should be noted that the OAS was created by a U.S. official and anti-communist leaders from South America in 1948 with the sole purpose of disputing democratic elections in which a communist or socialist candidate wins. In effect, the OAS is an agent of regime change, often driven by U.S. imperialism.
In 2000, the OAS flip-flopped on Haiti’s national election, first declaring it “a great success” before changing their position, paving the way for Washington’s regime change efforts of 2000-04 that resulted in the murder of thousands of people. The OAS then interfered in Haiti’s 2010 election by literally reversing the results.
Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, recognized the U.S.-backed opposition leader and self declared “interim president” of Venezuela in January, just prior to the failed coup attempt.
3. Carlos Mesa has a cozy relationship with the U.S.
Morales’ main opponent, Carlos Mesa, served as president of Bolivia from 2003-2005. U.S. hostilities against Bolivia have increased steadily since Mesa left office and he is Washington’s preferred candidate.
Government cables released by WikiLeaks reveal communications between Mesa and U.S. officials.
This June was the 10th anniversary of the US right-wing coup against Honduras' elected leftist President Manuel Zelaya.
Many of the same tactics were recycled to overthrow Bolivia's Evo Morales.
US imperialism is the world's biggest threat to democracyhttps://t.co/rmunPFjyZ6
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) November 10, 2019
4. 50-70% of the world’s lithium reserves are found in Bolivia
Some have called Bolivia the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” The global demand for the alkali metal has steadily increased as technology such as cell phones, laptops, and hybrid cars have become woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. And the demand for it isn’t expected to slow anytime soon.
Bolivia has invested significantly in lithium mining in the country with Morales having once said:
With the exploitation of lithium in a 400 sq km area, we’ll have enough to maintain ourselves for a century.
But those same salt flats are also a major nature reserve that includes flamingos, cacti, geysers, and hot springs. Thousands of tourists visit the area each year to enjoy the hot springs.
Foreign companies have repeatedly expressed interest in Bolivia’s mining operations, but Morales has been understandably wary of foreign intervention. Bolivia has been left one of the poorest countries in Latin America despite possessing large reserves of oil and gas as well as the world’s largest silver mine.
As the world attempts to transition to greener fuels, it should come as no surprise that eyes are on Bolivia and its massive lithium supply.
5. Evo Morales opposes U.S. imperialism in Latin America
And most importantly, Evo Morales has been in direct opposition of U.S. imperialism throughout his entire presidency. In 2016, Morales opened an “anti-imperialist” military academy in direct opposition to U.S. policies and military involvement throughout Latin America, to counter the influence of the School of the Americas. Morales said:
If the empire teaches domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression.
We want to build anti-colonial and anti-capitalist thinking with this school that binds the armed forces to social movements and counteracts the influence of the School of the Americas that always saw the indigenous as internal enemies.
At a United Nations Security Council meeting, he explained:
I would like to say to you, frankly and openly here, that in no way is the United States interested in upholding democracy. If such were the case it would not have financed coups d’etat and supported dictators. It would not have threatened with military intervention democratically elected governments as it has done with Venezuela. The United States could not care less about human rights or justice. If this were the case, it would have signed the international conventions and treaties that have protected human rights.It would not have threatened the investigation mechanism of the International Criminal Court, nor would it promote the use of torture, nor would it have walked away from the Human Rights Council. And nor would it have separated migrant children from their families, nor put them in cages.
Morales went on to say, “Each time that the United States invades nations, launches missiles, or finances regime change, it does so behind a propaganda campaign which incessantly repeats the message that it is acting in the course of justice, freedom and democracy, in the cause of human rights or for humanitarian reasons.”
And in 2017, Morales declared that Bolivia had “total independence” from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Un día como hoy en 1944 finaliza la Conferencia Económica de Bretton Woods (EEUU), en la que se acuerda la creación del FMI y BM.
— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) July 22, 2017
Such a move automatically makes a country a potential target for regime change efforts.
Many leaders from around the world have described the situation in Bolivia as a military coup.
To see @evoespueblo who, along with a powerful movement, has brought so much social progress forced from office by the military is appalling.
I condemn this coup against the Bolivian people and stand with them for democracy, social justice and independence. #ElMundoConEvo
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 10, 2019
There's a word for the President of a country being pushed out by the military. It’s called a coup.
We must unequivocally oppose political violence in Bolivia. Bolivians deserve free and fair elections.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 11, 2019
En Bolivia se ha consumado un golpe de Estado producto del accionar conjunto de civiles violentos, el personal policial autoacuartelado y la pasividad del ejército. Es un golpe perpetrado contra el presidente @evoespueblo, que había convocado a un nuevo proceso electoral.
— Alberto Fernández (@alferdez) November 10, 2019
La derecha con violento y cobarde golpe de estado atenta contra la democracia en #Bolivia. Nuestra enérgica condena al golpe de estado y nuestra solidaridad con el hermano Pdte @evoespueblo. El mundo se debe movilizar por la vida y la libertad de Evo. #EvoNoEstasSolo #SomosCuba pic.twitter.com/dPvZ8zQqJA
— Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (@DiazCanelB) November 10, 2019
We categorically condemn the coup d'état against the brother president @evoespueblo. We, the social and political movements of the world, declare ourselves in mobilization to demand the preservation of the life of the Bolivian native […] https://t.co/KpD2x1HCCy
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) November 11, 2019
Acabo de saber que houve um golpe de estado na Bolívia e que o companheiro @evoespueblo foi obrigado a renunciar. É lamentável que a América Latina tenha uma elite econômica que não saiba conviver com a democracia e com a inclusão social dos mais pobres.
— Lula (@LulaOficial) November 10, 2019
Yesterday Noam Chomsky wrote a letter warning that there was about to be a US-backed coup against Morales in Bolivia. Today it appears to have happened. https://t.co/9DKKeybg6q
— Jason Hickel (@jasonhickel) November 10, 2019
If it looks like a coup and it smells like a coup… it’s probably a coup. So what can we do about it?
There are many ways to challenge the mainstream narrative and they’re all important. Be sure to share independent media articles like this one, read the news coming from both sides of the conflict and verify their sources, talk to your friends and family about what’s happening, and learn more about the history of U.S. imperialism in Latin America.
As news of the violent military coup spreads, supporters of Evo Morales, the people of Bolivia, and democracy are standing up to say #HandsOffBolivia. Attend an emergency protest planned in one of the following cities:
- Washington DC | 11/11 at 12 PM–1:30 PM
- New York City | 11/11 at 4 PM
- San Francisco | 11/11 at 5:30 PM–6:30PM
- Philadelphia | 11/11 at 4 PM–6PM
- Los Angeles | 11/11 at 4:30PM–6:30PM
- Baltimore | 11/11 at 5 PM–6 PM
- Miami | 11/11 at 4 PM–6 PM
- Albuquerque | 11/11 at 4 PM–6 PM
- London | 11/11 at 5 PM–8 PM UTC
- Toronto | 11/12 at 6 PM–7:30 PM
- Boston | 11/12 at 5:30 PM–7 PM
- St Paul | 11/13 at 5:30 PM–6:30 PM
- Pittsburgh | 11/13 at 6 PM–7 PM
- London | 11/13 at 6:30 PM–8 PM
- Denver | 11/13 at 6 PM–7 PM
- Athens, Georgia | 11/13 at 6:30 PM–8:30 PM
- Chicago | 11/13 at 4:30 PM–6 PM
- Salt Lake City | 11/14 at 5:30 PM–6:30 PM
- Minneapolis | 11/14 at 5 PM–6 PM
- Newark | 11/15 at 5 PM–7 PM
- Las Vegas | 11/16 at 10 AM
- Boston | 11/16 at 1 PM–2 PM
- Manchester | 11/16 at 12PM–3PM UTC
- Washington DC | 11/16 at 12 PM–3PM
- London | 11/16 2 PM–4 PM UTC
- Amsterdam | 11/16 at 2 PM– 3 PM
Attending a protest and spreading the truth is one way to help resist the coup in Bolivia. If enough of us stand up to challenge the mainstream narrative, the damage can still be undone.