Abstract Leftism Leaves Bolivia and the Global South in Imperialist Crosshairs

By Netfa Freeman on December 10, 2019

“Progressive leftist” in the U.S., also known as liberals who claim to oppose U.S. Empire but who have an aversion to making regime change methods of imperialism concrete and comprehensive cannot be described as anything less than nauseating. One reason is because, in their intransigence anything short of outright U.S. military invasion or bombing of a country is not worthy of their public condemnation, much less their activism.

For them self determination, decolonization, and real power to poor and working class non-European people are preferred as elusive abstract ideas. As explained by the Black Alliance for Peace, “The silence, lack of visible opposition, and outright support for the coup [in Bolivia] from across the Western world is yet another example of the cross-class white supremacist commitment to the imperialist project.”

There are many examples of this but the most recent is the U.S. backed coup in Bolivia. The contradictions in liberal justifications for not vehemently opposing what is nothing short of a US backed coup against a popular government can be examined with Bolivia as a case study.

The primary obligation of anti-imperialists who are not Bolivian and reside in the belly of the beast should be to expose and oppose US imperialism in Bolivia, and it’s pervasive and extra-impactful covert and overt foreign policies. And comprehensively reference to imperialism has to include the role of corporate news media that works as the fourth branch of the US government.

All of which is interestingly and conspicuously missing from liberal discourse about Bolivia and from the analysis of Pablo Solón, a Bolivian who served in the Evo Morales government until parting of ways in 2011 and whose analysis is used by non-Bolivian progressives to validate their abstinence from an unequivocal stand against the coup.

One would think as a progressive Bolivian Solón should be very concerned about US led regime change in Bolivia, no matter what he thinks of Evo Morales or that administration. One Truthout article by Marjorie Cohn details several critical issues ignored by Pablo Solón. Since those who have taken over the government represent the racist, ultra-right, Solón’s positions ring as even more bizarre.

He in fact legitimizes baseless accusations about the election process and the results, which have been clearly refuted in a revealing report by The Center for Economic and Policy Research, “What Happened in Bolivia’s 2019 Vote ,Count? The Role of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission.”

Solón ignores the corrupt role of the OAS (OEA) in publishing false propaganda against not just Bolivia but against all of Latin American and the Caribbean.

Haiti is a prime example, although not the only one where the OAS has proven itself as an institution for rubber stamping imperialist interests. Regarding Bolivia, Solón actually legitimizes the role of the OAS, repeating its claims that “The rapid count [in the October election] was stopped inexplicably the day of the election.” While no explanation was given for why it was stopped, the fact that the election’s rapid count was not the official counting process [and regardless was eventually completed and released], it is reasonable to have stopped it because it was being used to falsely imply voting fraud in the middle of the process.

In the end the results of both the unofficial quick count and the official count proved to bare no significant difference. It apparently does not matter to liberals that the forced takeover in Bolivia is unconstitutional and US support for it is a flagrant violation of international law.

US liberals also typically like to buttress arguments that reduce political dynamics to an individual, in this case Evo Morales. This not only over simplifies situations but conveniently sets up principled anti-imperialist to be mischaracterized as romanticizing and hero worshiping a leader.

It also avoids having to more accurately assess various internal and external factors and elements in the struggle for power.

An example is Solón saying the “reactionary right have celebrated the protests” even though this reactionary right have always been far more involved in illegally deposing Morales than such a spectator role suggests.

His passing reference to the ultra-rightist, Eurocentric multimillionaire Luis Fernando Camacho was only to mention his affiliation in order to demonstrate the diversity in the opposition to Morales. Yet Camacho’s leading role in the coup is even recognized by Western media and the media watchdog FAIR has demonstrated how such media has sanitized the image of Camacho and the other major coup players.

US liberal left and Pablo Solón rather align with imperialist propaganda that basically blames Evo Morales for the right wing coup against himself. Sometimes they have cast doubt on whether the forced resignation of Morales by the military was even a coup at all.

The principled obligation of explaining the machinations of imperialism in Bolivia are dismissed as conspiracy theories when the real conspiracy theory is the one that fraud somehow changed election results in favor of Morales.

No one has explained how hundreds of tally sheets could have been uploaded to the electoral authority, using hundreds of cell phones, from all over the country, in the presence of electoral observers (including from opposition parties). And apparently they would have needed to do this twice: once during the quick count, and once during the official count, since both counts were so similar.

Anti-imperialists’ prioritize concerns about the pervasive machinations of US imperialism in Bolivia and the world that seem to go unchallenged by too many US liberals who consider themselves against US Empire.

When there is any internal discrepancy within a leftist government fighting neocolonialism –and there are always discrepancies since nothing is perfect– liberals always use those as an excuse for a bizarre blame-the-victim position. And the victim is not just Evo Morales but all Black and Brown working class people who right now are on the receiving end in the global battle against intersecting white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy.

If the people in a country don’t have all their internal items in order, they can expect no support against imperialism from US liberals. Only a spotlight of criticism on the country’s internal contradictions that cannot exist in a vacuum.

It is of no importance that “[d]uring Morales’s nearly 14 years in office, his Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party reduced poverty by 42 percent and extreme poverty by 60 percent. It cut unemployment by 50 percent and nearly tripled the per-capita G.D.P. ‘It’s indisputable that Bolivians are healthier, wealthier, better educated, living longer and more equal than at any time in this South American nation’s history,’ Anthony Faiola wrote in The Washington Post.”

One has to wonder about the naivete of the US liberal left. Do they really think after centuries of US and Western European domination that the global ruling elite would leave things over to the “agency” of the people? As if they would just stop their own agenda of covert sabotage operations. And what sort of inferiority and superiority complexes are entailed in suggesting that once left in power formerly colonized just do themselves in?

Evidence of US complicity in the coup in Bolivia has been laid out for liberals but classic cognitive dissonance, as explained by Frantz Fanon creates a blindspot.

The right wing governments in Latin America are maneuvering to consolidate a united front against the leftist governments and leftist aspirations inside the rightist countries. The US government has promised assistance to Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, and Ecuador to keep down the mass protests in those countries. And these same countries adding Brazil have also conspired in travel bans with extradition agreements within their borders against Venezuelan officials that include President Nicholas Maduro.

This combination of travel ban with extradition agreements recalls the 2013 force down of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane due to a denying of airspace by France, Spain and Portugal, then followed by Morales 14-hour confinement while in Austria with authorities their demanding to “inspect” his aircraft for the “fugitive” Edward Snowden.

Another incident of gangsterism that was met with silence by liberals.

In the Black Alliance for Peace we are clear that “political subversion, killer sanctions, drone death from the skies, mass incarceration, genocide, slavery, white supremacist ideology, ecocide, social degradation, and dehumanization characterize the policies and character of the hegemonic Pan-European colonial/capitalist white supremacist patriarchy and the reasons why for the sake of our collective humanity it must be defeated.”

Netfa Freeman is a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace, is an organizer in the International Committee for Peace Justice & Dignity