Bolivia: Elitist Coup Attempt in Santa Cruz

By Ángel Guerra Cabrera on October 27, 2022

“No to unemployment, yes to work, workers in Santa Cruz protest bosses strike. photo: AFPPIX

The ultra right-wing governor of the department of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho, and his separatist clique have been maintaining an elitist and bosses’ strike against the government of Bolivia since October 21, which has already cost one life and economic losses of tens of millions of dollars. Camacho and the leaders of the Civic Committee for Santa Cruz demand that the population and housing census, postponed for technical reasons for a year later, be brought forward to 2023 with the consensus of all the governors and only the opinion against of the governor of Santa Cruz.

It is worth remembering that Camacho is one of the most reactionary, racist, pro-imperialist and patriarchal politicians of the Altiplano country and one of the most prominent subjects in the organization of the coup against Evo Morales in 2019, initiated with a strike very similar to the current one, which dragged important sectors of the middle classes of Bolivia. But today the conditions are not the same as then, the Movement towards Socialism (MAS) gained in experience and consciousness and  it comes from a great electoral victory in which it defeated the right-wing coup with more than 55 percent of the votes while maintain its combat morale is high.

On the other hand, the Santa Cruz demand on the census has not materialized in other departments. The strike does however have the capacity to damage the regional and national economy due to the extraordinary economic and commercial importance of Santa Cruz. The census is important, among other reasons, because it has to do by law with the allocation of resources by the national government and the number of representatives in the Chamber of Deputies, where Santa Cruz could increase by three seats, although at least one would be for MAS, the second political force in the department. But it is not understood that postponing it, for technically well argued reasons, is a cause to create a national political conflict, with serious economic consequences, at a time when the economy is recovering well from the effects of the pandemic, the disastrous economic management of the coup perpetrators and the international crisis.

The government of La Paz, from the very beginning, set the position of maintaining the dialogue with the government of Santa Cruz, but it did not do more than initiate the talk between María Nela Prada Tejada, Minister of the Presidency, and Camacho, when the latter decided to leave the table and abandon it, furious because his demands were not being met. The national government even agreed to consider the possibility of advancing the census if the Santa Cruz government technicians could demonstrate that it could be anticipated. More than a strike, it is a road blockade and mandatory closure of businesses and establishments which has hardly any popular support.

The MAS called a Great People’s Council on October 23, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of Santa Cruz inhabitants, who rejected the measure of force. Many of them not only disagree politically with the measure, but it affects them economically, as is the case of the workers of the informal economy and the agricultural producers of the region. Those summoned pronounced themselves in this way: “before the announcement of an indefinite strike by the Civic Committee pro Santa Cruz, the Great National Council in Defense of Democracy and the Economy developed on October 21, 2022, at the foot of the monument of Chiriguano, in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, with the participation of the people of Santa Cruz, workers, indigenous nations, natives, workers, peasants, intercultural organizations, economic and productive sectors of the countryside and the city, women’s organizations, trade unionists, transporters, students, university students, cooperatives, micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, artisans, artists, seniors, people with disabilities, youth and organized civil society; with the firm democratic conviction and within the framework of respect for the norms that govern the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the sectors of society demand that the intentions to destabilize the national government, which has democratically won the national elections of October 2020 with more than 55 percent, led by Lucho Arce and David Choquehuanca, be stopped”.

The United States and the Latin American oligarchies have resigned themselves to the existence of social transformation processes in Latin America and the Caribbean. Much less when at the head of them are successful, sovereign and combative governments such as those presided over by Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca. That is why although the coup and all the maneuvers of the OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro to keep the dictator Jeanine Añez in government were defeated, and despite the fact that the MAS and its candidates Arce and Choquehuanca were legitimized with an overwhelming vote, the northern empire will continue to do everything possible to stifle the process of change in Bolivia.

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – US