Bolivia: The Shadow of the Coup

La Jornada Editorial on November 1, 2022

Bolivian Labor Union stand against the right wing strike. photo: Patria Digital

The strike that yesterday completed its 10th  day in the province of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, brings with it inevitable echoes of the coup d’état that three years ago deposed former president Evo Morales and installed an ephemeral de facto government headed by the now imprisoned Jeanine Áñez. The script repeats itself in an illustrative way: the oligarchic sectors mobilize their shock groups and articulate strident disinformation campaigns to incite citizens to rebel against the legitimate national authorities. In this process, they make use of their economic power and their control over key items of the economy to generate unrest in the population and install a climate of chaos that facilitates violent exits such as the one that took place in 2019.

As if following a script, the international media reproduce without any blush and without minimal verification the species disclosed by the Bolivian ultra-right wing. In their assertions that the current events in the most populated and richest province of this Andean country constitute a unanimous uprising of the civil society, they omit that from the very beginning of the strike, the actions have been guided by fanaticism, intolerance and the use of violence. On the first day of the sabotage of the national economy, henchmen linked to the Comité Cívico pro Santa Cruz (a para-business organization of the racist and secessionist right wing) assassinated public employee Juan Pablo Taborga, who was trying to clear a blockade; in the town of Puerto Quijarro, paramilitaries threaten to raid the home of the mayor for the Movement Towards Socialism, Luis Chamby, and in other regions there have been attacks against indigenous communities that oppose the crusade of the provincial elites.

In addition to the script, the characters are repeated: the current governor of Santa Cruz is the coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho, who in 2019 as the leader of the Civic Committee was the main organizer of street riots, police mutiny and the consummation of the coup with the betrayal of the armed forces. Religious fundamentalist, minutes after the army forced the Morales government to flee, Camacho entered the Executive headquarters with a Bible and proclaimed, in a State that has been secular since 2009, that “now God is going to govern Bolivia”.

In the same way, Áñez usurped the presidency with the sacred book of Christianity in his hand, and affirmed: “God has allowed the Bible to enter the palace again; may he bless us”.

Three years after these events that left dozens dead, suspended democracy and plunged the country into ungovernability, Camacho demonstrates that he maintains the same will to assault power through violence and sabotage.

For this reason, he was the only authority of the 300 summoned that did not show up to the dialogue with President Luis Arce to unblock the conflict around the postponement of the population census that was to be carried out this year, but was moved to 2024 for technical reasons, which is the pretext used by the right wing to undertake its new coup adventure.

These events occur at the same time that in neighboring Brazil, Lula da Silva managed to defeat Jair Bolsonaro’s fascism at the ballot box, and a few months after Chile and Colombia inaugurated leftist governments after decades of neoliberal night. In this sense, the oligarchic strike in Santa Cruz is a sinister reminder that the right-wing will give no respite in the design to impose their agendas, regardless of costs or methods.

Source: La Jornada translation Resumen Latinoamericano – US