Canada supports military coup in Bolivia: Second news roundup

A supporter of former president Evo Morales is detained by police after a clash with protesters near Sacaba, Bolivia, on Monday. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Afp Via Getty Images)

Repressive violence is sweeping Bolivia. The Áñez regime must be held to account

By Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky, Molly Crabapple, John Pilger & others, The Guardian, Nov. 24, 2019

We call upon the international community to stop supporting this government, which is committing alarming human rights abuses

Evo Morales – President of Bolivia from the MAS party (Movimiento al Socialismo, Movement Towards Socialism) – was forced to resign on November 10, in what many observers view as a coup. In the wake of Morales’ resignation, there has been mounting chaos and violence. What is happening in Bolivia is highly undemocratic and we are witnessing some of the worst human rights violations at the hands of the military and the police since the transition to civilian government in the early 1980s. We condemn the violence in the strongest terms, and call on the US and other foreign governments to immediately cease to recognize and provide any support to this regime. We urge the media to do more to document the mounting human rights abuses being committed by the Bolivian state.

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Bolivia: A coup against a peaceful political revolution

By Judy Rebick, rabble.ca, Nov. 24, 2019

I am heartsick and angry about the coup in Bolivia. As Medea Benjamin writes from Bolivia, "the conflict here is spiraling out of control and I fear it will only get worse." Our so-called progressive Liberal government in Canada still refuses to denounce the racist coup. A democratically elected government was overthrown by the police and army, who then installed an interim president who is openly racist against the majority of Indigenous people in Bolivia. Thirty unarmed protesters have been killed so far and still Justin Trudeau is silent.

There is a lot at stake in Bolivia, a country with a long history of racism and violent oppression against its Indigenous majority. Evo Morales and the Movement for Socialism (MAS) was in the process of changing all that, even proving that socialism can work; reducing poverty and increasing economic growth.

Others have written about his positive record and detailed the horrors of the coup. What I want to do here is explain why Bolivia and its Indigenous leadership are so important to the future of the world. In the summer of 2006, I spent five weeks in Bolivia to observe one of the most extraordinary revolutions in the history of humanity.

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"They're killing us like dogs"—A massacre in Bolivia and a plea for help

By Medea Benjamin, Common Dreams, Nov. 22, 2019

I am writing from Bolivia just days after witnessing the November 19 military massacre at the Senkata gas plant in the indigenous city of El Alto, and the tear-gassing of a peaceful funeral procession on November 21 to commemorate the dead. These are examples, unfortunately, of the modus operandi of the de facto government that seized control in a coup that forced Evo Morales out of power.

The coup has spawned massive protests, with blockades set up around the country as part of a national strike calling for the resignation of this new government. One well-organized blockade is in El Alto, where residents set up barriers surrounding the Senkata gas plant, stopping tankers from leaving the plant and cutting off La Paz’s main source of gasoline.

"The military has guns and a license to kill; we have nothing," cried a mother whose son had just been shot in Senkata. "Please, tell the international community to come here and stop this."

Determined to break the blockade, the government sent in helicopters, tanks and heavily armed soldiers in the evening of November 18. The next day, mayhem broke out when the soldiers began teargassing residents, then shooting into the crowd.

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What has Canada done for Bolivia?

By Andray Domise, Maclean's, Nov. 21, 2019

As I write this column, a military-backed coup in Bolivia continues to tear down the political enfranchisement and national self-determination of a socialist government. The details of this coup, including the frankly ridiculous contention that exiled Bolivian president Evo Morales’s run for a fourth term in office was “unconstitutional” and “illegitimate” has been exhaustively debunked, so I won’t recapitulate the argument here. But, frankly, the legitimacy of Morales’s candidacy is a moot point, as his entire political party (Movement for Socialism, otherwise known as MAS), has essentially been purged from office. Whatever one’s opinions of Morales, the fact that MAS’s legitimately elected party members cannot take their seats in congress, under the threat of state violence means that democracy has died in Bolivia.

In its place is a coup regime led by self-appointed “interim president” Jeanine Áñez, a member of a rump party which received only four per cent of the vote. Áñez managed to seize the presidency only due to the resignation of Morales, as well as his Vice-President Álvaro García, and Senate President Adriana Salvatierra (who did so only after the houses of government officials were burned down). Áñez, who has a history of inflammatory and outright bigoted statements against indigenous peoples in Bolivia, declared herself president not only without MAS members present in congress, but without enough total members of congress present to even achieve quorum.

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Bolivian U.N. ambassador: “racist elite” engineered coup to restore neoliberalism in Bolivia

By Democracy NOW, Nov. 21, 2019

Thousands marched across Bolivia Monday to demand the resignation of Jeanine Áñez, the right-wing senator who declared herself president of Bolivia last week after longtime socialist President Evo Morales resigned under pressure from the military. The coup d’état has thrown Bolivia into crisis, with violence across the country leaving at least 23 dead. On Friday, the military gunned down nine pro-Morales protesters outside Cochabamba, where indigenous people took to the streets again on Monday. Thousands more marched to the presidential palace in La Paz.

The wave of protests are condemning the spike in anti-indigenous violence under interim President Áñez and demanding the return of Evo Morales. Áñez has a history of using racist, anti-indigenous language, and last week she issued a decree protecting the military from prosecution for violent acts and said that Morales would face prosecution if he returned to Bolivia. Morales is Bolivia’s first indigenous president, and Bolivia has a majority indigenous population. We speak with Sacha Llorenti, Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations since 2012. “We are going through not just a coup d’état, but a violent one,” Llorenti says.

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Morales proved in Bolivia that democratic socialism can work – but the people cannot be ignored

By Slavoj Zizek, The Independent, Nov. 19, 2019

Although I am for over a decade a staunch supporter of Evo Morales, I must admit that, after reading about the confusion after Morales’ disputed electoral victory, I was beset by doubts: did he also succumb to the authoritarian temptation, as it happened to so many radical Leftists in power? However, after a day or two, things became clear.

Brandishing a giant leather-bound bible and declaring herself Bolivia’s interim president, Jeanine Añez, the second-vice president of the country’s Senate, declared: “The Bible has returned to the government palace.” She added: “We want to be a democratic tool of inclusion and unity” – and the transitional cabinet sworn into office did not include a single indigenous person. 

This tells it all: although the majority of the population of Bolivia are indigenous or mixed, they were till the rise of Morales de facto excluded from political life, reduced to the silent majority. What happened with Morales was the political awakening of this silent majority which did not fit in the network of capitalist relations.

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Opinion: The OAS lied to the public about the Bolivian election and coup

By Mark Weisbrot, MarketWatch, Nov. 19, 2019

What is the difference between an outright lie — stating something as a fact while knowing that it is false — and a deliberate material representation that accomplishes the same end? Here is an example that really pushes the boundary between the two, to the point where the distinction practically vanishes.

And the consequences are quite serious; this misrepresentation (or lie) has already played a major role in a military coup in Bolivia last week. This military coup overthrew the government of President Evo Morales before his current term was finished — a term to which nobody disputes that he was democratically elected in 2014.

More violent repression and even a civil war could follow.

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OAS election observers subvert Bolivian democracy

By Yves Engler, Nov. 18, 2019

After the October 20 presidential election, the OAS immediately cried foul. The next day the organization released a statement that expressed “its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results [from the quick count] revealed after the closing of the polls.” Two days later they followed that statement up with a preliminary report that repeated their claim that “changes in the TREP [quick count] trend were hard to explain and did not match the other measurements available.”

But, the “hard-to-explain” changes cited by the OAS were entirely expected, as detailed in the Centre for Economic Policy Research’s report “What Happened in Bolivia’s 2019 Vote Count? The Role of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission”. The CEPR analysis points out that Morales’ percentage lead over the second place candidate Carlos Mesa increased steadily as votes from rural, largely indigenous, areas were tabulated. Additionally, the 47.1% of the vote Morales garnered aligns with pre-election polls and the vote score for his Movement toward Socialism party. The hullabaloo about the quick count stopping at 83% of the vote was preplanned and there is no evidence there was a pause in the actual counting.

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Bolivia is falling into the grips of a brutal right-wing regime

By Gabriel Hetland, Washington Post, Nov. 19, 2019

Presdient Evo Morales’s forced resignation, in a military coup, has not led to the “restoration of democracy” in Bolivia, as some of those who supported his ouster claimed, but to the rise of a far-right regime of terror. If anyone doubts this, horrifying recent events ― the killings of protesters, attacks on political opponents, a decree allowing armed forces to kill at will and rising racism — should lay those doubts to rest.

Morales is one of the most successful presidents in the country’s history. He presided over a remarkable period of political stability and economic growth, which facilitated a steep drop in poverty and a process of unprecedented inclusion of Bolivia’s indigenous peoples. This explains why Morales secured nearly half the vote in the Oct. 20 election, far surpassing his closest rival. Yet Morales faced growing opposition, which is why he did not win an outright majority. Many felt Morales should not have run in 2019 after losing a 2016 referendum on indefinite presidential election. A 2017 court decision allowed Morales to run, but generated widespread dissent, particularly from urban middle classes. Morales also faced middle-class rage over the perception he stole last month’s election.

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Police in Bolivia pepper spray journalist 'on purpose' during live coverage of anti-coup protests

By John Queally, Common Dreams, Nov. 16, 2019

The street protests in Bolivia have grown larger and more violent this week, with massive demonstrations in cities across the country on Friday. As Common Dreams reported, security forces opened fire on a large crowd of mostly indigenous protesters in the city of Cochabamba on Friday afternoon sending many hundreds of people fleeing for their lives. Numerous people were reported killed and scores more injured.

The assault on Bo, said U.S. journalist Ryan Grim of The Intercept, revealed the correspondent's "impressive" grit—as she continued with her reporting despite the volatile chemicals burning her face and eyes—but also helped reveal "what's going on" in Bolivia.

In response to the footage, artist and progressive activist Molly Crabapple—with a sarcastic bite at those who have argued that the overthrow of Morales was not, in fact, a coup—tweeted: "The police of the totally not a coup regime in Bolivia sprayed tear gas into a female journalist's face because she was reporting on their violent suppression of anti-coup protests."

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Massive anti-coup protests explode across Bolivia 'against the many violations to democracy'

By Eoin Higgins, Common Dreams, Nov. 15, 2019

Chanting "resign now" to Bolivia's interim, self-declared president Jeanine Añez, protesters across the Latin American country on Friday made their displeasure with the overthrow of the government by right-wing Christian extremists last Sunday known. 

Thousands of demonstrators marched through the cities of La Paz and El Alto. Friday's protests follow days of unrest as the Bolivian people rejected Sunday's coup, which forced democratically-elected President Evo Morales to resign and flee the country.

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Top Bolivian coup plotters trained by US military’s school of the Americas, served as attachés in FBI police programs

By Jeb Sprague, Grayzone, Nov. 13, 2019

The United States played a key role in the military coup in Bolivia, and in a direct way that has scarcely been acknowledged in accounts of the events that forced the country’s elected president, Evo Morales, to resign on November 10. 

Just prior to Morales’ resignation, the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces Williams Kaliman “suggested” that the president step down. A day earlier, sectors of the country’s police force had rebelled. 

Though Kaliman appears to have feigned loyalty to Morales over the years, his true colors showed as soon as the moment of opportunity arrived. He was not only an actor in the coup, he had his own history in Washington, where he had briefly served as the military attaché of Bolivia’s embassy in the US capital. 

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Canada and the 'Ministry of Colonies'

By People's Voice Editorial Board, Nov. 13, 2019

As People’s Voice goes to press, details of the November 10 coup d’état in Bolivia are still emerging. They paint a picture of rapid and violent right-wing movement against progressives, including trade unionists, Indigenous people, members of Evo Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, and other left-wing political activists. On November 11, police shot at least 6 anti-coup protesters in the Bolivia’s second largest city of El Alto and injured several dozen more. The military has joined the police in suppressing Morales supporters.

Morales himself has fled the country amid concerns for his life and has received asylum in Mexico. On November 9, as the coup was underway, an officer in the Bolivian Army told Morales that there was a $50,000 bounty on his head.

The World Peace Council (WPC) has warned that “the orchestrated protests and aggressions by reactionary forces in the city of La Paz, [and] the threats and attacks on politicians, media and social movements, constitute fascist-type actions.”

Corporate media in Canada have reported the coup as a “government collapse” in the wake of popular protests and equated it with recent anti-government uprisings in Chile and Ecuador.  This is nothing but lies, designed to brainwash working people in this country against the enormity of what has taken place in Bolivia.

But the truth is already out.

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What Happened in Bolivia’s 2019 Vote Count?

By Guillaume Long, David Rosnick, Cavan Kharrazian, & Kevin Cashman, Center for Economic Policy research (CEPR), November, 2019

This paper presents results from statistical analysis of election returns and tally sheets from Bolivia’s October 20 elections. This analysis finds no evidence that irregularities or fraud affected the official result that gave President Evo Morales a first-round victory. The paper presents a step-by-step breakdown of what happened with Bolivia’s vote counts (both the unofficial quick count, and the slower official count), seeking to dispel confusion over the process. The report includes the results of 500 simulations that show that Morales’s first-round victory was not just possible, but probable, based on the results of the initial 83.85 percent of votes in the quick count.

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Posted Nov. 24, 2019