Friday, 21 February 2020 22:32

Bolivia: when a coup is a coup. Full stop.

In October 2019 the Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced out of office. Popular mobilisations against the outcome of the presidential elections (claimed to be fraudulent) with road blocks, burning of ballot boxes, storming and looting of government offices and homes of leading Government figures, culminated in the Military Chief, William Kaliman, suggesting that the President step down, making it clear they were not going to defend him. So Evo resigned and went into exile in Mexico. This is what we normally call a coup. But the international media - right and 'left' - celebrated it as a victory for democracy - with a few honorary exceptions. But a coup is a coup, and that has been confirmed by what has happened since. Now Bolivia and its fragile political stability is in grave peril.

Mention Bolivia, and for the last decade it has been difficult not to mention Evo too. Evo Morales was elected as president for the first time in 2005 with 54% of the votes, and he can now celebrate 10 years as president. An absolute outsider, brought forward by social movements of mainly indigenous farmers, workers and small traders, with a tough anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist discourse, he horrified the traditional economic and political elite and the “international community” alike. His government has lived through conflicts and crisis, bordering to civil war, but at the same time it has brought a decade of economic prosperity, dramatic reduction of poverty and a revaluation of the country's indigenous ethnic and cultural roots.