What’s Going on in Bolivia?

Over the course of the last few weeks, Bolivia has shifted from its most stable and socially productive administration since the establishment of the state in the early 19th century to an oppressive Military regime. After three successful elections in favor of Evo Morales, the state of Bolivia has moved from the second poorest country in the world to a rapidly improving state, until early November.

Over the course of the last couple years Bolivia has been found to be “sitting on the second-largest amount of the mineral needed to power electric cars” [1]. Evo Morales, the first indigenous President of Bolivia and member of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), recently unveiled a plan to begin nationally owned mines to help diversify the nation’s economy and bring in greater revenue to help raise more of its citizens out of poverty [1].

Offers from German Mining companies were not enough to persuade Evo to sell out his people due to concerns that not enough benefit would go to the indigenous communities who live near Uyuni [1]. Given the history of colonial/imperialist projects in Latin America, it is largely unsurprising that Bolivia refusing to sell out its people is met with a military and police coup. Historic examples of this range from the banana republics of Central America to the recent oil-motivated coup attempt in Venezuela.

Given the economic context, the intent behind the coup is nearly undeniable: to remove the indigenous leftists impeding the privatization of lithium and natural gas resources. About one week after refusing the offer to instal private lithium mines by a german company (ACI Systems Alemania [ACISA]), a military coup was staged and headed by Luis Fernando Camacho which forced the legitimately elected Evo Morales to resign from his position [2]. Threats against Evo ranged from an attempt to buy out his bodyguards [4] to burning down his sisters home [5]. Luis Fernando Camacho, is a “far-right multi-millionaire who arose from fascist movements in the Santa Cruz region. He has pursued support from the US, Jay Bolonsaro (self-identified fascist president of Brazil), Iván Duque Márquez (right-wing leader of Colombia), and the Venesuelan opposition leader who attempted a coup months ago [3]”.

As is often the case in Latin America, many of the coup plotters were trained in the US military “School of the Americas.” [4] This is the same “School of the Americas” that played a large part in training right-wing militants involved in both the Argentinian (1976) and Chilean (1973), and a handful of other Latin American fascist, military coups.

About a week after the outset of the Bolivian coup, organized resistance began to appear in the forms of General Strike and mass protests; both of which were met with immense violence from the new Bolivian military dictatorship state. On November 19, there was a massacre at the hands of the military “in 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.” Around six days after the coup, a large protest was organized in Cochabamba, largely comprised of singing and displays of indigenous solidarity. This was met with more intense state violence. The protests were fired upon by the police and military by early afternoon. This is recognized by many as the massacre of Cochabamba [6]

The Senkata gas plant strike preventing tankers from leaving the plant and cutting off the primary source of gasoline for the area. In response, the government deployed helicopters, tanks, and heavily armed soldiers in the evening of November 18. Following the mass deployment, an offensive, on Nov 19, from the military began with teargassing the crowd, then firing live rounds into the crowd. By the end of the shooting, eight had been confirmed dead, and countless wounded by state repression.

If history is any indicator, this is likely not to be the end of the violence under this new military regime. Bolivia is another striking example of bourgeois interests violently asserting themselves over the lives of historically marginalized communities.

[1] Bolivia coup against Morales opens opportunity for multinational mining companies

November 11, 2019


[2] Bolivia: President Evo Morales Resigns Amid Right-Wing Coup

Nov 10


[3] Bolivia coup led by Christian fascist paramilitary leader and million-aire – with foreign support

Nov 11


[4]Top Bolivian coup plotters trained by US military’s School of the Amer-icas, served as attachés in FBI police programs

Nov 13


[5] They’re Killing Us Like Dogs”—A Massacre in Bolivia and a Plea for Help

November 22


[6] Bolivian Army Massacres Peaceful Protesters in Cochabamba

Nov 15


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