Origins of the Crisis: On the Coup in Bolivia

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1944 ... November 29, 2019

Origins of the Crisis: On the Coup in Bolivia

Robert Cavooris

Regarding recent events in Bolivia, some things are simple: Was it a coup? Yes. On Sunday, November 10, the commander-in-chief of Bolivia’s armed forces, General Williams Kaliman, publicly told Evo Morales, a constitutionally elected president, that he ought to resign for the good of the country. There is no other name for this kind of thing. Even if Evo had been officially accused of legal wrongdoing -- he had not -- this procedure of removal is unconstitutional. The resignation took place under an unstated threat of violence. Bolivia’s history gives reason to take this threat seriously: military coups and counter-coups were a decisive feature of political life throughout the twentieth century. And considering that the police, two days before the general’s intervention, had already decided to allow anti-government protestors to commit violence against the homes and family-members of supporters of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party, to which Evo belongs, Kaliman’s remarks carried weight well beyond a "suggestion."

Should people with a preference... for emancipatory politics support the coup or oppose it? This, too, is simple: we can only be against it. The meaning of this, in practice, depends on one’s position. Given that I’m a US citizen living thousands of miles from La Paz, I venture my opposition should focus on the US role. Whether material or ideological, any support for the coup by the US state is hypocritical, destructive, and all too familiar. The most important thing I can do, I think, is to call on the government that supposedly represents me to stop supporting this coup -- in addition to the sanctions, bombings, crop eradications, mobilizations, counter-insurgency operations, and every other disgusting imperialist act. If I cannot make this denunciation heard on my own, I should organize to amplify it.

In referencing the concrete activity of organization, however, we move from definition and position-taking to the level of politics. Here, simplicity gives way to murkiness. Much more difficult than to ask whether this was a coup or whether one should support coups are the questions: How did this coup happen? What conditions made it possible?

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