The Disputed Presidential Election
On October 20, Bolivians voted for their president and congress. Evo Morales, the first indigenous president in a country with the largest indigenous proportion in Latin America won. His main opponent, former president Carlos Mesa, was vastly preferred by Washington. The final vote had Morales with 47.1% and Mesa with 36.5%. A third party candidate took the remaining votes. Mesa was president from 2003-05, having previously served as vice president under Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. The latter was brought down by mass popular protest against his plans to sell off Bolivia’s extensive natural gas reserves to foreign companies.
To date, there has been no evidence presented that there was any fraud with the election vote.
The Supreme Court declared that Evo Morales had the right to run for a third term.
The US Backing of the Coup
Before the votes were counted, Senator Marco Rubio stated falsely, “In #Bolivia all credible indications are Evo Morales failed to secure necessary margin to avoid second round in Presidential election.” He also alleged, without evidence, that there was “some concern he will tamper with the results or process to avoid this.” So far no evidence has been presented of election vote irregularity.
The Radio Education Network of Bolivia (Erbol) leaked 16 audios involving opposition leaders calling for a coup d’etat against the government of President Evo Morales, a political action coordinated with the U.S. embassy in Bolivia.
According to El Periodico, efforts aimed at destabilizing Bolivia were to be coordinated from the US embassy, with one of the tapes allegedly mentioning that US senators Ted Cruz, Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio were committed to this agenda.
The plan outlined by the audios called for establishing a “civil-military transitional government” if Morales were to win the 20 October presidential election, which he did, and to not recognize his victory, citing alleged electoral fraud.
The Trump administration statement after the military coup:
“The United States applauds the Bolivian people for demanding freedom and the Bolivian military for abiding by its oath to protect not just a single person, but Bolivia’s constitution. These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail.” Trump added, “we are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”
The Gains the Bolivian People Made During the Presidency of Evo Morales
Evo Morales came to office in 2005 as an indigenous trade unionist, at the helm of the Movement for Socialism (MAS), a political alliance of trade unions, peasant unions and indigenous organizations. Under his policies the mines and gas refineries that were property of US corporations were nationalized, and their revenue directed to lifting the poor out of poverty. Before, 80% of the profits went to corporations and 20% to the government. Nationalization reversed those proportions, with the new funds used for social programs and national development.
By 2018, real GDP per capita had increased by 50% above 2005 level
Since 2006 Bolivia’s real per capita GDP had grown double the rate for Latin America
Bolivia now has national health care
The poverty rate was cut in half, meaning two million Bolivians have now escaped poverty
The unemployment rate was nearly halved (from 7.7% to 4.4%)
The minimum wage has tripled since Evo took office
Illiteracy has been eliminated
Indigenous languages have been officially recognized
The country is now almost fully self-sufficient in food
Women now have equal representation in Congress and government
150,000 homes have been built for low income Bolivians
Life expectancy increased from 64 years to 72 years
Over 35 million hectares of land (1/3rd of Bolivia), was handed over to Original Peoples’ peasant communities to be run communally
The Mineral Wealth of Bolivia
Now the natural gas and other nationalized resources may be claimed by US corporations.
Lithium is being called the “gold of the 21st century.” Bolivia contains between 25 and 45% of the planet’s known reserves.. The government of Evo Morales has been working to create a publicly-owned lithium industry to help diversify his country’s economy and raise more of its people out of poverty.
The Struggle Against the Coup Today
Leading up to the coup violent riots by opposition supporters took place, including torching of government buildings and homes of Evo Morales supporters, kidnapping of government representatives and attacks on indigenous peoples. The military and police leadership stood by and did not intervene. The generals then told Evo Morales to step down. An arrest warrant was issued for Evo Morales. Several MAS leaders have taken refuge in foreign embassies. When pro-Evo Morales supporters then protested, the military and police then responded to them with force.
Nevertheless, the people of El Alto and La Paz yesterday had a big rally in the capital to denounce the coup attempt, even though military jets flew overhead. The people of Cochabama also rallied. So far 7 have been killed in the protests. Protests in Santa Cruz yesterday were repressed by the military.
Follow events in Bolivia on Facebook group: Friends of Evo’s Bolivia/Amig@s de la Bolivia de Evo and on TeleSur