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Right-wing Coup in Bolivia after Disputed Elections – Lessons for Mauritius

19.11.2019

Evo Morales, the first indigenous President in any country in Latin America, has had to resign and flee violence against him, against his ministers, and against his family in his country Bolivia after the right-wing went on a rampage, and then the army and police took sides against him. Morales’ sister’s house and the houses of two Governers from his Party had been burnt down. Elected members from his “Party for Socialism” have also resigned, hounded from office, leaving a vacuum.


The extreme right wing Deputy Speaker of the Senate Jeanine Anes then seized power, announcing Bible in hand, that the Bible was back in power, and with the army and police behind her, she at first promised elections in 90 days. She has since reneged on this. Top army personnel in the Bolivian army were, by the way, trained by the USA. Behind Anes, is the multi-millionaire named in the Panama papers, Camacho, an ultra-conservative, Christian fundamentalist with fascist leanings. He has a base in the separatist region of Santa Cruz. Before the coup, he had already co-ordinated with right-wing Governments in latin America to plan the destabilization of Morales.


When Morales' supporters, after his ousting, began to protest in massive demonstrations, especially those of peasants and workers marching into the cities from the indigenous countryside areas, the army shot them with live ammunition. In particular, the protesters carrying the indigenous peoples’ flag, one of Bolivia’s flags, were attacked this way by the military. Eight people had been killed by Saturday. Hundred have been injured. The perpetrators of the coup d’etat have taken over Government and pretend to be in power legitimately.


A UN envoy has called for talks in what it calls this “an extremely dangerous development.”


In fact, the Morales Government had decreased the enormous gap between rich and poor in Bolivia during his time in office. He had nationalized some of the big corporations to get the funds for this. According to The Guardian, “Morales managed to turn Latin America’s poorest country into its fastest growing and more than halved extreme poverty." The country has natural gas that it exports, as its main revenue, and lithium reserves that are huge and much sought-after by the USA, vital in aircraft and batteries. This may explain the speed with which the Organization of American States, a US surrogate, so quickly found the recent re-election of Evo Morales to be not “free and fair”. And though Morales, when faced with protests, agreed to fresh elections, the coup against him went ahead anyway, and he and the members of his Party had to resign to halt the violent, physical attacks against him and his Government.


 The OAS is an organization set up by the USA in 1948 in Washington to get rid of any existing or future socialist governments in Latin America. The USA pays over 50% of the expenses of the organization’s budget. It is still based in Washington until today. This is the set-up that judged Morales’ re-election to be flawed.


Evo Morales, though he introduced a two-term limit, then himself stood for a third term after a Court ruled he could. This was after he had failed to get the two-term limit removed by a Referendum. So, his democratic record was, indeed, flawed. Then, there were problems with the way counting was conducted. And this was when Morales agreed to organize new elections. This does not excuse right-wing violence followed by a military coup seizing power. Nor that the USA helps overthrow Morales.


This is particularly dangerous in Bolivia which had a long history of dictatorial regimes in power. From the first coup in 1964 to 1982 there were very grim times indeed, and the truth has still not been totally brought out into the open about the torture and deaths. Remember it was the Bolivian dictators whose military led the US assassins to where the CIA agents gave orders to torture, interrogate and then shoot Che Guevara, way up in the Bolivian mountains. They first put out a communique that Che had been shot in battle, and his body was they did not know where. In fact the CIA and Bolivian dictatorship said all sorts of different things about where Che’s body was. Until a Bolivian officer finally in 1995, 30 years later, showed where his body, hands chopped off, had been buried by a bulldozer. So, that was the Bolivian dictatorship. (Che’s body was re-buried in Cuba, where it is until today.) The USA seems to have no concern about that kind of dictatorship ally. Indeed Mohamed Bin Salman's Government that assassinates and chops up a journalist in its Embassy in Turkey, and commits war crimes in the Yemen, continues to benefit from US support.


It looks today as though Bolivia might be at risk of returning to this kind of military dictatorship. With its mineral wealth, the USA does not want any pro-working class, pro-indigenous people leaders like Evo Morales to stay in power, and this has given the coup perpetrators the cover they needed.


The Mexican Government, recognising that Evo Morales’ overthrow was by a coup, has given him refuge.


Lessons for Mauritius


The lessons for Mauritius today are clear.


Perhaps many in Bolivia who participated in hysterical disputes over the election held five weeks earlier, at the time had no idea where such protests, if they blindly went into them without clear demands, might lead. So, in LALIT, we call on all those contesting the recent elections in Mauritius to make very clear what their demands are.


Ours demands are as follows:


1. Recognizing that there are nearly 1% of electors, who have put in complaints that they are not on the voting roll, we call for future voting rolls to be re-opened just when elections are announced, so that everyone can, at this key moment, do their checking to see that their names are included, and so that political parties can mobilize their electors to go check, too. This way, the onus is on the individual person and their respective parties to check on the Register, and does not involve any further surveillance and bureaucracy from the State.


2. Regarding the two ballots that have been handed over by unknown people to two political party leaders, we demand that a Court Order be sought by the Electoral Commission or Commissioner for the Courts to do a partial scrutiny, to find out whose bulletins they are, and this way to launch an enquiry.


Otherwise, those that lose elections should also perhaps learn to be better at losing.


Those participating in hysteria about election rigging should beware that they do not bring upon us all a “worst case scenario” – as an unintended but predictable consequence of their actions – the resignation of the Electoral Supervisory Commissioner and Commissioners, which will open up the possibility that Pravind Jugnauth nominates people of his choice.


We have already, in LALIT, on this site, protested against Jugnauth’s previous nomination of someone too associated with him, politically. So, we are, in any case, suspicious of his future nominations. It is really dangerous to act in a way to give Pravind Jugnauth even more leaway for new nominations.


  


Minor editing 19 November, 2019