Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned on Nov. 10, Sunday, after the army backed a right-wing opposition coup against him. Earlier, Morales had called for fresh elections and dialogue amid the rising violence and provocation of the opposition against his government and members of his party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). Vice president Alvaro Garcia Linera also resigned in the press conference.
In a press conference announcing his resignation, Morales said, “I hope that [Carlos] Mesa and [Fernando] Camacho [right-wing opposition leaders] and the other civic committees do not mistreat, harm, do not deceive, with lies, do not use the people. Our great wish is that social peace returns, that they know that oligarchic groups conspire against democracy.”
Protests against Morales began the day after the general elections on Oct. 20. The final results showed that he had obtained over 10% more votes than his closest rival, Carlos Mesa, which was necessary for victory.
However, the opposition refused to accept the results and began violent mobilizations demanding his resignation. Morales invited the Organization of American States (OAS) to conduct an audit despite the organization’s impartiality being in doubt. The OAS’ preliminary report called for fresh elections. Following this, Morales called for new general elections on Sunday. However, the opposition continued to violently press for his resignation.
The final straw was the declaration by the head of the armed forces and the air force that Morales “should resign.”
Earlier in the day, several ministers and government officials resigned amid the atmosphere of threats, intimidation and violence unleashed by right-wingers.
The past week has seen an escalation in these attacks. On Nov. 6, a series of violent racist and misogynistic attacks against supporters and elected officials of MAS were carried out in the department of Cochabamba. Patricia Arce, the mayor of the Vinto municipality, was kidnapped by an opposition mob and forced to walk barefoot for several kilometers. They also cut her hair and poured red paint on her.
On Nov. 8, Fernando Camacho of the Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, the stronghold of the far-right opposition, ratified his calls for an intensification of mobilizations, the immediate resignation of Evo Morales, and for members of the Armed Forces and National Police to defect and not recognize the Constitutional Government.
Reports began to circulate on Nov. 8 about groups of the police defecting and withdrawing from their posts of safeguarding the state institutions and the society from the violent mobs.
Journalists employed by the state have also been attacked. Yesterday, a journalist was tied up to a tree by right-wing opposition forces and the employees of a state-owned news station were driven out of their office by right wing opposition protesters.
International support to Morales
The coup against Evo Morales has been denounced widely across Latin America by politicians and social movements. Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, who faced similar violent right-wing attacks against himself and supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution, wrote, “We categorically condemn the coup d’état consolidated against our brother, president Evo Morales. As the social and political movements of the world, we declare ourselves in mobilization to demand the preservation of the lives of the Bolivian indigenous people, victims of racism.”
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was released from prison after 580 days in an unjust imprisonment on Friday, also expressed his rejection of the coup: “I just found out that there was a coup d’état in Bolivia and that comrade Evo Morales was forced to resign. It is worrying that in Latin America there is an economic elite that does not know how to co-exist with democracy and the social inclusion of the poorest.”
Social movements, trade unions and leftist political parties across the continent have also expressed their deep rejection of the coup and called on their bases to mobilize to reject the efforts by the racist Bolivian elite to threaten democracy and put in danger the lives of the most vulnerable in the country.
The continental platform Social Movements of ALBA wrote, “This coup d’état is an embarrassing show of how the elites in Bolivia do not believe in democracy, the OAS is an instrument of imperialist policy of the US and it only allows governments to exist in the region that are controlled. The government of Evo Morales always defended its sovereignty and its democratic process and that is why it was overthrown. For Donald Trump, there cannot be a president who is a coca farmer, worker, and Indigenous person that guarantees the well being of his people. For him, Bolivia should be a country controlled by a white, fascist and racist minority willing to impose the neoliberal agenda under the designs of the IMF [International Monetary Fund].”
“Finally,” the platform's statement continues, “we send energy on all women and men that have fought for radical change in Bolivia in favor of the majorities. We are with you and we will continue forward. It is the moment for resistance and regrouping to return, Bolivia will not go back to the darkness of neoliberalism. The peasant, indigenous and first nations force will retake the historical struggle that during all of these years we have accompanied and will continue to accompany.”
Confrontation and violence
Despite the culmination of the coup against Evo and his forced resignation, right-wing opposition groups have not backed down on their violent, racially motivated attacks on members of MAS, Indigenous Bolivians and the working class.
Right-wing leader Camacho wrote on Twitter calling for Morales’ arrest following his resignation. “Confirmed!! Arrest warrant for Evo Morales!! The police and military will be looking for him in Chapare, the place where he hid. The soldiers took away his presidential jet and he is hidden in the Chapare, go to him! JUSTICE!” While the veracity of the arrest warrant is up for question, Camacho is calling for confrontation and violence.
The Venezuelan and Mexican embassies in the capital of Bolivia have also been under attack.
Edited by: Peoples Dispatch