The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Tag: Bolivia

Bolivian Socialists Sweep To Power

Luis Arce is in power after a victory too large to pretend it didn’t happen. Last year, when the coup happened, I wasn’t sure if it was real or not, a call I got wrong (it was a coup). This is very good news. The election results were so clear that the coup leaders could not pretend otherwise, and a campaign of violence and intimidation, plus exile of Morales, failed. (Note that this is only barely a case of “democracy worked”, since a lot of people died, were beaten and so on fighting the coup.)

I will suggest that Bolivia will be best served by prosecuting those involved in the coup, and systematically (though carefully) expunging right wing ideologues from the military and the police so they are not willing, in the future, to back coups. As long as military and paramilitary forces are right wing, the country will always be ripe for coups and outside interference.

It is, nonetheless, an excellent sign that no attempt to retain power thru further force was used after all the intimidation failed.

I note, also, that the coup leaders were essentially fascist Christians. A warning for other nations.

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Bolivia’s Evo Morales Forced Out of Presidency

Evo Morales

Well, strictly speaking he resigned, but not only has the military come out against him, his followers’ houses were being firebombed and the guards at the presidential palace left.

“Resign or die” is the fairly-clear message. This is how you force a politician out.

Did he cheat on the election, as he’s been accused of? I don’t know, but I do know that, absent the military turning on him, he’d still be in office.

What we’ll see now is if the violence continues: If there is a right wing “militia” sweep which sees the murder of his supporters, along with rape and torture.

If so, then yeah, it was a right-wing coup.

Morales was virtually the last South American left-wing leader. They’ve almost all been swept from power over the last few years. This is because commodity prices crashed. Their prosperity was based on high commodity prices.

Nonetheless, Morales dropped poverty rates by half, and unemployment by a third. He was unquestionably good for most Bolivians.

However, because these leaders never secured the state’s coercive apparatus, they were relatively easy to get rid of (with the exception of Venezuela and to a lesser extent Peru). For example, the situation in Brazil, wherein Lula was forbidden to run (because they knew he’d win) due to corruption charges, after which the prosecutor who charged him joined the new government.

Left-wing governments need to control key parts of the state apparatus: the military, police, and courts. They also need a press which is at least neutral. If they don’t control these thing, when they lose power it often results in horrible consequences: firebombings, imprisonment, death squads, rape, and torture.

This isn’t a game. The people on the other side are rich, ruthless, and scared, and they will do anything to keep power. They don’t play by the “rules.”

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