By Simon Rodriguez, an IWU-FI leader
Right-wing Senator Jeanine Añez proclaimed herself “provisional president,” with the support of the main “civic” referent, ultra-reactionary businessman Luis F. Camacho, the Church, the military, and the police. Then she went out, bible in hand, to speak on a balcony of the government house, surrounded by a handful of right-wingers. We are facing a reactionary attempt to come out of the deep political crisis in which Bolivia is plunged, a result of the civil-military coup that forced the resignation of Evo Morales. We call to repudiate this de facto government and to support the workers, peasants and popular sectors that will continue to fight for their rights.
On 12 Tuesday, in a fraudulent manoeuvre and front of a semi-empty Senate room, due to the absence of the MAS parliamentarians, Jeanine Añez proclaimed herself president on the same day that Evo Morales arrived in Mexico, where he asked for asylum. She cited Article 169 of the Bolivian Constitution to give legality to the consequences of a civil-military coup, in which General Williams Kaliman and the General Staff of the Armed Forces “suggested” the resignation of Morales and his government. Donald Trump defined the military action as an example of “constitutional defence”, in the same way, Bolsonaro and Macri justified it, refusing to qualify the act like a coup d’état. Accompanied by the leader of La Cruz Civic Committee, right-wing and racist Luis F. Camacho, Añez affirmed in her speech that the “new elections” in Bolivia will take place after the appointment of the new Electoral Court. She thanked the Police, the Armed Forces and the Church. With a Bible in her hand, she said “our strength is God” and sang with her reactionary allies: “Yes, we could”.
Evo Morales’ fraud led to a civil-military coup
The electoral fraud generated important popular protests. Attempts to crush them with shock groups failed and aggravated the crisis, taken advantage of by the “civic” paramilitary groups of the extreme right to assume the offensive. The police strike and the Army’s declaration of neutrality led to the collapse of the government, with the desertion of ministers, parliamentarians and union bureaucrats. The generals carry out the coup by demanding Morales’ resignation and giving way to Añez’s self-proclamation.
Morales went from declaring himself the winner of the presidential election to leaving power in less than three weeks; overestimating his forces by trying to impose a fraud, he dug his own grave. But the underlying reasons for his meltdown go back a long way.
In his 14 years in office, Morales frustrated the expectations of the great social movements that brought him to power. After the water and gas wars, they elected the first indigenous president promising to enforce the October Agenda: end the large estates and nationalise hydrocarbons. Morales betrayed that programme. Despite having enormous popular support in his early years, and although the workers’ and peasants’ mobilisations defeated the “civic” right in 2008, the MAS government took the path of making pacts with the bourgeoisie and imperialism.
State control was used to guarantee the big contracts for Repsol and other big oil and gas transnationals, and the voracious expansion of the agricultural frontier at the service of big capital. To impose the construction of a road in a protected indigenous territory, the TIPNIS used ruthless repression. It attacked the coca growers of Yungas. It cooperated with the leadership of the Bolivian Workers’ Central Union (COB). It used a mixture of corruption and repression to impose its leaders on indigenous and peasant organisations.
The razing of 5.3 million hectares in Chiquitania this year by fires was the direct consequence of its predatory fury at the service of big capital. The attempt to give concessions for the exploitation of lithium, in the Salar de Uyuni, for several decades to a German company, generated protests that forced him to annul them just a week ago.
The exhaustion of his project was clear with his defeat in the 2016 referendum, with which he intended to enable his candidacy for a third consecutive period. When he lost, he manoeuvred with the Constitutional Court under his control to have it declare that unlimited re-election was a “human right. Bolivia continued to be a capitalist country with terrible inequalities and an impoverished and precarious majority.
The reactionary right used the growing popular rejection of Morales
The accumulated popular unrest with the government overflowed with fraudulent manoeuvring in the October 20 election. When Morales did not get the votes to win in the first round, the electoral authorities suspended the vote count for twenty hours. When it resumed, the scrutiny gave him the margin he needed not to go to the re-run. Popular protests began, many of them with the slogan “Neither Evo nor Mesa”. The oligarchic right took advantage of these genuine popular mobilisations, emboldened by the government’s disaster. This outcome, precipitated by indignation in the face of fraud, is the consequence of years of surrender and repressive policies that broad sectors of workers, peasants and youth repudiated. When Morales accepts the OAS ruling on electoral irregularities and calls for new elections with new electoral authorities, the generals are already determined to strike a blow to retake control of the country. It was because of the policies of false “progressivism” that the racist right in Bolivia rose again.
Fight against the reactionary government of Añez-Camacho
The working class, the youth and the popular sectors of Bolivia started a new chapter of the struggle against the new capitalist, pro-imperialist government of Añez-Camacho and the oligarchic right, which comes to power amid a serious political crisis. While Añez promised new elections, the most reactionary sectors, like Camacho, will want to impose a dictatorial regime. But the situation is open, the working class, the youth, the peasants and the popular sectors have not been defeated. They have against them the bureaucratic leaderships of the COB and many unions led or influenced by the MAS; whose orientation is to reconcile in the name of “peace”. But some sectors have proposed an independent policy, which was manifested in the slogans “Neither Evo nor Mesa”. There were pronouncements such as, for example, that of the miners of Potosi and San Cristobal and demanding that the COB convene a Congress. In this independent perspective, the ARPT, a section of the IWU-FI, proposed to fight against “any attempt to impose a reactionary right-wing government,” proposing to form a Popular Assembly from “the workers, peasants and youth mobilised to assume a provisional government” (see ARPT declaration). In this perspective, the tasks posed now are those of organising and promoting the workers’ and the popular struggle against the Añez-Camacho government to defeat its reactionary project.