The Bolivian people said yes to democracy and no to U.S. imperialism
October 18, 2020, marked the end of the US-backed coup against Evo Morales and the theft of democracy in Bolivia. Today, the victory of Luis Arce, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS in Spanish) presidential candidate, marks the strong determination of the Bolivian people to return to democracy. From the Alliance for Global Justice, we celebrate the end of the coup and the beginning of a new era for Bolivia.
In 2006, after the expansion of popular democracies in Latin America, Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales, from MAS. Under this historical change, the members of the government in Bolivia, for the first time, looked like the people that elected them. Evo Morales was surrounded by indigenous men and women. He reached out to the Afro-Bolivians to recognize their ancestral government structures and brought them to govern with him.
Since Evo and MAS came to power, the economy that had been stagnant for more than 25 years grew consistently. In 2005, The first six years of the MAS administration saw a reduction in poverty at double the rate of six years preceding it. In particular, the poverty gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Bolivians narrowed significantly since 2006. Under Morales’ administration, this revenue -mostly from the hydrocarbon sector- was invested in the development of public infrastructure projects and spending on social programs such as health care and education. Bolivia saw an increase in public investment from 7% of GDP in 2005 to 13% in 2015. Overall, Bolivia testified a steady increase in human development as measured by indicators such as child mortality, life expectancy, access to health care, years of schooling, and literacy rate.
In 2019, after the successful re-election of Evo Morales to the Presidency for the third time, the extreme right with the support of the U.S. Government and the Organization of American States’ Secretary General orchestrated a coup. Unlike 2018 in Nicaragua, the extremists were able to force a democratically elected president to leave his presidency. Evo was taken to Mexico in political exile. Bolivia’s 1% could not stand anymore that they had not been able to continue the ransack of its resources.
During the days before the elections, electoral observers – national, and international – as well as the Bolivian people alerted us about the sudden and strong militarization of the streets. While Añez argued that the military force is for the protection of the population, the people have denounced it as a campaign of intimidation and harassment against the opponents of the coup government. The turnout of the people was massive despite Añez intimidation strategies: In several rural areas, the MAS party, with presidential candidate Luis Arce, took more than 95% of the votes. The international vote also reflected support for Evo Morales’ old party. For example, some results from Argentina show the support of more than 90% of Bolivians living in that country.
The defeat of the coup government, led by Añez and supported by the US, and the victory of the grassroots movements in the Bolivian electoral arena bring hopes to the entire continent. However, we as internationalists must still be vigilant! Democracy in Latin America is always threatened by the fascist, racist forces of the extreme right movements and by US imperialism., and we can’t go back.
Long live Bolivia and its people!