Vicious coup in Bolivia forces out president Evo Morales
Bolivia’s president Evo Morales has been forced out by a coup. It was orchestrated by the army and police—and backed by Donald Trump and the US.
His demise after nearly 14 years as president means the removal of the last of the reformist “pink tide” governments in Latin America.
“There has been a coup,” Morales said as he announced his resignation. “My sin is to be indigenous, a trade unionist and a coca grower.”
Last month Morales claimed to have won a slim majority in presidential elections. But the Organisation of American States called the result “statistically improbable” and demanded another election.
Morales offered another vote but the right rejected this and the police and army told him to go.
Bolivia’s army chief general Williams Kaliman Romero demanded Morales step down to “restore peace”.
Earlier some police officers abandoned their posts, including those guarding the presidential palace.
Elected in 2006 as Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Morales won three presidential victories.
Under the rule of his Movement for Socialism party, poverty rates have almost halved while Bolivia’s gross domestic product has quadrupled off the back of gas and mineral exports.
However, there is still widespread poverty with a fifth of the population malnourished.
Morales was part of a movement for indigenous rights and against the neoliberalism that swept Latin America in the early 2000s.
He promised to “nationalise everything” but left much of private industry untouched.
His government intensified the extraction of Bolivia’s own natural resources.
Some social movements previously allied to Morales abandoned him as he grew closer to agribusiness interests and energy multinationals.
The last year has seen long-running strikes by doctors and miners. And he ignored defeat in a 2016 referendum on whether he should be allowed to seek a fourth term. This explains why initially there was little popular resistance as he was forced out.
However, on Monday the Federation of Neighbourhood Boards (Fejuve) of El Alto called for resistance. This powerful social organisation was prominent in social struggles that preceded the arrival of Morales as president.
Fejuve-El Alto’s leaders called on people to “form self-defence committees, blockades, permanent and forceful mobilisation”.
People gathered chanting, “Now it’s time for civil war”. Several police buildings were occupied and then burned in El Alto.
Resistance from below can beat the coup.