Bolivia: A Coup of the Future
What the mainstream media’s attitudes towards coup d’etats in the past tells us about the present.
As Evo Morales has been removed from power as per the request of the violent right-wing opposition and the military, many people have, rightfully so, taken to calling the events that have unfolded in recent weeks, a coup. This should, generally speaking, be an undisputed idea, but the coverage of the crisis has allowed for the view that Morales’ ‘resignation’ was purely a result of cries for democracy.
Many mainstream media outlets such as The Guardian, The New York Times, The Economist, and more, have reported a lot on the events that have unfolded. However, this reporting was done without referring to the events themselves as what they are (as opposed to perceived as): a coup d’etat.
But why is this? Is it due to the genuine reporting of how the resignation of Morales’ and his government is purely a result of unrest and opposition to his leadership? Is it due to the fraud allegations put forth by the Organization of American States (OAS)? Or is there another idea that could be pushed? The development of the recent events that have unfolded in Bolivia have left 32 people dead as of November 20, 2019, according to Reuters.
A Case Analysis of Brazil:
In 1964, the ousting of João Goulart in Brazil prompted the development of a military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985, over 20 years long. Goulart, like many other Latin American left-leaning leaders during the Cold War, was brandished as a communist by fierce right-wing opposition groups and forces.
While the support of the United States is undisputed now, The New York Times had no issue blaming Goulart himself over the events that unfolded, alongside a very positive portrayal of the coup plotters and the so-called ‘revolution’.
In an article titled Finis for Goulart, The New York Times consistently makes note of how “incompetent” and “irresponsible” his leadership was, and how the events that unfolded were entirely his fault. The article also described the “social revolution” as one that was done “peacefully and democratically”.
The New York Times were quick to make sure that the term ‘coup’ was not an element of their article(s), especially since in their eyes, the ousting of Goulart was the concept of a “social revolution”, rather than a coup that was backed by the United States.
Approximately one month into the military dictatorship, The New York Times published yet another article titled BRAZIL RELIEVED BY GOULART FALL; Tour Shows That Hostility to Him Affected All Classes. The bias here is also extremely evident, as the agency took to talking about Goulart as an “extremist” and characterized the events as Goulart and his party getting “ousted … in a revolt led by the military”, as opposed to a coup.
But what does the 1964 Brazilian coup d’etat have to do with the current situation in Bolivia?
History Repeats Itself:
Bolivia’s situation, while understandably different in some regards, is similar to Brazil in 1964 in the sense that both countries had their leaders removed from power at the demand of the military, as well as the media coverage that highlighted the transition between one government to the next.
As previously discussed, the coverage of Bolivia has been rather negative when regarding the leadership of Evo Morales and his government, while the coverage of the coup itself has been rather positive, often noted as a response to the demands requested by “the head of the armed forces”.
In fact, the coverage done by the editorial board of The New York Times in regards to the coup in Bolivia has taken a very similar route when compared to their coverage of Brazil back in 1964.
In a similar manner, the outlet took to describing people who outlined the events as a coup as people who have “cried” that notion, referencing Jeremy Corbyn, alongside left-leaning leaders across the continent such as “President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, President-elect Alberto Fernández of Argentina and President Miguel Díaz-Canel of Cuba”.
While Bolivia’s turbulence might not be considered a coup at the moment by major outlets such as The New York Times, it is entirely possible that Bolivia, like Brazil, is simply a coup of the future.