Bolivia‘s Coup and Media Coverage
The ousting of Evo Morales by the opposition and the military was not in search of democracy.
The recent switch in power in Bolivia has resulted in the military requesting that Evo Morales step down from government due to protests that have been occurring against his leadership after the general election that took place on October 20, 2019.
As such, Morales called for new elections, which was a prime demand of the protesters in the first place, only to have the police join and also have the military of the country directly ask Morales to step down.
The transition in power that occurred was, undoubtedly, a coup d’etat, fostered by the opposition in the region and the military forces. While many have claimed that the occurrence of the resignation was not a coup, many politicians and journalists have been outspoken in their disagreements. Noam Chomsky, Rafael Correa, Jeremy Corbyn, Alberto Fernandez, and many others have expressed that what happened in Bolivia was a coup.
Once Morales resigned and was effectively forced to flee to Mexico to avoid imminent conflict and potential death, Jeanine Áñez, a right-wing politician notorious for being “fiercely anti-Morales”, assumed the presidency without holding any elections.
According to a statement made by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the only time that the “recognition of legitimate authorities in Bolivia could be possible” is after an election, rather than merely appointing oneself. As a result, Áñez’s presidency is entirely unconstitutional, as the Parliament “did not reach the legal quorum” necessary.
Following the proclamation of the presidency by Áñez, political violence between the right-wing opposition and pro-Morales supporters skyrocketed throughout the country, as “23 people have died amidst the coup d’etat” according to teleSUR.
As many have seen, the demands made by the opposition were for democratic elections to take place alongside the resignation of Evo Morales. Following the so-called ‘resignation’, pro-Morales supporters have emerged in opposition to the coup d’etat, mainly consisting of working-class individuals, indigenous people, trade unionists, and more.
After the coup, there have been several pro-Morales demonstrations across the country. At the same time, police officers were recorded cutting off the Wiphala, an act that journalist Glenn Greenwald called “violent, racist, imperial Christian fanaticism”.
Most recently, Áñez’s government “issued a decree” that would allow the police and military to use lethal force against protesters and be free from any criminal punishment, an utterly absurd act, especially given the precarious circumstances that are currently present in the country.
Evidently, the goal of the opposition was not for democracy to supposedly ‘return’ to Bolivia, but rather, the goal was to oust Morales in order to seize power, despite the popular will and the results of the general election. Through the mass protests calling for the resignation of Áñez, the support for Morales has not died down, nor has his support been overstated by any prominent figure or agency.
Media outlets have gone several different routes in regards to showcasing the developments in Bolivia, many of which have attempted to blame Morales and his government, as opposed to the opposition and the military.
Articles pushed by mainstream Western outlets consistently highlight the nefarious attitudes towards Morales and his government, even after being ousted. The following article titles and descriptions are from such sources:
The first link is from The Washington Post, where apparently, being forced to leave office by the country’s military, and subsequently have a power vacuum be generated, is the fault of Morales, despite exclaiming that the pursuit of peace and stability in the country is priority for the former leader.
The second link is from Fox News, in which the level of hostility is more hidden, in comparison to the opinion piece by The Washington Post. In this example, the reason for Morales’ resignation is not the result of ensuing violence by the opposition and calls from the military, but rather the “fraud allegations”.
The third and final link is from The Economist, a magazine that Vladimir Lenin once called “a journal which speaks for British millionaires”. This one, in particular, is somewhat different, as it focuses on the perceived notion that the military, despite their extreme use of force against protesters, were the ones calling “for democracy and the constitution”.
On a side note, The Economist does not have a good track record with coups in Latin America. In 1973, when Salvador Allende was overthrown in a United States-backed coup, The Economist claimed that “the blame lies clearly with Dr Allende and those of his followers” in regards to the coup that oversaw the introduction of 17 years of intense and brutal military rule. Also, the outlet even exclaimed that the coup was “home-grown” and that any “attempts to make out that the Americans were involved are absurd”.
Bolivia: IACHR, UN Condemn Armed Forces' Killings of Civilians
IACHR expressed "concern about the actions of the armed forces in the operations carried out in Bolivia."
The future of Bolivia looks rather bleak, especially with the rise of Jeanine Áñez and the complete removal of stability in the country. While protests rage on in calling for the resignation of Áñez, and the use of coercion is ever-present, any attempts for peace and a return to stability will most likely be in vain.
Rather than blaming the present material conditions in Bolivia on Morales, the blame should instead be placed on the opposition and the forces that maintain power.