Nov. 18 − Despite massacres in the major cities of El Alto, La Paz and Cochabamba that killed 24 people in the last five days, the resistance to the pro-imperialist coup regime has grown and spread to other areas and major cities in Bolivia, including Santa Cruz, which is a stronghold of the Bolivian rich.
During the week since a combination of a racist, anti-Indigenous mobilization and a police-military mutiny forced President Evo Morales from office on Nov. 10 and caused him to take asylum in Mexico, the following has become clear:
U.S. imperialism played a central role in financing and coordinating the coup movement. That was a charge Morales made in an interview from Mexico on Nov. 17, saying, the coup was planned in the U.S. Embassy and he “fell into a trap.” Morales also accused the Armed Forces of being lined up with the “neoliberal forces” and the “oligarchy,” but not the entire military, mainly the commanders.
The coup makers are caught in a contradiction: They want to look legitimate, but they can’t allow the legislature to function under constitutional rules. Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party has a two-thirds majority in the legislature and refuses to recognize self-appointed head of state Jeanine Añez, a reactionary evangelist who publicly insults Indigenous peoples.
The coup regime plans to use brutal force to stay in power even while it attempts to give its rule a constitutional cover. It even pronounced an edict Nov. 15 offering impunity to police and troops for killing Bolivian civilians — an hour before the massacre in Cochabamba. Añez has threatened to charge MAS legislators with promoting “subversion.”
Despite the murders, mass resistance to the coup continues to grow, especially among Bolivians who identify as Indigenous and organized workers from all peoples. Defying the threat to their lives, mobilizations from the Indigenous city of El Alto announced plans to blockade adjacent La Paz, the administrative capital. Anti-coup protesters still head toward the capital from other cities. In Cochabamba, protesters burned down a police headquarters.
Demands of the resistance
While it is unclear if there is a unified national leadership in the resistance, there seems to be general agreement to demand that Añez resign, that she and coup leaders Carlos Mesa, Fernando Camacho and some others be expelled from Bolivia, that the Armed Forces return to their barracks, and that new elections be scheduled within 90 days.
The reactionary, pro-imperialist role of the Organization of American States has been exposed. The charge of “electoral fraud” in Morales’ Oct. 20 victory at the polls was a completely invented pretext that has been spread extensively by the imperialist-controlled media.
As Morales pointed out in his Nov. 17 interview, the OAS audit found irregularities in only 0.22 percent of the polling places. That’s 1 in 500 and that wouldn’t have affected the outcome.
In other countries around the world there have been demonstrations supporting the return of Evo Morales to preside over Bolivia and an end to the repression of the popular movement. Some of the largest have been in São Paulo, Guatemala City, Caracas, and today in Buenos Aires.
Speaking from Mexico, Morales has said that he wants to do everything possible to prevent a civil war in Bolivia. He has called upon the armed forces to refuse to shoot at Bolivians. And he has offered to participate in negotiations.
Given how far U.S. imperialism and its Bolivian lackeys have gone in their attempt at counterrevolution, it is hard to imagine how they would suddenly offer concessions. That means the best way to avoid civil war would be if the rank and file of the Bolivian military — which is majority Indigenous peoples — would refuse to shoot at the popular movement and revolt.
There have been some reports of friendly interaction between the protest marches and the troops. Nothing reported so far has shown a decisive break within the military and troops joining the popular movement. Videos have shown, however, that the masses of the people are appealing to the troops to join them.
The responsibility of anti-imperialist forces outside Bolivia is to follow the example of those in the other Latin American capitals and do everything possible to assist and support the still growing resistance of the Indigenous peoples and workers of Bolivia.
Sources for this article were reports by Marco Teruggi, most of which have been published on workers.org, and other reports published in resumenlatinoamericano.org.