By Dominique Ferré
(reprinted from Issue No. 214 of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France, POID)
“We commend the professional work of the Organization of American States (OAS) and fully support the OAS call for new elections in Bolivia that can ensure free and fair elections that reflect the will of the Bolivian people.” With this statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on November 10, the Trump administration has taken full responsibility for the crime that has just been committed against the Bolivian people. It was a coup d’état fomented by the U.S. administration that led President Evo Morales to resign on November 10.
On October 20, Morales, outgoing president and candidate of the Movement for Socialism (MAS), won the presidential election with 2.8 million votes, against the right-wing candidate, Carlos Mesa, who obtained 2.2 million votes. Immediately, right-wing parties and extreme right-wing armed groups — the “civic committees” — launched a campaign claiming “fraud.” Their cry emanated from the city of Santa Cruz, the capital of Bolivia’s richest province with strong separatist tendencies.
The intervention of the OAS (founded in 1948 and headquartered in Washington) demanding new elections accelerated the destabilization. “Civic committees” stepped up their provocations and physical attacks against representatives of Morales’ party, as well as against worker and peasant militants. At the beginning of November, police and army sectors sided with the factious leaders.
In 2006, Morales, a peasant leader of indigenous origin (like 60% of the Bolivian population), was elected president in response to anti-worker and anti-popular policies of subordination to the International Monetary Fund. These were policies implemented by the same people who are now organizing the coup, including Mesa and the far-right multi-millionaire Luis Fernando Camacho, whose career began in the Santa Cruz paramilitary groups specializing in pogroms against the indigenous peoples.
Pushed by the will of the masses in 2006, Morales committed the unforgivable crime, in the eyes of the multinationals and the U.S. administration, of partially nationalizing hydrocarbons and redistributing part of the revenue from oil and gas to the poorest Bolivians. But Morales did not break with the IMF. He did not stop repayment of the foreign debt, and nor did he call into question the institutions of the State — army, police, etc. — that have now turned against him.
But the tragedy is concentrated in the stance taken by the leadership of the powerful historic organization of the workers: the Bolivian Workers Central (COB). Its leaders, who had supported Morales over the years, called on him on November 10 to resign on the grounds they “did not want to be complicit in a bloodbath.”
The COB refused to call on the powerful Bolivian working class to crush the coup d’état, thus taking responsibility for a defeat without a fight. This contributed to Morales’ decision to step down and go into exile in Mexico. … In the hours that followed, paramilitary groups reigned terror in the streets of the country’s major cities, attacking the offices of the MAS, as well as those of worker, peasant, and popular organizations.
Workers and youth the world over, and their organizations, have a duty to stand side by side with the workers and people of Bolivia against this new crime of U.S. imperialism in Latin America.