Dirty Tricks Behind the Bolivian Elections: What’s at Stake

By Jeremy Kuzmarov – Oct 16, 2020

The stakes are both high, and the danger of violence or voter fraud stark, as Bolivians go to the polls this Sunday, October 18, to elect their next president.

Bolivia has experienced pronounced social unrest and economic retrogression since the November 2019 coup d’état which brought down Socialist President Evo Morales (2006-2019).

As election day nears, Morales’s former Finance Minister, Luis “Lucho” Arce Catacora of the Movement toward Socialism (MAS) party, is leading in the polls by a wide margin.

With his running mate David Choquehuanca, he embraces the indigenous political tradition of Suma Qamaña, emphasizing reciprocity, collectiveness, and balance with mother nature (Pachamama).[1]

Carlos Mesa [Source: Wikipedia.org]

Catacora’s main contender for power is Carlos Mesa of the Revolutionary Front (MNR) party who lost the October 2019 election to Evo Morales. After falsely claiming electoral fraud and that Morales’s margin of victory—which was more than 10 percent, thereby nullifying any need for further electoral rounds—necessitated a runoff, Mesa helped spark violent protests that led to the coup that ousted Morales.[2]

The fraud allegation was sanctioned by the Organization of American States (OAS) but discredited by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) commissioned by a liberal research group based in Washington, D.C. They found that the OAS had overstated the significance of voting discrepancies from before and after a pause in the vote count.[3]



Carlos Mesa was Bolivia’s president from 2003-2005, and Vice President from 2002-2003 under Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada (“Goni”), a multimillionaire mining executive and protégé of Chicago School economist Milton Friedman who caused thousands to lose their jobs through ill-conceived privatization and austerity measures and was later indicted for repressing popular protests.[4]

Mesa was ousted from power in 2005 following large demonstrations spurred by his protection of privatized natural gas companies. He enjoys the support of Jeanine Añez, who was appointed interim president following the November 2019 coup. Añez’s presidency has been marred by corruption scandals and abuse of civil liberties combined with a 30 percent decline in exports, reversal of Morales’s progressive drug laws, and poor response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has claimed 8,000 Bolivian lives.

[Source: nytimes.com]
A third contender for power, Luis Fernandez Camacho, is known as the “Bolivian Bolsonaro” in reference to Brazil’s extreme right-wing president. From the eastern province of Santa Cruz, home of a strong right-wing separatist movement, Camacho led the protests that culminated in the November 2019 coup against Morales.

A decade earlier, Camacho had led a neofascist youth group which carried out street violence against indigenous vendors and leftists during a failed destabilization campaign against Morales. Camacho said that he wants to “bring the Bible back to the palace of government”—a promise he fulfilled literally when he hand-delivered a Bible to the presidential palace in downtown La Paz at the time of the coup, along with a Bolivian flag and a resignation letter he wanted Morales to sign.[5]

Luis Fernandez Camacho during anti-Morales protest in November 2019. [Source: dissentmagazine.org]

The United States Supports the Right

The United States government is far from a neutral observer in Bolivia’s election.

The Grayzone Project reported in September that a U.S. government-linked public relations firm, CLS Strategies, which has received $100,000 from the State Department, was caught running a propaganda campaign on social media designed to discredit the MAS.

The firm employs former government officials like Mark Feierstein, an old Cold Warrior who oversaw Latin America policy for the Obama White House, and served as coordinator of Latin American activities for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a regime-change arm that spearheaded the Trump administration’s coup attempts in Venezuela.[6]

In 2019, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—founded in the 1980s to take up functions previously performed by the CIA—provided nearly $900,000 in Bolivia for such purposes as “countering disinformation in the political process,” “strengthening civil society,” “informing citizens via digital platforms,” “promoting an informed electorate,” “promoting independent political analysis,” and “providing independent news and election information.”[7]

The latter is very clearly a code for supporting right-wing media networks that seek to denigrate and undermine the MAS, and for funding right-wing candidates and supporting them on social media.

The NED budget included $40,000 to strengthen the political participation of indigenous and rural communities,[8] which was designed to reward Aymara and other indigenous groups that had turned against Morales as part of a strategy of divide and conquer.

Additional NED money has targeted the wealthy Santa Cruz province, where the majority of Bolivia’s gas deposits are and 42 percent of its agricultural output come from, and where regional elites—who value a U.S.-centric model of consumption—have advocated for autonomy in order to maintain white European control over these resources.[9]

CLS Strategies has been contracted to assist the post-coup order in Bolivia and has also served as lobbyists for the right-wing Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaidó (left). Jeanine Añez is featured on the right. [Source: thegrayzone.com]
During the October 2019 elections, Morales charged that U.S. embassy officials bribed people in the countryside to reject him at the polls and traveled to the Yungus region with payoffs to disaffected coca farmers.[10]

RELATED CONTENT: Why Bolivia’s 2020 Election is a Turning Point for Latin America

Williams Kaliman, School of the Americas-trained General who was allegedly paid one million dollars to help carry out the coup while serving as commander-in-chief of the Bolivian Armed Forces. [Source: elpais.com]
Six of the key coup plotters were trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the U.S. Army School of the Americas), which earned the moniker as the “school of coups” and “assassins” during the Cold War because of the exploits of its graduates.[11]

General Williams Kaliman, who gave the order to Morales to leave the country as commander-in-chief of the Bolivian Armed Forces, was one of the six. A former military and police attaché in Washington, D.C., he was allegedly paid $1 million by the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Bolivia, Bruce Williamson, and then whisked away to an unknown location in the U.S. to enjoy his new wealth.[12]

The Trump administration further shipped arms, as a way to militarize the opposition to Morales, through the Chilean port of Iquique, and provided support to the coup through the right-wing Bolsonaro and Macri governments of Brazil and Argentina.[13]

In September 2019, Ivanka Trump made a surprise visit to the Argentine-Bolivian border region accompanied by Undersecretary of State John Sullivan and other government representatives.

The official purpose of the visit was to deliver an aid package for road work but, according to Alicia Canqui Condori, a national representative to the MAS, Ms. Trump and other officials met with the local Governor of Jujuy Argentina, Gerardo Morales, to plan for the coup.[14]

Ivanka Trump in Jujuy. [Source: efolket.eu]
Whether plans are in place for another coup if the MAS wins this election can only be speculated.

According to María Luisa Ramos, the former Bolivian ambassador to Moscow and Spain under Morales,

“Interior Minister Arturo Murillo Pricjic of the Añez government has received instructions from Washington to achieve Carlos Mesa’s victory at any cost.”

How great this cost might be remains open to the imagination.

The Trump administration has targeted these three leftist leaders in Latin America for regime change: Evo Morales (Bolivia), Nicholas Maduro (Venezuela), and Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) [Source: latimes.com]
Referendum on Morales

The 2020 election in Bolivia is in many respects a referendum on Evo Morales’s rule.

Morales was the first indigenous president in Bolivia’s history, rising to political prominence as a leader of the coca growers’ union that protested draconian drug control policies in the Chapare region.[15]

Morales’s defiance of U.S. dictates was epitomized by his hanging a portrait of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara behind the presidential desk made out of coca leaves.[16]

Antonietta Ledezi, a coca farmer from Cochabamba, conveyed a wide feeling when she told The New York Times that “Evo Morales is like a father to us.”[17]

One of Morales’s most important accomplishments as president was the creation of a new constitution that granted Bolivian investment priority over foreign investment, recognized the traditional uses of the coca leaf, and increased autonomy and political participation for the country’s indigenous population.[18]

Morales also reduced by more than half the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty from approximately 36 percent down to 17 percent and reduced unemployment by 50 percent while the country’s GDP was growing on average 4.8% per year. In 2010, the World Bank changed Bolivia’s classification from “lower-income” to “lower-middle income” after the country surpassed the $1,100 national income per person threshold for middle-income status.[19]

The high growth rates resulted in part from a commodities boom—rising prices for gas and other Bolivian exports—which enabled Morales to redirect money into schools, hospitals, and infrastructure.[20] Other new income was generated through the nationalization of Bolivia’s oil and gas industries, which transferred revenue from natural resources into the hands of the Bolivian government.

Additionally, Morales’s government redistributed 134 million acres of land from state or private ownership to indigenous families, cut the illiteracy rate by at least 10 percent through robust funding of education and an adult literacy program, raised the minimum wage, and implemented a universal monthly pension program for people 60 years or older.[21] The number of physicians in the country all-the-while doubled, and a free health care system was introduced.[22]

Anthony Faiola wrote in The Washington Post that

“It is indisputable that Bolivians [during Morales’s presidency] are healthier, wealthier, better educated, living longer and more equal than at any time in this South American nation’s history.[23]”

Former President Evo Morales [Source: nytimes.com]
Morales concluded that the U.S. government went after him because he was an “indio” and because he nationalized the natural resources and reduced extreme poverty. Further

“In the capitalist system, the idea is that if you’re poor you should look after yourself, and there won’t be any social problems. But that doesn’t work in Bolivia.[24]”

During the 2019 election crisis, Morales’s major mistake was to believe that he had control of the army. Prior to that time, he had lost some of his popular backing by refusing to acknowledge the results of a 2016 referendum where the public had rejected his desire to seek a third term. Morales’s administration was also saddled by corruption scandals, failed to respond adequately to forest fires that ravaged the wilderness in Eastern Bolivia, and alienated some indigenous groups by sanctioning the building of a 300-kilometer road through the Amazon, which locals felt would facilitate drug trafficking, illegal logging and other unwanted activities.[25]

According to former ambassador María Luisa Ramos, Morales’s mistakes toward the end of his presidency “paralyzed and emptied the will of the great masses to go out to the streets to defend Evo, in the face of the seditious, violent and unconstitutional onslaught of the police and the army.” According to her assessment, “in the worst months of repression in 2019, people were on the streets not to defend Evo, but to defend the plurinational symbol, the Wiphala flag, which was withdrawn and desecrated by the police and some seditious leaders.”

What Is to Be Done?

The challenge for the next Bolivian government, according to Ramos, will be to restore the productive apparatus, avoid devaluation and inflation, reduce poverty, and renegotiate the foreign debt among other important issues.

Catacora has proposed a new wealth tax and moratorium on debt repayments as a means of recouping lost revenues from the tax breaks and sell-off of state assets under Añez. Catacora says that he is intent on blocking any privatization initiatives extending to the country’s lithium resources—which Tesla is currently eyeing. He wants to see lithium industrialized, which would mean “creating jobs for people and giving us value-added income, and not just exporting lithium as a raw material.”[26]

According to Catacora, if there is no privatization,

“we’ll be able to guarantee the money for our social programs because these programs are not only based on taxes, but also on the income drawn from the public companies that we have had since 2006 [when Morales’s first term began]. We need public companies and also solid tax revenues to guarantee all the social programs we have.[27]”

This platform is antithetical to the interests of Bolivia’s ruling elite, which has become emboldened in adopting oppressive measures against the MAS and its supporters. Catacora told an interviewer that the Añez government was

“looking [to persecute] everyone, from the MAS and [members of] the former government of President Evo, to the people who worked with him and members of social movements. They’re also being accused of many things, being tried, etc. We face persecution, we face surveillance. It’s a very difficult situation for us—but we’re facing it as best as we can.[28]”

The Añez Heritage

Jeanine Añez [Source: wikipedia.org]
Añez is a conservative Christian who represented the Amazonian cattle ranching region of Beni before ascending to the presidency. An ominous sign should have been evident with a tweet that she put out in April 2013 proclaiming indigenous spirituality to be a “sign of Satan.” Upon seizing power, Añez declared the national government to be “at last free of paganism.”[29]

The list of abuses of power and misuses of state assets since that time are extensive. Some of the highlights include:

  • collection of illegal commissions, irregular expenses in the National Telecommunications Company (Entel);
  • price gouging on ventilators by a health minister;[30]
  • mismanagement of BoA, the Bolivian airline company;
  • complaints of overpricing in the purchase of fuel, food and insurance at Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB);
  • improper use of State property, such as the transport of private persons in aircraft of the Bolivian Air Force (FAB) for unofficial purposes.
    Añez eliminated the Ministry of Culture and appointed as Minister of Education an ultra-conservative who said that he “rejects legal abortion in raped girls because they are able to conceive a baby.”[31]

Añez further reversed an EU-backed program that allowed farmers to cultivate a plot of coca up to 2,500 square meters, and rebranded coca farmers, including Morales, as “narco-terrorists” in language drawn from U.S. drug warriors.[32]

Morales’s claim that a main goal of the coup was to gain access to Bolivia’s lithium resources was given credence when Añez invited multinational corporations into the Salar de Uyuni, the vast salt flats in Potosi which holds lithium, a precious soft-metal.[33]

Añez also reversed a Morales-era measure that kept under majority state control the Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) state company, which worked in partnership with a German company to produce batteries from lithium and Bolivia’s first electric car.[34]

The worst stain on Añez’s record is the Secaba and Senkata massacres in Cochabamba and El Alto, which followed the November 2019 coup. According to a report produced by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), at least 18 people lost their lives on November 15th and 18th after army and police officers opened fire on civilians and attacked them using teargas and by beating and kicking them. Some of the bodies, including a twelve-year-old girl, were taken from the scene and “disappeared.”

Bolivia’s Torture Prevention Service (SEPRET) further reported that people who had been arrested were taken to places other than prisons and penitentiaries, and were subjected to beatings and gassing.[35]

Añez’ Defense Minister Fernando Lopez claimed that not a single bullet had been fired by his officers during the Sacaba and Sekata massacres, and that the demonstrators were “terrorists” acting on Morales’s orders, which was contradicted by the independent investigative reports.[36]

Añez publicly thanked “god and the armed forces, in the name of democracy, for pacifying Bolivia and helping to avoid greater levels of vandalism and confrontation.”

She further decorated the military men who committed the massacre, repealed a 2005 law in order to protect them from prosecution, and subsequently increased military spending by more than $5 million.[37] In addition, she allowed paramilitary “shock groups,” which rode motorcycles and carried homemade explosives and weapons used to attack demonstrators, to operate with virtual impunity.[38]

A leaflet found at a pro-MAS demonstration in Cochabamba in December 2019 put Añez misrule into perfect perspective, proclaiming:

Áñez, little dyed woman,
Self-proclaimed dictator,
you authorized the killing of
Bolivians, you murderer!
Sellout to Yankee imperialism,
Accursed traitor,
you will not pass,
Nor will God pardon your hypocrisy.[39]

[Source: google.com]
Washington’s Girl

After the November 2019 coup, President Donald J. Trump stated:

“The resignation yesterday of Bolivian President Evo Morales is a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere. After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard. The United States applauds the Bolivian people for demanding freedom and the Bolivian military for abiding by its oath to protect not just a single person, but Bolivia’s constitution. These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.[40]”

George Orwell would have been proud of these statements, as it was a military man who put the presidential band on Añez, and the army and the police prevented deputies and senators from entering parliament to elect the new transitional president. Furthermore, only a small group of parliamentarians oversaw the supposed “democratic succession” and approved what a group led by the Catholic Church had instructed.

RELATED CONTENT: Bolivia Election Changes Will Make Results Less Transparent Than in 2019, CEPR Researchers Warn

Since Añez has taken office, Telesur, Russia Today, and other foreign outlets have been eliminated from the national cable system, and 53 community radio stations have been shuttered. While the new minister of communications has recanted her earlier pledge to crack down on free speech, three journalists were also detained on New Year’s Eve and charged with terrorism and sedition for criticizing the government on social media.[41]

After U.S. aid had been cut off under Morales, this past January the Trump administration reinstated a waiver that would allow aid to Bolivia to resume because most of it went for counter-narcotics.[42]

Añez is also being advised by CIA and State Department personnel; her private secretary, Erick Foronda, has been an adviser to the U.S. embassy in La Paz for over two decades, and admitted to being a CIA agent.[43]

This close U.S. support for Añez fits with a historical pattern going back to the Cold War when the CIA cultivated alliances with army officers and right-wing leaders and backed a coup d’état in 1971 that ousted General Juan José Torrez. He had nationalized tin mines owned by American interests, and shut down the Inter-American Regional Labor Organization, an important vehicle for CIA labor operations in Latin America. The CIA in 1967 furthermore collaborated in the murder of left-wing revolutionary icon Che Guevara, and trained the security forces of the dictator Hugo Banzer (1971-1978; 1997-2001) who was a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas.[44]

Añez’s close alignment with Washington was epitomized by her appointment of the first ambassador to the U.S. in eleven years.[45] She broke relations with U.S. adversaries Cuba, Venezuela and Palestine and restored relations with Israel. Interior Minister Arturo Murillo asked for Israel’s help in fighting alleged left-wing terrorists since the Israelis are “used to dealing with terrorists. They know how to handle them.”[46]

After joining the Lima Group, Añez recognized the right-wing renegade Juan Guaidó as the “president in charge” of Venezuela, and expelled Venezuelan diplomats for allegedly financing pro-Morales mobs. She also expelled Cuban medical brigades and supported a police raid of the government-owned clinic of Cuba, located in La Paz.

Further, Añez withdrew Bolivia from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), an alternative to the U.S.-driven Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), whose aim is to integrate Latin American economies in order to bolster their strength and end dependency on raw material exports.[47]

Añez’s withdrawal from ALBA epitomized how, in a short period, she effectively undermined 13 years of progress under Morales, including in his cultivation of vital regional alliances, while serving U.S. imperial interests.

[Source: accesswdun.com]
The Croats in Power

Curiously, the Añez government has three ministers with Croatian roots in key areas, including Interior Minister Murillo Prijic, Chancellor Karen Longaric, and Economy and Finance Minister Branko Marinkovic.

An admirer of Brazil’s far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, Marinkovic was accused of providing $200,000 to thugs to carry out a plot to kill Morales. He said that he made the leap from business to politics to resist a “descent into intolerance and hatred” against light-skinned Bolivians like himself.[48] His fortune came from the Santa Cruz agro-industrial boom of the 1950s, when his late father set up what is now one of the country’s largest soybean and sunflower oil plants. In 2009, Marinkovic was given asylum in the United States after the coup plot he was part of failed.[49]

Former minister Oscar Ortiz was also involved in those events. Morales denounced a separatist plan in Santa Cruz backed by the Bush and Obama administrations in which armed cells led by Croats and Hungarians took part. The trial was recently cancelled, coincidentally, following Marinkovic’s appointment as minister.

The investigations of the case revealed that an irregular group had the objective of generating conflict scenarios for a possible foreign intervention and fragmenting Bolivia. It was known that some politicians and businessmen financed and purchased weapons and explosives for the subversive group led by the Bolivian-Hungarian-Croatian paramilitary Eduardo Rózsa Flores, a mercenary in the Balkans War of the 1990s who had carried out jungle warfare operations in an attempt to overthrow what he considered a communist regime [under Morales].[50]

Branko Marinkovic [Source: eldeber.com.bo]
Parliament candidate Canela Crespo indicated that Marinkovic’s parents would have been militants of the Ustaše, an organization allied to the Nazis in World War II. Its militants arrived in South America with the help of the Catholic Church, which played an important role in the negotiations with the U.S. so that Croatians linked to Ustaše and German Nazis arrived in South America with the commitment to operate for the CIA.[51]

In 1951, the CIA had set up the Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie (AKA the “Butcher of Lyons”) as a Secret Service Colonel in Bolivia where he helped plan military coups—including the 1980 mafia led “cocaine coup”—and oversaw torture and killings of leftists, including popular social democratic leader Quiroga Santa Cruz. Barbie was a security adviser to the Barrientos dictatorship and had a hand in the manhunt and murder of Che Guevara.[52]

The separatist leaders in Santa Cruz today follow in the same lineage as Barbie. Marinkovic significantly served as chairman of the Pro-Santa Cruz committee, which was denounced by the International Federation for Human Rights as an “actor and promoter of racism and violence in Bolivia.”[53] A key goal of the Bolivian oligarchy is to reverse nationalization and land reform initiatives, which Marinkovic said could “lead to civil war.”[54] Marinkovic was a shareholder of hydrocarbon companies that were nationalized, and had 12,500 acres from his Yasminka ranch seized by Morales’ government and given back to the Gurayo Indians from whom he had obtained it fraudulently.[55]

Carlos Mesa’s vice-presidential candidate, Gustavo Pedraza, said that if they were a government they would like to have people like Branko Marinkovic as ministers, whom he said he respected because he knows his commitment to the country and to Santa Cruz. This shows that, in terms of the political program, nothing would differentiate a possible Mesa government from that of Jeanine Añez. The stakes in Sunday’s elections, consequently, could not be higher.


[1] “An Interview with Luis Arce,” Jacobin Magazine, October 10, 2020, https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/09/luis-arce-interview-bolivia-morales-coup

[2] Thomas Field, “A Coup in Bolivia, Yet Again,” Jacobin Magazine, November 18, 2019, https://jacobinmag.com/2019/11/coup-bolivia-history-evo-morales-jeanine-anez; “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Macho Camacho: Jeffery R. Webber (with Forrest Hylton) on the Coup in Bolivia,” Verso Blogs, November 15, 2019, https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/4493-the-eighteenth-brumaire-of-macho-camacho-jeffery-r-webber-with-forrest-hylton-on-the-coup-in-bolivia

[3] Julie Turkewitz, “M.I.T. Researchers Cast Doubt on Bolivian Election Fraud,” The New York Times, February 28, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/28/world/americas/bolivia-election-fraud.html. Morales was recognized to have had more votes than Carlos Mesa; what was contested was whether he had enough votes to prevent a runoff.

[4] Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007), 148-150; Glenn Greenwald, “America’s Refusal to Extradite Bolivia’s ex-President to Face Genocide Charges,” The Guardian, September 9, 2012.

[5] Ciara Nugent, “How Bolivia’s Evo Morales Was Brought Down with the Help of an Obscure Conservative with a Bible,” Time Magazine, November 15, 2019, https://time.com/5728279/luis-fernando-camacho-bolivia/; “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Macho Camacho;” Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton, “Bolivian Coup Led by Christian Fascist Paramilitary Leader and Millionaire – with Foreign Support,” The Grayzone Project, November 11, 2019, https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/11/bolivia-coup-fascist-foreign-support-fernando-camacho/. Camacho’s family has long owned a natural gas cartel.

[6] Ben Norton, “U.S. Govt-linked PR Firm ran fake news networks for right-wing Latin American regimes,” The Grayzone Project, September 6, 2020, https://thegrayzone.com/2020/09/06/cls-strategies-facebook-propaganda-venezuela-bolivia/. CLS Strategies previously worked for the Venezuelan opposition against socialist Nicholas Maduro, for the right-wing post-coup regime in Honduras, and with Colombia’s narco-corrupted right-wing leader Alvaro Uribé Velez.

[7] National Endowment for Democracy, Bolivia, 2019, https://www.ned.org/region/latin-america-and-caribbean/bolivia-2019/

[8] National Endowment for Democracy, Bolivia, 2019, https://www.ned.org/region/latin-america-and-caribbean/bolivia-2019/

[9] Nicole Fabricant, “The Roots of the Right-Wing Coup in Bolivia,” Dissent, December 23, 2019, https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/roots-coup-bolivia-morales-anez-camacho

[10] W.T. Whitney Jr., “Evidence Talks: U.S. Government Propelled Coup in Bolivia,” Monthly Review Online, November 26, 2019, https://mronline.org/2019/11/26/evidence-talks-u-s-government-propelled-coup-in-bolivia/

[11] Whitney Jr., “Evidence Talks;” “SOA/WHINSEC graduate coup in Bolivia: US-backed regime massacres demonstrators,” November 20, 2019, https://soaw.org/soa-whinsec-graduate-coup-in-bolivia-us-backed-regime-massacres-demonstrators/. For the dubious history, see Jack Nelson Palmeyer, School of Assassins (New York: Orbis Books, 1997); Lesley Gill, The School of the Americas: Military Training and Political Violence in the Americas (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004).

[12] W.T. Whitney, “The Coup in Bolivia: Who is Responsible?” Counterpunch, November 22, 2019, https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/11/22/the-coup-in-bolivia-who-is-responsible/

[13] Whitney Jr., “Evidence Talks”; “SOA/WHINSEC graduate coup in Bolivia.”

[14] Marjorie Cohn, “U.S. Again Complicit in an Illegal Coup, This Time in Bolivia,” Consortium News, December 3, 2019, https://consortiumnews.com/2019/12/03/us-again-complicit-in-an-illegal-coup-this-time-in-bolivia/

[15] See Jeffrey Webber, From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2011), 62, 63.

[16] Jon Lee Anderson, “The Fall of Evo Morales,” The New Yorker, March 16, 2020.

[17] Anatoly Kurmanaev, “’Evo Morales Is Like a Father to Us,’” The New York Times, November 27, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/27/world/americas/evo-morales-bolivia-coca.html

[18] “Ten Important Accomplishments Under Evo Morales,” Telesur, October 9, 2014, https://www.telesurenglish.net/analysis/Ten-Important-Accomplishments-Under-Evo-Morales-20141009-0069.html

[19] Isabella Gomez Sarmiento, “How Evo Morales Made Bolivia a Better Place – Before He Fled the Country,” National Public Radio, November 26, 2019, https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2019/11/26/781199250/how-evo-morales-made-bolivia-a-better-place-before-he-was-forced-to-flee; Cohn, “U.S. Again Complicit in an Illegal Coup, This Time in Bolivia.”

[20] Sarmiento, “How Evo Morales Made Bolivia a Better Place – Before He Fled the Country.”

[21] Ibid.; Felipe Abreu and Luiz Felipe Silva, “The Three Rs: How Bolivia Combats Illiteracy,” BBC, August 20, 2016, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-37117243


[23] Anthony Faiola, “Socialism Doesn’t Work? An Emerging Middle Class of Bolivians Would Beg to Differ,” The Washington Post, October 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/socialism-doesnt-work-an-emerging-middle-class-of-bolivians-would-beg-to-differ/2019/10/08/3b1cb3ae-e6f6-11e9-b0a6-3d03721b85ef_story.html

[24] Anderson, “The Fall of Evo Morales.”

[25] Caroline Stauffer, “Native People Sour on Morales,” Reuters, February 24, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/bolivia-indigenous/; Anderson, “The Fall of Evo Morales.”

[26] Oliver Vargas, “Bolivia’s socialist presidential candidate Luis Arce speaks about elections, COVID-19 and fascist oppression,” People’s Dispatch, April 20, 2020, https://peoplesdispatch.org/2020/04/30/bolivias-socialist-presidential-candidate-luis-arce-speaks-about-elections-covid-19-and-fascist-oppression/

[27] Ibid.

[28] Vargas, “Bolivia’s socialist presidential candidate Luis Arce speaks about elections, COVID-19 and fascist oppression.”

[29] Cindy Forster, “Bolivia’s Post-Coup President Has Unleashed a Campaign of Terror,” The Wire, June 1, 2020, https://thewire.in/world/bolivias-post-coup-president-has-unleashed-a-campaign-of-terror

[30] Forrest Hylton, “Bolivia’s Coup Regime: Racist, Corrupt, Violent, and Inept,” The London Review of Books, July 18, 2020, https://portside.org/2020-07-18/bolivias-coup-regime-racist-corrupt-violent-and-divided-and-inept; “Bolivia: Anez Regime Caught in More Covid-19 Corruption,” Telesur, August 29, 2020, https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/bolivia-anez-regime-caught-in-more-covid-19-corruption-20200829-0007.html

[31] The same Minister, to confront violence against women, proposed that they should carry arms. The Interior Minister Arturo Murillo once said that women had no right to receive an abortion, though they should feel free to “kill themselves by throwing themselves out of a fifth-floor window.” Anderson, “The Fall of Evo Morales.”

[32] Kathryn Lebedur, Linda Farthing, Thomas Grisaffi, “Bolivia Reverses Years of Progress with New Draconian Cocaine Policy, Supported by the EU,” The Conversation, September 7, 2020, https://theconversation.com/bolivia-reverses-years-of-progress-with-new-draconian-cocaine-policy-supported-by-the-eu-144386. The Morales era program was praised by the UN Development Program as superior to decades of forced eradication. The program focused on working with coca leaf growers to shrink crops destined for illegal markets, while increasing human rights alternatives to coca and permitting traditional uses of the plant.

[33] “Elon Musk Confesses to Lithium Coup in Bolivia,” Telesur, July 25, 2020, https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/elon-musk-confesses-to-lithium-coup-in-bolivia-20200725-0010.html; “Morales claims US orchestrated ‘coup’ to tap Bolivia’s lithium,” Al Jazeera, December 25, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/25/morales-claims-us-orchestrated-coup-to-tap-bolivias-lithium. Morales had sought lithium extraction partnerships with Russia and China and not the U.S.

[34] “Elon Musk Confesses to Lithium Coup in Bolivia,” Telesur, July 25, 2020, https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/elon-musk-confesses-to-lithium-coup-in-bolivia-20200725-0010.html

[35] “The IACHR presents its preliminary observations following its visit to Bolivia and requests an urgent international investigation take place into the serious human rights violations that have occurred in the country since the October 2019 elections,” December 10, 2019, http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2019/321.asp; “Bolivian Coup Plotters to be Tried for Massacres, Morales Says” Telesur, December 11, 2019, https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Bolivian-Coup-Plotters-to-Be-Tried-for-Massacres-Morales-Says-20191211-0011.html.

[36] Tom Phillips, “’What happened was a massacre’: grief and rage in Bolivia after day of deadly violence,” The Guardian, November 20, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/20/bolivia-el-alto-violence-death-protest

[37] Forster, “Bolivia’s Post-Coup President Has Unleashed a Campaign of Terror;” Forrest Hylton, “Bolivia’s Coup Government is a Far-Right Horror Show,” The Wire, December 8, 2019, https://thewire.in/world/bolivias-coup-government-is-a-far-right-horror-show

[38] Forster, “Bolivia’s Post-Coup President Has Unleashed a Campaign of Terror.”

[39] Anderson, “The Fall of Evo Morales.”

[40] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-donald-j-trump-regarding-resignation-bolivian-president-evo-morales/

[41] Emily Achtenberg, “MAS Party Under Threat as Bolivia Moves Towards New Elections (Without Evo),” Rebel Currents, North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), January 10, 2020, https://nacla.org/blog/2020/01/10/mas-party-under-threat-bolivia-new-elections-without-evo

[42] “Trump Sending Aid Mission to Bolivia Ahead of Election,” Associated Press, January 8, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/americas/trump-sending-aid-mission-bolivia-ahead-election

[43] Forster, “Bolivia’s Post-Coup President Has Unleashed a Campaign of Terror”; Anderson, “The Fall of Evo Morales.” Foronda posed for a picture with Florida’s right-wing Senator Marco Rubio when he visited Washington.

[44] See William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1998), 221-229; Field, “A Coup in Bolivia, Yet Again;” Michael Ratner and Michael Smith, Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away with Murder (New York: Orbis Books, 20110; Jeremy Kuzmarov, Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), 227/228.

[45] “Bolivia’s Interim Government Appoints First U.S. Envoy in Eleven Years,” Al Jazeera, November 27, 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/27/bolivias-interim-government-appoints-first-us-envoy-in-11-years. Walter Serrate Cuellar was the appointee.

[46] “Bolivia Suspends Diplomatic Relations with Cuba After Spat Over Medical Program,” Reuters, January 24, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-cuba/bolivia-suspends-diplomatic-relations-with-cuba-after-spat-over-medical-program-idUSKBN1ZN1YV; Monica Machicao, “Bolivian minister seeks Israel Help in fighting alleged leftist ‘terrorism,” Reuters, December 6, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-politics-security/bolivian-minister-seeks-israel-help-in-fighting-alleged-leftist-terrorism-idUSKBN1YA28V?il=0

[47] “Bolivia: How Anez Nullified 13 Years of Morales Govt’s Achievements in One Week,” Sputnik, November 21, 2019, https://sputniknews.com/latam/201911211077363083-bolivia-how-anez-nullified-13-years-of-morales-govts-achievements-in-one-week/

[48] Simon Romero, “In Bolivia, a Croat and a Critic is Cast in a Harsh Light,” The New York Times, September 26, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/27/world/americas/27bolivia.html

[49] Fabricant, “The Roots of the Right-Wing Coup in Bolivia.” For background on Marinkovic, see also Blumenthal and Norton, “Bolivian Coup Led by Christian Fascist Paramilitary Leader and Millionaire – with Foreign Support.”

[50] Rory Carroll, “Bolivian President Morales Links U.S. Embassy to Alleged Assassination Attempt,” The Guardian, April 19, 2009, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/apr/20/evo-morales-bolivia-us-embassy; Daniel McLaughlin. “Wild journey ends for Eduardo Flores, ‘soldier and guerrilla’” The Irish Times, April 20, 2009, https://www.irishtimes.com/news/wild-journey-ends-for-eduardo-flores-soldier-and-guerrilla-1.748816; Simon Romero, “Plot Foiled? In Bolivia, Truth is Elusive,” The New York Times, April 27, 2009, https://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/world/americas/28bolivia.html. The group was thought to be responsible for carrying out a dynamite attack on the residence of a Catholic cardinal, Julio Terrazas. According to his former editor, Flores, who had fought for Croatia in the Balkans War in the 1990s, went to Bolivia to fight what he perceived to be its communist government and for the independence of Santa Cruz. He was “a guerrilla fighter living in the Bolivian jungle for some time, having guerrilla activities everyday.” He was subsequently killed in a police raid along with an Irish mercenary, Michael Dwyer, who worked for Shell Oil.

[51] Marinkovic has claimed that his father was a communist who fought with Tito. Romero, “In Bolivia, a Croat and a Critic is Cast in a Harsh Light.”

[52] “West German Magazine Says Klaus Barbie Was in Bolivian Secret Service,” https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP90-01208R000100120073-0.pdf; Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 46.

[53] Blumenthal and Norton, “Bolivian Coup Backed by Christian Paramilitary Leader and Millionaire – with Foreign Support.”

[54] Christian Parenti, “Letter from Bolivia,” The Nation, June 1, 2006, https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/letter-bolivia-morales-moves/

[55] Carlos Valdez, “Bolivia Seizes Big Ranch from President’s Opponents,” The Boston Globe, December 11, 2009, http://archive.boston.com/business/articles/2009/12/11/bolivia_seizes_big_ranch_from_presidents_opponent/. Markovic and members of his family have stored a lot of their money in offshore tax havens in Panama and elsewhere.


Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine and author of four books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019).


Featured image:  Movement toward Socialism (MAS) Presidential candidate Luis Arce Catacora (left) and his running mate David Choquehuanca (right) lead in the polls. [Source: peoplesdispatch.org]

(CovertAction Magazine)

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