By Marco Teruggi
The different steps taken by the coup in Bolivia have a parallel with what the right desperately tries to do in Venezuela. Both processes are deployed according to what appears to be a similar method of action. An analysis of the different coup moments shows this.
Jeanine Añez, self-proclaimed president of Bolivia, occupied the role that Juan Guaidó was called to fulfill in Venezuela and failed to carry out. She was a second tier leader of the opposition, like Guaidó, who, due to a conjunction of circumstances, played a central role on the surface of the coup that forced President Evo Morales to resign on November 10.
It is not the only coincidence between both coups. Both destabilization processes seem to respond to the same template of steps carried out with repeated actors and speeches, both in the depths of real power and on the surface.
“It is a method applicable to any of our revolutionary processes, we have studied the methods, the steps of the new generation wars, in some cases it has given them half the result, in others the complete result, in Venezuela this has not been possible”, explains Cris González, Venezuelan ambassador to Bolivia who is currently in Caracas.
The parallelism between the two coup processes starts from the point of support of the coup process: the matrix of fraud.
AP PHOTO / JUAN KARITA The general elections in Bolivia
“In Bolivia there began to be talk of fraud long before the elections, it was claimed that there was going to be a fraud on the 20th, that same day there was talk of fraud and already a large number of people accepted the idea that it was going to happen even before the first results had been issued,” González analyzes.
That was the point of support used to convene and legitimize the mobilizations that were launched before the election result was known. The idea had been repeated through big media to install it in the imaginary of important segments of Bolivian society.
That same method was applied systematically in Venezuela since the first years of the revolution. It was under the facade that there would be a fraud that the right-wing coup sector did not appear in the presidential elections of May 20, 2018 that gave the presidential victory of Nicolás Maduro. The objective was not to recognize him, to declare him a dictator, and from that point build the parallel government architecture that was launched with the self-proclamation of Guaidó on January 23 of this year.
Violence and its denial
REUTERS / MARCO BELLO Protests in La Paz, Bolivia
Under the construction of the idea of fraud, a sector of the Bolivian population was mobilized, along with which confrontational street groups were activated. That was particularly visible in the cities of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba during the coup escalation that began on October 20 and forced Morales to resign on November 10.
In Cochabamba, for example, testimonies were recorded of how right-wing groups moved in tens and even hundreds of motorcycles to persecute supporters of the movement led by Morales and those who were indigenous.
“They had never seen the use of artisanal bazookas in a protest and the participation of armed motorists that was one of the phenomena of the coup process in that area,” explains Cris González.
Both in Cochabamba and Chasquipampa, where the first massacre took place after November 10, the presence of Venezuelans in the forefront of the clash groups was denounced by locals. The type of armament, mode of displacement, and mode of confrontations were similar to those used in Venezuela in 2014 and 2017 in the so-called guarimbas (right wing violent protests).
It was not the only thing: as in the attempt to overthrow Maduro in 2017, the persecution of political and social leaders part of the process of change [as MAS calls its movement] was launched, as well as attacks on the media. Their houses were marked, burned, they themselves were beaten – as was the case with the mayor of Vinto – as well as the Bolivia TV channel and the Radio Patria Nueva, where its director was tied to a tree.
The Bolivian right, like the Venezuelan one, denied all its violence. That lie could be sustained by the national and international media that had, among other tasks, to make it invisible.
The overthrow and the transitional government
© AFP 2019 / CLAUDIO CRUZ Evo Morales, former president of Bolivia
Evo Morales was forced to resign along with Vice President Álvaro García Linera. It is what Guaidó has called the “cessation of usurpation”, which he has never achieved since he announced it earlier this year. From that moment, the second step announced again and again in the Venezuelan coup strategy was launched in Bolivia: the “transitional government.”
The latter meant two things centrally. First, for Añez to proclaim herself president and then to appoint a de facto government, recognized by the United States (USA), the Organization of American States (OAS), right-wing governments of Latin America, and, in fact, by the European Union. That legitimization in turn implied a denial of the nature of the coup d’etat.
One of the main tasks of the de facto government was to deploy a process of persecution on a large scale through the Bolivian Armed Forces and the Bolivian National Police, which resulted in three massacres and 35 dead recognized so far.
Along with this, de facto government members of the Movement To Socialism (MAS), journalists, political leaders, former officials, human rights organizations and social movements in from Argentina to witness the situation in the country were threatened publicly among others.
“The transitional government” then meant, and in this it’s making progress, a restoration of the old order, an operation done with impunity due to the breakdown of the rule of law, with persecution of opponents, that is, the MAS, leaders of movements, politicians. Those are the conditions that the coup d’etat needs for the third step: “free elections”
AFP 2019 / JORGE BERNAL Jeanine Áñez, de facto president of Bolivia
Añez said from the first moment, as Guaidó did in his speeches, that she would call elections and that her role is interim. As could be anticipated, one of the central points is that Evo Morales and Álvaro García Linera will not be allowed to participate in the elections that will come. As for MAS, the party to which they belong, for the moment it can participate.
The OAS, as expected, will validate the elections as part of the legitimation of the coup d’etat. Cris González stops and insists on the role that the OAS has played as a central instrument of action for the United States, the arm of US foreign policy. That has not only happened in Bolivia but also in Venezuela, where the right-wing governments of the OAS and in particular its secretary general, Luis Almagro, have seated the Guaidó representative at the table of the international body.*
The coup in Bolivia is a mirror for Venezuela: it anticipates what would happen in case the strategy fronted by Guaidó triumphs and which faces its worst crisis since he proclaimed himself.
González says the coup strategy will not stop. “Here is a conviction of whom is the real enemy of the people: USA.” That means that one can expect new actions will come against the government, the political process, the country, which will result both in the sharpening of the economic blockade, and in possible actions that have not yet been seen.
“What do they have left? The weapons of greatest destruction that have left a trail of pain, blood and death in the Middle East and the continent must be prepared to reject this, we cannot allow our continent to become a war zone,” Cris Gonzalez says.
Ed note: A representative of the Guaidó “administration” was seated in the OAS Permanent Council in flagrant violation of the OAS Charter.
Featured image: © REUTERS / Marco Bello
Translated by JRE/EF