The city of El Alto defends Evo Morales in the midst of repression.
There is no visible interim government after more than 24 hours after the coup. Evo is traveling to Mexico. Repressive and persecutory actions are deployed.
By Marco Teruggi
Page 12 in Bolivia / From La Paz
The center of La Paz has been transformed into a scenario of barricades, queues to buy in the few open businesses, stopped transport, neighbors stationed on corners crossed by barbed wires and zinc sheets. Near Plaza Murillo, the center of political power, pass groups with helmets, shields, gas masks, flags of Bolivia, police contingents posted, asking for reinforcement from the National Armed Forces (FAB).
It’s Monday night and there is fear: the city of El Alto may fall. The scenes seen during the afternoon reminded many of the center and the southern part of La Paz that the half of the country who voted for Evo Morales exists and will not stay idle.
What was thought to happen in El Alto happened, and there were thousands of neighbors, mostly from the Aymara nation, who took to the streets to face the coup d’etat, to defend the process of change, and something very profound: the Whipala flag, which during the hours of the coup offensive was removed from institutions and burned in the street by right-wing protesters.
What happened was not part of the plan of those leading the coup d’etat that, at this time, presents more elements of confusion and violence than a planned project. One element is clear: the main objective was to overthrow Evo Morales and persecute him, as he denounced when making public that an officer of the Bolivian National Police (PNB) had an illegal arrest warrant against him.
Morales’s situation was uncertain last night. The Mexican Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, announced that the president was on a plane that would take him to that country.
His personal safety is a matter of great concern in a context where his house was assaulted by violent groups and where there is no public authority among those who carried out the coup. The rule of law has been broken and that has opened the door to the absolute impunity of those who manage to exercise power.
During the day, Morales sent messages from his Twitter account to denounce the repression in El Alto that claimed several lives, including that of a girl, and to ask there be no fall into clashes “between brothers.” At night, before getting on the plane, he tweeted: “Sisters and brothers, I leave for Mexico, grateful for the detachment of the government of that brother people that gave us asylum to protect our lives. It hurts to leave the country for political reasons, but I will always be there. Soon I will return with more strength and energy.” The asylum proposal in Mexico will be a possible way out for the president ousted and under threat.
In Bolivia, the coup block still failed to form a government. After the resignation of Evo Morales and Vice President Alvaro García Linera, the president of the Senate should be the next in line, Jeanine Añez, who landed in Bolivia. However, she should assume the office with the agreement of the legislative branch, where the Movement to Socialism has a majority in both houses, that is, the party that was forcibly displaced.
There is no visible interim government after more than 24 hours after the coup. There are instead powers that are deployed in repressive and persecutory actions, with the announcements in social networks by Fernando Camacho, the visible face of the “civil” wing of the coup, the actions of the PNB and the FAB.
The latter issued a statement Monday night under the name of Major General Williams Kaliman: the FAB will deploy actions on the streets to accompany the GNP. There is no formal government, but there is the power of arms.
The scenario is not as planned by those who led the coup. The question really is: did they have an organized scenario that was not only to overthrow and persecute Morales and the leaders of the change process?
The coup block is heterogeneous, it contains civil, business, police, military, religious and international sectors. This last dimension was expressed in the complicity of the Organization of American States (OAS) that did not describe what happened as a coup d’etat, and in the same declarations of the United States that presented the overthrow as a return to democracy.
The combination of forces that achieved the coup seems to have a clear objective: to decapitate the process of change, from its officials to its political leaders. That has resulted in persecutions, as applications for asylum in embassies make material, centrally in Mexico.
There is then an instability within those who led the offensive, as well as a reaction that is launched, not only in El Alto – with a strong level of radicalism – but in several parts of the country.
Thus, for example, the Single Trade Union Confederation of Peasant Workers of Bolivia (Csutcb) announced blockades throughout Bolivia on the main roads, “general resistance to the coup d’etat throughout the country,” as well as the expulsion of leaders who became part of the overthrow.
The situation is more unstable than the promise sold by Camacho and those who celebrated on Sunday afternoon and evening. There is a country that they denied, despised, despite their efforts to show themselves as democratic and inclusive, and that country began to move, to challenge, to face the conservative restoration that seeks a rematch.
At the moment there is no visible direction of resistance processes. What is clear is that the decision of those who lead the coup will be to respond with repression at all possible scales. Already on Monday night, tanks were seen in the streets of La Paz and the neighbors who celebrated the overthrow and burning of whipalas now applaud the militarization.
Featured image: In Bolivia there is only the power of weapons. AP
Translated by JRE/EF