Opposition Senator Jeanine Áñez declared herself president of Bolivia on Tuesday night, despite not complying with the constitutional requirements, as Parliament did not achieve a quorum because the deputies of MAS (mayority) were not in attendance due to lack of guarantees for their security. The senator proclaimed herself president with only a minimum presence of deputies, all from the opposition, and violating articles 161, 169 and 410 of the Constitution.
“I immediately assume the presidency of the State and I undertake all necessary measures to pacify the country,” said Áñez, who is the second vice president of the Senate of Bolivia and the right-wing Social Democratic Movement party.
The MAS bench did not attend Parliament, after having requested “guarantees” so that the congressmen could arrive in La Paz, in the face of the barricades and the military presence that surround the city. However, in a flash session in the Senate, which was in doubt of happening earlier, Áñez declared herself as interim president: “I immediately assume the presidency of Bolivia provided for in the constitutional order,” she said.
The senator also said that the new elections in Bolivia will take place after the appointment of the new Electoral Tribunal.
“I pledge to take all necessary measures to pacify the country,” said Áñez.
On the absence of the legislators of the deposed president’s party, Áñez said that “the people” had been “witness” that “all the necessary efforts had been made to channel the presence of the assembly members of the three political forces.”
However, she added that the MAS parliamentarians had already publicly expressed their decision not to participate, and blamed the ousted president Evo Morales, and former vice president Álvaro García Linera, for having submitted his resignation, and “leaving the country, taking refuge in Mexico”, which she considered “an abandonment of his duties.”
In a previous public address, Áñez explained that her promotion to the first magistracy is given by line of succession of charges; However, she clarified that she should first assume the presidency of the Senate, a fact that occurred prior to her self-proclamation as national president.
“The most artful and nefarious coup in history”
From exile in Mexico, Evo Morales rejected the opposition maneuver, which he called “the most artful and disastrous coup d’etat in history.”
“A coup right-wing senator calls herself president of the senate and then interim president of Bolivia without a legislative quorum, surrounded by a group of accomplices and backed by the armed forces and the police, which repress the people,” Morales wrote on his Twitter account .
Se ha consumado el golpe más artero y nefasto de la historia. Una senadora de derecha golpista se autoproclama presidenta del senado y luego presidenta interina de Bolivia sin quórum legislativo, rodeada de un grupo de cómplices y apañada por FFAA y Policía que reprimen al pueblo
— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) November 12, 2019
On the other hand, the indigenous leader denounced “before the international community” that the act of self-proclamation of a senator as president violates the political Constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia (CPE), and the internal norms of the Legislative Assembly.
For Morales, this violation “is consummated with the blood of brothers killed by police and military forces used for the coup.”
Denuncio ante la comunidad internacional que el acto de autoproclamación de una senadora como presidenta viola la CPE de Bolivia y normas internas de la Asamblea Legislativa. Se consuma sobre la sangre de hermanos asesinados por fuerzas policiales y militares usadas para el golpe
— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) November 13, 2019
Following Morales’s resignation, Vice President Álvaro García Linera, who was to take the reins of the country, in accordance with Article 169 of the Bolivian Constitution, also resigned; along the same line, the president of the Senate, Adriana Salvatierra, joined the resignations.
Morales had to leave power on Sunday, under pressure from military forces and the police, which mutinied in several cities in the country. The president also resigned besieged by opposition groups, who staged violent protests and confronted followers of the president, who went out to defend the government.
The police, together with the armed forces, have been a key piece in the coup d’etat process, repressing and arresting protesters supportive of Evo Morales. On Tuesday, the Ombudsman reported at least 4 people killed during the protests and the Prosecutor’s Office increased the number of deaths to 7.
Bolivia is going through a political crisis after the forced resignation of President Evo Morales, his vice president Álvaro García Linera, and presidents of the Deputies and Senators chambers, due to the wave of opposition violence that lashed out at the indigenous and peasant population.
Source: Alba Ciudad - Translated by JRE/EF
By Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro:
”Evo Morales is still president of Bolivia because the resignation letter has not been formally received by the Senate and as they have not officially received it and approved it,” said the head of state yesterday regarding the suspension of the Parliament meeting due to lack of quorum.
By Roberto Rojas-Morales MBA; MA (Res. Hons)
SURPRISE, SURPRISE in Bolivia ?! NO!!! This is exactly what Guaido attempted to do in Venezuela, but the Armed Forces and the Police of Venezuela were ALWAYS LOYAL to the LEGITIMATE President Maduro.
Jeanine Añez Circus performance in an almost EMPTY Bolivian Parliament exemplifies the COUP on behalf of the USA's interests and the Oligarch WHITE SUPREMACISTS in Bolivia!!!
Next few years will be the CONSTANT murder and repression of the native INDIGENOUS people, followed by a WHOLESALE GIFT of ALL Bolivian assets and minerals to transnationals to ensure GREEDY PROFITS for the RAPACIOUS local oligarchs and US corporations!!
It has ALWAYS been about the true INDEPENDENCE (political, economic, foreign policy, etc) of any country that the USA HATES and will do anything and everything to destroy the independence of those countries.
The School of the Americas (military "training" and INDOCTRINATION); and the Organisation of American States (Political INTERFERENCE) are 2 of the MAJOR players and Trojan Horses used by the USA in Latin America. The School of the Americas ENSURES that every OFFICER in the Armed Forces and the Police of Latin American countries are INDOCTRINATED by USA PROPAGANDA and servitude to the US interests.
The ONLY Latin American countries that have LIBERATED their Armed Forces and Police from the USA indoctrination are : Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Therefore, those military and police WILL ALWAYS DEFEND their native countries interests, and NOT the IMPERIALISTS of the USA.
The OAS is the political Trojan Horse PRETENDING they represent "freedom and democracy" (US style= FAKE), but IN FACT they are the opposite and represent the USA and the Native oligarchs' interest ONLY. Both Trojan Horses, plus the CIA, NED and the Presstitutes were used to carry out COUPS in Ecuador and Bolivia recently!!
By Willem Maas - Maritiem Instituut De Ruyter (Hogere Zeevaartschool) te Vlissingen mijn SWTK afgerond:
#CIA (Criminal Intervention Organisation) hashtag#mossad hashtag#DeepState hashtag#zionism Bolivian security forces and racist right-wing mobs are going door-to-door, rounding up and beating hashtag#Indigenous people and hashtag#leftists in impoverished neighbourhoods in hashtag#LaPaz as they try to literally smoke hashtag#Morales supporters out.
Facebook and Twitter support right wing coup an allow malicious bots spreading FAKE NEWS
Why are bots trying to convince people that there is no hashtag#coup going on in hashtag#Bolivia? When you type in “Friends from everywhere, in Bolivia there was NO COUP” in the search bar of Twitter as well as Facebook, there are hundreds of fake accounts putting out the same message in English. Are U.S.-backed coup plotters in Bolivia trying to manipulate international public opinion?
By Ali Cheaib - Independent Journalist
Meet hashtag#JeanineAñezChavez. She's a true scumbag. She might look human to you when you look at her but she's a true piece of sh*t. Why? She's a hashtag#ChristianExtremist who believes the indigenous people of Bolivia are satanic pagans! Yep, I'm not kidding. Moreover, this vile piece of crap just self-proclaimed herself interim president of hashtag#Bolivia and announced a new government with ZERO indigenous members! Obviously, this scumbag politician is hijacking the uprising to build a corrupt racist government that will oppress the natives and steal their resources for the benefit of Western corporations. And that's why the protests in Bolivia will NOT stop and until the constitution is changed completely to limit the power of government over its people where decision-making will be in the hands of ALL citizens, not a few corrupt politicians in the capital. A similar political system exists TODAY in Switzerland. The Bolivian uprising is part of a larger awakening in the consciousness of citizens around the globe from hashtag#Chile to hashtag#France to hashtag#HongKong to hashtag#Catalonia to the hashtag#Netherlands to hashtag#Ecuador to hashtag#Bolivia to hashtag#Serbia to hashtag#Athens to hashtag#Iraq to hashtag#Syria to hashtag#Lebanon to hashtag#Egypt to hashtag#Sudan to hashtag#Haiti. They're all demanding smaller governments and more power to the people. Precisely the power of national decision-making by ALL citizens through public referendums, not by the scumbag politicians behind closed doors. Remember, Remeber, it does NOT matter who sits at the capitals of this planet for as long as decision-making is in the hands of ALL citizens.
FINALLY THE TRUTH ON BOLIVIA, MORALES OUSTED BY TED CRUZ
A series of secret recordings have surfaced which prove U.S. senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, along with Bob Menendez are implicated.
The video is in Spanish. Here is a translated transcript that is not from Google
Night falls in Bolivia as tensions increase
A series of audio and video recordings has revealed the plan to hit the state of Bolivia against President Morales.
These recordings reveal the participation of agents from The United States, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez who held meetings with those who overthrew Morales before the hit occurred.
These recordings revealed that the action against Morales was a bi partisan effort by the United States, involving both Democrats and Republicans.
They cooperated to steal elections and create violent uprisings against Morales, and will continue until the entire Bolivian government is overthrown. The houses where the government officials live have been marked for direct attacks with a small painted X in the color that represents their position in government with a specific preference to people who watch over the elections, so they can be eliminated and new people put in their place.
An additional effort will be made to nullify past election results.
There are many many audio and video recordings that demonstrate the ways and ways they plan to hit the state and repress the people and turn back the efforts of the elected president Evo Morales
CHILE 2:48 - BOLIVIA 4:26
The US-Sponsored Coup that Ousted Evo Morales. Bolivia’s Partnership with China in Lithium Production
By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar - GR - 18. November 2019
Any human being who values justice and freedom would condemn the coup that ousted the Bolivian president Evo Morales on the 10th of November 2019.
Morales obtained 47.08 % of the vote to secure a fourth term as president in the election held on the 20th of October. Since his vote was more than 10% of what his closest rival had harnessed, there was no need for a second round of voting according to the Bolivian Constitution. However his opponents did not want to accept the result. Neither did the Organisation of American States (OAS) nor the United States of America (USA) nor the European Union (EU). They alleged “electoral fraud” without providing any tangible evidence. It should be emphasised that international observers from a number of countries testified to the legitimacy of the polls.
To protest Morales’s re-election, his adversaries organised strikes and boycotts. They disrupted public order and even resorted to violence. The police allowed this to happen because like the military it was also opposed to the president. Indeed, the military and the police played a critical role in undermining Morales.
It was partly because of the failure of the military and police to protect the Constitution and the rule of law that chaos escalated accompanied by the intensification of violence. Morales did not want the situation to deteriorate further and decided to resign as president. A number of other top leaders also chose to quit. Mexico offered Morales political asylum. An opposition politician with the full backing of the military, Jeanine Anez, declared herself interim president of Bolivia. Anez had garnered only 1.7% of the votes cast in the October elections.
It would be naïve to believe that the ouster of Morales and the installation of a new president was the result of the dynamics of internal politics alone. The US had a huge role in the entire episode. Some members of the US elite not only colluded with elements in the Bolivian military but also helped to engineer the convulsions that forced Morales out of office. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an appendage of the US establishment with a reputation for orchestrating ‘regime change’ in a number of countries all over the world was allegedly heavily involved in Bolivian political and civil society activities long before the October elections.
Why is the US elite so determined to control and direct Bolivia? It is partly because Bolivia since Evo Morales came to power in 2006 has sought to be a truly independent and sovereign nation. As the first president from an indigenous community (the indigenous constitute 63% of the population) Morales is deeply committed to protecting Bolivia’s wealth and resources and ensuring that they are utilised for the well-being of the people. It is widely recognised that he has succeeded to a great extent to reduce poverty, improve the standard of health of the people, especially the rural folk, and expand educational opportunities for the disadvantaged. Morales has also tried to curb the power of mega corporations in the economy.
In this regard, just before he was ousted, Morales , it is reported, decided to partner with Chinese firms to develop Bolivia’s lithium deposits since Western mining companies were not prepared to comply with the terms that the Bolivian government laid out. For Morales, the exploitation of lithium had to benefit the Bolivian people before anyone else. Western companies and the US elite saw the Bolivian president as a hurdle. They were convinced that Morales had to go.
In passing, it has to be highlighted that lithium is in great demand in the world battery market today. It is crucial for the electric car which is predicted to play a significant role in transportation in the near future. Bolivia claims to have 70% of the world’s lithium reserves.
Will Bolivia’s partnership with China in lithium mining come to an end with Morales’s overthrow? It is very likely. But the larger trend towards change in Latin America and the Caribbean in which Morales’s contribution was pivotal will continue. Opposition to the military backed coup in Bolivia is strong and sustained.
Though at least 23 Morales’ supporters have been killed so far by the new regime, the protest against the usurpation of power by an unpopular elite remains unabated. In Venezuela all attempts, both external and internal, to crush a leadership that is determined to protect the nation’s independence have failed. A right-wing government in Brasilia has not been able to extinguish the Brazilian people’s desire for justice. In Argentina some of the progressive elements have returned to power through the ballot-box. Ecuador is another example of a country where those with a progressive orientation are prepared to resist the retrogressive forces that seek to re-shape the nation. The leadership of Nicaragua remains committed to people based policies in spite of all the challenges. The new president of Mexico is attempting to introduce reforms that matter to the people. Most of all, there is Cuba 60 years after a Revolution steadfast as ever in its pursuit of human dignity and national sovereignty and serving as a pioneer of that monumental transformation that awaits Latin America and the Caribbean.
All this has to be located within a broader tapestry – a tapestry in which US and Western power is declining significantly and new centres of power are emerging and becoming more assertive.
(*) Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
Note to readers: Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.
Russia Denounces Bolivia Coup, Moscow’s Ambiguous Statement Regarding Illegitimate Self-Proclaimed President
By Elias Jaua - 23. November 2019
I write these lines in the hours when the humble people of Bolivia wage a tremendous battle for their existence, for their dignity. A coup d’etat, a military, very violent, cruel and racist coup in the 21st century, has been consummated. The military high command committed the felony under the argument of not wanting to repress the fascist gangs of Luis Fernando Camacho who had been burning and lynching from the city of Santa Cruz to La Paz to overthrow the constitutional President Evo Morales, who beyond the results Elections of last October of this year 2019, has a legal and legitimate mandate from 2015 to January 2020, the result of the validated elections of 2014.
After the coup, after the forced resignation of our brother Evo Morales and the unconstitutional self-proclamation of Senator Jeanine Áñez, current dictator of Bolivia, the armed and police forces have unleashed a massacre of proportions not seen, in such a short time, since the coup against President Martyr Salvador Allende, by Augusto Pinochet, in 1973, against the Chilean people and the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez against our people in February and March 1989.
It is not time to point out mistakes or regrets, but to learn the lessons that the Bolivian case is giving us in real time, namely:
- As Che said, “You cannot trust anithing coming from Imperialism.” There are no lobbies that are worthwhile, when the White House is determined to truncate processes of democratic transformation, its historical enemies. In the shade, it is more dangerous.
- The revolutionary leadership must always have an ear on the ground, to listen to the telluric movements. These coup processes do not occur overnight. Less than useful are the self-convictions that “Everything is under control.”
- The unconditional ones are not always the most loyal ones. A truth told and heard in time can save a revolutionary process.
- Government works and policies are necessary but not sufficient. Without ideology, without attachment to programmatic principles, the true course of victory is lost. With Bolívar we say “To vacillate is to lose ourselves”.
- Once again, Augusto Sandino’s phrase “Only workers and peasants will reach the end” is checked. In the streets of Bolivia, opening their chest and spilling their blood to raise their flags, the tricolor of Independence and the multicolored Wiphala of cultural diversity, are the Indians, the peasants, the workers, the miners, the humble people. In those streets there are no businessmen, no bankers, no glittering artists, or the plugged in. They are not here, they are all time opportunists. Only the people save the people!
- The revolutions must be peaceful, democratic, electoral, but as our Comandante Chávez said “not unarmed.”
- With the people there will always be tomorrow. Institutions can be a circumstance. It is the people that make revolution. The people are always going to fight, the people don’t give up.
Go, our admiration for the poor of Bolivia, for their conscience, for their dignity, for their courage. Victory belongs to them. Fascism will not advance. Venceremos!
Elías José Jaua Milano is a Venezuelan politician and former university professor who served as Vice President of Venezuela from January 2010 to October 2012.He was Minister of Foreign Affairs since January 2013. Jaua obtained a Sociology degree from the Central University of Venezuela. In 2000 he was part of the Comisión Legislativa Nacional and Minister of the Secretaría de la Presidencia from 2000 to 2001.
He was nominated as Venezuelan Ambassador to Argentina in 2002. Jaua served as Minister of Agriculture in President Hugo Chávez's government before being appointed as Vice-President in January 2010, while remaining Minister of Agriculture. On 15 December 2011, following a major reshuffle of the Venezuelan political leadership, President Chávez proposed Jaua to be the PSUV candidate for governor of the state of Miranda (reported in El Universal).
He resigned the vice presidency on 13 October 2012 to compete in the election and was replaced by Nicolás Maduro. He lost the election on 16 December 2012 to the former governor Henrique Capriles who had stepped down in June 2012 to unsuccessfully challenge Hugo Chávez for President. Jaua succeeded Nicolás Maduro as Minister of Foreign Affairs on 15 January 2013.
Translated by JRE/EF
Bolivia’s U.S.-backed Coup Government Has Given The Military A License To Kill Protestors
By Paul Antonopoulos, Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies - Monday, 18. November 2019
The de facto and unelected president of Bolivia, Jeanine Áñez, signed a decree that exempts all military personnel from being criminally responsible, even in the cases of murder, in the midst of demonstrations against the coup d'etat that ousted democratically elected first Indigenous President of Bolivia, Evo Morales. Effectively, Bolivian security forces have a license to kill now.
Since the decree was signed last Thursday, it has inevitably caused controversy with demonstrators and social media users alike. And it very well should - it is a blatant U.S.-orchestrated coup against Morales who helped his country reduce unemployment, poverty and illiteracy by at least 50% from 2006 to 2018, and liberated his country from strangling neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
The decree was immediately denounced by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), by Morales, and by regional leaders such as the newly elected president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández.
Although the decree is dated November 14, it was only made public on Saturday, a day after an anti-government march of coca growers in the department of Cochabamba left at least nine dead and 115 injured, according to the Office of the Ombudsman. For its part, the United Nations High Commissioner, Michel Bachelet, has expressed concern about the growing violence in the Andean country and the actions taken by the unelected government.
There is “information that at least seventeen people have died in the context of the protests, including fourteen only in the last six days," Bachelet said in a statement from Geneva, adding that “while the first deaths occurred as a result of violent clashes between rival protesters, the most recent seem to derive from an unnecessary or disproportionate use of force by police or military personnel.”
However, this should not even be the least bit surprising for the UN commissioner since the U.S. has a long history of violent regime change in Latin America. It was revealed in a report by the Gray Zone that at least six of the main coup plotters were alumni of the infamous School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, a notorious training center that since the times of the Cold War has orchestrated regime operations against anti-U.S. Latin American leaders. The report explained that “brutal regime change and reprisal operations from Haiti to Honduras have been carried out by SOA graduates, and some of the most bloodstained juntas in the region’s history have been run by the school’s alumni.” While U.S. President Donald Trump cheered on a “a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere,” the U.S.-trained Bolivian military have now killed at least 23 people, mostly Indigenous.
Although the U.S. espouses the endless mantra of ‘freedom and democracy’, it has continuously demonstrated, such as in Venezuela and Syria, that it is willing to move away from its ‘peaceful’ liberal ideology and utilize reactionary forces when its political and economic interests are under threat. Morales managed to re-found the country politically and economically by embracing the Multipolar World, where the U.S. is no longer the sole power in the world, by improving ties with China and Russia, and by nationalizing natural resources and strategic companies.
Evo Morales said during an interview in June 2016: “We had a beggar state in 2005. In the economic part everything was imposed by the International Monetary Fund. The Fund had its office in the Central Bank of Bolivia. The CIA was a parasite that had its offices in the National Palace. The U.S. military group had its own at the headquarters of the Armed Forces in the Great Barracks General Miraflores. When there was political conflict and the parties on the right fought, the United States ambassador was the godfather... We had an agreed democracy. Everything was pact. It was legal, but there was no legitimacy.”
Although Morales ran Bolivia, one of Latin America’s poorest countries, mostly uninterrupted for 13 years unlike Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and Brazil’s Lula, the discovery of massive amounts of lithium was a gamechanger. The precious resource is necessary to power all batteries, a demand that is ever increasing for our technological world.
Although Morales’ impressive records speaks for itself, as he never prioritized the indoctrination of the Bolivian military, the SOA-trained officers were able to remain dormant until called upon by the U.S. to conduct a coup in the South American country. Two days before the Gray Zone report, in a previous articleI already made the argument that former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had radicalized and ideologized the military to the constitutional national ideology and built a people’s militia capable of defending the government from internal and external, which is why even to this day, Maduro has not been ousted in a coup despite endless U.S.-backed attempts. This is something Morales did not do, allowing the U.S. to gain a strong foothold in the Bolivian military.
Morales created the Anti-Imperialist Command School in 2016. Completing several courses related to the ideology of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA), as well on geopolitics and imperialism, became the only way to become a Captain in the Bolivian military. However, this is only a recent initiative, that began a decade after he became president, not even nearly enough time for him to reform the military ideology, especially since he never expelled pro-U.S. officers from the military, opting to wait for their retirements.
And now that Áñez is running the country with the military’s blessing, the years of advancements in Indigenous rights and living standards made by Morales will surely be reversed, especially as she considers their culture to be “Satanic” that is not compatible with modern life and should remain in the mountains or swamplands. Áñez criticizes socialism and expresses her fear that one day Bolivia will become like “Cuba” – this is mostly influenced by her adherence to radical Christian Evangelicalism that believes socialism to be the work of the devil.
Guided by her Evangelical beliefs, she is now an ally of Evangelical Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a staunch supporter of the Brazilian dictatorship and has said that “too bad the Brazilian cavalry was not as efficient as the American cavalry that exterminated the Indians,” in reference to the American Indian genocide. Supporting reactionary pro-U.S. forces in Latin America has always meant a contempt and hatred of the Indigenous people – and it has often been the Evangelicals that were used in Latin Americaalongside paramilitaries or coup plotters to carry out U.S. interests in this region.
Although Bolsonaro dreams of a Brazil that is purged of most of its native population, like what was achieved in the U.S., Áñez has begun her own U.S.-backed campaign against the Indigenous populations by already greenlighting the murder of Morales supporters, who are overwhelmingly Indigenous just as the population of Bolivia is.
Her license to kill has not just seen many Indigenous murdered, but it will mean we will continue to see the Indigenous being murdered by the Bolivian military as they continue their peaceful mass demonstrations in support of the exiled Morales.
CIA Installed Dictatorship Replaces Democracy in Bolivia
By Stephen Lendman - GR - 17. November 2019
Evo Morales is Bolivia’s democratically elected and three-times reelected Bolivian president.
In cahoots with Bolivian fascists, military and police, along with US imperial tool Organization of American States (OAS), CIA forces toppled Morales for not subordinating the country’s sovereign rights to US interests.
Morales’ majority Movement for Socialism (MAS) legislators were intimidated and threatened not to interfere with the coup.
In response to the OAS’ Big Lie about electoral fraud, none occurring, Pompeo congratulated the organization for serving US interests over the rights and welfare of Bolivia and its people.
Separately, he thanked self-declared, unelected, illegitimate usurper president Jeanine Anez for “lead(ing) her nation through this democratic transition (sic)” the Trump regime went all-out to eliminate, CIA-installed fascist tyranny replacing it.
An unnamed senior state department official called transition to despotism in Bolivia “a significant moment for…democracy in our hemisphere” — a notion both extremist right wings of the US one-party state abhor, especially at home.
Anti-Morales Bolivians in the streets post-election, “standing up for (the) legitimacy of their electoral process,” were CIA-recruited thugs.
Key Bolivian military and police officials were enlisted to support the coup. At first, majority pro-Morales legislators couldn’t enter parliament because security forces refused to guarantee their safety.
Days later, they formed a legislative quorum, swearing in MP Monico Eva Copa as Senate president and Sergio Choque as lower house Chamber of Deputies president.
Pro-Morales supporters control of Bolivia’s Legislative Assembly for now, tenuous at best without military and police support.
Anez illegally self-declared herself president, breaching the constitutional requirement for a parliamentary quorum to be in session for approval.
She breached articles 161, 169 and 410 of the Constitution.
Article 161 lists the Legislative Assembly’s functions, a quorum required for them to be performed. They include “accept(ing) or reject(ing) the resignation of the president (and) vice president.”
Article 169 states the following:
“In the event of an impediment or definitive absence of the President, he or she shall be replaced by the Vice President and, in the absence of the latter, by the President of the Senate, and in his or her absence by the President of the Chamber of Deputies. In this last case, new elections shall be called within a maximum period of ninety days.”
“In case of temporary absence, the Vice President shall assume the Presidency for a term not to exceed ninety days.”
Article 410 states:
“Every person, natural and legal, as well as public organs, public functions and institutions, are subject to the present Constitution.”
“The Constitution is the supreme norm of Bolivian law and enjoys supremacy before any other normative disposition.”
Anez is a US-anointed hard-right political nobody, elected to Bolivia’s Senate in 2014 with 91,895 votes – 1.7% of 5,171,428 ballots cast.
Until the CIA coup, most Bolivians knew little or nothing about her. Telesur noted that “Latin America recorded a new ‘self-swearing’ in coup script that, without a doubt, seems familiar,” adding:
“Violence in the country continues by radical opposition groups that have burned indigenous population symbols.”
“Meanwhile in La Paz, (the country’s political capital) thousands of supporters of Evo Morales are being mobilized in rejection of the coup d’etat and its discriminatory and racist acts.”
“Over 4,500 Twitter accounts (were) created to legitimize (the illegitimate) coup (with) almost no followers,” Telesur reported, citing Menta Communication’s Luciano Galup, adding:
“These action have scant effect on domestic politics…But worldwide they can function as (pro-coup) propaganda” — a way for dictatorships and their sponsors to legitimize what’s illegitimate.
Calling Twitter’s action “a scandal,” Galup noted that 3,612 accounts have “between zero and one follower,” adding:
“(T)he most scandalous thing is there are 4,492 accounts that were created between yesterday and today to participate in the (coup). They created 4,492 accounts in two days.”
Images released support it. On Friday, illegitimate coup d’etat regime communications minister Roxana Lizarraga threatened independent journalists reporting accurately on what’s going with “sedition,” saying:
“Law will be fully enforced against those journalists or pseudo-journalists who are seditious, whether they are nationals or foreigners (sic),” warning:
The (illegitimate) interior ministry is compiling a list of journalists opposed to the coup d’etat regime.
Arrests were made, more likely to follow. The coup d’etat regime cut diplomatic ties to Venezuela, ordered its embassy staff to leave the country — one day after Anez usurped power, likely acting on orders from Washington.
Separately, she warned that if Morales returns to Bolivia, his legal right, he’ll face charges, falsely saying:
“He knows he has to answer to justice (sic). There is an electoral crime (sic). Nobody has thrown him out, but yes, there’s a need for him to respond regarding electoral fraud (sic), in addition to many allegations of corruption (sic).”
Earlier she said her (illegitimate) foreign ministry will file an official complaint with Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government for granting Morales asylum.
Coup d’etat regime foreign minister Karen Longaric announced Bolivia’s withdrawal from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).
Established in 2004 by Venezuela and Cuba, other regional nations joining the alliance. The international organization is all about cooperative social, political and economic integration of Latin American and Caribbean nations.
Large-scale pro-Morales protests continue in La Paz and elsewhere — demanding Anez resign, calling for reinstatement of Morales as Bolivia’s legitimate president.
CIA-installed usurpers control things. Resistance continues. The US got another imperial trophy if its dark forces can keep it — no guarantee given Bolivia’s long history of resisting tyranny.
* Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at . He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” https://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Note to readers: Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.
Top Bolivian coup plotters trained by US military’s School of the Americas, served as attachés in FBI police programs
By Jeb Sprague (*) - TheGrayzone - 13.
The United States played a key role in the military coup in Bolivia, and in a direct way that has scarcely been acknowledged in accounts of the events that forced the country’s elected president, Evo Morales, to resign on November 10.
Just prior to Morales’ resignation, the commander of Bolivia’s armed forces Williams Kaliman “suggested” that the president step down. A day earlier, sectors of the country’s police force had rebelled.
Though Kaliman appears to have feigned loyalty to Morales over the years, his true colors showed as soon as the moment of opportunity arrived. He was not only an actor in the coup, he had his own history in Washington, where he had briefly served as the military attaché of Bolivia’s embassy in the US capital.
Kaliman sat at the top of a military and police command structure that has been substantially cultivated by the US through WHINSEC, the military training school in Fort Benning, Georgia known in the past as the School of the Americas. Kaliman himself attended a course called “Comando y Estado Mayor” at the SOA in 2003.
At least six of the key coup plotters are alumni of the infamous School of the Americas, while Kaliman and another figure served in the past as Bolivia’s military and police attachés in Washington.
Within the Bolivian police, top commanders who helped launch the coup have passed through the APALA police exchange program. Working out of Washington DC, APALA functions to build relations between U.S. authorities and police officials from Latin American states. Despite its influence, or perhaps because of it, the program maintains little public presence. Its staff was impossible for this researcher to reach by phone.
It is common for governments to assign a small number of individuals to work at their country’s embassies abroad as military or police attachés. The late Philip Agee, a one-time CIA case officer who became the agency’s first whistleblower, explained in his 1975 tell-all book how US intelligence traditionally relied on the recruitment of foreign military and police officers, including embassy attachés, as critical assets in regime change and counter-insurgency operations.
As I found from the more than 11,000 FOIA documents I obtained while writing my book on the paramilitary campaign waged in the lead up to the February 2004 ouster of Haiti’s elected government and the post-coup repression, U.S. officials worked for years to ingratiate themselves and establish connections with Haitian police, army, and ex-army officials. These connections as well as the recruitment and information gathering efforts eventually paid off.
In Bolivia, too, the role of military and police officials trained by the US was pivotal in forcing regime change. U.S. government agencies such as USAID have openly financed anti-Morales groups in the country for many years. But the way that the country’s security forces were used as a Trojan Horse by US intelligence services is less understood. With Morales’s forced departure, however, it became impossible to deny how critical a factor this was.
As this investigation will establish, the coup plot could not have succeeded without the enthusiastic approval of the country’s military and police commanders. And their consent was influenced heavily by the US, where so many were groomed and educated for insurrection.
Leaked audio exposes School of the Americas grads plotting a coup
Leaked audio reported on Bolivian news website La Época, and by elperiodicocr.com and a range of national media outlets, reveals that covert coordination took place between current and former Bolivian police, military, and opposition leaders in bringing about the coup.
— Rompeviento TV (@RompevientoTV) November 10, 2019
The leaked audio recordings show that former Cochabamba mayor and former presidential candidate Manfred Reyes Villa played a central role in the plot. Reyes happens to be an alumnus of WHINSEC (formerly known as the School of the Americas), who currently resides in the United States.
The other four who are introduced or introduce themselves by name in the leaked audio are General Remberto Siles Vasquez (audio 12); Colonel Julio César Maldonado Leoni (audio 8 and 9); Colonel Oscar Pacello Aguirre (audio 14), and Colonel Teobaldo Cardozo Guevara (audio 10). All four of these ex-military officials attended the SOA.
Cardozo Guevara, in particular, boasts about his connections amongst active officers.
The identities of these individuals are confirmed by cross-checking the data of the School of Americas Watch lists of alumni with Facebook and local Bolivian news articles and the leaked audio recordings.
The School of the Americas is a notorious site of education for Latin American coup plotters dating back to the height of the Cold War. Brutal regime change and reprisal operations from Haiti to Honduras have been carried out by SOA graduates, and some of the most bloodstained juntas in the region’s history have been run by the school’s alumni.
For many years, anti-war protesters have staged a protest vigil outside the SOA’s headquarters at the Fort Benning military base near Columbus, Georgia.
The leader of those protests, Father Roy Bourgeois, has described the SOA as “a combat school. ” He continued:
“Most of the courses revolve around what they call counter insurgency warfare. Who are the insurgents? We have to ask that question. They are the poor. They are the people in Latin America who call for reform. They are the landless peasants who are hungry. They are health care workers, human rights advocates, labor organizers, they become the insurgents, they’re seen as ‘el enemigo’ — the enemy. And they are those who become the targets of those who learn their lessons at the School of the Americas.”
Bourgeois was deported from Bolivia in 1977 when he spoke out against the human rights abuses of Gen. Hugo Banzer, a right-wing dictator who rose to power through a US-backed coup that toppled a leftist government. History repeats itself today as Banzer’s ideological heirs drive another socialist leader from power through time-tested destabilization tactics.
In the recently leaked audio recordings, coup plotters discuss plans to set ablaze government buildings, get pro-business unions in the country to carry out strikes, as well as other tactics – all straight out of the CIA playbook.
Also alluded to in the leaked audio is that the coup attempt would be supported by various evangelical groups as well as by Colombian President Iván Duque, ex-Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, and most notably Brazil’s neo-fascist President Jair Bolsonaro.
The plotters also mention the strong support of ultra-right U.S. senators Ted Cruz, Bob Menéndez, and Marco Rubio, who is said to have the ear of President Donald Trump when it comes to U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.
Military and Police Attachées in DC: A breeding ground for U.S. intelligence networking
As tensions built over recent weeks, it was the commanding general of the Bolivian Police, Vladimir Yuri Calderón Mariscal, who broke the stalemate by leading large parts of the police force to revolt on November 9th, just a day prior to the resignation of Morales.
In 2018 Calderón Mariscal served as President of Police Attachés of Latin America in the United States of America (APALA), which is based in Washington, DC.
APALA has been described as a “multidimensional security” program that works to build relations and connections between U.S. authorities and police officials from many of the Organization of American States members.
At APALA’s founding in 2012, then-OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza (center in photo below) met with the group’s leadership.
Today APALA hosts police attachés from 10 countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, Peru, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
According to its Facebook page, the group “was created, with the objective of generating, promoting, and strengthening ties of solidarity, friendship, cooperation and support between the members of the group and their families through social, cultural activities, which allow to generate integral development.”
It claims to be facilitating the “integration and exchange of the police institutions that comprise it, in addition to promoting the exchange of successful experiences developed by the different police forces of Latin America.”
A mysterious organization, APALA has shut down its website ApalaUSA.com and does not answer phone calls. It functions in some capacity as an arm of U.S. federal agencies as its social media platform and now defunct website showcase numerous meetings and photos of APALA officials and participants alongside FBI, DEA, ICE, and other U.S. officials.
As Philip Agee explained in his book Inside the Company, the CIA often uses other U.S. government agencies such as the FBI and USAID, as well as various front-organizations, to carry out its clandestine activities without leaving fingerprints.
Below: APALA participants at the FBI headquarters in Washington DC
— APALA (@apalausa) November 16, 2017
One of APALA’s key local members is Alex Zunca, a police officer in Baltimore who is the director of international affairs for the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association, which is based in Washington, DC.
APALA’s street address listed on its now defunct website is the same address as the embassy of Mexico in Washington, DC. The group was apparently run out of the Mexican Embassy, at least between 2017 and 2018 when its website was active during the administration of the US friendly former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Below, he can be seen seated beside a Mexican national flag and an FBI hat.
In a 2017 interview with the Washington Hispanic, a DC-based Spanish language newspaper, González Perrin declared “that APALA holds meetings, permanently, with the most significant federal agencies in the United States, ‘from INTERPOL to DEA, ICE and the FBI, who work with us, based on mutual needs.’”
Another important APALA participant is Hector Ivan Mejia Velasquez, the former General Commissioner of Honduras’s National Police, who has led brutal operations against protesters in his own country, and regularly posts anti-leftist screeds on social media.
— APALA (@apalausa) January 12, 2018
Calls to APALA’s public contact, whose name appears to be Alvaro Andrade, went unanswered. My calls to his number, which is listed as being located in Rockville, Maryland, went straight to a voicemail stating that it was restricted. The webmaster of APALA’s former website is Mario Ruiz Madrigal, a system’s engineer in Mexico.
APALA, whose Facebook page Andrade appears to operate, has worked with other Bolivian police officials as well, such as Bolivian police attaché Heroldina Henao.
— APALA (@apalausa) November 30, 2016
The other key official that helped to bring about the November 10th coup is General Williams Kaliman, the current head of Bolivia’s military. He served as a military attaché for his country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. in 2013. A decade prior, he had taken part in training at the SOA. Little is known about his time in the United States.
At different times both Kaliman and Calderón Mariscal appear to have either been loyal to or feigned loyalty to the constitutional government, but ultimately split from it or were convinced over time to carry out a military putsch.
For his part, deposed President Morales has claimed that a member of his own security team was offered $50,000 to betray him.
The November 10 coup d’état did not materialize out of thin air. Events that have transpired inside Bolivia are intimately connected to U.S. efforts to influence military and police forces abroad through programs like SOA and APALA.
While U.S. President Donald Trump cheers on a “a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere,” Bolivians are suddenly under the control of a de facto military regime.
Jeb Sprague is a Research Associate at the University of California, Riverside and previously taught at UVA and UCSB. He is the author of “Globalizing the Caribbean: Political economy, social change, and the transnational capitalist class” (Temple University Press, 2019), “Paramilitarism and the assault on democracy in Haiti” (Monthly Review Press, 2012), and is the editor of “Globalization and transnational capitalism in Asia and Oceania” (Routledge, 2016). He is a co-founder of the Network for the Critical Studies of Global Capitalism. Visit his blog at: https://jebsprague.blogspot.com
Nor Yungas, Bolivia—By the time President Evo Morales announced his resignation on Sunday, the country had been in turmoil for three weeks. Flanked by his vice president and the head of the Senate, who were also stepping down, Morales called for an end to the violence that followed a contested election and for Bolivia’s conservative opposition to stop “pursuing, capturing, and mistreating my ministers, union leaders, and their family members.”
By that night, at least 20 officials from Morales’s political party, Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), had sought asylum at the Mexican embassy. The political exodus was abrupt. Morales had only begrudgingly agreed on Saturday to hold new presidential elections, after mounting political pressure from the Organization of American States, the European Union, the United States, and a handful of Latin American countries.
It’s difficult to see this as anything but a coup. Mere hours before Morales stepped down, Bolivia’s Armed Forces had publicly called for his resignation. The day before, police in La Paz and Cochabamba, two of the country’s largest cities, had joined anti-government protesters and threatened not to maintain order in the event of civil war. Police mutinies and protests quickly spread across the country, and all major cities have devolved into crisis amid violent confrontations between government sympathizers and opposition supporters.
Santa Cruz, traditionally an anti-government stronghold, has been locked down by blockades for more than 20 days, while two people have died in clashes between government and opposition supporters. Riots have broken out in Cochabamba, a largely pro-opposition city, while Morales has maintained firm levels of support from the cocaleros and campesinos in the Bolivian countryside, especially in the Chapare region, where he was a union leader two decades ago.
This heightened political division between largely indigenous and campesino government supporters and white, upper-class dissenters has proven deadly: In Cochabamba, a 20-year-old student died during clashes between pro- and anti-government groups, while reports suggest that citizens of El Alto—a largely Aymara indigenous city and home to president Morales—have begun arming themselves. On Tuesday, the head of special operations for El Alto’s police force was killed in an auto accident while trying to control protests as thousands marched along the highway towards La Paz, bringing the death toll to four people, while dozens more have been injured.
Bolivia’s far right has exploited the power vacuum and stoked anti-indigenous sentiment. Since Morales’s resignation, many officials down the line of succession for the country’s presidency have resigned as well, to protect themselves and their families, leaving Jeanine Añez Chavez, a conservative opposition leader and second vice president of the Senate, poised to take over Bolivia’s presidency. (Añez is married to a leader of a Colombian conservative party with historic ties to paramilitary groups.) Luis Fernando Camacho, a right-wing evangelical lawyer from Santa Cruz who has largely led the opposition movement over the last three weeks, has spouted extremely violent and xenophobic rhetoric, to the point that he’s been dubbed the “Bolsonaro of Bolivia.” After Morales’s resignation, Camacho entered the government palace in La Paz, and placed a Bible on the Bolivian flag. The pastor by his side then said that the Pachamama (the Andean Mother Earth goddess) will “never return to Bolivia. Bolivia belongs to God.”
The potential return of a conservative government after Morales’s 14-year rule has brought with it a resurgence of a virulent strain of anti-indigenous hatred with deep roots in Bolivia, reminiscent of the country’s “gas wars,” in which discontent over the government’s exploitation of Bolivia’s natural gas grew into large-scale protests led in part by Morales. In 2003, the unrest left more than 60 Aymara indigenous citizens dead after clashes between protesters and the national army. Sanchez de Lozada, the country’s unpopular president, resigned his post, leaving his vice president, Carlos Mesa—the opposition candidate who has instigated Bolivia’s current political crisis—to step in. Mesa himself stepped down months later as protests continued, and, in 2005, Morales was elected the country’s first indigenous president.
Morales’s tenure was far from perfect. His administration allowed transnational extractive projects on indigenous lands, including a dam project in the Beni lowlands and the revival of a highway to be constructed along the Bolivian Amazon. In 2016, Morales held a constitutional referendum asking Bolivians if he could run again for a fourth term, despite the Constitution’s barring a president from serving more than 12 years in office. The referendum was narrowly voted down, but Bolivia’s Electoral Court eventually carved out a constitutional concession for Morales to run in 2019, leading to protests, blockades, and strikes across the country. “A snowball has been forming,” Miguel Reynaga, the director of a leftist theater collective in Cochabamba, said while describing the escalating violence in the city.
Under Morales, the Bolivian government also furthered economic growth, slashed poverty, reduced the country’s illiteracy rate, improved public health care, and promoted social and education policies that have radically improved the lives of native peoples in Bolivia. The country’s 2009 Constitution, passed under Morales, explicitly recognized the rights of indigenous groups and Afro-Bolivians, changing everyday political and cultural life—from the clothes worn by public officials to the languages taught in schools. Those who still support Morales continue to do so largely for these reasons.
Nearly a decade and a half later, the toppling of Morales’s government threatens a potential return to anti-indigenous violence. On Monday, Morales loyalists started burning police stations in El Alto, an act of retaliation after the police mutiny, but also in response to lowering and burning of the Whipala flag—which represents dozens of indigenous groups in Bolivia and throughout the Andes—by police forces at the Legislative Assembly in La Paz. (In 2009, Morales had instituted the Whipala as Bolivia’s second national flag.) Police personnel across other cities followed suit, ripping off and cutting a patch containing the Whipala flag out of their uniforms.
The current crisis is encroaching into previously safe cities such as El Alto. Over the past few weeks, countless families have been caught in the cross fire, in a way not unlike the bloody breakout of the gas wars in October 2003—maybe they support Evo, maybe they don’t, but beyond the questions of election fraud, OAS reports, and coup allegations that have dominated Western media, civilians are focused on the immediate matter of self-defense and finding refuge from the escalating violence. “This is a very dangerous scenario,” said Ruth Alipaz, an environmental activist from the northeastern lowlands of Bolivia. “The climate on Sunday was one in which anything could happen.” The question on many Bolivian tongues now is the same as it has been for the last three weeks: ¿Hay salida? Is there a way out?
For now, the answer seems grim. That El Alto and other Morales strongholds with a rich history of self-defense are mobilizing highlights not only the gravity of the current political situation but also the desire to defend Bolivia’s indigenous working class. That, at least, provides a glimmer of hope. Earlier this summer, I asked a taxi driver in Sucre his thoughts on Carlos Mesa’s potential election. “It would be a shame if Mesa were elected,” he said. “But it also is not the same Mesa from 2003. Neoliberal presidents can no longer take advantage of the people like they could before. The pueblo has awakened.”
Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho is a far-right multi-millionaire who arose from fascist movements in the Santa Cruz region, where the US has encouraged separatism. He has courted support from Colombia, Brazil, and the Venezuelan opposition.
By Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton (*) - 11.
When Luis Fernando Camacho stormed into Bolivia’s abandoned presidential palace in the hours after President Evo Morales’s sudden November 10 resignation, he revealed to the world a side of the country that stood at stark odds with the plurinational spirit its deposed socialist and Indigenous leader had put forward.
With a Bible in one hand and a national flag in the other, Camacho bowed his head in prayer above the presidential seal, fulfilling his vow to purge his country’s Native heritage from government and “return God to the burned palace.”
“Pachamama will never return to the palace,” declared the pastor to his side, referring to the Andean Mother Earth spirit. “Bolivia belongs to Christ.”
Bolivia’s extreme right-wing opposition had overthrown leftist President Evo Morales that day, following demands by the country’s military leadership that he step down.
Virtually unknown outside his country, where he had never won a democratic election, Camacho stepped into the void. He is a powerful multi-millionaire named in the Panama Papers, and an ultra-conservative Christian fundamentalist groomed by a fascist paramilitary notorious for its racist violence, with a base in Bolivia’s wealthy separatist region of Santa Cruz.
Camacho hails from a family of corporate elites who have long profited from Bolivia’s plentiful natural gas reserves. And his family lost part of its wealth when Morales nationalized the country’s resources, in order to fund his vast social programs — which cut poverty by 42 percent and extreme poverty by 60 percent.
In the lead-up to the coup, Camacho met with leaders from right-wing governments in the region to discuss their plans to destabilize Morales. Two months before the putsch, he tweeted gratitude: “Thank you Colombia! Thank you Venezuela!” he exclaimed, tipping his hat to Juan Guaido’s coup operation. He also recognized the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro, declaring, “Thank you Brazil!”
Camacho had spent years leading an overtly fascist separatist organization called the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista. The Grayzone edited the following clips from a promotional historical documentary that the group posted on its own social media accounts:
The rich oligarch leader of Bolivia’s right-wing coup, Luis Fernando Camacho, was the leader of an explicitly fascist paramilitary group.
— The Grayzone (@GrayzoneProject) November 12, 2019
While Camacho and his far-right forces served as the muscle behind the coup, their political allies waited to reap the benefits.
The presidential candidate Bolivia’s opposition had fielded in the October election, Carlos Mesa, is a “pro-business” privatizer with extensive ties to Washington. US government cables published by WikiLeaks reveal that he regularly corresponded with American officials in their efforts to destabilize Morales.
Mesa is currently listed as an expert at the Inter-American Dialogue, a DC-based think tank funded by the US government’s soft-power arm USAID, various oil giants, and a host of multi-national corporations active in Latin America.
Evo Morales, a former farmer who rose to prominence in social movements before becoming the leader of the powerful grassroots political party Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), was Bolivia’s first Indigenous leader. Wildly popular in the country’s substantial Native and peasant communities, he won numerous elections and democratic referenda over a 13-year period, often in landslides.
On October 20, Morales won re-election by more than 600,000 votes, giving him just above the 10 percent margin needed to defeat opposition presidential candidate Mesa in the first round.
Experts who did a statistical analysis of Bolivia’s publicly available voting data found no evidence of irregularities or fraud. But the opposition claimed otherwise, and took to the streets in weeks of protests and riots.
The events that precipitated the resignation of Morales were indisputably violent. Right-wing opposition gangs attacked numerous elected politicians from the ruling leftist MAS party. They then ransacked the home of President Morales, while burning down the houses of several other top officials. The family members of some politicians were kidnapped and held hostage until they resigned. A female socialist mayor was publicly tortured by a mob.
The squalid US-backed fanatics of the Bolivian right ransack the house of the country’s elected president, Evo Morales. And the havoc is just beginning. Let no one call them “pro-democracy.” pic.twitter.com/rwwvOSAEaA
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) November 11, 2019
Following the forced departure of Morales, coup leaders arrested the president and vice president of the government’s electoral body, and forced the organization’s other officials to resign. Camacho’s followers proceeded to burn Wiphala flags that symbolized the country’s Indigenous population and the plurinational vision of Morales.
The Organization of American States, a pro-US organization founded by Washington during the Cold War as an alliance of right-wing anti-communist countries in Latin America, helped rubber stamp the Bolivian coup. It called for new elections, claiming there were numerous irregularities in the October 20 vote, without citing any evidence. Then the OAS remained silent as Morales was overthrown by his military and his party’s officials were attacked and violently forced to resign.
The day after, the Donald Trump White House enthusiastically praised the coup, trumpeting it as a “significant moment for democracy,” and a “strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua.”
Emerging from the shadows to lead a violent far-right putsch
While Carlos Mesa timidly condemned the opposition’s violence, Camacho egged it on, ignoring calls for an international audit of the election and emphasizing his maximalist demand to purge all supporters of Morales from government. He was the true face of the opposition, concealed for months behind the moderate figure of Mesa.
A 40-year-old multi-millionaire businessman from the separatist stronghold of Santa Cruz, Camacho has never run for office. Like Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó, whom more than 80 percent of Venezuelans had never heard of until the US government anointed him as supposed “president,” Camacho was an obscure figure until the coup attempt in Bolivia hit its stride.
He first created his Twitter account on May 27, 2019. For months, his tweets went ignored, generating no more than three or four retweets and likes. Before the election, Camacho did not have a Wikipedia article, and there were few media profiles on him in Spanish- or English-language media.
Camacho issued a call for a strike on July 9, posting videos on Twitter that got just over 20 views. The goal of the strike was to try to force the resignation of Bolivian government’s electoral organ the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). In other words, Camacho was pressuring the government’s electoral authorities to step down more than three months before the presidential election.
It was not until after the election that Camacho was thrust into the limelight and transformed into a celebrity by corporate media conglomerates like the local right-wing network Unitel, Telemundo, and CNN en Español.
All of a sudden, Camacho’s tweets calling for Morales to resign were lighting up with thousands of retweets. The coup machinery had been activated.
Mainstream outlets like the New York Times and Reuters followed by anointing the unelected Camacho as the “leader” of Bolivia’s opposition. But even as he lapped up international attention, key portions of the far-right activist’s background were omitted.
Left unmentioned were Camacho’s deep and well-established connections to Christian extremist paramilitaries notorious for racist violence and local business cartels, as well as the right-wing governments across the region.
It was in the fascist paramilitaries and separatist atmosphere of Santa Cruz where Camacho’s politics were formed, and where the ideological contours of the coup had been defined.
Cadre of a Francoist-style fascist paramilitary
Luis Fernando Camacho was groomed by the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista, or Santa Cruz Youth Union (UJC), a fascist paramilitary organization that has been linked to assassination plots against Morales. The group is notorious for assaulting leftists, Indigenous peasants, and journalists, all while espousing a deeply racist, homophobic ideology.
Since Morales entered office in 2006, the UJC has campaigned to separate from a country its members believed had been overtaken by a Satanic Indigenous mass.
The UJC is the Bolivian equivalent of Spain’s Falange, India’s Hindu supremacist RSS, and Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov battalion. Its symbol is a green cross that bears strong similarities to logos of fascist movements across the West.
And its members are known to launch into Nazi-style sieg heil salutes.
Here is another video posted by Bolivia’s fascist opposition Santa Cruz Youth Union.
Coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho @LuisFerCamachoV previously helped lead this sieg-heiling group.
— The Grayzone (@GrayzoneProject) November 12, 2019
Even the US embassy in Bolivia has described UJC members as “racist” and “militant,” noting that they “have frequently attacked pro-MAS/government people and installations.”
After journalist Benjamin Dangl visited with UJC members in 2007, he described them as the “brass knuckles” of the Santa Cruz separatist movement. “The Unión Juvenil has been known to beat and whip campesinos marching for gas nationalization, throw rocks at students organizing against autonomy, toss molotov cocktails at the state television station, and brutally assault members of the landless movement struggling against land monopolies,” Dangl wrote.
“When we have to defend our culture by force, we will,” a UJC leader told Dangl. “The defense of liberty is more important than life.”
Camacho was elected as vice president of the UJC in 2002, when he was just 23 years old. He left the organization two years later to build his family’s business empire and rise through the ranks of the Pro-Santa Cruz Committee. It was in that organization that he was taken under the wing of one of the separatist movement’s most powerful figures, a Bolivian-Croatian oligarch named Branko Marinkovic.
In August, Camacho tweeted a photo with his “great friend,” Marinkovic. This friendship was crucial to establishing the rightist activist’s credentials and forging the basis of the coup that would take form three months later.
Hoy cumple años un gran líder cruceño y expresidente del Comité pro Santa Cruz pero todo un gran amigo, Branko Marinkovic, quien entregó todo, su libertad y su vida, por su pueblo. pic.twitter.com/uVzNrgH2pI
— Luis Fernando Camacho (@LuisFerCamachoV) August 21, 2019
Camacho’s Croatian godfather and separatist powerbroker
Branko Marinkovic is a major landowner who ramped up his support for the right-wing opposition after some of his land was nationalized by the Evo Morales government. As chairman of the Pro-Santa Cruz Committee, he oversaw the operations of the main engine of separatism in Bolivia.
In a 2008 letter to Marinkovic, the International Federation for Human Rights denounced the committee as an “actor and promoter of racism and violence in Bolivia.”
The human rights group added that it “condemn[ed] the attitude and secessionist, unionist and racist discourses as well as the calls for military disobedience of which the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee for is one of the main promoters.”
In 2013, journalist Matt Kennard reported that the US government was working closely with the Pro-Santa Cruz Committee to encourage the balkanization of Bolivia and to undermine Morales. “What they [the US] put across was how they could strengthen channels of communication,” the vice president of the committee told Kennard. “The embassy said that they would help us in our communication work and they have a series of publications where they were putting forward their ideas.”
In a 2008 profile on Marinkovic, the New York Times acknowledged the extremist undercurrents of the Santa Cruz separatist movement the oligarch presided over. It described the area as “a bastion of openly xenophobic groups like the Bolivian Socialist Falange, whose hand-in-air salute draws inspiration from the fascist Falange of the former Spanish dictator Franco.”
The Bolivian Socialist Falange was a fascist group that provided safe haven to Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie during the Cold War. A former Gestapo torture expert, Barbie was repurposed by the CIA through its Operation Condor program to help exterminate communism across the continent. (Despite its antiquated name, like the German National Socialists, this far-right extremist group was violently anti-leftist, committed to killing socialists.)
The Bolivian Falange came into power in 1971 when its leader, Gen. Hugo Banzer Suarez, ousted the leftist government of Gen. Juan Jose Torres Gonzales. The government of Gonzales had infuriated business leaders by nationalizing industries and antagonized Washington by ousting the Peace Corps, which it viewed as an instrument of CIA penetration. The Nixon administration immediately welcomed Banzer with open arms and courted him as a key bulwark against the spread of socialism in the region. (An especially ironic 1973 dispatch appears on Wikileaks showing Secretary of State Henry Kissinger thanking Banzer for congratulating him on his Nobel Peace Prize).
The movement’s putschist legacy persevered during the Morales era through organizations like the UJC and figures such as Marinkovic and Camacho.
The Times noted that Marinkovic also supported the activities of the UJC, describing the fascist group as “a quasi-independent arm of the committee led by Mr. Marinkovic.” A member of the UJC board told the US newspaper of record in an interview, “We will protect Branko with our own lives.”
Marinkovic has espoused the kind of Christian nationalist rhetoric familiar to the far-right organizations of Santa Cruz, calling, for instance, for a “crusade for the truth” and insisting that God is on his side.
The oligarch’s family hails from Croatia, where he has dual citizenship. Marinkovic has long been dogged by rumors that his family members were involved in the country’s powerful fascist Ustashe movement.
The Ustashe collaborated openly with Nazi German occupiers during World War Two. Their successors returned to power after Croatia declared independence from the former Yugoslavia – a former socialist country that was intentionally balkanized in a NATO war, much in the same way that Marinkovic hoped Bolivia would be.
Marinkovic denies that his family was part of the Ustashe. He claimed in an interview with the New York Times that his father fought against the Nazis.
But even some of his sympathizers are skeptical. A Balkan analyst from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, which works closely with the US government and is popularly known as the “shadow CIA,” produced a rough background profile on Marinkovic, speculating, “Still don’t know his full story, but I would bet a lot of $$$ that this dude’s parents are 1st gen (his name is too Slavic) and that they were Ustashe (read: Nazi) sympathizers fleeing Tito’s Communists after WWI.”
The Stratfor analyst excerpted a 2006 article by journalist Christian Parenti, who had visited Marinkovic at his ranch in Santa Cruz. Evo Morales’ “land reform could lead to civil war,” Marinkovic warned Parenti in the Texas-accented English he picked up while studying at the University of Texas.
Marinkovic is also a public admirer of Venezuela’s far-right opposition. “Todos somos Leopoldo” — “we are all Leopoldo,” he tweeted in support of Leopoldo López, who has been involved in numerous coup attempts against Venezuela’s elected leftist government.
While Marinkovic denied any role in armed militant activity in his interview with Parenti, he was accused in 2008 of playing a central role in an attempt to assassinate Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism party allies.
He told the New York Times less than two years before the plot developed, “If there is no legitimate international mediation in our crisis, there is going to be confrontation. And unfortunately, it is going to be bloody and painful for all Bolivians.”
An assassination plot links Bolivia’s right to international fascists
In April 2009, a special unit of the Bolivian security services barged into a luxury hotel room and cut down three men who were said to be involved in a plot to kill Evo Morales. Two others remained on the loose. Four of the alleged conspirators had Hungarian or Croatian roots and ties to rightist politics in eastern Europe, while another was a right-wing Irishman, Michael Dwyer, who had only arrived in Santa Cruz six months before.
The ringleader of the group was said to be a former leftist journalist named Eduardo Rosza-Flores who had turned to fascism and belonged to Opus Dei, the traditionalist Catholic cult that emerged under the dictatorship of Spain’s Francisco Franco. In fact, the codename Rosza-Flores assumed in the assassination plot was “Franco,” after the late Generalissimo.
During the 1990s, Rosza fought on behalf of the Croatian First International Platoon, or the PIV, in the war to separate from Yugoslavia. A Croatian journalist told Time that the “PIV was a notorious group: 95% of them had criminal histories, many were part of Nazi and fascist groups, from Germany to Ireland.”
By 2009, Rosza returned home to Bolivia to crusade on behalf of another separatist movement in Santa Cruz. And it was there that he was killed in a luxury hotel with no apparent source of income and a massive stockpile of guns.
The government later released photos of Rosza and a co-conspirator posing with their weapons. Publication of emails between the ringleader and Istvan Belovai, a former Hungarian military intelligence officer who served as a double agent for the CIA, cemented the perception that Washington had a hand in the operation.
Marinkovic was subsequently charged with providing $200,000 to the plotters. The Bolivian-Croatian oligarch initially fled to the United States, where he was given asylum, then relocated to Brazil, where he lives today. He denied any involvement in the plan to kill Morales.
As journalist Matt Kennard reported, there was another thread that tied the plot to the US: the alleged participation of an NGO leader named Hugo Achá Melgar.
“Rozsa didn’t come here by himself, they brought him,” the Bolivian government’s lead investigator told Kennard. “Hugo Achá Melgar brought him.”
The Human Rights Foundation destabilizes Bolivia
Achá was not just the head of any run-of-the-mill NGO. He had founded the Bolivian subsidiary of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), an international right-wing outfit that is known for hosting a “school for revolution” for activists seeking regime change in states targeted by the US government.
HRF is run by Thor Halvorssen Jr., the son of the late Venezuelan oligarch and CIA asset Thor Halvorssen Hellum. The first cousin of the veteran Venezuelan coup plotter Leopoldo Lopez, Halvorssen was a former college Republican activist who crusaded against political correctness and other familiar right-wing hobgoblins.
After a brief career as a firebrand right-wing film producer, in which he oversaw a scandalous “anti-environmentalist” documentary financed by a mining corporation, Halvorssen rebranded as a promoter of liberalism and the enemy of global authoritarianism. He launched the HRF with grants from right-wing billionaires like Peter Thiel, conservative foundations, and NGOs including Amnesty International. The group has since been at the forefront of training activists for insurrectionary activity from Hong Kong to the Middle East to Latin America.
Though Achá was granted asylum in the US, the HRF has continued pushing regime change in Bolivia. As Wyatt Reed reported for The Grayzone, HRF “freedom fellow” Jhanisse Vaca Daza helped trigger the initial stage of the coup by blaming Morales for the Amazon fires that consumed parts of Bolivia in August, mobilizing international protests against him.
At the time, Daza posed as an “environmental activist” and student of non-violence who articulated her concerns in moderate-seeming calls for more international aid to Bolivia. Through her NGO, Rios de Pie, she helped launch the #SOSBolivia hashtag, which signaled the imminent foreign-backed regime-change operation.
Courting the regional right, prepping the coup
While HRF’s Daza rallied protests outside Bolivian embassies in Europe and the US, Fernando Camacho remained behind the scenes, lobbying right-wing governments in the region to bless the coming coup.
In May, Camacho met with Colombia’s far-right President Ivan Duque. Camacho was helping to spearhead regional efforts at undermining the legitimacy of Evo Morales’ presidency at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, seeking to block his candidacy in the October election.
That same month, the rightist Bolivian agitator also met with Ernesto Araújo, the chancellor of Jair Bolsonaro’s ultra-conservative administration in Brazil. Through the meeting, Camacho successfully secured Bolsonaro’s backing for regime change in Bolivia.
This November 10, Araújo enthusiastically endorsed the ouster of Morales, declaring that “Brazil will support the democratic and constitutional transition” in the country.
Then in August, two months before Bolivia’s presidential election, Camacho held court with officials from Venezuela’s US-appointed coup regime. These included Gustavo Tarre, Guaido’s faux Venezuelan OAS ambassador, who formerly worked at the right-wing Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank in Washington.
After the meeting, Camacho tweeted gratitude to the Venezuelan coup-mongers, as well as to Colombia and Brazil.
No vamos a parar hasta tener una democracia real! Seguimos avanzando!
Vamos sumando apoyo… ahora lo hace Venezuela…Gracias a Dios.. hay esperanza!
Gracias Brasil! pic.twitter.com/v9TQ2Fi2Sa
— Luis Fernando Camacho (@LuisFerCamachoV) August 27, 2019
Mesa and Camacho: a marriage of capitalist convenience
Back in Bolivia, Carlos Mesa occupied the spotlight as the opposition’s presidential candidate.
His erudite image and centrist policy proposals put him in a seemingly alternate political universe from fire-breathing rightists like Camacho and Marinkovic. For them, he was a convenient front man and acceptable candidate who promised to defend their economic interests.
“It might be that he is not my favorite, but I’m going to vote for him, because I don’t want Evo,” Marinkovic told a right-wing Argentine newspaper five days before the election.
Indeed, it was Camacho’s practical financial interests that appeared to have necessitated his support for Mesa.
The Camacho family has formed a natural gas cartel in Santa Cruz. As the Bolivian outlet Primera Linea reported, Luis Fernando Camacho’s father, Jose Luis, was the owner of a company called Sergas that distributed gas in the city; his uncle, Enrique, controlled Socre, the company that ran the local gas production facilities; and his cousin, Cristian, controls another local gas distributor called Controgas.
According to Primera Linea, the Camacho family was using the Pro-Santa Cruz Committee as a political weapon to install Carlos Mesa into power and ensure the restoration of their business empire.
Mesa has a well-documented history of advancing the goals of transnational companies at the expense of his own country’s population. The neoliberal politician and media personality served as vice president when the US-backed President Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada provoked mass protests with his 2003 plan to allow a consortium of multinational corporations to export the country’s natural gas to the US through a Chilean port.
Bolivia’s US-trained security forces met the ferocious protests with brutal repression. After presiding over the killing of 70 unarmed protesters, Sanchez de Lozada fled to Miami and was succeeded by Mesa.
By 2005, Mesa was also ousted by huge demonstrations spurred by his protection of privatized natural gas companies. With his demise, the election of Morales and the rise of the socialist and rural Indigenous movements behind him were just beyond the horizon.
US government cables released by WikiLeaks show that, after his ouster, Mesa continued regular correspondence with American officials. A 2008 memo from the US embassy in Bolivia revealed that Washington was conspiring with opposition politicians in the lead-up to the 2009 presidential election, hoping to undermine and ultimately unseat Morales.
The memo noted that Mesa had met with the chargé d’affaires of the US embassy, and had privately told them he planned to run for president. The cable recalled: “Mesa told us his party will be ideologically similar to a social democratic party and that he hoped to strengthen ties with the Democratic party. ‘We have nothing against the Republican party, and have in fact gotten support from IRI (International Republican Institute) in the past, but we think we share more ideology with the Democrats,’ he added.”
Today, Mesa serves as an in-house “expert” at the Inter-American Dialogue, a neoliberal Washington-based think tank focused on Latin America. One of the Dialogue’s top donors is the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department subsidiary that was exposed in classified diplomatic cables published on Wikileaks for strategically directing millions of dollars to opposition groups including those “opposed to Evo Morales’ vision for indigenous communities.”
Other top funders of the Dialogue include oil titans like Chevron and ExxonMobil; Bechtel, which inspired the initial protests against the administration in which Mesa served; the Inter-American Development Bank, which has forcefully opposed Morales’ socialist-oriented policies; and the Organization of American States (OAS), which helped delegitimize the Morales’s re-election victory with dubious claims of irregular vote counts.
Finishing the job
When Carlos Mesa touched off nationwide protests in October by accusing the Evo Morales government of committing electoral fraud, the right-wing firebrand hailed by his followers as “Macho Camacho” emerged from the shadows. Behind him was the hardcore separatist shock force that he led in Santa Cruz.
Mesa faded into the distance as Camacho emerged as the authentic face of the coup, rallying his forces with the uncompromising rhetoric and fascist symbology that defined the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista paramilitary.
As he declared victory over Morales, Camacho exhorted his followers to “finish the job, let’s get the elections going, let’s start judging the government criminals, let’s put them in jail.”
Back in Washington, meanwhile, the Trump administration released an official statement celebrating Bolivia’s coup, declaring that “Morales’s departure preserves democracy.”
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and author,
Ben Norton is a journalist, writer, and filmmaker, and the assistant editor of The Grayzone.
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist the founder and editor of The Grayzone.as well as the author of several books, including best-selling Republican Gomorrah, Goliath, The Fifty One Day War, and The Management of Savagery. He has produced print articles for an array of publications, many video reports, and several documentaries, including Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded The Grayzone in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions. https://thegrayzone.com