Bolivia: The Failure of the Catholic and Evangelical Hierarchies at the Polls

Ollantay Itzamná used by the perpetrators of the November 2019 coup d’état

If we want to walk the path of decoloniality, and equity, the suppression of the Vatican Concordat and other Christian privileges is an ethical imperative to prevent further coups.

The peoples of Bolivia, in the last general elections of October 18 defeated U.S. interventionism at the polls via OAS/USAID. The circumstantial defeat was not only sustained by the deteriorated traditional and emerging neo-republican oligarchy.

One of the principal elites beaten at the polls was the Catholic and evangelical hierarchies. Last October 18 was practically a popular plebiscite that penalized the Catholic and evangelical institutions, promoters and executors of the coup d’état, and legitimators of the disastrous and bloody de facto government which lasted 11 months.

October 18, in a figurative sense, was the victory of the Wiphala over the Bible. Of the Coca Leaf over the bloody crucifix. It was the almost eschatological triumph of those conquered by the first and second evangelization over the evangelizers who met in the Bolivian Catholic University to agree on the unconstitutional succession after the coup d’état, and remained an accomplice to the sepulchral silence before the unpunished massacres against indigenous people in the name of God, and the embezzlement of public funds in the midst of the pandemic.

The Bolivian Episcopal Conference (CEB) was offended because the government of Evo Morales, diminished the Catholic ritual hegemony in official ceremonies. The Miterados lost part of their privileges, although the Concordat that exonerates them from taxes, is still in force. That is why they were obscured by the coup d’état and by antimasisimo.

The evangelical and Catholic Mitered Pastors are much offended, because despite the Bible in the Government Palace, and their anti-Masist preaching, their parishioners of double loyalty (Christian and Masista), voted for the MAS. It should be remembered that the MAS government supported the re-emergence of indigenous spiritualities, which affected to some extent the hegemony of the Christian ethic. This implied, in the long run, a diminution of privileges.

The horsemen of the coup barbarism like Luis F. Camacho, Jeanine Añez, Chi Hyun, Centellas (President of the CEB) were humiliated at the polls by their own parishioners. Of these, Archbishop Ricardo Centellas, who served as the “spiritual foundation” of the coup d’état, still has the audacity to publicly ask for “an international audit” of the recent Bolivian electoral process. This is in spite of the unanimous approval and international support for the process and results of the general elections in Bolivia. The reason for this is that its youth catechists, who are articulated in the Cochala Youth Resistance and the Santa Cruz Youth Union, are being deserted for their vandalism and claims of “electoral fraud”.

The Catholic hierarchs, intellectually and morally aged, were driven by the stupidity of the Coup to the path of defeat. Now, not only do their parishioners no longer obey them, but awake Bolivians continue abandoning or relativizing their cultural belonging to Catholicism, while betting more on apostasy.

The coup d’état affected and will affect severely even the arrogant “certainties” of the Catholic hierarchy on which the varnishing of Bolivian Catholicism was based. It will be worse, to the extent that the privileged in the name of God continue to distort reason and the popular will expressed at the ballot box.

In the meantime, the elected government, once it takes office, will have to thoroughly review the permissive conduct of the previous MAS government with the religious privileges established in the Concordat and authorizations from the Foreign Ministry.

If we want to walk the path of decoloniality, and equity, the suppression of the Concordat with the Vatican and of Christian privileges is an ethical imperative to prevent further coups d’état.

Translation by Internationalist 360°