The Bolivian Coup: Neither Forgiveness, Nor Forgetting, Nor Reconciliation

Revista Crisis
https://www.revistacrisis.com/sites/revistacrisis.prod.devshop.nimblersoft.com/files/styles/slider_image/public/2021-03/WhatsApp%20Image%202021-03-15%20at%201.13.17%20AM.jpeg?itok=FTFNMAl_On March 12, former Bolivian dictator Jeanine Áñez was arrested at her home in Trinidad. The arrest was in response to a judicial process initiated by the Attorney General’s Office for her role in the most recent episode of democratic rupture in the region. In addition to the massacres that followed the coup d’état. The former dictator faces charges of sedition and terrorism, which could accumulate a total sentence of 30 years in prison. Just 4 days earlier, the Brazilian Supreme Court acquitted former president Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva. In the current context, the most recent debate on bourgeois democracy in Latin America, denotes an evident double standard professed by sectors close to social movements co-opted by the continental right, in collusion with local elites and the U.S. embassy.

With bible and rifle in hand, the civic-clerical-military coup was consolidated in Bolivia: “the Bible has entered the palace again and Pachamama will never return”, shouted Mr. Camacho with euphoria. The coup was orchestrated by the Santa Cruz oligarchy, the police and military elites, Christian ultra-conservatism, and of course, with the direct support of the OAS and the U.S. Embassy. According to the Bolivian Ombudsman’s Office, there were at least 32 deaths and hundreds of injured people. Likewise, the IACHR -which visited Bolivia between November 22 and 25, 2019- warned of more than 500 arbitrary and extrajudicial detentions. Subsequently, the persecution of MAS militants and opponents of the dictatorship worsened.

Both in the country and in the rest of Latin America, the voices that at the time celebrated and legitimized the judicial coup against Dilma Rousseff and the conviction of Lula da Silva in Brazil, as well as the coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia, did not take long to rise in defense of Áñez. In view of the arrest of Añez, several sectors are trying to position the dictator as a victim of political persecution. They claim that this is a lawfare strategy against her, even insinuating that she is a “social leader”.

In Ecuador, a discourse that insinuates a possible parallelism in terms of “persecution”, both against the anti Correístas and the current ruling political class, the oligarchic right wing, is expected to take shape. In this equation, these same sectors, inadvertently, compare themselves ideologically with the Bolivian dictatorship. It is indisputable that the events of the coup d’état in Bolivia presuppose a clear rupture of the constitutional order, with political actors who proclaimed themselves government by force, and took political power with the approval of the local oligarchy and continental imperialism.

What can be read between the lines in the current electoral scenario, is that the actors and sectors that perpetrated the coup d’état in Bolivia, played the same roles as those who now denounce the alleged persecution against a dictator. Both Añez and the sectors that defend her in the country and the region represent the same interests in geopolitical terms, have the same links to organizations with external financing and enjoy the same degree of acceptance among neo-reactionary circles within the social movements.

One of the concerns after the outbreak of the coup d’état in Bolivia, on November 10, 2019, was that this scenario could be consecrated as a great social laboratory, with the possibility that the same script could be replicated in other parts of Latin America. Simultaneously to these warnings and alarm raised from the left, a sector of the anti-progressive social movements were minimizing the seriousness of the coup d’état, even denying it. As always, this sector of the social movements relativized the democratic order and the rule of law, from their impoverished historical and political ethics, minimizing the impact that a dictatorship could have on the Bolivian people and on the politics of the entire region.

With the preventive imprisonment of Áñez and several of his acolytes, a legal precedent is set, which holds as a flag that crimes against the people will not go unpunished. Far from being “lawfare” or political persecution, as the right wing and the anti-revolutionary social movements claim, the trials of Áñez and company are the beginning of the construction of justice and reparation for the Bolivian people. The message is clear: 1. neither forgiveness nor oblivion for those who attack the people, 2. zero tolerance for coups d’état, 3. respect and support for democratic processes and the rule of law, 4. absolute repudiation of the Yankee empire’s interference in the region and 5. the inadmissibility of impunity for those who negotiated with the blood of the people.

The cynicism of those who celebrated the coup d’état in Bolivia knows no bounds. Now they are extremely concerned about the due process in the case of ex-dictator Añez and her sacristans. Let us not be confused. Of course there must be transparency in the criminal process against the coup perpetrators. But it is unacceptable that both the right wing and some contrarevolutionary social movements try to distort the legitimate sense of this process of justice for the Bolivian people, for political electoral purposes. Once again both sectors enter into an alliance, betraying the memory and dignity of the people.

In the fabrication of meta-narratives against Latin American progressivism, we also find the case with which the discourse was deployed to disguise the judicial coup processes against Dilma Rousseff, and the conviction of former President Lula da Silva, by the Bolsonarist regime. After no evidence was found against him, Lula was recently acquitted of all the convictions against him, enabling him to be a possible candidate for the presidency in 2022.

In the midst of the current geopolitical panorama, what will be the next “democratic” play? Will the calls for military intervention be seen as democratic? In Bolivia a few days before the coup, Camacho called for the military to intervene in the electoral process. Are there parallels in Ecuador? The warning of the Bolivian laboratory is still present: Latin America is a territory in dispute, between imperialism and a possible reconformation of the progressive bloc in the region.

The class struggle is developing simultaneously in all political spheres. In Ecuador as in the rest of Latin America, these antagonisms seem to be involved in unprecedented dynamics: the relativization of bourgeois democracy, by the same sectors that pretend to “defend” it. Once again, the bourgeoisie itself and its allies demonstrate that they are the most anti-democratic force within the bourgeois democracy. In the face of all the dictatorships we have resisted in Latin America, the firm slogan has always been: “neither forgiveness, nor forgetting, nor reconciliation. Truth and justice”. The case of the dictatorship in Bolivia 2019-2020, need not be the exception.

Translation by Internationalist 360°