To no one’s real surprise, Bolivia’s deposed President Evo Morales was resoundingly vindicated in last Sunday’s election. The bleached blond European usurper woman, Jeanine Áñez, who in November of 2019 was installed as interim President by the junta regime which replaced Morales, will have to step down. She has conceded defeat at the hands of the Aymara natives that she obviously loathed. Needless to say, the sentiment was heartily mutual.
The new President of Bolivia will be Morales’ former finance minister and close collaborator Luis Arce of the Movement for Socialism Party, or MAS by its felicitously ambivalent Spanish acronym. MAS’ victory was the more impressive because its candidate won a clear majority against two junta figures in the first round, avoiding the necessity of a run-off.
The question could legitimately be put why Morales had to resort to a stand-in instead of running himself and personally humiliating his enemies, probably even more decisively. The reason lies in some dastardly chicanery on the part of the imperial dirty tricks department. Anticipating a virtually fraud-proof electoral disaster if Morales were allowed to run personally, the local puppet regime contrived phony sex charges to disqualify the illegally ousted President and bar him from presenting his candidacy. No, Morales was not accused of frequenting Jeffrey Epstein’s paedophile island but the coup authorities conveniently discovered that he had consorted with an underage girl, an allegation just nasty enough to file criminal charges and obtain an arrest warrant.
Morales was certainly on the empire “sh#t list” long before the plot to oust him switched to high gear in late 2019. When he was elected in 2004, he inherited a preposterous situation, bizarre by any normal standards. His neo-liberal predecessor had sold Bolivia’s water resources to foreign financial interests, which meant that the impoverished peasant masses now had to pay foreign corporations for the right to use one of the fundamental natural resources of their country, which – like air – should have been the common patrimony of all. Only in retrospect do we now see that Bolivia’s water resources were targeted not for the paltry sums that could be extracted from impoverished Andean peasants but as a political laboratory experiment in natural resource plunder that could be extended elsewhere if it proved successful. It was extended to some other countries, but because of the unexpected appearance of Evo Morales it was curtailed in Bolivia, making the insolent new indigenous President a bête noire in international oligarchic circles.
After setting off on such an antagonistic start, it was natural that Morales should make it the mainstay of his policy to put Bolivia’s considerable resources at the service of its people, rather than of international financiers and their rapacious corporations. Unfortunately, the naive country-bumpkin President forgot that in some situations discretion is the better part of valor. Instead of working discretely, in 2017 he announced urbi et orbi a comprehensive plan to (a) nationalize key natural resources, and (b) possibly even more fatally, to process them in Bolivia and export them in finished rather than raw form. If he had had any political sophistication at all, he should have anticipated what was bound to hit him after disregarding the Big Boys’ clear red lines.
It seems that in trying to implement this morally unobjectionable policy he crossed not just corporate powers-that-be in general, but specifically the multi-billionaire Elon Musk, who was counting on unrestricted and cheap access to Bolivia’s huge lithium resources which are of key significance for the batteries of his main product, electric vehicles. With a few indignant telephone calls to the right places, much like United Fruit in the face of similarly unacceptable policies of President Guzman in Guatemala seventy years ago, Musk set the stage for the removal of Bolivia’s pesky aborigine President who presumed to put the interests of his people ahead of international corporations.
The rest was, as they say, history. The Gene Sharp regime change scenario was followed to the letter. The October 2019 Presidential election was contested by the “international community” for all the right reasons, military and police chiefs were corrupted to push Morales off the cliff, and the freaky blonde señora Áñez was installed in his place by the Musk junta.
After many delays and cancelations, the new elections designed to legitimize junta rule and politically eliminate Morales and his MAS movement were finally held on October 18. The Covid emergency was a godsend pretext to the junta to keep postponing the vote and work on setting up the winning electoral combination, but the day of judgment finally came and all the rigging proved in vain. The resilient peasants had their way.
While from a moral perspective the election outcome is excellent news, the practical assessment of the results should probably be withheld for the moment, pending further developments. Latin American politics is notorious for its treachery. We saw an example of that in Ecuador, where a low life character who deceptively goes by the name of Lenin Moreno (he proved to be neither a Lenin, in the sense of showing the slightest empathy for the downtrodden, nor a [Garcia] Moreno, Ecuador’s distinguished nineteenth century patriot-President who labored to preserve his country’s sovereignty from the encroachments of essentially the same forces which have targeted it for control in our day) succeeded the populist Correa, only to reverse everything his predecessor had stood for. Another conspicuous example is the treacherous career of Carlos Menem, a classical pantallero as he came to be known in Argentina, who deceptively ran and was elected on a Peronist platform, only to start implementing ruinous neoliberal policies the day after he was sworn in.
The acid test of Luis Arce’s administration will be whether it quickly drops the false charges against Evo Morales, enabling him to return to the country of which he is the undisputed leader. If the legal mechanisms preventing Bolivia’s central political figure from rejoining his people and exercising the political influence to which he is entitled are not promptly removed, alarm bells will have to replace victory songs in Bolivia. And, yes, prosecuting coup regime personalities for sedition, on genuine rather than concocted charges, would be another welcome confidence building measure that the incoming Bolivian government should undertake.