Bolivia At The Gates Of An Electoral And Political-Military Coup D’état

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Once the coup d’état was consummated in November, a series of devices were put in place in Bolivia aimed at legitimizing a coup president who came to power in an unconstitutional manner and anointed by the military, who were, together with the police, not the architects but the legitimizers of the coup.

A coup d’état that could have been consummated by a bad decision of the direction of the process of change, which made the third person in the chain of succession, the President of the Senate, Adriana Salvatierra (MAS-IPSP), resign once Evo and Alvaro were out of the country and on their way to Mexico, leaving a power vacuum not foreseen by the Political Constitution of the State.

In spite of this, and the installation of a coup government in the executive, it was possible to maintain the 2/3 majority that MAS had in the legislative, thus guaranteeing a duality of power, a counterweight to any decision taken by the coup leader Jeanine Áñez. This is why the date of September 6 could be imposed to hold the elections that if it were not for the pandemic would have been held on May 3.

But the pandemic, which we might think has served many well for eternity in power, has been disastrous for the coup leaders in government. Not only because they have managed the health crisis badly, in a country whose conditions of geographical isolation helped to contain the virus, but also because during these months there have been numerous corruption scandals involving various authorities of the coup government, from the President of the main state company, YPFB, to the largest telecommunications company in the country, Entel, as well as commissions of millions in the purchase of respirators to deal with the epidemic, which have led to the imprisonment of the Minister of Health of the coup.

All of this has made the urban middle class, which at the time withdrew its support for the government of Evo Morales, look down on the corrupt coup leaders who came to replace the MAS-IPSP, whose candidate is Luis Arce Catacora, the most successful Minister in 14 years of change, and who led the growth of the Bolivian economy at Chinese rates.

Arce Catacora, who was a member of Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz’s PS-1, currently leads all the polls, in some cases even surpassing 40% of the projected vote and more than a 10 point advantage over the second one needed to win in the first round.

That’s why the coup leaders have implemented a strategy with 2 variables:

First, there is a clear attempt to leave Arce Catacora out of the electoral race, by canceling the legal status of MAS-IPSP, due to some statements where the presidential candidate comments on some polls on television. The law prevents the promotion of polls by the parties in the campaign, but Luis Arce did not broadcast any poll, nor did he show any graphs or talk about null or blank votes, much less give details of any datasheet, he only commented on it on a television set, and furthermore, until July 24, he does not enter again into the electoral campaign because the process that should have been carried out in May, then in August, and finally in September, has been interrupted and suspended because of the pandemic. It is clear that the process has not been continued and that what the coup leaders are looking for is a return to the times when Bolivia chose presidents who had 17-22% of the votes, excluding the social majorities, especially the original indigenous campesino movement which is mostly represented by the MAS-IPSP.

But in addition, and in case the legal-electoral route does not work out for them, the coup leaders, with Government Minister Arturo Murillo “El Bolas” and Defense Minister Fernando López at the head, are working on the creation of an “indigenous-independence” guerrilla group that aims to commit violent acts (fires, looting and even murder) against the civilian population, in order to blame MAS for them. All this with the support of the CIA station of the United States Embassy in La Paz. This irregular group would be made up of active and retired military and police, most of them of indigenous origin, as well as members of the ultra-right-wing Crucena Youth Union. There is information that this group was trained in 2019 on a farm near Santa Cruz de la Sierra by US and Israeli mercenaries, under the supervision of Erick Foronda, a CIA agent who currently serves as the private secretary of the spurious President Jeanine Áñez.

Among those responsible for this operation would also be Rolf Olson, from the political office of the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia, who is the direct link between Murillo and López, as well as the Commander of the Armed Forces, General Sergio Carlos Orellana.

If neither of the two above-mentioned avenues works as a method to nullify a MAS candidate that is at the top of the polls, a classic, overloaded coup d’état, with Orellana and Murillo at the head, cannot be ruled out.

Translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau