Declaration of the ISL against the capitalist and imperialist coup in Bolivia

1. The resignation of President Evo Morales on November 10, hours after announcing that he would call new elections, consummates a coup of the oligarchic right-wing and imperialism against the Bolivian government and people. This outcome comes after weeks of protests and an OAS audit that pointed out “serious irregularities” in the October 20 elections that declared Evo winner in the first round. The rebellion against the government broke out after opposition candidate Carlos Mesa denounced fraud when the publication of official results placed him more than 10 points below Evo, while the difference when the provisional count was suspended 15 hours earlier was smaller and indicated a second round would be necessary. Over the next three weeks, opposition protests clashed with supporters of Evo and the police, leaving three dead and 200 wounded.

2. Behind Mesa, the old oligarchic right and imperialism has rallied. Taking advantage of Evo losing support among his social base and the general population, they launched this attempt to seize power. Mesa was the vice president of neo-liberal Sánchez de Lozada when he was overthrown by the 2003 Gas War and Mesa resigned himself from the presidency amid massive protests against him two years later. Among the most active leaders of the Defense of Democracy Coordination launched by Mesa after the October 20 election, is Luis Fernando Camacho of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, who called on the army and the police to “side with the people.” Amid the protests, sectors of the repressive forces turned towards the opposition. Police in various regions mutinied and the army first declared that it would not repress the protests and then joined the coup.

3. The OAS, together with the European Union and the governments of the United States, Brazil and Argentina, rejected the result of the October 20 election and “recommended” the holding of a second round even if the audits were to confirm a distance greater than 10 points in favor of Evo Morales. A flagrant imperialist intervention in the internal politics of Bolivia and an attack on its sovereignty. Evo denounced that there was a “coup in progress”, but accepted the OAS audit, which he then complied with, hours before resigning from the presidency, capitulating to the coup to attempt a new pact with the oligarchic right.

4. The massive size of the opposition protests, the prominence of the youth in them, as well as the participation of organizations like the Fejuve of El Alto or the request of Evo´s resignation by the COB, both of which were among the main protagonists of the Gas War that catapulted Evo and the MAS to power, point to a profound disappointment with the government. Evo Morales reached this election with an advanced deterioration of the support of his social base and his general legitimacy. Shortly after assuming the presidency in 2006, he betrayed the October Program of the 2000 and 2003 people’s rebellions that ousted Sánchez de Lozada and brought Evo´s MAS to power, by agreeing the Political Constitution of the State with the right and capital in the Congress, sidestepping the Constituent Assembly of 2008 and modifying over 100 articles that the Assembly had written. Since then, though granting concessions to the mass movement and increasing state participation in the economy, Evo acted as guarantor of capitalist business in Bolivia, maintaining the dependent and extractivist economic model. This led him to clash and break with sectors of the working class and the indigenous peasantry itself that makes up the bulk of his social base. A central expression of this rupture has been the state repression and criminalization of social protest, including of the miners and coca growers of northern La Paz, who have had over 200 peasant and native activists criminalized. In 2016, Evo called a referendum to modify the constitution and enable another re-election, which he ended up losing. But the following year, the Plurinational Constitutional Court, under his control, ignored the referendum and declared the articles of the Constitution that prevent a second re-election void, enabling Evo to run this year for his fourth presidential term. This way, Morales reached this year’s election with his democratic legitimacy strongly questioned, and the unrest over his Bonapartist and undemocratic traits worsened with the irregularities during the vote count.

5. Taking note of the weakening of Evo’s social base of support, the right saw the opportunity to wield the power directly, and took it. It is a recurring scenario in the region and the world. Other governments that emerged in Latin America in the heat of the revolutionary processes of the previous decade, generating expectations among working people, but remaining within the limits of capitalism and its dependent and extractivist economic model, instead of advancing the revolution, ended up applying austerity programs and developing increasingly Bonapartist characteristics, disillusioning people and weakening, opening the door for the return of the right, which tolerates them while they have no choice, and gets rid of them as soon as they can, and however they can. In some cases by electoral means, in others with coups. Those who have still managed to stay, like Maduro and Ortega, did so at the cost of becoming themselves the authoritarian executors of brutal austerity measures and armed forces with a strong involvement in business and privileges. Confronting the coup attempt in Bolivia would require promoting the massive mobilization of the native people, the peasantry and the working class; the democratic self-organization of working peoples; and adopting economic and social policies to place the country´s enormous national resources at the service of social needs of the mayority. Unfortunately Evo and the MAS were and are far from this orientation.

6. This coup occurs in the context of the rebellions against the IMF austerity programs and the governments that apply them in Latin America, such as in Chile and Ecuador, and other countries of the world. Imperialism will try to use this coup against the continental rebellion and the Chilean people´s one in particular. The false progressives will also try to use it to justify their capitulating politics and oppose their policies agreed with power, such as a possible constitutional reform from above and new plebiscite in Chile, to revolutionary mobilization until Piñera falls and a truly free and sovereign constituent assembly is imposed. That is why it is indispensable to support the Chilean people´s revolution in all our countries from a class based position, independent of all bourgeois forces and conciliatory organizations that have adapted to the regime.

7. The International Socialist League rejects the current capitalist and imperialist coup and condemns the repression and persecution unleashed against activists, social movements and leaders of the deposed government. We call on the Bolivian people and the workers of the world to confront the coup and any imperialist intervention with the independent mobilization of workers, peasants and native peoples until getting rid of the capitalists and large landowners and imposing a government of the organizations that workers and the poor build democratically. The Bolivian working people must take the country´s natural resources, wealth and strategic economic levers into their hands and use them to the benefit of the majority. This is the only real way to defeat capitalists and imperialism. We invite Bolivian workers, peasants and youth to build the Bolivian section of the ISL to carry out these challenging revolutionary tasks toward a socialist Bolivia and Latin America.

November 11, 2019