Pink tides and right-wing waves
November 11, 2019 2:57 PM   Subscribe

An English-language snapshot of what's going on in Latin America: Latin America's Bitter Stalemate (Jacobin interview with Mabel Thwaites Rey); Latin America's Decade-Long Hangover (America's Quarterly); Why Latin America Was Primed to Explode (Foreign Affairs); Latin America’s Protests Are Likely to Fail (Foreign Policy); Latin American left rising? First stop Mexico for Argentina's Fernandez (Reuters)

Bolivia
Political vacuum in Bolivia as Morales announces resignation (Al Jazeera)
Morales' exit leaves Bolivia power vacuum, splits region (Reuters)
Why Is Evo Morales Suddenly No Longer President of Bolivia? (Foreign Policy)
CEPR [pdf] vs OAS [pdf] on the disputed elections


Chile
Amid unrest, Chile says it will rewrite Pinochet-era constitution (Al Jazeera)
Chilean president cancels Apec and climate summits amid wave of unrest (Guardian)
Pinochet Still Looms Large in Chilean Politics (Foreign Policy)
A Californian economist loves neoliberalism. When Chileans started protesting it, he opened fire on them. (Washington Post)


Brazil
Brazil ex-President Lula walks free from jail (BBC)
Bolsonaro attacks 'putrid' media over Marielle Franco murder claims (Guardian)
Agribusiness against the Amazon (Dissent)


Ecuador
Ecuador’s Unlikely Revolution (Slate)
Crisis in Ecuador: Days of Mourning and Rage (Open Democracy)


Mexico
Gruesome attacks challenge López Obrador's softer approach to Mexico's cartels (Axios)
Picking Up the Pieces after Mexico’s Criminal Siege (International Crisis Group)
Hugs and bullets: the battle to pacify Mexico (Guardian series)


Honduras
Fight and Flight: Tackling the Roots of Honduras’ Emergency (International Crisis Group)
Honduras Is a Mirror for All of Latin America (Jacobin)


Haiti
"All actors" must lend support as humanitarian crisis continues in Haiti, UN rights chief urges (UN News)
UN ends peacekeeping mission in Haiti as protests continue (Deutsche Welle)


Argentina
Fernández win shifts vision for Argentina's economy (Axios)
The Resurrection of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (Foreign Affairs)


Colombia
The Slow Death of Colombia’s Peace Deal (Foreign Affairs)
Local Polls in Colombia Put Peace to the Test (International Crisis Group)


Venezuela
Maduro's military stands in the way of a Bolivia repeat in Venezuela (Reuters)
Is Venezuela becoming the Libya of the Caribbean? (El País)
UN and partners call for solidarity, as Venezuelans on the move reach 4.5 million (UN News)
posted by chappell, ambrose (59 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
A lot of my twitter feed is very upset over Bolivia, and it's kind of maddening. You can very easily paint it as "a US-backed, right-wing coup deposed a socialist leader to get access to their lithium, which is the new oil" but as far as I can tell, the simpler explanation is that Morales tried to steal an election and couldn't pull it off, and got what was coming to him. Why didn't he groom a successor instead of running for more terms than the constitution allowed? Why is his party the only left-wing group in Bolivia with any kind of prominence? Shouldn't a socialist leader be trying to disperse power, not consolidate it? I don't think what's coming next is good for Bolivia, but it seems more likely that Morales was a left-wing authoritarian of the kind that large parts of the Left have a depressingly high tolerance for.

And lithium isn't the new oil: oil is a natural energy source, a force multiplier for an entire economy. Cheap oil makes everything cheaper. Lithium is only worthwhile if you have a lithium battery industry, and that industry is dominated by Asian countries (China already had a sweetheart deal with Bolivia). I can't really rule out a US-backed coup - the State Department under Trump can't be counted on to be logical, but it also probably doesn't have the capacity - but I'd expect a US-backed coup in the globalisation era to be as obvious as the Iraq coup was. It's hard to see who in the US is benefiting (Tesla is not exactly in the US Government's good graces), and why the State Department would see it as a strategic interest when lithium undermines the oil and coal industries that Republicans are more interested in protecting.

I'm generally not a fan of the explanation that capitalism keeps trying to undermine socialist and communist states. It doesn't explain what happened after communism collapsed in Albania, and five years later half the country's economy was caught up in pyramid schemes. Capitalists generally don't appreciate pyramid schemes - no-one admires Bernie Madoff's chutzpah - and if you're going to extract wealth from chaos, there's much less chaotic ways to do so. It seems more likely to me that a lot of these states are hollowing out from within, which makes it easier for whoever's fastest to take advantage of the situation. Capitalists are just pretty good at being the fastest.

I'd hope that the new leader of Bolivia will try and restore stability and the rule of law, and resist the circling vultures who have no doubt been informed that Bolivia has cheap lithium, but odds haven't, traditionally, been good. I'm also concerned that Western media tends to refer to protests against socialist leaders as 'pro-democracy protests', even though that's not normally what I'd call a right-wing protest.
posted by Merus at 3:36 PM on November 11 [16 favorites]


@ggreenwald
Bolivian Police cutting the indigenous flag - which had been Bolivia's 2nd official flag - off their uniforms.

This coup is literally the opposite of restoring democracy, which is how it's being depicted in the western press.

It's violent, racist, imperial Christian fanaticism: [Tweet in spanish quoted that contains video]
Stealing an election by getting the most votes is a new one though.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:12 PM on November 11 [18 favorites]


A lot of my twitter feed is very upset over Bolivia, and it's kind of maddening.

My twitter feed and several IRL friends are in a similar way. I think that it tends to be a desire to impose a simple "goodies and baddies" narrative on what is quite a complex situation, plus a (perhaps unconscious) attitude that sees the US as the only actor in the region with agency.

As far as I can see:
(1) Morales did a huge amount of good during his time in office, slashing poverty rates while raising living standards and GDP in a sustainable way that was mostly unique in the region;
but (2) he didn't seem to do much to develop his political legacy, groom successors, etc, or have much of a plan beyond hanging onto power personally;
and (3) whether or not he should have been running for a fourth term, and regardless of whether the results would have gone his way when the counts from more rural districts came in, it did look a lot like he tried to steal the first round of the election. (The intentional cutting of power to the count [can't find an English link, apologies], the ballot boxes in the streets and in warehouses, etc, were a bad look.)

All that said: (4) that doesn't remotely justify a military coup.

What's happening now isn't that Morales has been forced into respecting the results of the referendum or the election or whatever. There isn't going to be the agreed transition period into early next year. The opposition isn't coming to power.

As per the (excellent) Al Jazeera summary in the post above, what appears to have happened is that the military, along with a hard-right Christian nutjob, have seen their opportunity and have jumped in to take over.

That's an extremely bad thing, regardless of the context immediately before. In a way, it also doesn't really matter whether the CIA or State Department or whatever was involved (I've yet to see any evidence at all, although I'm certain that they're all very pleased with the outcome).

Anyway, I'm not a massive fan of AMLO, but I'm pleased that he's offered Morales and the former Bolivian govt asylum, and I hope that they get out. Yesterday there were 20+ members of the government in the Mexican official residence [spanish again].
posted by chappell, ambrose at 4:37 PM on November 11 [16 favorites]


Stealing an election by getting the most votes is a new one though.

Except that isn’t strictly the case. The election was heading for a runoff with most of the vote counted which would have been a much more difficult fight for Morales. Then updates to the count stopped and the count came back with a huge surge in Morales votes, enough to declare him an outright winner by the barest of margins.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:39 PM on November 11


My feeling on what's happening in Bolivia is that we can maybe cool it on the hand-wringing about Morales's actions until it's clear whether or not there's even going to be another election, because right now the people in charge haven't said a single thing about that, and every second they don't makes it look more and more like this is going to be some kind of junta indefinitely. They also really seem to be gearing up for some Christian fascism and genocide of indigenous Bolivians. Whatever Morales did or didn't do has very little bearing on this next phase, and it increasingly looks like it's going to be very, very bad for many Bolivians.
posted by Copronymus at 4:45 PM on November 11 [28 favorites]


Merus: It doesn't explain what happened after communism collapsed in Albania, and five years later half the country's economy was caught up in pyramid schemes. Capitalists generally don't appreciate pyramid schemes - no-one admires Bernie Madoff's chutzpah - and if you're going to extract wealth from chaos, there's much less chaotic ways to do so.

For decades, people in Communist countries were told that capitalists were the worst kind of people - greedy, manipulative, liars and cheaters, no concern for their fellow humans.

Then the wall fell, and people in Communist countries were told that they should become capitalists.
posted by clawsoon at 4:54 PM on November 11 [5 favorites]


The election was heading for a runoff with most of the vote counted which would have been a much more difficult fight for Morales. Then updates to the count stopped and the count came back with a huge surge in Morales votes, enough to declare him an outright winner by the barest of margins.

That was an unofficial count though, and it should be expected for Morales to do better as later rural votes come in.
posted by Cezar Golescu at 5:13 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


Then updates to the count stopped and the count came back with a huge surge in Morales votes, enough to declare him an outright winner by the barest of margins.

I'm far from an expert on this, but as I understand it, the quick count stopped with about 85% of the vote counted (the quick count is not the official count, it is supposed to give fast, incomplete results). Then in the official results, Morales was doing much better. The claim is that the quick count was mostly from more urban areas and that the votes from rural (poorer and more indigenous) areas went more to Morales (which certainly seems pretty reasonable given his policies and being indigenous himself). I don't think we have the information here to really evaluate these claims, but it seems like the narrative is being twisted against Morales here by not acknowledging these facts.

It kind of seems like the quick count (an initiative of the OAS) was a bad idea if it wasn't a representative count.

Given the long, sordid history of US intervention in Latin America against the left, both covert and overt, especially in the realm of coups, I think it's worth being pretty cautious about what's being reported in the media, especially US media. No one looks great in this situation, but celebrating a military coup in Latin America against a left-wing president has looked pretty bad in retrospect far too many times over past decades.
posted by ssg at 5:35 PM on November 11 [11 favorites]


On a different topic from the FPP, The Guardian series on Mexico is very disappointing. I'd expect the Guardian, of all places, to at least try to inject some context about the causes of the situation in Mexico, but there's really nothing there.
posted by ssg at 6:08 PM on November 11


Celebrating the resignation of Morales feels tasteless considering a literal neonazi took his place.
posted by Memo at 6:22 PM on November 11 [7 favorites]


celebrating a military coup in Latin America against a left-wing president has looked pretty bad in retrospect far too many times over past decades.

Well, neither has celebrating left-wing dictators. The Left even has a name for the ones who still celebrate Stalin.

I'm comfortable saying that Morales lost the plot and also that the coup against him is likely going to be worse.


For decades, people in Communist countries were told that capitalists were the worst kind of people - greedy, manipulative, liars and cheaters, no concern for their fellow humans.

Then the wall fell, and people in Communist countries were told that they should become capitalists.


Not to take away from this great line, but part of the fall of communism was the growing sense that communists lied about everything. The Albanian pyramid schemes were mostly perpetrated by foreign sleazebags, anyway.

The takeaway is that no matter what kind of government you have, the rule of law and stability is job 1. Without that, it's difficult to do anything else.
posted by Merus at 6:43 PM on November 11 [3 favorites]


I think that it would be wise to remember how the actions against Lula were spun (and even the impeachment of Rousseff, a much less attractive character). My bet is that in five or ten years, should everything not be entirely flames, a lot of what we think we know now about the election will be proved to be right-wing and American propaganda.

It's obvious that there's a huge amount of social media war going on right now - lots of new accounts and phony accounts from insta-organizations talking about how bad Morales is. The whole thing stinks. It has the smell of upper class right wing organizations all over it, creepy young media men on high salaries typing away in the background.

I would also bet that when, eg, Allende was overthrown, or Arbenz, there was the same attempt to muddy the waters, the same both-sidesism, with the only difference being the slowness of the media. In retrospect, we see clearly.

The other thing I always think of - Allende was the Mary Poppins of left South American leaders, the preux chevalier, and all it got him was a bullet in the head. People begged him to arm his supporters and he wouldn't and it cost him. Whenever people talk about how some otherwise decent left wing leader in South America didn't act like he belonged on the West Wing, I am reminded of Allende and reminded that people have their reasons.
posted by Frowner at 6:43 PM on November 11 [33 favorites]


It is impossible to imagine anything less relevant to the topic at hand than Albanian pyramid schemes.
posted by great_radio at 6:48 PM on November 11 [6 favorites]


Well, neither has celebrating left-wing dictators. The Left even has a name for the ones who still celebrate Stalin.

It kind of looks like you're trying to equate Morales (not to mention many other left-wing leaders from Latin America) with Stalin here and that's not a great look. What it looks like is the paranoid belief system (Latin American socialism = Russian-style communism = Stalin) that was a significant factor leading the US to back coups and violent regimes across Latin America.
posted by ssg at 6:59 PM on November 11 [16 favorites]


It kind of looks like you're trying to equate Morales (not to mention many other left-wing leaders from Latin America) with Stalin here and that's not a great look.

I mean, maybe not, but I genuinely believe the Left needs to be hyper-sensitive to authoritarianism. It's a betrayal of the things we think are important - power to the people, giving control to the workers - by saying 'power to The People, and I represent The People' when the whole point is that leaders never really represent the people.

Like, as far as I'm concerned, I do not care what positions Morales professed to have, or what he did in office: trying to overturn term limits and running an election that wasn't unimpeachably above board is disqualifying for me. If you're not committed to the transfer of power to someone else, how are The People supposed to get any?
posted by Merus at 7:11 PM on November 11 [3 favorites]


https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/11/11/evo-morales-resigns-president-bolivia/ is a working version of the broken link above.

The two PDFs are interesting reading.
posted by joeyh at 7:15 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


but as far as I can tell, the simpler explanation is that Morales tried to steal an election and couldn't pull it off, and got what was coming to him


lol what the fucking fuck is this
posted by windbox at 7:32 PM on November 11 [18 favorites]


Wow. I took a look at the OAS report directly and it is nuts. They show a bunch of graphs with fitted lines to make the argument that the 10% margin for Morales was "statistically unlikely", but the graph data doesn't seem to be consistent from one graph to the next and the fitting of the lines makes absolutely no sense at all, especially the discontinuities. It's just not credible at all and looks very much like someone starting with a conclusion and then making graphs to prove that conclusion.

Perhaps this is normally how election auditing takes place, but I sure hope not. This makes it hard to take the other things the OAS is saying seriously.
posted by ssg at 7:42 PM on November 11 [2 favorites]


but the graph data doesn't seem to be consistent from one graph to the next and the fitting of the lines makes absolutely no sense at all, especially the discontinuities. It's just not credible at all and looks very much like someone starting with a conclusion and then making graphs to prove that conclusion.

Not that I'm saying everything is A-OK with their result, but the discontinuities make sense if what happened is the quick count stopped and the official count subsequently tried to pull a fast one, no? Whoever did this report didn't do the best possible job (e.g., the two graphs on page ten use differently scaled Y axes) but if the reality is that the last 15% of the tally was rigged you'd expect to see exactly these sorts of sudden skews in that section, as they have to make up for "lost ground" and can't change the first 85% so it's very difficult, mathematically, to hide that you're doing that.
posted by axiom at 8:49 PM on November 11


The OAS has absolutely no evidence of anything. And if Morales was anything like the left-wing authoritarian he is being accused of he would have packed the military and police leadership with his supporters. Considering that such a course might have prevented another Bolsonaro coming to power, the lesson for socialists and other anti-fascists here is pretty hard to miss.
posted by moorooka at 10:18 PM on November 11 [4 favorites]


They show a bunch of graphs with fitted lines to make the argument that the 10% margin for Morales was "statistically unlikely", but the graph data doesn't seem to be consistent from one graph to the next and the fitting of the lines makes absolutely no sense at all, especially the discontinuities.

I took a look at these too. The graphs are definitely confusing, and look like they're direct dumps from R, and weren't cleaned up for presentation or readability or anything. After puzzling at them a bit, I was able to figure out why the data looks inconsistent from one graph to the next. They wanted to examine whether there was an inflection in the trends of the vote counts at either of two times that were suspicious. The first, when 81% of the votes were in, corresponds to a time identified as when some irregularity occurred that I didn't fully understand. The second, when 95% of the votes were in, corresponds to the irregular gap in vote verifications, a relatively large time window in which votes could have been fabricated.

First they show a graph with all of the vote tables (which I gather is the unit of vote counts transmitted to the central tally) plotted against the order in which they were received. The blue line is some kind of smoothing of the total cumulative count, probably a polynomial fit which is easy to do in R. The next graphs are the ones where the data look apparently inconsistent. In particular, it looks like the data between the 81% and 95% cutoffs don't match up at all. After puzzling over what these graphs were showing for a while, I finally realized that the black dots represent cumulative binning of the total vote table data. However, the data set is split for binning into segments before and after 81% (for the first graph) and 95% (for the second). But the number of bins is not adjusted, so the "resolution" is different between the two graphs (and between the before- and after-threshold epochs of each graph). The blue curves look like polynomial fits to the black dots. They were fit independently in the before- and after-threshold epochs, and so they really have no meaning at all. This is why it looks like the data doesn't match up. It's kind of sloppy and amateurish, but the underlying data actually pretty clearly supports their main argument anyway, which is that there is an anomalous number of votes cast for Morales within the final 5%-ish of votes counted, corresponding to the anomalous delay in the counting of those votes.

I have no idea what the integrity or honesty of this analysis is otherwise, but the graphs do make some sense given these slightly odd choices. Probably this is a case of someone who's not much of an expert in R trying to crunch the data using R scripts they got from someone else, or someone who was just under an incredible time constraint and sent out the first graphs they were able to generate that made the point.
posted by biogeo at 10:19 PM on November 11


People begged him to arm his supporters and he wouldn't and it cost him. Whenever people talk about how some otherwise decent left wing leader in South America didn't act like he belonged on the West Wing, I am reminded of Allende and reminded that people have their reasons.

Group 1: Allende, Lula, Morales
Group 2: Castros, Chavez/Maduro

There's the ones that don't arm the workers and the ones that survive. I don't enjoy sounding like a tankie but to a Latin American leftist the empirical lesson of history is that gentle social democracy will get you killed and that some measure of authoritarianism is necessary to stay alive against the empire.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:05 PM on November 11 [17 favorites]


I think this whole discussion about graphs is totally beside the point. If the argument is that there was a big difference between the pre-81% votes and the post 81% votes (I think this is actually 83% and that's what shows on the graphs, but whatever), the way to display that would be to show the average of the votes before and the average of the votes after. Same for 95%.

They do kind of do this in the text (they say Morales got 60% of those last 5% votes, versus about 46% of the first 95%), but this doesn't match the data in the graphs (the third plot seems to show about 56% of the vote in the last 5% went to Morales). The more I look at this, the more I see that the data doesn't seem to be consistent within the document.

All of the graphs, except the last two, are of the unofficial results. Not sure why they are analyzing the unofficial results so much and giving so little attention to the official results.

I believe what they are doing may be a regression discontinuity design (hence the RD plot titles), though they never say explicitly what they are doing. I'm not at all a statistics expert, but from my understanding, this is not at all an appropriate analysis for this data set. It seems completely backwards to me. In any case, the polynomial fits are just a very weird thing to do, especially to this binned data. It's not just that they are different fits on the two sides of the line, but that there is really no justification for use of a polynomial fit here at all.

Putting this out looks very bad for the OAS, in my opinion. This report has had a serious effect on a whole country and it looks like someone just threw together some graphs that support their conclusion. That's really bad. I think the people of Bolivia deserve better than some sloppy statistics. Most charitably, this is really bad work. Slightly less charitably, someone already knew what conclusion they wanted and then got someone to work up some graphs that kind of look like they support that conclusion.

I think the real question is does the rural votes being counted / transmitted later and also being more likely to be for Morales theory stand up? This analysis doesn't really touch on that question at all. The CPER analysis does cover that territory and reaches a positive conclusion. There isn't a ton of data in the CPER report and I have a few question about some of the details, but overall it seems much, much more convincing.

For me, this statistical analysis is so sloppy and/or biased that it's hard to take the rest of the OAS report seriously.

(And in case anyone is wondering, I've also checked the Spanish version of the document to see if there were any significant details missing in the English version, but it's pretty much a word for word translation and the graphs are totally identical.)
posted by ssg at 11:08 PM on November 11 [5 favorites]


On this subject, has anyone read the analysis in the Data Appendix of the CPER report? Impossible to know without seeing all the details, but it appear very convincing in that estimating the votes of the uncounted tally sheets by randomly selecting tally sheets for areas nearby (over many simulations) shows results very similar to the actual official results. I find this very convincing and it looks to be done by someone who understands what they are doing.
posted by ssg at 11:23 PM on November 11


I also think it is worth adding that in my experience in Canadian elections, this kind of difference in votes depending on timing of the results coming in is definitely something I've seen. In my context, the rural areas are more right wing and they often are reported faster (the polls are smaller, so there are fewer votes to count), leading to highly right-leaning data in the early results (the first 5%, analogous to those last 5% in Bolivia). It's not a remarkable result in Canada, so I'm not sure why it should be in Bolivia.
posted by ssg at 11:33 PM on November 11 [3 favorites]


Why would you trust anything the OAS says? It represents the US' interests, that's it.
posted by signal at 3:09 AM on November 12 [10 favorites]


I mean, maybe not, but I genuinely believe T̶h̶e̶ L̶e̶f̶t̶ people needs to be hyper-sensitive to authoritarianism

FTFY
posted by jonnay at 6:10 AM on November 12


Thanks for this in depth compilation of some of the political complexities of S. America.
Plenty to read here.
As usual main stream media manages to gloss over quite a bit.
As Bolivia is the lastest "upset" I would just like to quote the historian Greg Grandin
who has some tips on understanding Latin American coups:
If the military intervenes after the president agrees to protest demands — as what happened in Bolivia, when Evo Morales agreed to new elections — it is a coup.
Pretty much anytime the military intervenes to change regimes, it is a coup.

English language articles in depth are a bit sparse
Little known six months ago, Camacho became a right-wing leader who pushed Evo Morales until resignation.
Camacho who always speaks "in the name of God," has been called fascist, fundamentalist, and prejudiced.... -(portuguese)
As regards the farce of the OAS; Kevin Cashman gives the best run down in the English language that I have read.
posted by adamvasco at 6:26 AM on November 12 [1 favorite]


The people that are hand-wringing about "process" and "stability" is maddening. The process and stability before Morales had millions more in poverty and powerlessness. The process and stability before Morales had the rich plundering the country.

If poverty is violence (and poverty is violence against the poor), then making process and stability more important than protecting the lives of the poor is nonsense. If I see someone being beaten in the street, I shouldn't care if the beating was carried out under the right process. If I see someone starving, I shouldn't care that that starvation is the cost for a greater stability of society.

Evo Morales' election results is literally the least important thing in the good or bad in Bolivia right now. Fucking right-wing fascists and capitalists are rolling in and we're going "Welllllllllll . . . "
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:31 AM on November 12 [14 favorites]


Also, Angela Merkle has been the leader of Germany longer than Morales has been the leader of Bolivia, but somehow he's the authoritarian power-monger for trying to stay in office.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:33 AM on November 12 [8 favorites]


When Evo Morales became president in 2005, the constitution of Bolivia limited presidents to just one consecutive term. In 2009, a new constitution was instituted, that increased this limit to two consecutive terms. Because this was a new constitution, Evo's first term didn't count under this limit, so he was able to serve two additional terms. In 2016, there was a referendum to allow the president to serve three consecutive terms (for Evo Morales this would be four), but it was voted down. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice overturned this vote to allow Evo Morales to run for a third (really fourth) term. It is worth noting that the Supreme Tribunal of Justice replaced the Supreme Court of Bolivia in the 2009 change to the constitution. It might also be worth noting that the Supreme Tribunal of Justice is elected by popular vote, as opposed to the old Supreme Court of Bolivia.

It is a bit disappointing to see some of the reactions to all this. To be honest, my biggest fear when Donald Trump got elected was that he would pull some of the same tactics to get around term limits in the United States. I don't like that we have decided that all this is okay just because Evo Morales is socialist. I don't think the situation with Angela Merkel is comparable because there are no term limits for Chancellor.
posted by chernoffhoeffding at 7:16 AM on November 12 [4 favorites]


Also I see a lot of comments about Morales's successor being a neo-nazi and facist. But as far as I can tell, there is no successor, because everyone in the line of succession has resigned. Does anyone have any information about this? Apologies in advance if I'm missing something obvious.
posted by chernoffhoeffding at 7:48 AM on November 12


Camacho is leader of the opposition and power behind the push to oust Morales.
The stand in position has been claimed by Jeanine Alvez the 2nd vice president of the senate and opposition but she has to be approved by the legislature.
posted by adamvasco at 8:35 AM on November 12


Has any term-limits law ever been put in place to stop a right-winger, or have they all been put in place to stop left-wingers like FDR?
posted by clawsoon at 8:35 AM on November 12 [7 favorites]


Here is an article from the World Socialist Website which is critical both of Morales and the coup. Whatever you think of WSWS, the article provides some background detail as to the various forces in Bolivia. It seems to be saying that there are multiple relevant groups - the right, the Morales administration and various left peasant and workers organizations, some of which are strong supporters of Morales and others of which have supported him in the past or strategically but have not been happy with recent actions.

It would make a good deal of sense if what were happening was that the right was taking the opportunity of partial left dissatisfaction with the Morales administration to stage a coup and claim that this was some kind of blow for democracy.

~~
It really does give you some sense of why, eg, Lenin and so on said that there could not be socialism in one country, because very clearly a lot of the problems and double-binds faced by left/socialist administrations stem from international banks and pressure from international corporations.
posted by Frowner at 8:38 AM on November 12 [4 favorites]


Has any term-limits law ever been put in place to stop a right-winger, or have they all been put in place to stop left-wingers like FDR?

2018: A contested inauguration: The president of Honduras starts his second term under a cloud. Juan Orlando Hernández has little legitimacy, but few real foes

It's really interesting how Honduras unconstitutionally got rid of their presidential term limit for their right wing president following the right wing coup we supported in 2009. I'm sure the CIA will get around to helping the opposition restore democracy any day now.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:46 AM on November 12 [11 favorites]


I am reminded of Allende and reminded that people have their reasons.

I have family from Chile. They're older, and still talk shit about how Allende was an arrogant dictator and he was *just* about to send all the petit bourgeoisie to the gulags when Pinochet intervened. They never acknowledge that Pinochet then instituted literal death camps, mass executions, torture, and declared himself dictator for life. No, Allende was the tyrant for even meeting with Fidel Castro. If he'd gotten his way, there would have been Cuban troops shooting anyone who finished high school! He got what was coming for trying to let these dumb commie ideas into the country.

I've only been in Chile once. I was about 9-10 years old. It was the late 80s. What I remember are soldiers in full battle gear on every street corner "policing" the city. A small student protest broke out once to ask for a reinstatement of elections. The military rolled out in tanks to stop it. They used water cannons on the crowds in freezing weather, then sundown curfews were instituted. Some people said that they mixed acids into the water cannons to blind people, but I wouldn't have known. My relatives sat in our 26th-floor apartment and sneered at the "communists" who wanted Pinochet to hold elections. Meanwhile, kids my age spent all day begging on the streets. Sooty pollution coated everything.

It was every bit as dystopian as the media had led me to believe life behind the Iron Curtain was. I didn't know if what I was seeing was because of Communism, or, like, despite it. Was Communism that much worse, because it already looked like an extreme police state? People warned us away from certain areas and checkpoints, saying people could "disappear." People were brutalized for wanting to vote, which I really could not understand. I thought voting meant democracy. How was it communist to want to vote? I had always been told that in communist countries there was nothing but dictatorship, and no one got to vote. It confused me for years.

So yeah, there are definitely people who will view mild Dem Soc policies as an existential threat, even when all effort is made to mollify them--people who don't necessarily have material interests to protect. They have fully ingested bourgeois values, and won't see that the distance between themselves and the poor people they disdain is much less than the space between themselves and the actual capitalists.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:45 PM on November 12 [12 favorites]


The Jacobin article puts it another way: "The reaction of the Latin American rights is worrying, because they have shown themselves to be extremely bellicose in the face of everything that appears to be popular or left-wing. In Europe, the Left is hated because they defend immigrants; here, what is hated is the pretense of egalitarianism."
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:26 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


A little more from Bolivia.
“Pachamama will never return to the palace,” he said, referring to the Andean Mother Earth spirit. “Bolivia belongs to Christ.”
Bolivia coup led by Christian fascist paramilitary leader and millionaire – with foreign support.
(Caveat - The Greyzone but a lot here)
Morales like all S. American politicians was
far from perfect but do people really think this type of human garbage is a viable alternative.?
posted by adamvasco at 2:34 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


far from perfect but do people really think this type of human garbage is a viable alternative?

People who want Bolivia's lithium definitely think it is.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:06 PM on November 12 [7 favorites]


far from perfect but do people really think this type of human garbage is a viable alternative?

Yes; “liberals” who believe that term-limiting the country’s first indigenous leader is a higher “democratic” priority than overcoming centuries of violent colonial feudalism
posted by moorooka at 3:34 PM on November 12 [14 favorites]


The original term limits in Bolivia were a response to Paz Estenssoro. These limits have applied to all presidents since 1967, until Evo Morales. Evo Morales, unlike Bolivian presidents before him, has been able to be president for more than one consecutive term. He was in fact able to be president for three consecutive terms and run for a fourth. The only relationship between term limits and Evo Morales are that these term limits have been relaxed for him.
posted by chernoffhoeffding at 7:14 PM on November 12


“listen i hate coups but *repeats justification for coup verbatim from a state dept internal memo*”
posted by moorooka at 7:56 PM on November 12 [5 favorites]


The original term limits in Bolivia were a response to Paz Estenssoro.

Funny thing about that, when the military decided that he'd overstepped his bounds and been in power too long, they deposed and exiled him, but got back to work re-establishing the rule of law and democratic government a mere 18 years later. Maybe if Morales stays healthy he can, like Estenssoro, come back for another term when they have the next elections in 2037.
posted by Copronymus at 8:32 PM on November 12 [4 favorites]


For a more definitive answer as to whether the new leadership of Bolivia is going to be Christian fascists with dreams of ethnic cleansing, here's a 2013 tweet from the new President, saying, "I dream of a Bolivia that is free of satanic indigenous rituals. The city is not for indians, they should go to the highlands or the chaco!!"
posted by Copronymus at 11:09 PM on November 12 [2 favorites]


"I dream of a Bolivia that is free of satanic indigenous rituals. The city is not for indians, they should go to the highlands or the chaco!!"

Nobody can seem to find the original tweet so it might not be legit, but this one calling native religion satanic is, as is this one depicting Morales as a "poor Indian clinging to power".

She may be a far-right unelected junta-approved figurehead but uhhhh at least she'll let us plunder the natural resources
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:35 PM on November 12 [1 favorite]


Outstanding post, thanks!
posted by dmh at 5:36 AM on November 13 [1 favorite]


History indeed comes around to bite us in the arse.
The main oposition in Bolivia to Morales came from the district of Santa Cruz, a haven for Nazi exiles in the 40's including Klaus Barbie.
And an interesting article from Simon Romero NYT about Croat bolivian businessman Branko Marinkovic and his Ustashe connections.
posted by adamvasco at 6:32 AM on November 13 [2 favorites]


Amazingly good post. Been hoping for a summary just like this for a few weeks. And thanks to all the commenters with extra insights.

But some comments ("The takeaway is that no matter what kind of government you have, the rule of law and stability is job 1. Without that, it's difficult to do anything else.") are offensively out of place and history-blind. In 2019, I think everyone knows what "stability" and "rule of law" mean in this context.
posted by booksarelame at 2:48 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


In much of S. America there is an ongoing war against the indigenous peoples.
From Brazil: We don't need marytys.
All this outbreak of violence against indigenous people makes me wonder why the situation has to go to extremes for the society and especially the mainstream media to pay attention to the clear hostility they have been suffering.
posted by adamvasco at 3:57 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Today is the 1 year anniversary of the murder by the police's 'Comando Jungla' of Camilo Catrillanca , a Mapuche activist in southern Chile, and of the attempt at staging a supposed gunfight and a cover-up which went all the way up to the Minister of Interior.
We are expecting some people to express their thoughts in this on a public manner.
posted by signal at 5:25 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


They're definitely, definitely, definitely going to have totally fair elections soon, but first they've got to get Bolivia out of a bunch of international organizations and evict all the Cubans. I'm sure that new elections is a really strong priority #2, though.
posted by Copronymus at 11:58 AM on November 15 [2 favorites]


Now that's what I call stability!
posted by ssg at 1:41 PM on November 15 [1 favorite]


Enormously graphic and terrible images of Indigenous protesters murdered by the government at Cochabamba. What I mainly remember about Cochabamba was enormous protests when the neoliberal administration was required by the World Bank to privatize the water system, which was bid on by Bechtel. Only one person died in those protests.
posted by Frowner at 3:16 PM on November 15 [1 favorite]


Bolivian President and cabinet have just issued a "decreto" exonerating the armed forces for any action.
This is basically a license to torture and kill.
posted by adamvasco at 10:10 AM on November 16 [2 favorites]


The important thing to keep in mind over the coming weeks as the massacres continue, oppression of indigenous and non-fascist Bolivians increases, and none of the issues the protests were ostensibly about are addressed in any meaningful way, is that absolutely no one could have predicted this. Anyone who might have happened to think this was a bad idea remains an unserious ideologue mindlessly boosting hard-left propaganda. Those who supported removing Morales from power are steadfast in the devotion to democratic principles and support their re-institution, in this decade or the next, as appropriate. That their predictions about how this would play out may have proved incorrect in no way means their future predictions and opinions about similar situations should be discounted in any way.
posted by Copronymus at 1:51 PM on November 16 [4 favorites]


Over the past 100 years or so S. American countries have had a Presidential term interrupted every 10 months.
posted by adamvasco at 3:29 PM on November 17


Starting on Monday, the coup government will arrest legislators from Movement Toward Socialism. But not a coup, not a coup, Morales brought it on himself, there's too much apologism for Morales on metafilter, etc etc.

I wonder if there will be this kind of liberal nodding and smiling if for some reason there's some kind of mass round-up of the left in the US. Will we too have brought it on ourselves through too much apologizing for Morales, too much protesting, etc etc? If only we had been nice and not blocked streets or broken windows, this would not have happened, after all nothing much was at stake so why couldn't we have been nice?
posted by Frowner at 4:15 AM on November 18 [7 favorites]


New York Review
The Rise and Fall of Evo Morales
posted by adamvasco at 5:59 AM on November 23


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