Former Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned less than three months after completing his third term, dejected by what he denounced was a coup against him that prevented him from carrying out his fourth term that he was democratically elected to do. Morales sent shock waves all across Latin America when he announced he was stepping down from the presidency to avoid continued bloodshed between Bolivians before accepting asylum in Mexico.
The first indigenous Bolivian president announced his resignation in a message on television, after returning to the coca-producing region of Chapare, his political and Union base, after having unsuccessfully sought in La Paz a political agreement that would allow him to complete his mandate that ends on January 22. Morales blamed the opposition candidate and former president Carlos Mesa (2003-2005), who came second in the last elections, and Luis Fernando Camacho, leader of the street protests, for the widespread violence in several cities that has left at least three dead and more than 300 injured.
The man who had left Bolivia “sovereign and independent economically and politically, with identity and dignity” claimed that he decided to resign as president after pressure from the Bolivian Workers’ Central and the mining unions, the Catholic Church and the military and police commanders – all in the effort to avoid greater bloodshed in the country.
This has come as an unexpected shock for supporters of Morales and is a major victory for Latin American reactionaries who have been suffering a string of major defeats in 2019. The year began with a violent and political coup attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from openly U.S.-puppet Juan Guaidó. Guaidó spectacularly failed despite having the backing from most of Latin America, North America and the Europe Union, with many of these states cutting diplomatic ties with Caracas and applying sanctions against Venezuela. Venezuela was not left isolated however with China and Russia expanding economic relations with the Bolivarian country.
In the second half of the year, all in short succession, we have seen Ecuador violently uprise against President Lenín Moreno’s attempts to implement strangling International Monetary Fund (IMF) austerity measures; Chile violently rose up against President Sebastián Piñera’s attempts to raise the price of public transportation, which then exploded into a wider anti-neoliberal movement as the exploitative economic system has created a high cost of living despite Chile having the biggest inequality in South America; Morales’ re-election in Bolivia; the election of Peronist Alberto Fernández against incumbent neoliberal president Mauricio Macri who lost his re-election bid for a second term; the likelihood of Leftist Daniel Martínez winning the Uruguayan election on November 24; and, former Brazilian President Lula’s premature release from prison last week after controversially being charged with corruption.
It certainly has been a very tough year for U.S. President Donald Trump who appears to be desperately clinging onto the Monroe Doctrine, but failing. The U.S. cannot directly control the anger of the people in Ecuador and Chile, it cannot change how people vote in Argentina and Uruguay, and it spectacularly failed in Venezuela for reasons that will be addressed.
Rather, the U.S. specializes in Hybrid Wars for regime change, and Bolivia is easy pickings to bring out of the Pink Tide and into the Conservative Wave, also known as the Blue Tide. Although it is still uncertain what will happen in the near future, the question begs whether there is a suitable replacement for Morales. Although Morales’ policies may be continued by another president, the coup against him is a minor victory for U.S. puppets in Latin America that are facing far more difficult pressures.
Although it is easy to argue that Venezuela and Cuba have experienced far greater pressures – economically, diplomatically and militarily – from the U.S., it must be understood why Morales capitulated so easily to the rioters. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a former military officer, had radicalized and ideologized the military to Bolivarian dogma and built a people’s militia capable of defending the government from threats. As Morales failed to ideologize the Bolivian military, reactionary and pro-U.S. forces remained, allowing them to apply pressure against the democratically elected Morales.
Morales created economic growth not seen elsewhere in South America, increased the quality of life, reduced illiteracy to 2.4% in 2018 from 13% in 2006, reduced unemployment from 9.2% in 2006 to 4.1%, reduced poverty from 60.6% in 2006 to 34.6%, and extreme poverty to 15.2% from 38.2% in 2006. However, many of these achievements were made by ensuring that industries remained nationalized and by becoming completely independent of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. By becoming independent from the neoliberal order, the country was always at risk of experiencing a Hybrid War via color revolution, especially as Morales had not ideologized the military, essentially meaning he was always at risk of being militarily overthrown.
Despite the Conservative Wave experiencing electoral successes in the latter part of the 2010’s with neoliberalism returning to Brazil, Argentina, Peru and other Latin American states, the short period of time of Conservative Wave rule has meant the return of severe austerity, increasing unemployment and rising poverty to these countries, allowing for a second swing of the Pink Tide. This effectively means that Argentina and probably Uruguay could potentially face color revolutions if they begin to defy the neoliberal order, and Lula will always be at risk of returning to prison. With Ecuadorean protestors smashing any ideas of IMF strangling their country and Chile revolting against the “neoliberal ghost of Pinochet”, U.S. hegemony in Latin America is being severely challenged, and is losing.
Removing Morales was easy pickings for the Monroe Doctrine and it demonstrates that neoliberalism is always willing to use violence to defend its interests. It also serves as a warning to Argentina that is firmly under IMF control and will surely be challenged when the President-Elect finally assumes power. It also serves as a warning to any full-time challenge to IMF interests across all Latin American countries. As Latin America begins to swing back against U.S. hegemony in the region, it can be expected we will see intensified violence in Venezuela and color revolutions emerging wherever the neoliberal order is permanently challenged. Morales was unfortunately the easiest target for the Conservative Wave to have a minor victory after a series of major losses for them. Although Morales may not be in power and is now in Mexico, there is every chance that his replacement will continue his policies and maintain Bolivia’s sovereignty and independence, effectively meaning the balance of power in the Andean country is still being contested between Pink Tide and Conservative Wave forces.