Crisis in Bolivia: was there really a coup?

The debate since Evo Morales announced his resignation as president of Bolivia has revolved around whether or not the causes constituted a coup d'etat .

Group of police officers during the marches in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Group of police officers during the marches in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. / Photo: EFE

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: Crisis en Bolivia: ¿realmente hubo golpe de estado?

According to the former president, the opposition forced him to resign, attributing a continuous attack that led to a coup d'etat. In response to the so-called coup, not only Morales but also who was his vice president and several cabinet members also resigned. The mainstay of his argument is that the Armed Forces went against him in the moments before his resignation. Since then, police members have been on the streets rebelling against their government.

But on the other side of the equation is the opposition, some political sectors, the citizenship and even that part of the Armed Forces that turned against them, who do not accept that it was a coup d'etat, or that the life of the ex-president is in danger. They refer to denounce the fraud of the elections of October 20, also based on the fact that the OAS stated that there had been “irregularities”, and also date back to 2016 when it won a referendum that should prevent Morales from launching a new mandate, but he did it again.

In the days that followed Morales's announcement, it was first speculated that his plane was heading to Argentina in search of asylum. Later it was known that the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, would give him political asylum, so during the first days of the week it was learned that the president of indigenous origin had arrived in Mexico.

After the news of Evo, the second vice president of the Senate, Jeanine Áñez, took office as president. Áñez, of opposition, arrives with the endorsement of the Constitutional Court and the support of the opposition parties. On the contrary, the government-related parties, especially the Movement To Socialism (MAS), Morales' party, reject this succession. As an act of protest, the deputies of the Chamber, who are a majority related to Morales, abstained from voting. This self-proclamation occurs in a manner similar to that of Juan Guiadó in Venezuela, as the lack of legitimacy of the government allows the opposition to take power while there are elections.

Read also: Crisis in Bolivia: Evo Morales announces new elections

Áñez said they will vote as soon as possible to know who will be the next president of Bolivia. The previous government's party, MAS, uses this self-proclamation as another argument to ensure that there was a coup d'etat. Therefore, they ensure that their self-proclamation is unconstitutional.

Just 24 hours after landing in Mexico, Evo Morales said he was ready to return to Bolivia and his intention is to reach a dialogue with all sectors so that the crisis in the country does not continue. In conversation with El País, the former president said he had to resign because since October 21, the day after the elections, the coup began with the false accusation that there had been fraud.

“My request is that there be a national dialogue, where the civic committees, the political forces, the right, where the social movements, the State, the Government are. If Álvaro [García Linera - who was his vice president] and I have resigned it is to pacify, so that they do not continue with violence”, Morales told El País.



Despite what can be seen as a defeat for MAS and Morales, the 'scandal' awarded to a coup d'etat further strengthens his party and the Bolivian left, which has many adherents. In that sense, says sociologist Fernando Mayorga for the BBC, “it becomes more relevant, because it is a victim. His image grows, especially internationally. His defense becomes a cause for his followers. ”

The truth is that Morales and Bolivia have been at the center of the eye in recent days, and important and international media such as The Guardian and The Economist have talked about the alleged coup. Among this discussion a more important factor has emerged and it is the need to focus on the people of Bolivia, which since the elections has been more divided than ever. Protests against and in favor of the Evo have taken the streets for days.

During these demonstrations, according to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), at least three people have died and hundreds more are injured or arrested. In the midst of these actions, there have been complaints about the excessive use of force, a fact that has ended up being detrimental in demonstrations throughout the world.

Given the uncertainty that currently permeates in Bolivia, Jose Miguel Vivanco, director for the Americas of HRW, said "In light of the ongoing political and social crisis in Bolivia, the OAS should continue playing a leadership role."

The OAS, after its audit to verify the possible fraud in the elections, in which it determined that there were "irregularities", has shown support for the current president Áñez to make legitimate elections. The Secretary General, Luis Almagro, affirmed that there will be an OAS mission in Bolivia to ensure it.