We reproduce below the summary document of the debate that we held from the FAI’s Madrid Committee on November 18, 2019, dedicated to the imperialist offensive in Latin America. The emergence of the coup in Bolivia greatly conditioned the debate, in which we analyzed the main factors that conditioned its apparent success and the lessons that can be drawn from this traumatic process for the entire Latin American context and, by extension, global, about the destabilizing, corrupting and criminal nature of imperialism and the means to counteract it:
FAI Talk, 18 Nov. 2019
It is not hidden from anyone that the process of instability that Latin America (LA) is experiencing in this second decade of the 21st century is induced from/by the United States. As long as this country continues to consider Latin America as its backyard, submitting the different countries to Washington’s interests, there can be no normality in that continent.
The destabilization and extreme violence that have showered Bolivia’s streets and fields with blood at the end of 2019 are due to two types of reasons:
All this until the local oligarchy and the interests of American capital got tired and, “since they couldn’t beat him at the polls, they took him out by force”
A CLASSIC-STYLE COUP D’ÉTAT
What has happened in Bolivia has been “a brutal, old-fashioned, violence-plagued coup”. No soft hit with judges and law fare (abusive use of national and international legal procedures, with the aim of provoking popular repudiation against a ruler). They have not bothered to disguise it. They have practiced a brutal coup, without any qualms about violence. An intervention in line with the political tasting of the sectors that have taken power by assault and that “are characterized by fanaticism and racism rarely seen.
The pretext for the coup was an alleged electoral fraud in the 2019 presidential elections. But reports from political bodies less closely associated with the government have only detected a few minor irregularities in the rapid transmission of data; imbalances that never reached a magnitude capable of overturning the election result or reducing the difference that Evo obtained by more than ten points over his opponent, Carlos Mesa.
In fact, in the OAS Report on the Bolivian elections of 2019 the expression “fraud” or “fraudulent” does not appear once. And the prestigious Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington states that “no evidence is found that there were irregularities or fraud affecting the official result that gave President Evo Morales a sufficient victory in the first round.
THE KEYS TO THE COUP
A.- The errors of Evo’s government. Much has been said about the errors of Evo Morales’ government, which should have foreseen and prevented the coup attack. Because, in fact, it is to some extent reasonable to be surprised at how the government of Evo did not perceive the signs of the offensive in time, due to intelligence failures that are difficult to explain.
The risk began to be palpable from the moment they detected the campaigns against the popular leader’s reputation, which in the specialized jargon is called character assassination, qualifying him as a thief, corrupt, dictator or ignorant. In fact, a month before the attack, documents had been published with details of the ongoing operation.
After the insults and defamations, Evo began to be accused of being a “demagogue who wants to stay in power forever”. And not only because of the most reactionary opposition, but with the support of the international media and the endorsement of certain ‘intellectuals’ who, like Mario Vargas Llosa, have acted as spokesmen for the offensive against this and other popular leaderships and have facilitated terror by gangs of hired killers to teach a people who had the audacity to want to be free.
The penultimate warning was, as in other attempts, the entry on the scene of the Security Forces”, institutions controlled by numerous agencies, military and civilian, of the U.S. government that train them, arm them, carry out joint exercises and educate them politically. It must be recognized that the government had done some cleaning up in the Armed Forces and Services, but it had been insufficient.
The security forces have carried out a “coup d’état by omission” in Bolivia. They withdrew from the scene of their responsibilities and left the field free for the uncontrolled actions of fascist gangs, recruited and financed by the right, thus intimidating the entire population, the militancy and the government figures themselves. Evo was left defenseless against the hordes that were destroying, killing and burning.
In the course of the coup, the Evo government also made decisive mistakes. In addition to entrusting security and public order to institutions like the police and army, which were colonized by imperialism and its right-wing lackeys, the government opted for a policy of appeasement and not responding to the provocations of the fascists. But this soft position, far from dissuading them, served to embolden them and increase the stakes: first, they demanded a ballot; then they invoked fraud and called for new elections; then elections but without Evo; later, Evo’s resignation; finally, sowing terror with the complicity of the police and military and forcing Evo to resign. A sequence typical of any coup manual.
In short, the errors of Evo’s government can be summarized in that
However, the events in Bolivia cannot be attributed solely to a lack of foresight. Because the offensive came from much further back. From the very moment Evo came to power, the coup was launched. This shows us that winning elections and reforming the state are difficult tasks, but it is even more difficult to defend it. When one governs in such hostile circumstances the challenges are very great, to be wrong is easy and to be right is very difficult. In Cuba, they have always been very clear about this, and they have managed to hold on because they had the army and the militias.
B.- It is also eloquent the evidence that no matter how well the economy is managed as the Evo government did, how much growth and redistribution is guaranteed, how much investment is increased and how much improvement there is in all the macro and microeconomic indicators, the right wing and imperialism never accept a government that does not put itself at the service of their interests. Possessing natural wealth makes the people a direct target of imperialism. This is now being seen again in Latin America, as we have seen in the Middle East, most of Africa and other strategic regions of the planet. We are facing a general attack, the war-world.
C.- When the aim is to develop a policy contrary to the interests of the dominant groups, the only safeguard left is the capacity for popular mobilization. And Evo lost, to a great extent, because he lost the street. The street was won by the right.
This is what occurs to us:
DOMINANT FACTORS OF CONTEMPORARY IMPERIALISM
Two more axes deserve to be taken into account in the analysis of the new features of imperialism:
1.- The transcendence of the ideological-cultural hegemony that precedes and sometimes overlaps with the economic or political hegemony. It has to do with subjectivity. The coup in Bolivia has been supported by the army’s inaction, but it is also rooted in ideological-cultural aspects. Historical class feuds, and ethnic rivalry, between whites and indigenous people have emerged. Vice President Garcia Linera argued that the middle classes would be ashamed to join the coup because of the killings. But that has been proven to be naive.
There is a real indoctrination of the untouchable truths of liberal democracy that progressive governments have not been able to confront, as if that were something alien to the structures of the state. But it is the state that is responsible for transmitting the values of the defence of social conquests. All this has to do with the field of the subjective, ideological-organizational. And, all too often, it is not in the mentality of the people. And if we do not understand that we are already at war, we will have to suffer it sooner or later.
Surely, this has to do with the role of civil society in the coup in Bolivia. The coup leaders have maintained control of the media and social networks, and no one escapes them. In the face of imperialism, either we confront them all together, from all angles, or we will not be able to defeat them. We may not have the strength to do so, but we have to prove it.
An important ideological element that has contributed to the triumph of the coup: the discourse of non-violence. It seems to be engraved in the democratic convictions of the people. And it has permeated the forces of the left. Non-violence is a dual concept (peace as a good to be achieved, or pacifism that disarms the people in the face of aggression). It has a democratic foundation, but in a context of international structural violence, ceding the monopoly of force to the enemy (Bolivia’s high military commands are reactionary and racist) can be suicidal. In the face of this, the army must be strengthened with people of a strictly democratic nature.
The role of the churches. As in Nicaragua, the Catholic Church has played an important role. In Bolivia there is an indigenous cardinal, but the Episcopal Conference does not speak to him. And the evangelical churches, at least in Santa Cruz, have openly played on behalf of the coup perpetrators, both with specific funding and with their reactionary ideological influences. A phenomenon that is spreading like wildfire throughout much of Latin America. It has already been seen in Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and El Salvador.
Alongside the military, fundamentalist religious sectors have played a prominent role in the coup. They have executed him with the Bible and the Crucifix in his hand, placed at the service of repression and the humiliation of the native peoples. Camacho, the civic leader of the opposition, and Jeanine Áñez, the new and illegitimate president, enthroned the Bible in the presidency of the Republic to legitimize the coup, wash away the deaths produced, confess politics, deny the identity of the indigenous communities and discredit their cults, calling them “satanic.
For this reason, it is urgent to create embryonic organizations to confront this imperialist dynamic and its ideological legitimization. If today there is no anti-imperialist consciousness, it is our obligation to promote it. To assume our responsibility and generate enough enthusiasm, instead of falling into depression.
2.- The relationship between the model of accumulation and the dynamics of capitalism Imperialism is linked to primitive accumulation; its dynamic is constant; it is essential that primitive accumulation be maintained. But in the face of the exhaustion of closed systems, capitalism is forced to seek expansion outside, to continue obtaining value from work. Such expansion is not an option, nor does it depend on a unilateral decision. It is the system itself that demands it.
But it has been a few years since the capacity to create surplus value was exhausted in world capitalism, at the hands of a deindustrialization in the West that reduced employment, wages and the capacity to consume, forcing a new reduction in price and the creation of surplus value. Inter-capitalist competition and the redistribution of wealth necessary for the Welfare State equaled costs to prices. Value extraction dried up. This forced much more aggressive forms of expansion. International capital, and American capital in particular, which is being questioned by countries that refuse to give up their sovereignty, is taking much more aggressive forms today, exercising much greater oppression, moving from bribery to interference, blackmail and hybrid wars, without the slightest respect for international law.
Inter-capitalist competition helps here. One part of capitalism now defends local interests, relying on protectionist, Fordist and demagogic policies; another part defends its interests in globalised capitalism, promoting intervention. The struggle between the two increases aggressiveness towards third countries and feeds a third actor that benefits from both tendencies: the military-industrial complex. Bolivia is being one more victim of this process
But the hegemony of this international capital is not linear. There are many variables that can be influenced; the system is full of contradictions and is vulnerable. This is our field of work. Let us turn all this into a coherent and understandable discourse. Let us look for the most obvious contradictions in concrete cases; let us try to order them and look for their cracks, distinguishing which are harmless to the system and which are not.
Today’s capitalism is no longer capable of generating profit. Factories are closed, companies… the system can only be reborn after a great war. This is what we are seeing in Congo, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Latin America, etc. everywhere… Everything is moving towards the great war involving big capital. If it has not been unleashed, it is because they have not yet activated the war economy. Our responsibility is to work to make it impossible.
(Summary by Ángel Villagrá, based on a report by Manuel Pardo)