Category: Bolivia
Bolivia has every right to prosecute coup perpetrators for their crimes
worker | March 18, 2021 | 7:57 pm | Bolivia | Comments closed

Bolivia has every right to prosecute coup perpetrators for their crimes

Bradley Blankenship
Bradley Blankenship

is a Prague-based American journalist, columnist and political commentator. He has a syndicated column at CGTN and is a freelance reporter for international news agencies including Xinhua News Agency. Follow him on Twitter @BradBlank_

Bolivia has every right to prosecute coup perpetrators for their crimes
The arrest of Bolivia’s former interim president Jeanine Áñez and her coup co-conspirators is being painted by pro-Western organizations as political persecution, but it’s far from that.

Bolivian authorities arrested ex-interim president Jeanine Áñez on March 14 for sedition, terrorism and conspiracy for her role in the 2019 coup that ousted former president Evo Morales and ushered in a dark age of violence and repression in the country. Justice Minister Ivan Lima said days after the arrest that he would seek a 30-year sentence for Áñez if found guilty, a sign that the victims of the coup regime’s repression will get the justice they deserve.

There have been many more arrests, including several ministers under the Áñez government and right-wing paramilitary leaders involved, and more are expected to follow. In many of these cases, it’s social movements leading the pressure for charges to be brought against co-conspirators in the coup.

This shows that President Luis Arce, a member of Morales’ Movement toward Socialism (MAS), is serious about getting the country back on its pre-coup developmental path – and keeping criminals accountable.

To be sure, the coup government of Jeanine Áñez tried hard to take Bolivia off of this path and that’s why they worked to radically change the character of institutions in the country. They repressed the MAS and grassroots social movements; allowed street gangs to terrorize and murder dissenters; worked to destroy the free press and opened the country back up to Western capital penetration, which they called a “return to civilization.” (A racist dig at Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous leader).

Now, for Arce and his government, course-correcting will take a correspondingly heavy approach. That being said, it does not mean that one should fall into the intellectual trap of both-sidesism, i.e. that both sides are just as bad as one another. Such a position fails to appreciate exactly how repressive Áñez and her co-conspirators were, and, by comparison, how orderly the judicial process they face is.

Just look at the 2019 Senkata and Sacaba Massacres that occurred immediately after Áñez took power. With Decree 4078, a license to kill that was so blatant it was even denounced by Amnesty International, Áñez absolved armed forces of any criminal liability in their actions and they immediately massacred anti-coup protesters. That same month, family members carried the coffins of those killed in the attack through the city of La Paz and Áñez ordered a crackdown on the march.

This isn’t even to speak of the violence that took place during the events of the coup. Áñez was actually able to seize power in the first place after the resignation of Victor Borda, former president of the lower house representing MAS, after protesters tortured his brother and burned his family home down.

Despite these extraordinarily well-documented crimes, many in the Western media and Western-backed institutions are painting the arrests of the former coup government officials and their street militias as political persecution against the MAS’ opposition.

ALSO ON RT.COMBolivia’s former interim president Jeanine Anez arrested over 2019 coupThese are the same kinds of people that have criticized independent governments for decades, who have apparently no limit to the amount of empathy they can express for murderers and traitors, and whose barometer for democracy is whether pro-Western radicals are allowed to carry on with impunity.

Just look at the Organization of American States (OAS), an organization that was one of the main drivers of the 2019 coup when it falsely claimed there were election irregularities during that year’s presidential election. The OAS recently called on Bolivia to release Áñez and the other coup co-conspirators because of supposed problems in the country’s judicial system, saying they should be tried before the International Criminal Court (ICC) instead to provide a “fair” trial.

Likewise, this sentiment was followed by Human Rights Watch. For its part, this human rights NGO denounced Bolivia last week for giving amnesty to those arrested by the coup government. According to them, the amnesty decree issued by President Arce was too broad and could allow for serious crimes to be dismissed.

Western media outlets are predictably condemning the arrests, labeling them as persecution. The AP ran with the headline“Bolivia’s ex-interim president arrested in opposition crackdown,” which was reprinted as-is in many major English language media publications.

For her part, Áñez is also actively fielding support from foreign governments. A letter sent by Áñez to OAS chief Luis Almagro dated March 13, a day before her arrest, described the charges as political persecution. The memo apparently got through to at least an imaginary government since Venezuela’s “Legitimate Government,” the one headed by Venezuelan non-president Juan Guaidó issued a statement of support for Áñez.

Pro-Western organizations and media have little concern for “democracy” or “human rights” and only truly care about supporting governments that kowtow to the interests of multinational corporations. Holding their favored leaders accountable for crimes is “political persecution” and apparently in the same category as street violence, torture and mass murder. The hypocrisy never ends.

When President Arce took power office in November, he promised to “rebuild the country in unity.” What he did not say was that Bolivia would allow murderers to roam freely, because surely that would only set the country up to be further divided by external forces. That is exactly what happened the whole year before he took office.

Bolivia is showing the world what justice and the rule of law look like, whether Western countries like it or not.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Former Interim President Jeanine Añez Arrested in Bolivia
worker | March 13, 2021 | 7:13 pm | Bolivia | Comments closed


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Earlier, an Bolivian court had issued arrest warrants for Jeanine Añez, the former interim president who seized power in a coup d’etat in late 2019.

The Bolivian government announced on Saturday the arrest of Jeanine Áñez, who will be prosecuted for the overthrow of Evo Morales in November 2019, in an action described by the former president as “abuse and political persecution”.

“I inform the Bolivian people that Mrs. Jeanine Añez has already been apprehended and at this moment she is in the hands of the Police,” Eduardo del Castillo, Minister of Internal Affairs, wrote on his Twitter account.

​The arrest, at a time and place not immediately disclosed, was announced hours after the release of an arrest warrant issued by two prosecutors who are processing a coup complaint against those responsible for the 2019 democratic disruption, from which the administration emerged.

Añez left office in early November when Luis Arce from the Movement for Socialism (MAS) took office, having won in a landslide election on October 18. The vote was repeatedly postponed, sparking protests and fueling fears of a turn even further from democracy.

Former Bolivian president Evo Morales resigned as president and left Bolivia in November 2019, under pressure from the military, after the Bolivian opposition, led by Carlos Mesa, claimed that there were mass violations during the October 2019 vote. Most of Bolivia’s senior officials resigned in his wake. Power in the country was assumed by the opposition vice-speaker of the senate, Jeanine Anez. Morales called the events a coup.

Bolivia’s MAS Projected to Be ‘Largest Single Party’ in Coming Regional Elections, Journo Explains
worker | March 8, 2021 | 7:45 pm | Bolivia | Comments closed


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Less than one year after Bolivia’s ‘coup’ government was removed from power, the Movement Towards Socialism is expected to sweep the local, municipal and gubernatorial elections. Bolivian journalist Oliver Vargus tells Sputnik why that is, in an exclusive on-the-ground report from the Latin American country.

Bolivia is scheduled to hold regional elections for governors, mayors and councils across the country, on 7 March 2021. In October 2020, Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) candidate Luis Arce was elected to the presidency with over 50 percent of the vote. His success followed one year of rule by de facto president Jeanine Añez, who assumed power after socialist president Evo Morales, along with other members of his party, were forced to step down, despite winning over 47 percent of the vote in 2019.

Morales’ exit, which he said was the result of a coup d’état, came amid opposition protests, calls for him to go by the head of the military and claims of electoral fraud made by the Organization of American States (OAS). The OAS claims were ultimately contradicted by analysis from the Washington DC-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, as well as the New York Times, which had backed the removal of Morales at the time.

Ollie Vargas is a journalist and co-founder of Kawsachun News, the English language service of Radio Kawsachun Coca, an independent Bolivian news outlet. Vargas explained that MAS has made an impressive comeback following a year of rule by Añez, and is currently the only political party “with a physical presence in every municipality, in every region, every culture within the country”. As such it is expected to do well on 7 March, at a time when the country is still reeling from the economic fallout of the Añez government and the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Sputnik: Who are the candidates running in the upcoming elections?

Ollie Vargas: Bolivia has local elections coming up on March 7th and it’s an interesting panorama because the Movement Towards Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS) is the only party with candidates in every region and municipality in the country. The two main opposition, pro-coup, parties that have seats in Congress are ‘Comunidad Ciudadana’, a neoliberal centrist party led by Carlos Mesa, and ‘Creemos’ a far-right party led by Fernando Camacho. Comunidad Ciudadana doesn’t have their own candidates in 5 of the 9 gubernatorial races, and Creemos only has one gubernatorial candidate, Camacho, who is running to be governor of Santa Cruz.


We can safely say that there is not a single organisation that is challenging MAS at the national level. MAS is Bolivia’s only political party with a physical presence in every municipality, in every region, and every culture within the country. The opposition parties are buried under a complex web of alliances with local and regional forces and not one is capable of presenting itself as a national opposition, and have not done so for these local elections. 

This is not to say MAS will win every local race, Creemos is likely to win in Santa Cruz, various local candidates are likely to win in numerous places, such as Eva Copa in the city of El Alto, but none have any structures outside their local area. All polls show MAS as the largest single party coming out of these local elections.

Sputnik: What are the kinds of platforms that people are running on?

Ollie Vargas: The breakdown of organised right-wing parties can be explained partly by the fact that they deliberately obscure their real political agenda and ideology. The two main parties have bland corporate marketing type names: ‘Citizens Community’ and ‘We Believe’.

The politics of privatisation, of racial and social exclusion, are wildly unpopular in Bolivia so one has to look at the backgrounds of each candidate to work out their politics, because party programmes and manifestos will not explain anything. We know that Carlos Mesa’s party is a neoliberal grouping because Mesa himself is a former President and Vice President during the attempt to privatise natural gas. We know Camacho represents the politics of racial hatred because he led the violent street protests against Evo Morales in 2019 that unleashed a wave of racial violence particularly in the city of Santa Cruz.

In the face of this opposition, there’s MAS, the only party in the country to have existed continuously for the whole of the 21st century, without alliances or branding changes. Its programme in these elections is a simple one of working with the central government and securing as many public works for their local area and working alongside the social movements and trade unions in their area that are affiliated with MAS.

Sputnik: What’s the political and social climate like since MAS returned to government in October 2020?

Ollie Vargas: There’s been a remarkable physical calm on the streets but combined with a serious tension simmering below the surface. For MAS supporters there’s a real frustration that coup leaders and former Ministers haven’t yet been brought to justice. One meeting I attended at the 6 Federations (a rural workers union in the Tropico region), harangued 3 of the new Ministers at a meeting in their union hall for 8 hours, demanding answers to why the coup leaders are not yet in jail. Of course, this isn’t purely a question of political will; the government is working with international human rights commissions and others to ensure the whole process is done well and above board, the will is there, in practice these matters can take time.


In the economic sphere, there’s much more positivity. The large public works projects that were suspended last year have been restarted, such as the city trams project in the city of Cochabamba. The paralysis of these state development projects under the coup brought a great deal of anger and triggered an economic crisis before the pandemic hit. 

Another important economic policy has been the refusal to impose a rigid lockdown. Bolivia is a country where most work in the informal economy, so when the coup regime announced a sudden lockdown last year, most were left without any income for many months. Those in working class districts see lockdown as being imprisoned and left to starve. MAS did not impose a lockdown during the recent second wave that the country is only just now emerging from, not imposing such measures has allowed the economy to pick up and it’s a key demand of social movements and all of those on low incomes who cannot afford another period without work.

Sputnik: How do you think this climate will impact the upcoming elections, both in terms of people’s ability to vote as well as the overall result?

Ollie Vargas: The fact that coup leaders have not yet been arrested has impacted these elections firstly in that many are now candidates, some may win. Fernando Camacho has numerous crimes to answer for but is free to stand as a candidate and is likely to win the governorship of Santa Cruz, the most important department for the country’s economy.

A right-wing candidate for the Mayor of La Paz, Ivan Arias, is set to win there and he was the Minister of Public Works in the coup regime and oversaw massive corruption and embezzlement in the state industries that were under his jurisdiction (BOA and ENTEL). Even Añez herself is standing for the governorship of the Department of Beni. The slow pace of justice means that those such as Camacho and Añez have been called as witnesses into various investigations, but not yet arrested, this means they can present themselves as victims of political persecution by MAS and this victimisation can help them shore up support among their bases.

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worker | February 12, 2021 | 8:21 pm | ALBA, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela | Comments closed


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