Nosotros la sangre nos hierve: Stand with Bolivians rising up against the right wing, anti-Indigenous coup
In the week since the anti-socialist, anti-Indigenous coup in Bolivia, thousands of Indigenous people, campesinos, and working class people have marched into the capital La Paz chanting against the coup-leaders, “Mesa, Camucho, queremos sus cabezas!” (Mesa, Camucho, we want your heads!). This chant is part of the street mobilizations following the country’s first Indigenous president Evo Morales’ deposition from presidency on November 9th and opposition party member Jeanine Áñez Chávez’s unconstitutional declaration of herself as the interim president of Bolivia on November 12th.
Over the 12 years that Morales, an Indigenous socialist, has been in power, his party Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) has implemented far-reaching left social democratic reforms, which have cut the poverty rate suffered by Indigenous Bolivians in half, decreased illiteracy from 13.3% to 2.9%, and nationalized oil and gas. In 2009, MAS refounded Bolivia as a plurinational state under the Wiphala flag, which represents the 36 Indigenous nations living in Bolivia. When Morales was announced president for a fourth term on October 20th, the right wing opposition, Comunidad Ciudadana (CC), refused to accept the results and incited their supporters to take to the streets and demand a second round of elections. Far-right leader Luis Fernando ‘El Macho’ Camacho took advantage of the political unrest by stoking the fascist impulses of the urban middle class and calling on right wing supporters to demand Morales’ deposition, denounce the socialist party Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), and support a right wing provisional government.
Camacho has been fuelling anti-Indigenous racism with symbolic actions like entering the presidential palace flanked by armed police and an evangelical supporter to declare that La Pachamama, the goddess revered by Indigenous people of the Andes as Mother Earth, will never enter the palace again. In the streets, police have made multiple public shows of burning the Wiphala flag. Actions taken by Camacho and the police are continuous with the politics held by other members of the right in Bolivia, including Áñez, who denigrated the Aymara peoples’ New Year celebration on Twitter in 2013 as “satanic,” adding that “nobody can replace God.”
The corporate media has used the Organization of American States’ (OAS) vague report about “irregularities” in the Bolivian elections as grounds to delegitimize Morales’ victory and frame his deposition as him “resigning” amidst “fraud allegations” and “widespread protests.” The entirety of the US state has responded to the coup by attempting to shore up the coup plotters. Even democratic socialists Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar have obscured the real issue with statements that call for “free and fair elections,” which have already taken place, and which Morales already won.
The Bolivian situation did not explode over electoral technicalities: the coup in Bolivia is about the political issue of sovereignty. In the context of the historic Euro-American domination of Bolivia, sovereignty is the sovereignty of all Indigenous nations within the plurinational country, and sovereignty is socialist, or it is nothing. The right is silencing this critique, and the US democratic left is missing the point: the coup is the insurgency of Euro-American imperialist interests and the capitalist agenda of an urban middle class that descends from a white European elite.
Canada and the USA are notorious for intervening in leftist regimes in Latin America to establish lucrative resource extraction industries. As president, Morales opposed imperialist activity by instituting policies that support greater wealth redistribution and the nationalization of gas and oil mining.
In response to weeks of protests in Potosi, on November 4th Morales canceled an agreement he signed in 2018 that would have allowed the German company ACISA to mine lithium in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats. The Morales government’s nationalization policy and MAS’s decision to cancel an agreement to mine lithium are undoubtedly unpopular in the eyes of multinationals that are hungry to tap into Latin American resource economies, including the skyrocketing lithium industry.
Pure Energy Minerals and Wealth Minerals are two major Canadian lithium mining companies with head offices in Vancouver that stand to lose out from Morales’ intention to organize lithium mining only through Bolivian state companies. When another Canadian mining company, Gold Spring Resources (formerly known as TriMetals and South American Silver) sued Bolivia for cutting off their access to silver deposits, the Trudeau Liberals intervened, and in 2012, wrenched $25.8 million in concessions out of one of the poorest countries in the Americas to replenish their corporate coffers. Canada’s own mining projects in Latin America help clarify why Ottawa announced that “it is not possible” to accept Morales’ victory even before OAS released its audit.
True sovereign democracy in Bolivia is wider and deeper than the government of Evo Morales; it is the insurgent democracy of Indigenous people, campesinos, and working class people based on their own self-activity and resistance to Euro-American imperialism and European settler colonialism. These revolutionary movements, whose energies were fundamental in getting Morales into office, have come increasingly into conflict with his government over mining, extractive economies, the autonomy of movement organizations, and a persistent culture of machismo and homophobia. But the coup has allayed the political and strategic differences between Morales and revolutionary movements on the ground: the tear gassing, beatings, and murders happening in the streets at the hands of fascists has imposed a strategic defence of Morales and MAS as a bulwark against the right wing, anti-Indigenous coup, to defend the gains won in the last decade by the total revolutionary movement.
Hours after the Bolivian people learned Morales was deposed, residents from El Alto, an Aymara, migrant, and working class town, blocked the major highway leading to La Paz to prevent the right’s entry into the capital. At the demonstration, one mujer de pollera, a term many women use intentionally to honour their Indigeneity, expressed, “Yes, Evo Morales has made mistakes, but he has done it better, better than all the other presidents.” At another demonstration on November 11th, Orlando Gutiérrez, the head representative of the Bolivian mining union, declared “we are committed to fighting against the coup and are prepared to establish democracy with our lives.” The miners’ commitment is shared by thousands of others.
At the November 9th demonstration in El Alto, a mujer de pollera said they will not allow these racists to step on la pollera and kill our sisters. In her words, the town has awoken and, “Nosotros la sangre nos hierve.” In Canada, our blood is boiling too.
Alliance Against Displacement stands with our relatives and comrades as they defend Bolivia against the coup and demand respect for the Wiphala and la pollera. Indigenous and working class people on Turtle Island and in Bolivia are united in revolutionary struggle because all of our futures depend on the destruction of Euro-American imperialism and colonialism.
Amor y rabia al pueblo Boliviano!