The Movement Toward Socialism Wins Again in Bolivia

Movement Toward Socialism candidate Luis Arce

Since I discovered abolition, I learned from the likes of Angela Y. Davis and Mariame Kaba that the fight for liberation is interconnected and global (Palestinian organizers showed Black Lives Matter members how to clean tear gas from their eyes), so I’ve tried to learn more about international struggles. Last year, Bolivian president and leader of the Movement Toward Socialism party (MAS) Evo Morales was forced under threat of violence from the police and military to flee to Mexico and eventually seek asylum in Argentina. Morales had just won his fourth term because he was “widely popular at home for a pragmatic economic stewardship that spread Bolivia’s natural gas and mineral wealth among the masses” and remained the first democratically-elected President of the Indigenous majority as someone with Aymara heritage. Morales’ ousting was largely based on the Organization of American States’ (OAS) eventual debunked claim of widespread election fraud where they said, “Given all the irregularities observed, it is impossible to guarantee the integrity of the data and certify the accuracy of the results.” The day after the election, November 10, Morales and his family were forced out of the country by a US-based coup and they sought shelter in Mexico. In December, the OAS’ next report said, “the audit team has detected willful manipulation” of the results based on “incontrovertible evidence of an electoral process marred by grave irregularities.” After Morales fled Bolivia, a white, far-right senator named Jeanine Añez from the country’s region of wealthy, Christian European descendants replaced the former president and her un-elected administration massacred Indigenous protestors before granting immunity to the killer soldiers. And even though Añez had never ran for President, she remained at the help with US support until Monday.

Back in June, the New York Times (which we hate, but I digress) released an article based upon an independent study by Nicolás Idrobo, Dorothy Kronick, and Francisco Rodríguez, which said, “A close look at Bolivian election data suggests an initial analysis by the OAS that raised questions of vote-rigging — and helped force out a president — was flawed.” The scholars wrote that the irregularity defining the OAS’ interference in Bolivia’s election was a result of the OAS analysts’ errors. According to The Intercept, “‘In sum,’ the new report concludes, ‘we offer a different interpretation of the quantitative evidence that led the OAS and other researchers to question the integrity of the Bolivian election.’ Specifically, ‘we find that we do not require fraud in order to explain the quantitative patterns used to help indict Evo Morales.’ The scholars’ bottom line: ‘we cannot replicate the OAS results.'” Essentially, America’s OAS created election fraud allegations against the President of the Movement Toward Socialism, which sent Bolivia into a tailspin of mass panic. Morales himself claims that the main reason the US orchestrated the police and military coup against his leadership was because of their interests in Bolivia’s lithium reserve. In December, Morales said, “It was a national and international coup d’etat. I’m absolutely convinced it’s a coup against lithium. We as a state had begun industrializing lithium…As a small country of 10 million inhabitants, we were soon going to set the price of lithium. They know we have the greatest lithium reserves in the world of 16,000 square kilometers (over 6,100 square miles).” Morales and his Movement Toward Socialism administration decided to follow an anti-capitalist approach to industrializing and distributing lithium and wanted to make the reserve state-run. Their goal was to transform the resource into a sanctuary of green technology for everyone, some of which Morales was going to sell to China instead of Western countries. The Intercept article finishes by saying, “Because the U.S. government preferred the right-wing coup-plotters to the left-wing Morales, the U.S. media deliberately inverted the entire narrative to describe the elected leader (Morales) as the tyrant and the violent military coup leaders as the saviors of democracy. And they peddled this false narrative only by relying heavily on an OAS report that even the NYT is now forced to admit was, at best, deeply flawed.”

Despite America’s lead in the coup and Añez twice postponing the election, the Bolivian people overwhelmingly cast their votes to elect another Movement Toward Socialism leader in Luis Arce. Arce served as Morales’ Finance Minister and won over 50% of the vote against centrist former President Carlos Mesa and Añez herself. Thankfully Arce and other Morales supporters remained safe this past year even when Añez’ military and police threatened them with violence. Arce, as Finance Minister, oversaw a surge in economic growth and a decline in poverty for more than a decade. Now as President, he’ll face a struggling economy due to COVID, which NBC reports hit Bolivia “harder than almost any other country on a per capita basis.” Evo Morales will eventually return to Bolivia from Argentina and we can only hope that the renewed success of the Movement Toward Socialism will protect their people from any further US interference.