H-PAD Steering Committee statement on the coup in Bolivia

The Steering Committee has issued the following statement on Bolivia. Please see also the list of recommended sources included below.

Historians for Peace and Democracy unequivocally condemns the unconstitutional removal of Bolivian President Evo Morales from office on November 10. The coup has directly empowered the Bolivian right, which has a terrifying record of racism, misogyny, and violence. Unsurprisingly, it has received vocal support from the Trump administration. We recognize that the political situation in Bolivia is very complex and that progressive Bolivians are internally divided, both about the policies of the Morales government and about what should happen next. However, this complexity should not obscure the fact that Morales’s ouster was a coup and that it has greatly strengthened the most reactionary forces in Bolivian society. We condemn the U.S. support for the coup and call upon all parties to work for a peaceful, just, and constitutional resolution to the crisis.

Here is a brief list of recommended readings on the coup:

Jeffery R. Webber with Forrest Hylton, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Macho Camacho,” Verso blog, 15 November 2019

  • A detailed narrative and analysis of the Bolivia crisis by 2 scholar-activists with decades of experience studying Bolivia. It defies pithy, social-media-friendly summary and should be read in its entirety. But here’s one key passage: “Those parts of the international left based in imperial countries need to insist on the right of Bolivians to self-determination free of outside intervention…This does not require that we suspend disbelief, refrain from criticism of Morales, or romanticize his rule.”

Claudia Korol, “Militias in Bolivia Are Burning the Indigenous Flag in Public Plazas,” Truthout, 13 November 2019 (Spanish version here)

  • An interview with one of Bolivia’s leading indigenous feminists, Adriana Guzmán, who emphasizes that “this is a coup. We need you to say it. We need you to share in our indignation, our pain, to also share in our fear, in the face of what these armed groups are carrying out.” Guzmán criticizes certain other feminists who fail to appreciate the differences between Evo Morales and the right: “As feminists we have many critiques of Evo Morales, because of his economic framework, because of extractivism. We have questioned his machismo. But we also understand that having a president in whom we can see ourselves, even if he is a machista president, is not the same as having a white, corporate, oligarchic president….We understand the difference.”

María Galindo, “Kristallnacht in Bolivia,” Toward Freedom, 11 November 2019 (Spanish version here)

  • Galindo is one of the feminist intellectuals to whom Adriana Guzmán (above) is responding. Galindo argues that the conflict between Evo Morales and right-wing extremist Luis Fernando Camacho is a struggle “between two fascisms” and over “who is the most macho.” Galindo’s perspective has been widely disseminated in progressive outlets and social media.

“A Coup? A Debate on the Political Crisis in Bolivia That Led to Evo Morales’s Resignation,” Democracy Now! 13 November 2019 (Part I and Part II; similar Spanish version here)

  • Debate about how to characterize Evo’s removal, its implications, and the role of parts of the left in helping to bring it about. Former Bolivian UN ambassador Pablo Solón versus H-PAD member Kevin Young.

North American Congress on Latin America, “NACLA Statement on the Coup in Bolivia: In Solidarity with Bolivians Resisting Military Intervention and Right-Wing Violence,” 13 November 2019

  • A succinct condemnation and contextualization of Evo’s removal, which recognizes the complexities of the situation but unequivocally opposes the coup.