In the past month, the situation in Bolivia has changed from bad to worse. On Oct. 20, Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of Bolivia, won his fourth election by the necessary margin of 10 points to prevent a run-off election. “Run-off election” in a Bolivian election means that when multiple people are running to be president, if no one person receives 50 percent or more of the vote or wins by more than 10 percent over second place, then a second election will take place between the top two candidates. This came after the vote count by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal was paused for about 24 hours when Morales had less than a 10 percent lead on Carlos Mesa, with only 84 percent of the count being complete. Proponents of Morales argue this sudden jump is caused by the rural vote, which takes more time to count. But opponents argue that an audit by the Organization of American States (OAS), an international body made up of many varied North American and South American countries, found evidence of “clear manipulation” and security flaws.
Now, Jeanine Áñez, former leader of the Bolivian Senate, has proclaimed herself president following the line of succession after the vice president, following the Constitution of Bolivia. Áñez, a religious conservative, has already packed her cabinet with businesspeople and not a single indigenous individual, despite the indigenous community making up 40 percent of the population in Bolivia. This does not help her image, as she has already been caught making racist remarks about indigenous Bolivians on Twitter before ascending to the presidency.
Nevertheless, much of the commentary on this issue has annoyed me, as I believe a crucial aspect is being missed. By hyper-focusing on this election, we will overlook the past and current external influences of countries such as the United States. We should be very skeptical of what authority has to say about this election, particularly the American government, which time and time again has overthrown democratically elected governments around the world, but particularly in South America. Whether it be the CIA-backed coups of Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Haiti in 1959, the Congo in 1961, Brazil in 1964 and on and on, the United States has a deplorable track record of coups and attempted regime change. All these insurgencies were arguably done in the name of U.S. capitalists and the military-industrial complex guised as fighting for “freedom” and “liberty” to merely instill right-wing dictatorships.
Furthermore, the U.S. government has lied to the public time and time again. The Iraq War, a war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction, has already occurred during our lifetimes. The act of U.S. regime change is not merely a fact of history, but a reality that persists to this day. That is why all of us should be very skeptical when the U.S. government, in particular, states “Bolivia did this,” “Iran did that,” “Venezuela did this.”
In South America more specifically, fascist coups either backed or supported by the United States include, but aren’t limited to, Brazil, Guatemala, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Chile, Ecuador and so on. Because of this past, skepticism is warranted. You don’t just accidentally overthrow a dozen countries here and there. It’s not a coincidence that leftists from the pink tide movement in Latin America are the ones targeted by U.S. empire with declared support for its downfall from its president. It is an orchestrated and systematic problem propagated by those industries that benefit from a corrupt political system. Because of this history, we shouldn’t blindly trust the U.S. government declaring Áñez the legitimate president of Bolivia, just as we shouldn’t blindly trust the United States declaring the Bolivian election illegitimate. We should always question the United States’ motives and statements. Those in power always lie to protect themselves.
Bolivia is in the midst of a political crisis. Morales, the former president, is claiming asylum in Mexico after being forced out of the presidency by the military. Áñez, a staunch conservative, has seized the presidency without a vote. Meanwhile, for the public, tensions run high and trust is low. It is important for the U.S. government to stay out of these affairs. We should not be backing Áñez, and it is not our job to influence the outcomes of foreign elections when we simply don’t like the outcome. And we must all stand up to demand this. Fascism, militarism and imperialism go hand in hand and we must fight to dismantle them.
Seth Gully is a sophomore triple-majoring in philosophy, politics and law, economics and French.