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A little historical perspective on the #BoliviaCoup/#NoFueGolpeDeEstado debate…
[I want to acknowledge I have an unusual vantage point in this debate. I've spent the past 12 years documenting and explaining how movements overthrow governments in Bolivia.]
Bolivia has had numerous coups over the last ninety years, beginning in May 1936 and ending in October 1982. From 1936 to 1985, a military ruler headed the government 57% of the time.
Bolivia has also had many changes of government prompted by disruptive protests. These include at least all of those in this table.
Typically, the 1952 Revolution, 1979 and 1982 restoration of democracy, and the 2003 and 2005 Gas Wars are not thought of as coups. Nor is the early election forced by strikes in 1985.
Why? I think: In all of these cases, the military signaled limits to further state repression, stayed out of the presidential chair, and did not substitute its choice of leaders for one determined at the ballot box.
But in several of these cases, the military leadership urged the president (or his eligible successor) to step aside.
This includes the 2005 Gas War, when the military made it clear to Hernando Vaca Díez, president of the Senate, that he must step aside and allow elections.
Nonetheless, outgoing presidents have seen the events as coups.
Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada called the 2003 Gas War "un
proceso sedicioso de golpe de Estado instigado politicamente por Evo Morales y otros dirigentes"
"I cannot resign because that would mean the end of democracy in Bolivia, and probably the disintegration of the country." —Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, October 16, 2003 #Bolivia
The present moment could still become a coup if power is kept in the hands of the military, or transferred to Camacho, or the military suppresses the MAS-IPSP. Stay vigilant for these things, and demand they do otherwise.
Not a day where I think being intellectually consistent is going to make many people happy with me.
Also in 2003, three days before Goni fled, the Armed Forces commander Roberto Claros publically declared that the military "doesn't support the president as a person, but rather the constitution."
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