Wide-angle view on Bolivia shows tricontinental resistance

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March in support of Evo Morales, in Buenos Aires on November 18, 2019. Image: Santiago Sito/Flickr

It was to be expected. Especially here, in the heart of the white America of genocidal settlement colonialism against First Nations and Indigenous peoples. But not only here: the tightly framed reports on the coup in Bolivia, even the images captured and transmitted with empathy towards the Bolivian revolution, bring many on social media to deplore, even to condemn, Evo Morales' choice of peace and his refusal of confrontation and bloodshed.

"How come Evo did not anticipate the coup by the settlers and the U.S.-Canada empire, and did not prepare his supporters, who are the majority in Bolivia, to respond with armed resistance?" some ask.

"Evo should have followed the example of Bashar al-Assad, who did not bend and who preferred to resist and face the 'civil war' imposed by the U.S.-NATO empire to effect a 'regime change' in Syria, that is to say, a coup d'etat," opined other armchair coaches, well intentioned no doubt.


1. Syria is geographically far from the U.S. while Bolivia is too close. "Poor Mexico, so far from God and so near the United States," says an old proverb south of the Rio Grande.

2. Syria is part of Eurasia, where Russia, China, Iran prevail, while the U.S. clings to its old hegemony over its Latin-American "backyard" according to the Monroe Doctrine.

3. Syria had the historic chance in 2011, when the U.S.-NATO empire pushed its steamroller there (after Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya), to have Russia and China suddenly brandish their veto at the UN -- for the first time since the end of the Cold War in 1989.

4. That's what broke the apocalyptic drive of the empire, especially since Russia, invited by sovereign Syria, intervened militarily, imposing even a de facto "no-fly zone" on U.S.-NATO air power -- which forced Turkey, advanced base of the empire, to waffle or even change sides.

5. The empire reacted by intensifying its efforts in Latin and Native America, and in the Caribbean, to recover the considerable ground lost since the democratic revolutions of the years 1990 to 2000.

6. This strategy was also intended to provoke Russia, China, and Iran to intervene militarily far from Eurasia, in a region bordering the U.S. -- which maintains a permanent "southern command" there.

7. Russia, China, Iran intervened, but "differently," and not militarily as in Syria. These countries have intensified cooperation with Latin and Indigenous America, and with the Caribbean, increasing investment, technology transfer and trade agreements.

Internal dynamics

These "far-off" friends thus avoided engaging militarily outside Eurasia and falling into the trap of over-stretching set for them by the U.S.-Canada-EU-NATO empire "deep state" all the way to the Americas.

At the same time, they rightly appreciate the powerful internal dynamics at work within Latin and Aboriginal America, and in the Caribbean, where Chavez, Lula, Morales and Correa et al symbolize a profound revolutionary movement of decolonization, democratization, and Aboriginal revival all across the continent -- a movement where the U.S. and allies hold the wrong end of the stick and are on the wrong side of history.

Buttressed on a strategy of unity between the armed forces and the people, isn't Maduro standing up to the base manoeuvres of the empire and the colonial bourgeoisie in Venezuela? While conducting a process of negotiation with moderate opponents to forge a consensus-based internal settlement?

Has Macri not just been defeated in Argentina? Has Lula not just been released in Brazil? Is not Piñera facing a massive rejection of Pinochet's neoliberal and brutal legacy in Chile? Is not Moreno massively challenged in Ecuador by a people who have tasted liberty and dignity under Correa, including the Indigenous peoples of CONAIE?

Cuba lost Fidel but does it not continue to survive, consolidate and advance despite the U.S. blockade, the break-up of its Soviet ally and the new "maximum pressure" of Trump? Has Haiti not been in a state of non-armed insurrection for more than one year (under the guns of death squads of the system), its people thirsting for a second liberation two centuries after the first one?

And did Mexico not just elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador president, the same leader who granted political asylum to Evo Morales? Did he not protect Evo while under threat of assassination in Bolivia, and dispatch a safe plane and crew to take him from La Paz and transport him to Mexico?

'Hybrid' resistances

In short, against the so-called "hybrid," that is, multi-front wars of the empire, the progressive states and peoples of South America and the Caribbean are mobilizing their own "hybrid" resistance.

The overthrow of Evo on November 10 was preceded by a summit of the Puebla Group on November 9. More than 30 progressive leaders of the continent were present in Buenos Aires around Alberto Fernandez, president-elect of Argentina. Among them, Dilma Rousseff from Brazil, José "Pepe" Mujica from Uruguay, and Ernesto Samper from Colombia. Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva participated via a video message.

This "hybrid" resistance is also more and more tricontinental and global. A summit of the BRICS opened on November 13 in Brasilia. Unlike Russia, China and South Africa, Brazil has not condemned the putsch in Bolivia. But, undermined locally by the Lula wave, Bolsonaro cannot long ignore the impact of the huge investments China is planning in Brazil, which will certainly make the U.S. empire furious. As for India, it is too busy demolishing mosques and building temples to worry about much else.

But former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero was at the Puebla Group meeting in Buenos Aires. Jeremy Corbyn, head of the British Labour party, condemned the Bolivian "hard right" for the coup, calling it a "great tragedy." U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and former colleague Mike Gravel also condemned the coup. Turkey, a member of NATO, condemned the coup and called for free and transparent elections. The South African Communist Party called for global mobilization against imperialism, in a tone reminiscent of the Tricontinental (OSPAAL) founded in Cuba in 1966.

Protect life, preserve peace

Evo Morales' decision to resign under the pressure of the army and the police supported by the empire and its local and regional allies, including Canada, is significant in this context of continental and tricontinental mobilization. The Mexican plane carrying Evo was refused transit through Peru but was welcomed by Paraguay.

Knowing that, unlike Maduro, he could not count on the armed forces and the police, Morales, like the entire continent, knows time is his best ally. Evo has refused the imperialist trap of hot confrontation, spared Bolivia (in the immediate future at least) a bloodbath, and preserved the chances of peace and conciliation inside his pluri-national republic.

In doing so, he also sent a powerful anti-war message from the depths of all Indigenous civilizations in the Americas -- the same anti-war message that Isabel Zuleta, from Colombia's "Movimiento Rios Vivos," had for us on November 12, at a meeting hosted by Antennes de Paix in Montreal.

The evening was about the resistance, against a backdrop of endless war and horrible unpunished massacres, of the 300,000 peasants of Zuleta's region to the Hidroituango dam under construction on her stretch of the Cauca river -- a project in which the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec is one of the big investors.

"Those who terrorize and kill us want us either to give up hope or to take up arms too. We refuse this choice at all costs. We resist by believing deeply in life and in peace," she said.

The paradigm of the political struggle is not necessarily nor fatally that of a binary contest between two opponents over a very short time where one eliminates the other, a paradigm that our sports culture constantly hammers into us.

Jooneed J. Khan is a journalist and human rights activist based in Montreal.

Image: Santiago Sito/Flickr

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