Bolivia: The Hybrid Coup and the problems that require urgent solutions
The resigning President of Bolivia Juan Evo Morales Αyma (2006-2019), he escaped from Bolivia, having primarily secured political asylum in Mexico and promising his followers that he would return to the country stronger despite the “coup” that the army did with the opposition and always according to the words of Evo Morales.
The army did not take power with the use of weapons as they used to in the past. He just withdrew his support to Evo Morales face essentially endorsing the views of the opposition supporters.
This new model of ‘hybrid coup’ for the change of power was not implemented
randomly. Given the political instability and the appeal to dictatorships
(1964-1982) but the brutal and yet bloody relatively recent past of Bolivia
with the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer Miranda in the 1970, it was reasonable for
the Bolivian army to avoid in any way to provoke and awaken with any intervention of the
passions to the people of Bolivia. If Bolivia’s military leadership was acting
violently with the use of weapons, the political situation could be turned in
favour of Evo Morales.
The political crisis in Bolivia began with the misguided political move by
Evo Morales to ignore the results of a referendum on limiting the number of
presidential terms that one might become President of Bolivia. This misguided
political move has shown the world and the opposition that it ignores the
pillars of a democracy indicating that he is able to ignore the will of the
Subsequently, the opposition distinguished an incredible political
opportunity in the specific misguided political movement of Evo Morales, thus
refusing in turn the results of the October 20th elections, sparking
by its decision the political crisis.
At the same time, opposition supporters came out with brutality on the
streets calling for the fall of President Evo Morales. The final blow to Evo
Morales was given by the electorate observers’ report of the Organisation of
American States that supported the opposition’s positions for tampered results
in the elections.
The army and specifically the country’s military leadership gave Evo
Morales a deadline to get out of power. Then Evo Morales for his better
security and not to have the fate of other Latin American politicians who ended
up in prison chose the escape abroad and specifically in Mexico.
With the withdrawal of the Bolivian army’s tolerance to the face of Evo
Morales, the army has legalized in parallel and always according to the
Bolivian Constitution the caretaker President of Congress, Senator Tzanin Anies,
as the new replacement-President of Evo Morales.
The work of Evo Morales
Evo Morales began his political career as a former cocalero activist and trade
unionist of an association of people who, in their vast majority, belong to the
Indian tribe, who are 70% of the Bolivian people. Then and gaining power in
2006, he became a member of the four leftist politicians who changed the
political map of South America.
For the first time in the whole of Latin America, four leaders of leftist
beliefs have appeared at the same time, not belonging to the political and
entrepreneurial elites of their countries. Juan Evo Morales Ayma (Bolivia), Hugo
Rafael Chavez Frias (Venezuela), Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Brazil) and Jose
Alberto Mujica Cordano (Uruguay) changed the political developments in their
countries and not only.
But unlike the other three political leaders, Evo Morales acted as the most pragmatic politician and put order in the fiscal elements of his country. More specifically, during its governance (2006-2019) Bolivia launched its GDP by 251,87%, while the corresponding growth rate of GDP per capita in Bolivia increased by 191,14% (see Figures 1 and 2 respectively).
In addition, the governance of Evo Morales (2006-2019) managed to achieve
during the longest period of surplus in the country’s state budget while
increasing social benefits and allowances to the Bolivian people.
This admittedly economically successful governance of Evo Morales was
achieved mainly due to the increase in natural gas prices and other minerals
exported by Bolivia abroad. As soon as natural gas prices decreased the annual
State budget had a deficit which for 2019 this deficit is in the order of 7.40%
Evo Morales left Bolivia’s economy at good levels since for 2019 the
Bolivian economy has a trade surplus of 74,76m (USD), annual inflation rate 2,54%,
unemployment 4% and Government Debt to GDP 34%. (Data: Trading economics).
The mistake or omission in the economic governance of Evo Morales was that
he did not take advantage of the period when natural gas prices and other
fossil exportable were high, so as to introduce know-how but to implement also a
new type of agricultural reform to dispose the Bolivian economy from the export
of its mineral wealth and when in the future prices of exportable minerals were falling.
In such a case, a new rural reform and a shift to new crops that are much
more resilient to changes in weather and other changing conditions would have
drastically increased both the level of production and the income of farmers
equally, thereby speeding up the rate of industrialization of the country.
The poverty situation in the population would be further reduced as a new middle-class income order would be slowly and steadily viral by the rural population, which would increase the consumption rates in the economy.
The unresolved problems that remain and their solutions
Bolivia, despite its economic progress, remains the poorest country in
Latin America. The state budget deficit will continue to exist forcing the new
government of President Tzanin Anies to take restrictive measures to shrink it.
This means that it will reduce social services and social allowances by evoking
a large part of the Bolivian people.
But the primary problem of the new President is that how she will be able
to unite the Bolivian people and avoid the launching of an informal guerrilla
city by the followers of Evo Morales. The new President’s first statements were
not in the right direction and given that in her message on social media she
said that she would try to evict the natives from the cities by making them
return to the mountains and plains of the country.
The unity of the Bolivian people should be a priority for the new
government, given that if the security in Bolivia is disturbed for any way,
then investments in Bolivia will be reduced even more, especially the valuable
investments from abroad.
It will be a mistake of the new government to try to destroy in the economy
all that it has been built in recent decades. An additional mistake would be to
impose new more harsh conservative views and policies on Bolivian society.
The new government should avoid in any way its identification with the
dictatorial past of Bolivia and should not act as an “occupying army”
in the eyes of most of the Bolivian people. At the same time, it should show
tolerance to any different religion and faith that the Bolivian citizen may
If it manages and maintains the unity of the Bolivian people, then the new government
will have to implement a new type of agricultural reform where every farmer
should be the owner of the land he cultivates. Only then will the Bolivian
farmer have the incentive to work hard to gain profit from his production. The
purpose of Bolivia should be that agricultural production is such a size that
covers the needs of the population and its surplus is driven to exports.
In this case, the proceeds from the export of the mineral wealth and from
the exports of the agricultural production respectively of Bolivia will
steadily increase the revenues of the state by creating those long-awaited
bases where the revenues from the exports of the mineral wealthy and from the agricultural production respectively
will operate both complementary and compensatory-hedging between them to
maintain steadily both the revenues of the state and the amount of the foreign
exchange reserves of the Central Bank of Bolivia.
If the new Bolivian Government fails to implement all these above policies
then quite possibly this new governance will be a mere political break in the
governance of Bolivia by Evo Morales where Evo Morales is to return to Bolivia
as the new savior and even more powerful relative to the past and based on the
statements he made from Mexico.
Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis is an economist-researcher in the fields of economic research/business planning and strategic planning. His work experience moves in a wide professional field between managerial and advisory roles. He holds a degree in BSc (Econ) in Financial Economics, Birkbeck College, University of London and a postgraduate degree in MSc in Economics & Finance, University of Warwick (UK)