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.

by Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis

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Flag of Bolivia, licensed Public Domain

The political crisis

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 majority.

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).

Figure 1: Bolivia GDP (2006-2019), Data: macrotrend.net
Figure 2: Bolivia-GDP per capita (2006-2019), Data: macrotrend.net

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% of GDP.

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.

Bolivian Altiplano,
Photo by Karan Gulaye, licensed Public Domain

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 have.

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.

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