What the coup against Evo Morales means to indigenous people like me
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The indigenous-socialist project accomplished what neoliberalism has repeatedly failed to do: redistribute wealth to society’s poorest sectors
Thu 14 Nov 2019 02.00 ESTLast modified on Thu 14 Nov 2019 10.32 EST
Evo Morales is more than Bolivia’s first indigenous president — he is our president, too. The rise of a humble Aymara coca farmer to the nation’s highest office in 2006 marked the arrival of indigenous people as vanguards of history. Within the social movements that brought him to power emerged indigenous visions of socialism and the values of Pachamama (the Andean Earth Mother). Evo represents five centuries of indigenous deprivation and struggle in the hemisphere.
A coup against Evo, therefore, is a coup against indigenous people.
Evo’s critics, from the anti-state left and right, are quick to point out his failures. But it was his victories that fomented this most recent violent backlash.
Evo and his party, the indigenous-led Movement for Socialism (MAS in Spanish), nationalized key industries and used bold social spending to shrink extreme poverty by more than half, lowering the country’s Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, by a remarkable 19%. During Evo’s and MAS’s tenure, much of Bolivia’s indigenous-majority population has, for the first time in their lives, lived above poverty.
The achievements were more than economic. Bolivia made a great leap forward in indigenous rights.
Once at the margins of society, Indigenous languages and culture have been thoroughly incorporated into Bolivia’s plurinational model. The indigenous Andean concept of Bien Vivir, which promotes living in harmony with one another and the natural world, was written into the country’s constitution becoming a measure for institutional reform and social progress. The Wiphala, an indigenous multicolor flag, became a national flag next to the tricolor, and 36 indigenous languages became official national languages alongside Spanish.
November 15, 2019 at 5:32 AM #224395eridaniParticipant
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Oppose the Military Coup in Bolivia. Spare Us Your “Critiques”
n 2016, Morales tried to abolish term limits through a referendum but lost it by two percentage points. A year later Bolivia’s elected Supreme Court (which is elected to a six-year term) ruled that term limits are unconstitutional and thereby nullified the results of the referendum. The ruling was debatable, but not outrageous like many Supreme Court rulings around the world have been. Citizens United comes to mind. The Supreme Court ruling that Handed George W. Bush the US presidency in 2000. The Honduran Supreme Court ruling in 2009 that effectively outlawed a non-binding opinion poll and thereby sparked a military coup from which Honduras has yet to recover.
Also, Bolivians who disliked that ruling had many democratic and constitutional ways to reverse it. They could vote in a new Supreme Court (US citizens can’t) or simply vote Morales and his allies in the legislature out of office – which they didn’t.
Principal aside, was it tactically dumb of Morales to run again? Perhaps, but it’s easier to raise other tactical questions that are much more important.
Why did he allow OAS bureaucrats who are 60% US-funded to have any role in monitoring the election? An analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) showed that the OAS has no basis for impugning the results. Kevin Cashman has elaborated on why the “preliminary audit” issued by the OAS weeks later was similarly baseless.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction
November 16, 2019 at 5:01 AM #225682sadoldgirlParticipant
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Thanks Judi for bringing this up again and again.
It is such a crime that we don’t want to acknowledge
the wisdom of native or indigenous people. It is not
only a crime but a total sign of stupid hubris.
November 16, 2019 at 2:26 PM #226076VoltairineParticipant
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There is also significant degree of condescending hubris in Western “progressive” media making this all about Evo and presenting indigenous social movements mainly as helpless victims (of their white guilt or whatever), instead of relating to indigenous as brothers and sisters and listening and giving them equal voice. By making this all about Evo, the loose the sight of real dialogue, the fact that nation states are and remain colonialist structures, which indigenous social movements currently need to find ways to live with and use them, but they are not committed to these colonialist structures and carry on their antiauthoritarian, antihierarchic traditional and evolving forms of social organization, from which honest and respectful dialogue can and needs to learn from.
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