Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 November 2019

Bolivia: Right-wing coup ousts Morales

Evo Morales,

Evo Morales,   (Click to enlarge)

Niall Mulholland, Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)

A right-wing, US-backed attempt to overthrow the Movement for Socialism (MAS) government in Bolivia, and to replace it with a vicious anti-working class regime, is under way.

Evo Morales, South America's first indigenous national president, resigned on 11 November and fled to Mexico, where he's been granted political asylum. His departure came after the country's chief of the armed forces urged him to stand down in "the interests of peace and stability". In a televised statement, Morales had earlier denounced the "coup" against him and his MAS government.

This followed what was, in effect, a police mutiny in several parts of the country starting on Friday 8 November, when police officers refused to leave their barracks. Rank-and-file police and military joined opposition protests.

It was clear that Morales had lost control of crucial parts of the state machine. At the same time, violent anti-government protests took place. Outrageously, the leadership of the main trade union, Central Obrera Boliviana, also called for Morales to stand down to "avoid bloodshed".

Street protests

The coup provoked street protests in the capital, La Paz, and in El Alto. The military has been deployed on the streets.

It is not clear yet whether these protests will grow and spread and act as a serious challenge to the right-wing coup consolidating its power. If there is momentum, mass resistance should be linked to a revolutionary struggle against capitalist reaction, making a class appeal to the rank and file of the soldiers and police, and for socialist change.

The right-wing opposition used the outcome of the 20 October presidential elections, which saw Morales secure a fourth term, to mount street protests.

Recently revealed audio recordings of discussions, ahead of the elections, involving Bolivian opposition politicians and US senators, indicated they were making plans to organise disruption.

Morales was re-elected in the first round with 47.08% of the vote. Mesa got 36.5%. The opposition claimed fraud after the electoral commission decided to freeze updates of the election count for nearly a day.

When updates resumed, Morales had gained on his lead, allowing him to hold onto office without needing to go to a second-round vote. MAS supporters pointed out that the countryside, which takes longest to count the vote, has always strongly returned higher support for Morales.

Nevertheless, a failed attempt by Morales, in 2016, to use a referendum to change the 2009 constitution to allow him to run for a fourth term in office, which was later overturned by the supreme court that ruled term limits infringed human rights, fed into widespread concerns over the 20 October vote.

As anti-government protesters from several parts of Bolivia made their way to La Paz, on 2-3 November, the US-dominated Organisation of American States (OAS) claimed "irregularities" in the election and vote counting and called for a new vote. This was a big blow to Morales, who had called on all parties to await and respect the OAS findings (which the opposition had said they would ignore if they did not go their way).

Morales was in power for 14 years, winning three presidential elections on the back of "nearly halving poverty rates and a quadrupling of gross domestic product, due to gas and mineral exports," according to the Financial Times. Access to clean air and water was made a legal right.

The Bolivian masses long struggled against neoliberalism. Semi-insurrectionary movements, known as the 'Gas Wars', took place in 2003 and 2005.

The protesters demanded the expulsion of the multinational gas and mining corporations, the ending of the big landowner system and a revolutionary constituent assembly.

This militant movement saw a succession of neoliberal presidents forced out of office and opened the way for Morales and the MAS government to come to power. They carried out the partial nationalisation of the gas industry and introduced subsidies for the poor and social programmes.

This enabled Morales to win landslide election victories, and the MAS to gain control over both branches of Congress.

Yet the lives of many workers and poor did not fundamentally improve as they had hoped.

Inflation often wiped out subsidies for the poor and workers' wage increases. The large landowners maintained their monopoly over the land. The multinationals, including the oil and mining companies, continued making huge profits.

Reformist failures

During Morales' third term in office he faced many of the problems associated with a reformist programme, as growth slowed, public debt soared, and foreign exchange reserves almost halved due to a high fixed exchange rate against the dollar.

Yet the MAS government was still an affront to Bolivia's elite and US imperialism. "My sin is to be indigenous, a trade unionist and a coca grower...", Morales commented during his resignation speech.

The forces of reaction demanded concession after concession from the government while biding their time to overthrow Morales.

Despite the threat from the right, the MAS government adopted an increasingly conciliatory approach towards the corporations, big landowners, and ruling class. This eroded support from the working class and the poor.

The huge wave of enthusiasm that brought the MAS government to power has been steadily declining. Morales won over 63% of the vote in the 2014 election; in October 2019 his vote fell to 47%.

The right-wing opposition eagerly exploited the situation. In Santa Cruz (the largest city), since the 20 October elections, hard-right leader, Luis Fernando Camacho, of the Comité pro-Santa Cruz - "a group with roots in the department's elite that now claims to represent everyone" (The Economist, 7/11/19) - organised street barricades and "strikes" to bring down Morales.

If a new right-wing regime is able to consolidate itself, all the social gains that are left of the years of Morales' rule are in serious jeopardy, as well as the lives and liberty of many left activists and trade unionists.

Workers and the indigenous people will face vicious attacks on their rights and living standards. This will be a boost for right-wing forces throughout Latin America, including the capitalist opposition in Venezuela.

But it will not be a stable situation. The class and ethnic base of the right-wing opens the way to the possibility of deep conflict.


Socialists and workers everywhere must oppose this US imperialist-backed coup with solidarity actions.

We also need to draw the necessary lessons. Piecemeal actions taken against the rule of oligarchs and big landowners will not satisfy the needs of the masses and will earn the ire of reaction.

But a workers' government taking the rich natural resources of Bolivia into public ownership, along with the large landed estates, democratically planned and man-aged by the working class, will fundamentally transform society, and act as a spur to similar socialist change throughout the continent.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £


Your message: 


In The Socialist 13 November 2019:

What we think

Attacks show elite fear a Corbyn election win


Strike, protest, vote - Kick the Tories out

Labour MP targeted by right wing stands as independent

NHS in critical condition

Green Party offers no alternative for young people and climate change chaos

International socialist news and analysis

Bolivia: Right-wing coup ousts Morales

Kshama Sawant reelected in Seattle

Workplace news

'McStrikers' demand £15 an hour

UCU strikes: Union means business in fight against employers

Postal union determined to resist bosses' attacks

PCS union general secretary election: Enthusiastic support for Marion Lloyd

Frimley NHS Trust strikes: Health workers walkout against privatisation

Bradford libraries and museums: Unite members escalate action against cuts

RMT union members at SWR to walk out in December

Transport for London - Justice for cleaners!


Save education - Kick out the Tories

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Leicester campaigns to save our NHS

Fighting for free education, jobs, homes, and a future worth living

Socialism 2019 rally: "Socialist change needed to end climate change"

Trade union conference to force secret police disclosure

Barking: protest brings pledge to remove dangerous decking

Help socialist ideas spread this election: donate!

We saved Chatsworth Ward - two years on

I'm 90 and still a socialist

Readers' opinion

Readers' opinion: Twitter's banning of political ads threatens workers' voice

Theatre: On Bear Ridge - an examination of loss, set in a post-apocalyptic world

Socialism 2019 - what you thought


Home   |   The Socialist 13 November 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleDiego Maradona - Working-class rebel, football genius

triangleBolivia elections: Crushing defeat for the right as MAS secures landslide victory

triangleVenezuela: resist the pro-imperialist coup!

triangle110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907

triangleChe Guevara 50 years on - revolutionary socialist and fighter


trianglePro-market Socialist Party wins Portugal's election

triangleUS right to abortion under threat: Mass campaign to support the right to choose must be built

triangleStop Israeli state brutality

triangleRight-wing Partido Popular wins Madrid elections - a warning to the working class


triangleTube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions

triangle"If we don't fight, we won't win!"

triangleCovid: Fight for full sick pay


triangleFor workers' unity against war in Ukraine

triangleWorkers and students unite and fight





For workers' unity against war in Ukraine



One year after the military coup in Myanmar



Canada: Prime Minister Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act to end 'Freedom Convoy'



Ukraine: Workers' unity against capitalist warmongers and imperialist meddlers



CWI video on Ukraine



Pro-market Socialist Party wins Portugal's election



Oxfam 'Inequality Kills' report



Tamil Solidarity protest against repressive Sri Lankan regime



Ukraine: Workers' unity needed


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland: Bloody Sunday 50 years on


Burkina Faso

Coup d'état in Burkina Faso



France: Education workers and students walkout



School students strike in Austria



Trade unionists in the USA fighting back



Murder of Ashling Murphy sends shocks waves across Ireland and beyond

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

July 2022

June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022