Bolivia’s Movement Towards Socialism party won a decisive victory in the country’s presidential elections, with its candidate Luis Arce apparently winning by a large enough margin to...
Bolivia’s Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party won a decisive victory in the country’s presidential elections, with its candidate Luis Arce apparently winning by a large enough margin to avoid a runoff, likely achieving an absolute majority. The leading opposing candidate, neoliberal Carlos Mesa, and the right-wing unelected President Jeanine Anez congratulated Arce on his victory.
Some in US corporate media, however, failed to describe what was really going on in the country.
When the Wall Street Journal (10/19/20) reported on the MAS victory, for example, it kept to the usual line (FAIR.org, 11/11/19, 11/18/20) about the previously elected president from MAS, Evo Morales, having been “driven from power” in November 2019 after “an election that observers said was marred by irregularities” avoiding referring directly to Morales’ military overthrow as a “coup.” Instead, the Journal wrote that “Bolivians rose up against Mr. Morales” after he “had grown increasingly authoritarian” and already “ruled” for 14 years.
First off, to say that Morales “ruled” in his country is about as accurate as saying that Barack Obama “ruled” the United States from 2009–17. Until Morales’ ouster, Bolivia was (and hopefully will again be) a functioning democracy. Trying to paint democratically elected leaders as dictatorial autocrats is a time-honored US tradition going back at least as far as Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, removed in a CIA-backed invasion in 1954.
The “irregularities” mentioned are a reference to an analysis by the Organization of American States (OAS), an institution that gets 60 percent of its budget from the United States. Its analysis, released immediately after the election, expressed “deep concern” about a “hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results.”
Their analysis was immediately challenged by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a progressive DC-based think tank, which noted that the OAS provided “absolutely no evidence no statistics, numbers or facts of any kind” to support its conclusions. (See CounterSpin, 7/31/20.) The study was later fully debunked, as reported by both the Washington Post (2/27/20), which wrote that “the OAS’s statistical analysis and conclusions would appear deeply flawed,” and the New York Times (6/7/20), which came to similar conclusions (FAIR.org, 3/5/20, 7/8/20). The Wall Street Journal neglected to mention any of this in its reporting.
To say that “Bolivians rose up” against Morales is true only in the narrow technical sense that the coup leaders that forced the president’s removal were from Bolivia. In fact, the situation was far more complicated. After a month-long delay in the vote count, the OAS statement and right-wing protests against the president, military leaders forced Morales to step down from office and flee the country. Morales eventually took refuge in Argentina, barred from returning to Bolivia due to terrorism charges that Human Rights Watch describes as “politically motivated.”
Excerpted from: 'After Socialist Victory in Bolivia, Media Still Whitewash Coup'.