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While Evo’s MAS party regroups, Bolivia’s coup leaders are eating each other alive

Humiliating scandals are destroying right-wing leader Luis Fernando Camacho and the right is fracturing as a more militant MAS party readies for an uphill election battle.

by Wyatt Reed

Part 3 - MAS re-emerges from the coup more militant and motivated for victory

In Cochabamba on December 7, thousands of members of Bolivia’s MAS party descended on the Coliseo de la Coronilla to determine the future of the left-wing political powerhouse, which led the impoverished Latin American country to unprecedented levels of shared prosperity under the tutelage of President Evo Morales.

From exile in Mexico, Morales phoned in to announce to raucous cheers that he had accepted his nomination as MAS campaign director for the upcoming proposed elections. Outside, vendors hawking indigenous Wiphala flags and DVDs documenting the recent army massacres in Sacana and Senkata struggled to be heard above the roar of flyovers by Bolivian military, who buzzed the massive crowd periodically with the same aircraft the military used to unleash death upon MAS members protesting the coup weeks ago.

Despite the aggressive surveillance, the mood inside was electric. A packed stadium of jubilant supporters bearing flags representing the party and the country’s indigenous population cheered as a succession of leaders from the party, and the social movements at its core, took to the stage to denounce the coup-mongers’ attempts to purge its ranks from the spheres of power in Bolivia. And above all, they urged unity.

In spite of its forced removal from power, MAS is poised to emerge from the US-backed coup with an unprecedented level of organizational rigor.

This moment, that’s so crucial to our homeland, needs us all united” announced Andronico Rodriguez, the frontrunner for the MAS presidential nomination. “There will be another moment soon to deal with our weaknesses and errors, and of course the traitors and opportunists we’ve endured this whole time.

But with the Añez coup regime having essentially criminalized basic political organizing, the question remains: Can the upcoming elections even be trusted, given the level of political repression leftists leaders face on a daily basis? Will the elections be clean?

We hope they’ll be clean — that’s what the people deserve,” former Bolivian Foreign Relations Minister Fernando Huanacuni told me as the convention was winding down. “If they [the coup government] talk about democracy, it has to be a transparent democracy for everyone.

Juanita Ancieta, the MAS party’s national secretary for international relations, made it clear that absent protection from the police and military, members of MAS would find other ways to ensure their own safety. “If something happens, if someone is threatened, if someone is kidnapped, we’re going to rise up in defense of that brother or sister,” she said.

In regards to whether the elections would be clean, Ancieta commented: “We’re going to exhort that the whole world, that the international organizations participate as observers… We exhort that the United Nations, immediately proceeds to guarantee transparency. We agree. The Catholic Church, important sectors – guarantee transparency.

The main legislative vehicle for their attempts to ensure the Añez regime doesn’t hijack the elections is a comprehensive bill called the Law of Guarantees. As Ancieta explained, “it’s already approved by our Legislative Assembly–by our Chamber of Deputies. And today this Convention has determined that immediately the legislation should proceed to the Senate. And since the self-appointed senator Jeanine [Añez] won’t want to enact it, ten days later, the President of the Senate will be obligated to enact it.

If nothing else, the leftist movement in Bolivia has reemerged from the political crisis with a bolstered and more militant sense of unity. It’s the one thing they have that the right doesn’t.

But overcoming a hostile electoral system, ruthless state security forces, and powerful international economic interests is a challenge only an unusually dedicated, disciplined political movement can overcome.


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