After three postponed elections, a date is finally set after pressure from protests across the country. Why did Evo step down? How did the conditions for the coup develop? Carlos Orias and Tony Phillips join Paul Jay on podcast produced in cooperation with Other News.

Paul Jay
Hi, I’m Paul Jay and welcome to podcast.
This episode is produced in collaboration with Other News. Other News is an international press
platform that disseminates analysis, insights and information about global issues in English,
Spanish and Italian. You can find it at

Most roads into Bolivia’s major cities are being blockaded by thousands of people protesting the
third postponement of national elections by a far right government installed by a coup against
the elected leader, Evo Morales.

Morales was pressured to resign on November 10th, 2019, and fly to Mexico and is now living in
Argentina. Why did Morales leave? What is the current balance of forces as the situation grows
even tenser amidst a raging COVID-19 surge? Now joining us to discuss the situation in Bolivia,
the general strike and blockade organized by indigenous groups across the country and the
National Workers Federation are, from Bolivia, Carlos Orias. He’s a Bolivian journalist and editor
since 1995. He’s worked at news desks in two main newspapers in his country as foreign news
editor, web editor and multimedia chief editor at, El Deber, I’m sure I’m pronouncing that
incorrectly, in his hometown in Santa Cruz de la Sierra and as chief editor of La Razón, a
leading newspaper in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz. And once Carlos joins us, he can correct me on
all my butchering of these names. And joining us from Buenos Aires in Argentina is Tony
Phillips. He works as a journalist for, Other News in South America. He was a delegate to the
Conference for the Defense of the Rights of Mother Earth and Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010,
he’s published three books, two on finance, one on climate, and he currently investigates
climate change, energy and national debt dynamics in South America. Thank you both for
joining us.

Carlos Orias
Thank you, Paul.

Tony Phillips
You’re welcome.

Paul Jay
Carlos, what’s the situation on the streets and highways now? What is happening in terms of
repression of the protests? Give us a picture of the current situation and then we’ll get into how
we got here.

Carlos Orias
Sure, sure. Paul, thank you. And Hello Tony. Thank you for the interview. It’s really nice to talk
to you. This is a difficult time for Bolivia, again. We always used to live at the edge of a cliff and
always pretending to be surprised, to be again at this point. And this is where we are right now,
surprised that we are again at this difficult moment.
Today, the president of the government, Jeanine Áñez, she has signed a law that has put a date
on the elections. They will be held on October 18th, 2020, that’s the date. This was done under
pressure from the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), the people that support the former
President Evo Morales, they are out in the highways of the country, blocking circulation from
town to town since maybe 10 days ago. And this situation and the response by the government
and other parts of the society has brought us to this point of tensions, again, with the
background of a lot of economic crisis due to the closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So that’s pretty much crisis on top of crisis. And it’s now clear that we have a date for voting
again. And I think aside from the tension, the political tension, and the speech that each side is
airing and showing, there’s a lot of political calculation, not just by the government, but by all of
the other candidates, including the MAS. Which, has, I was telling you before the interview, has
a very, very high possibility of being the first party that voted in the election. So there’s a lot of
tension in the country around this, again. That’s pretty much the situation. And I hope that the
election date on October 18th will clarify some of the points that are at stake right now.

Paul Jay
Now, this is the fourth date in the last few months, they keep postponing the date.

Carlos Orias

Paul Jay
So is there any reason to think they’re actually going to keep this one?

Carlos Orias
Well, it is a law now. The president has signed it, so it’s supposed to be in her interest, too.
She’s a candidate, and that’s been difficult for the government to have a president and a
candidate who has to manage different levels of crisis, health crisis, public crisis, economic
crisis, and political crisis. So, yeah, we have lost one year of school. We had only one month of
schools in February. Then schools closed, and now the government has closed the educational
year for this year. So it’s hitting us on different levels.
You see the cities there, I can see my city from where I live, I can see a couple of avenues, and
you see normality, you see a lot of cars, but there’s a lot of people really being hit. And I think
poverty is going to return to the country, in the coming months, it’s going to be really difficult.
That’s my perception, and that’s the situation.

Paul Jay
Tony, I know you follow the situation in Bolivia quite closely. From what I understood, both in
terms of reading the progressive media, but also even the business media, from Bloomberg to
others, Evo Morales government was generally considered, I thought, to be doing pretty well
and that the economy was doing, compared at least too much of Latin America, was doing fine
and compared to Venezuela and some of the other places with progressive governments, Evo
was kind of considered the success story. Was that true? Was the economy more or less well
managed under Morales? And if so, then what happened?

Tony Phillips
And the economy in Bolivia was managed well for Bolivia. It was managed well for the people of
Bolivia, for the government of Bolivia. That is not necessarily the case for certain private sectors
where a lot of the certain parts of the system were nationalized, so that did do well incomes for
the government. It brought in more taxes, those taxes were used for various things, but they
were also used to stabilize the economy and to give money to the poorer people. So in that way,
there was stability, there was inflation stability, there was political stability he was re-elected and
re-elected again. However, certain groups, especially in the jungle regions, never really fully
accepted Evo’s protagonism as an indigenous leader.

Paul Jay
Just pure racism, but also economics. They didn’t like, I guess, the policies of, to some extent

Carlos Orias
I think nationalization was directed to hydrocarbons, so mostly gas that we export to Argentina
and to Brazil. A lot of other areas were benefited by the economic politics of Evo’s government. I
think the failure, there were like two or three, and I have to add corruption to that, but the two
main were, first of all, the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) Evo’s Party, did not allow any other
political figure to appear that could be after Evo. So there was no other candidate rather than
Evo and when his candidate speaker failed at the end, there were these accusations of fraud
and they have been widely aired.
And at this point, the Movimiento al Socialismo broke the social contract of the vote. People felt
that their vote was betrayed. And even if they were not at all supportive of Evo or just managed
to say, “OK, he’s the president and we will respect that”, but they were not affectionate towards
A lot of people felt that the fraud broke that social contract. That’s when the Evo Morales
government failed because they eroded its legitimacy from the inside. Aside from that is the
corruption and well, that’s what brought him to this point.

Paul Jay
The accusation of fraud, obviously, they denied it. I thought a lot of the accusations
have turned out not to be true.

Carlos Orias

Paul Jay
What was the fraud or if there actually was such?

Carlos Orias
We can’t know because there hasn’t been interest even from the actual government of Jeanine
Áñez, and they are not interested in saying, OK, the fraud was 10%, 15%, we don’t know how
much fraud it was. The situation was created and it evolved rapidly. It arose mainly from the
cities which are richer than the base voters of Evo Morales. So, yeah, it’s kind of a nebula there
of what really happened. We don’t know the numbers of how much fraud was there. And even if
it was a small fraction, obviously, you can say there was fraud. But I think the problem was that
Evo Morales was trying to always be the central figure and he didn’t know when to step aside
and let the party renew itself and renew the speech and renew the image of his government.
And I think that eroded his position.

Paul Jay
He had done, I think, it was two terms and he was not supposed to do a third, according to the
Constitution. And then they tried to have that change in a referendum, and yet Morales lost. And
then they tried to find a way through the courts. Was there kind of a general feeling that he was
hanging on too long?

Carlos Orias
Yes, of course. He’s the president that has been there longer and, fourteen and something
years and people would have respected him better if he stepped aside for maybe one term, two
terms and then try to make a comeback, but the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) was too
centered around his image and too centered around his name to allow any other leader to show
up and to come forward as a candidate.
Now they’re trying to do that with the former economy minister Luis Arce, who is also urban, he
has a good appeal amongst people in the cities. But, they could have done it before, and they
could have done it better. I think it could have been different in another story if they hadn’t made
this mistake of being too much around Evo Morales. I think that was a problem.

Paul Jay
Tony, if I understand it correctly, you get this sort of disillusionment with Morales, and then the
far right takes advantage of this. Am I understanding it correctly? As well as some sections, very
right-wing sections, of the Catholic Church are very involved in organizing the coup. Talk about

Tony Phillips
There was disagreement as to whether or not Evo should stand, but he pushed that through,
and in the end, the courts gave way and said, yes, he could stand. It was probably not a good
idea to do that. That happens in many countries in South America. Sometimes it can be difficult
to plan for secession, especially when a party is doing particularly well and there’s almost a
guaranteed win for the member of that party.

And as far as the church is concerned, the church has been very vocal. Very recently, actually, I
was looking at the United Nations website yesterday and one of the main people that they were
working with died in El Alto. He was a bishop, and he was actually one of the main
spokespeople trying to keep the peace he died of COVID, by the way. He was an Italian who
had originally moved over there. And he was made a bishop by the current Pope and he was
made assistant bishop by the previous Pope. The church is important and the church can be

Now, I think one part of that is, the current government, the interim government, the coup
government that will eventually allow, hopefully, an election is quite Catholic, conservative
Catholic. I mean, if you look at some of the main people in there team, including some of the
people who are actually standing for election like Camacho, but also the minister for the interior
who heads up the armed forces and the police, Murillo, both of those are conservative
Catholics. And the church seems to be largely on the side of the current government. In fact,
when this government took power, Camacho, who was from Santa Cruz and I’m sure Carlos
can fill us in on the details on Camacho, he actually took a Bible to the assembly, (actually it
was the predential to the Congress and put it down on the floor of the Congress saying that the
church has returned to the state. Now, the reason for that is because the state is plurinational,
(defined as the coexistence of two or more sealed or preserved national groups within a polity),
at the moment. That is something that Evo did in order to give more visibility for the
Cosmovision, for the thinking, the way that people want to run the country, which the Aymara
and Quechua peoples. Evo is my Aymara and he worked a lot with the Quechua as well when
he was working in the coca farms and also as a miner. So he wanted to make the country
plurinational, which would give people a chance to have all of the different viewpoints of the
different ethnic groups in the country, a chance to work together.

Paul Jay
And what does that mean, plurinational, what would that look like?

Tony Phillips
Plurinational you look at essentially each of the ethnic groups as having the capacity to be a
nation. It actually comes a lot from the state of Spain, it’s broken up into various groups. You’ve
got, say, the Catalan and the other groups, each of those groups recognize their own autonomy
and therefore recognize their own way of doing things politically and their own policies. So
plurinationality is a way of bringing together various peoples within a state so that you can still
have a unified state with different groups working together, each with their own way of doing

Paul Jay
Sounds like Canada and Quebec.

Tony Phillips
It is a bit like Canada because you recognize the autonomy of the Inuit people.

Paul Jay
They’re sovereign nations that have certain rights on their land. And then the relationship to
Quebec. Quebec has its own civil law, its own first language. So it’s somewhat similar.
Tony Phillips
Yeah, there’s plurality in linguistics as well. I mean, Evo when he was a kid, he grew up
speaking Aymara. He learned to speak Quechua when he was working in the mines and he
speaks Spanish, too. So, I mean, it’s three languages in one, it’s important. Now, what that did
was replace the Republic, and that’s what the current government has been trying to do.
They’ve been trying to bring back the Republic and the republic in the traditional Catholic sense
actually required certain positions to have Catholic people in those positions. So Evo wants to
bring back plurinationality, but he also wanted to create a secular state which would recognize
the religions of the Aymara and the Quechua people too.

Paul Jay
So you have a government now that came to power through a coup. I understand there’s been a
lot of police repression against the MAS supports (the Movement for Socialist’s) supporters,
they’re very far out there religiously. It’s a real right-wing Catholic government. What’s the mood
of the country, especially in the big cities that may have lost patience, and do not like that Evo
Morales held on too long, but look what they got. So what do they think of this current

Carlos Orias
It’s a difficult moment. I started by saying that it’s a difficult moment. And mostly, I think this level
of conflict that we have right now, is kind of a part of the electoral campaign. You know, it has
replaced meetings or big meetings or political advertising in media through activity and through
blockades. These kinds of actions have taken place in the electoral campaign on Evo’s party
side (MAS). The blockades are a way to reunite the voters from rural bases, from the
countryside. The effect it’s having on the cities, well I think it’s difficult for his candidate because
it’s alienating the people in the cities. The urban people are really tired of the situation. And I
think that’s how it’s being done at this moment. The blockades are mainly the replacement for
the electoral campaign. I was saying before that the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) has
around 30%, maybe more of the voters, and that’s the hard base of voters that was always
around Evo.

So if you see this year or maybe eight months of conflict, you will ask, why the Movimiento al
Socialismo (MAS) has such a large base of voters? Well, I think it’s because of what Tony was
saying before. The 14 years of Movimiento Socialismo got to represent the feeling and to
identify the feeling of the people through this plurinational declaration of the state, which
includes all 36 nations in the country, people felt represented and they felt that they had access
and they felt included. So the response is that they are still there, around Evo and around his
candidate and around the Movimiento al Socialismo and willing to go to the streets and to make
these blockades and to challenge the current government. So I think that’s the feeling on the
Movimiento al Socialismo electoral base.
On the other side, in the cities, people are already crazy and mad and angry about what’s
happening because people would like to have normality again and would like to go to vote and
would like to feel represented. A lot of people don’t see… , the right-wing at this moment, it’s
really divided. And after almost 15 years of Evo Morales, the country hasn’t been able to unify
around a candidate. It has happened in other countries in South America and it’s happening
right now in Bolivia. It has four main candidates and they won’t unite around any of them. So
they’re divided and they will go to vote and probably Movimiento al Socialismo will win, and
that’s making a lot of people angry, a lot of voters angry and feeling disappointed at the situation
because there’s nobody to stand against MAS, they would like to have somebody to stand
against him.

We have one candidate, Carlos Mesa, who is considered the useful vote if you have to avoid
Evo from returning, you have to vote for Carlos Mesa, that’s what they say. But you know, the
big problem on the right is that they still don’t have one figure that will unite them all to stand
against Evo Morales and his candidate.
Paul Jay
What is the attitude of the working class in the cities? Were they not supportive of the MAS and
are they still?

Carlos Orias
There is an analysis that’s around and coming from La Paz. It says that also there is a division
in the MAS and that the MAS, Movimiento al Socialismo, the party is divided. And what

happened in these 14 years is that Evo Morales, he was from the left, but he was a central
figure after all. He managed to keep things running, he managed the economy running. There’s
a lot of things you can throw at him at this point. Yes, but he kept most of the radical base of the
labour in the country or the indigenous groups that are very radical. They had to move aside
and let Evo run the country. At this point, there’s a division where you have the more center
Movimiento al Socialismo supporting the Luis Arce candidate of MAS.
But there are also groups and that are going with the Central Obrera Boliviana now, which is the
main labor organization in the country. And there are a lot of people from left and far-left who
are not so peaceful and are moving things towards more pressure and maybe more violence.
So what’s happening today is that the Central Obrera Boliviana, this labour (union) organization
has said that they reject the October 18th date for elections. So, you know, we have another
spin to the situation where you have pressure from the labor in the cities.

Paul Jay
Tony, the same question in terms of the attitude of the working class and back to one of my first
questions, because I think the two things are connected. Morales seemed to be governing
policies that were like social Democratic policies that were more favorable to workers and
indigenous people in the countryside. So what if he stayed on too long? I mean, I could get
people didn’t like that, perhaps, but given the alternative, being a far-right, ultra-religious
Catholic government, why would they not rally around MAS now?

Tony Phillips
Well, they did. What happened was in the elections, Evo won, he won in the first round. And the
question about fraud was taken up by the MIT in the United States, and they did a full analysis
in the MIT of all the statistics that came through from everywhere in Bolivia, and they disproved
the fraud claim. There was no fraud, but there was a claim of fraud which was supported by the
OAS,(Organization of American States) and it’s responsibilities are promoting democracy,
coordinating security and law enforcement operations, providing technical and financial
assistance for development projects, and monitoring human rights through the inter-American
legal system), and that was in turn supported by the US government, and then internally,
somehow that was also supported by the Catholic Church and the military, both of whom
suggested to Evo that he stand down. Now, he won the election, he would have won the
elections anyway.

Paul Jay
Well, hang on. Then why did he stand down? He won the election. So what if the church and
even the military pressure him? Why didn’t he call on millions of people to come to the streets
and defend him the way it happened in Caracas when the coup against Chavez took place?

Carlos Orias
Mostly because the people in the cities are aroused and they were in the streets. They
blockaded all the cities, the main cities in the country, and they forced the situation to the point
where he had to resign because the country wasn’t running anymore. The only way to go
around that would be to use police or use the military. Even at the worst points in 2008, where
there was a lot more tension in the country, Evo Morales didn’t use police or military against the
people and they didn’t use it this time again. But the city was closed to a greater degree than
last time, we had like three weeks of general strike. It was the military, it was the church and it
was evangelical groups also, that’s another big element.

Paul Jay
So did the working class of the cities, to a large extent, want Evo out? They were part of these
strikes against the Morales government.
Tony Phillips
I think the whole notion of calling the working class in Bolivia is not anything like what you would
recognize as the working class of Europe or North America. And the differences in wages
between the poor and the rich are extreme in Bolivia. There is an executive class, there are
people who work in business, and then there are workers. Workers pay is very, very low, and a
lot of the workers are in mining, they’re in the coca business, they work on farms. You know, not
all of the work is in the cities. I think one thing to add, though, about what happened when Evo
stood down, you asked why he stood down. It got pretty personal. There were a lot of burnings
of houses. I went to see Evo here in Buenos Aires and he explained how his own sister’s house
was burnt out, and she asked him she told him what she thought he should do.
I mean, there were a lot of burnings. There was a lot of intimidation. People were beaten. There
was a lot of nasty stuff going on. I mean, Carlos can fill you in on the details, but Evo was
seriously intimidated. And I honestly think he was afraid of much more violence if he didn’t step

Paul Jay
So since the coup, what’s been happening?

Tony Phillips
OK, well, shortly after the coup, there was a lot more violence and that violence was largely by
the military and the police, the International Human Rights Clinic, the IHRC, which is a member
of Harvard Law School and the University Network for Human Rights, the UNHR again in
Harvard, recognized disconcerting patterns of human rights violations. Basically, they talked
about four things, they said it was state violence against prosecutors, talking about two
massacres that happened in a place called Sacaba and Senkata, two different places. There
was a lack of impartiality in investigating this and no access to justice. And there was a
persecution of dissidents, of any kind of dissent, including people who work for newspapers.
And in fact, the newspapers are all controlled or have been shut down, people have even been
arrested for that. And there’s also civilian and para-state violence. This is something we’re very
familiar within South America. This is when people who may or may not be members of the
military or the police act separately, but with a “nod and a wink” from the police, in other words,
the police allow certain things to happen, which are very violent. Which included, for example,
taking one mayor of a city, a woman, and stripping her of her clothes and marching through the
city and painting her and attacking her. There’s been a fair number of people who have been
arrested and tortured. It’s been pretty serious. And I think one of the most important things is on
the 14th of November in 2019, a presidential executive order was signed by Jeanine Áñez
Chávez, which is her real name. And Article three of that said, “personnel of the armed forces
who participate in operations for the restoration of internal order and public stability shall be
exempt from criminal liability”. In other words, she basically said, whatever violence is
necessary to keep public order for her was acceptable, and whoever did that were they police or
military will not be prosecuted. That caused a lot of problems.

Paul Jay
You’re talking about the mood in the cities, one is people are getting fed up with the blockades
because life was already pretty tough because of the COVID-19 and the closing down of much
of the economy. On the other hand, they have a government and a president who’s been
encouraging essentially murder gangs and terrible violence and repression, and it’s continuing
right now. If I understand it correctly, there’s supposed civilians attacking the people, organizing
the blockade. But it’s, I think the kind of civilians Tony is talking about, “wink, wink, nudge,
nudge”, from the police, sort of organizing this in one way or the other.
So what do you think of the people of the city or is it so divided you can’t answer this? What do
they want politically?

Carlos Orias
I was saying that just to close the former question, there was a lot of surprise at the moment.
Back in October, there were like three weeks, it happened really fast. It was for three weeks.
And I think the people in the MAS, they weren’t able to organize. to respond, or to come up with
an answer. It was a moment of doubt. The fraud accusation was all over, and dis-legitimized
Evo Morales a lot. So it had an impact even on its own supporters.

At this moment, the situation is really different. People need to work. I’ve been in and out of the
city because I’m moving to a rural area and you see a lot of work. You see a lot of labour in the
countryside. People really need to work at this moment. People really need the stability we had
in the past years. This situation here with the closing of the economy and the mix with the
political crisis is going to have a really big cost. I think we’re just in the first, maybe, half of this
crisis because the next government will not be able to stand if it does not negotiate its situation
with the MAS, because the results of the election will make the MAS, if they don’t make a
president, they will have maybe a majority in the Congress. So it will be difficult to govern.
Governing with the consequences of this (economic) closure that we have at this moment. So I
think we have like one year or maybe one year and a half of instability that could force– in my
personal opinion, it could cause the devaluation of the currency (the Boliviano) which would
send us into a deeper crisis. So there’s a lot of bad weather ahead of us. I think that’s what
people are currently fearing most.
You see professional people trying to make a living on any little business they have that’s the
mood in the cities at this moment. You have firms that are trying to lower the wages of its
personnel. There’s a lot of people being sent to the streets because there are firms that are
closing at the moment. And it’s already a country with a lot of informality, economic informality,
people selling things on the streets. So the formal sector is also feeling a lot of economic
pressure at this moment. I think that’s pretty much the situation for us.

Paul Jay
There was a report that the police are not as directly involved in repressing the blockades.
They’re using these para-military, supposedly civilian groups. And one of the reports on
Democracy Now, one of the guests said, that there’s some report that some of the police are
refusing to go attack the blockades. Have you heard anything about this?

Carlos Orias
(I have) not really heard, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I think the police and the military– there
was also genuine support for MAS and for Evo Morales during the past years. So it wouldn’t be
surprising that there would be some declaration about we are not repressing people because
we don’t feel and we don’t feel this government, this transition government, is entitled to do such
a thing. So I think you can say it’s still half and half, maybe less than half, OK, but there are still
people that support Evo Morales. And the polls have shown that there’s around 30%. Two
months ago, it said that Evo Morales, the party had around 30%, maybe more of the vote. After
all the political crisis, they still are in that situation. Well, it’s going to be difficult for the next
government to really stand and to really govern during the next four years.

Paul Jay
One thing I didn’t understand, I don’t know Tony or Carlos, after 14 years of governing, how
could Evo not know and have a loyal command in the armed forces? How was he not able to
put his people there?

Carlos Orias
Well, basically because the situation in the cities was you had families blocking the streets. You
had no circulation, no economy running for three weeks in the country.

Paul Jay
But who were those families? What class were those families from economically?

Carlos Orias
All classes. You can say it’s pretty much spread out in all the classes of the society, the
rejection as well as the support. You can’t say they’re just poor, they’re just the middle class,
just the higher class. You have parts of one, more parts of the other one you have–it’s a really
complex map.

So the situation back in October was that the cities were closed. There was no circulation. This
city where I live, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, is the economic engine of the country. It was
completely stopped after–I don’t know. We never had a three-week closure in this country,
never. So it was an impact. On the other side, it was really bad communication management,
from the Evo Morales government. I think, after all, they were really tired and they didn’t know
how to handle the situation. And then, each day they were losing some point and they were
conceding this conceding that, then finally Evo appeared to say, OK, let’s go to a second round
of voting, and it was already too late. The situation degraded really, really fast for a well-
organized response from the government that would involve their support in the people.

Paul Jay
Tony, just finally, the United States recognized this coup government. The Canadian
government recognized this coup government, which, in theory, goes against everything they
claim to believe about supporting democracy in Latin America. Now, you get the elections
postponed over and over and you get a situation where who knows what the atmosphere for the
elections is going to be. Is there any even hint from either Canada or the United States or
Europe, for that matter, of putting pressure on this government to actually have elections?

Tony Phillips
I haven’t seen anything from North America at all. However, there are two external groups that
are working actively to try and get everybody back to the table and get rid of this violence. One
of them is the European Union, and they have people in there. And they actually, for example,
when Añez wrote the decree, which basically said to the military that they would not be
prosecuted for using violence, and that led to two different groups being killed, 20, 30 people
dying in the streets (and no policemen or military person being hurt at that time) when that
happened and the European Union stepped in and actually helped to calm that down and back
that off, they were getting involved. The other ones are the United Nations. The United Nations
are quite active in there, too, and as I said, the United Nations were working also with a bishop
out of El Alto in La Paz, who recently this (correction July) died of COVID. I think what we’re
really seeing right now is kind of a panic, and the MAS still runs the Congress, it still has more
seats in the Congress. Those that can actually get to their seats. I mean, a lot of MAS people
have been stuck in the Mexican embassy and have not been allowed out and others are outside
the country and fear for their lives. I mean, it got fairly violent there. But, what if what’s left of the
MAS managed to work through a law which says that no ex-minister, including the president
they’re talking about the current interim president, in fact, they refer to as the female president,
presidenta, will be allowed to leave the country until it is clear that all corruption possibilities are
denounced for the last few months.

In other words, anything that had happened as regards corruption in the last few months will
need to be attended to before anyone can leave the country. Now, this is something that Omar
Aguilar, one of the MAS people, actually got this law through. So what you’re seeing here is
basically they’re closing the door behind what is going to be a finally, hopefully, I mean they’ve
delayed it so many times an election that most likely the MAS will win, possibly even the first
round this time again, because they have very strong people.
Probably important too, I think, is to note that they are trying to litigate against the two main
people who are standing for president and vice president. So that’s (Luis) Arce (presidential
candidate) and (David) Choquehuanca, the vice president. Both of those are standing, and
they’re both trying to connect them to the violence in the streets so that they won’t be able to
stand. So, again, if all of this works out this way and they closed the door behind these people
who have only been in power for a few months but have been doing the kind of legal work that
you’re not supposed to do if you’re just waiting for the next election. They have been actively
changing laws. So if they closed the door behind them, I think what we probably will see is
threats of violence against them, this has happened before, this has happened before with
various people. And actually, some of those people have been brought back into Bolivia, even
though they’re facing charges from the past. They’ve been brought back into Bolivia and they’ve
been brought back into the government. So I think this is a play, from the point of view of the
people who are actually in government at the moment, trying to find themselves a safe exit. And
it’s not going to happen by the look of things. I think there are threats of violence against them,
too. And I’d like to hear what Carlos thinks in regards to that law, the one by Omar Aguilar to
close the gate behind them,.

Paul Jay
Well, let me add a question to your question. Will this government leave? It’s kind of a Trump
question people are asking the United States. Or will they push the coup further and try to rule
in spite of losing the elections? And then the question is, what role would the military play? Will
the military insist on a transfer of power according to the Constitution, or would the military exert
violence and protect this coup government? So it’s kind of two questions.
Tony’s question is, what about the threats of violence to the coup government? And my
question is, are they really going to go if they lose the election?

Carlos Orias
Yeah, well, I think what Tony said is related to what I was saying before, that there is this
extremist wing on the inside of the MAS that is now turning on to the streets, to the highways
and could be prepared to take part in some violence or to provoke some violence or to resist
some violence, in which case we will be deepening the crisis.
On the other hand, if the current government is going to accept the election. Well, it wouldn’t be
the first time that we see one country that votes what the current powers don’t really want, and
the results of the election are not put into place. So it has happened before, given the external
supports that this transition government has, I think it’s a possibility. As Tony said, they’re trying
to tie the MAS candidates (Arce & Choquehuanca) to violence, to try to avoid them from being
candidates. And that’s what is happening at this moment.

The other thing is you hear the language they’re calling people “terrorists”, all the people who
are blocking the streets and highways, they’re being called a “terrorists” and there is a law being
involved and law being called upon them. So I think they’re trying to revert the apparent result of
the election before it happens, because it will be really hard to let it go, to let go the power that
they have waited so long to get during those 14 years of waiting to not be able to hold on to it for
more than a few months, it will be really difficult.
What will the military do? I think it will be divided. I think that’s one of the risks. But on the other
hand, you can see that what happened to Evo was that he apparently broke the social contract
of the vote. So, if you break it again, as a transition government, it will be a really tense situation
and we would be maybe closer to violence. I don’t really think there’s enough resentment or
enough hate inside Bolivian society to have a prolonged conflict, as we have seen in Colombia
or in other countries in Latin America. But I think we could have something like what happened
here in 2003, we had the Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada government expelled after 73 deaths in
La Paz. So, Bolivia knows about these violent episodes. It could happen again. It’s really not out
of the question. And that’s what everyone fears and that’s what’s inside of political calculation at
the moment.

Paul Jay
This is my third final question to you, Tony and Carlos. If you want to jump in afterward too. How
heavy and how direct is the American hand in all of this?
Tony Phillips
It’s not direct at all. The US is playing its cards close to the table. I think maybe Carlos has more
inside knowledge of what’s really going on there. But what we can see is a lot of support for the
current government, interim government, which it doesn’t deserve. It has never been elected. It
won’t be elected.

Paul Jay
Do you mean support from the Americans?

Tony Phillips
Support from the US. Yes.

Carlos Orias
Well, I think if you see the actions of the transitional government, they expelled the Cuban
doctors that were acting all around the country and they have severed ties with the ALBA and
with UNASUR. Then you can see clearly where we’re going and what’s behind the government.
I can say that.

Paul Jay
UNASUR and ALBA organizations created partly with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Lula in
Brazil, seen as organizations that were helping to make Latin America freer from US control.
Carlos Orias
Yes, exactly.

Tony Phillips
Also, I think it’s important to see that the current government, the current interim government,
has also joined the group of Lima, which was the group that was against the current government
in Venezuela, so they’ve moved to the right.

Paul Jay
They moved into the American umbrella.
Tony Phillips

Carlos Orias

Paul Jay
All right. Thank you both for joining us.

Tony Phillips
Thank you.

Carlos Orias
Thank you so much, Paul.

Paul Jay
And thank you for joining us on podcast, this time in partnership with Other


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