The Beginning Of The End?
The Hybrid War on Bolivia has thus far succeeded in removing the country’s democratically re-elected and legitimate head of state after President Morales resigned under duress following the military’s “request” that he do so, with this coup being made possible only because US intelligence had already co-opted the armed forces and therefore ensured that this outcome was a fait accompli even before it was officially announced. On the surface, it might appear as though the Hybrid War is over after it achieved its most visible victory of carrying out regime change in this lithium-rich and geostrategically located state smack dab in the center of South America, but the fact of the matter is that this campaign is far from over for several very important reasons.
The Civil War Already Started
The first one is the most obvious, and it’s that there might be some uncertain degree of physical resistance from (“former”) President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters, whether in the form of street protests or possibly even a nascent insurgency that could represent the tangible beginning of a national liberation movement to liberate the country from the US-backed military-oligarchic yoke that it’s suddenly been returned under after 13 years of freedom. The military preemptively sought to offset this scenario just prior to the coup by commencing what Reuters reported was “air and land operations to ‘neutralize’ armed groups that act outside the laws”, which in the country’s political context could only have been a euphemism for beginning operations against President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters and not their right-wing opponents allied with the armed forces who were rioting throughout the country for several weeks already.
This is an important detail that many observers missed amid the fast-moving events that transpired on Sunday but one which crucially reveals that the military went rogue even before demanding President Morales’ resignation by launching operations against what are presumably his supporters despite not legally having the authority to do so. In hindsight, this means that not only did a military coup occur, but that it was preceded by what was arguably the unofficial onset of a low-level civil war whereby the armed forces went outside the legal chain of command (considering that they had yet to demand his resignation at the time) in order to “confront the people” despite previously denying that they had any such intention. This dramatic move came after the “opposition” seized state media in the capital, the homes of President Morales’ sister and two of his governors were torched Saturday night, and an allied mayor was lynched in the streets by the “opposition” a few days prior.
Morales On The Lam
It’s little wonder then that President Morales implored his countrymen during his resignation speech to “stop attacking the brothers and sisters, stop burning and attacking” since he feared for his supporters’ lives after what had recently just taken place, especially seeing as how he would have already had knowledge of the military’s ongoing operation against them that was commenced earlier that same day. Knowing this, he fled the capital before they could capture him and potentially carry out a Gaddafi-like regicide while serving a so-called “warrant” for his arrest (on the presumable basis of something having to do with electoral or another form of alleged “corruption”) and relying on what would have been the unsubstantiated claim that he “resisted” or was “armed” in order to “justify” killing him in cold blood just like their predecessors did to the famous Che Guevara a little over half a century ago.
If they don’t succeed in capturing him soon, the US-backed armed forces might even request American and/or Brazilian “anti-terrorist” assistance after possibly claiming that he and his supporters are connected to Iran’s IRGC and/or Colombia’s FARC considering President Morales’ close ties with the Islamic Republic and vehement support of socialism, respectively. They could also “justify” their request for a direct military intervention by reminding the region of his alliance with Venezuelan President Maduro and alleging that the latter is somehow involved in President Morales’ so-called “terrorist” and possibly even “drug-trafficking” activities. The deck is therefore stacked against him and his supporters even in the event that they resort to waging a national liberation campaign, which would be entirely within their legal rights after external forces took control of the state by proxy and commenced the ongoing low-level civil war.
Institutionalizing Neoliberal Slavery
That’s the worst-case scenario, but the “best-case” one isn’t much better, which would see the US-backed right-wing forces rapidly reversing the socio-economic rights that President Morales bestowed upon the majority-indigenous population throughout his 13 years in office without having to fight an intense civil war first. In other words, his supporters would simply surrender and allow the process to unfold without any physical resistance, which seems extremely unlikely but could nevertheless still occur if the campaign of terror presently being waged against them succeeds in scaring the population into submission. It should be taken for granted that some members of the riotous mobs will team up with the US-backed military in order to form death squads that will kill anyone who resists, beginning with members of his government (both currently serving and those who recently resigned in order to protect their families after their loved ones were at credible risk of being harmed) and their supporters who might take to the streets in protest against this illegal seizure of power.
Either way, the grand strategic outcome that the coup plotters are pursuing is to purge all state structures of socialists in order to more easily impose a hyper-neoliberal regime as soon as possible, with the only question being whether the population actively resists this “lustration” or not. Some of the most likely structural-institutional consequences would be the granting of fiscal (and possibly even political) autonomy to the gas-rich “opposition” strongholds of the so-called “Media Luna” lowlands where most of the mestizos live and the drastic reduction of taxes on foreign mining firms operating in the indigenous-populated highlands, which could altogether serve to deprive President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters of the resources needed to subsidize their socio-economic programs. The end result would naturally be that millions of people risk returning to their prior position of undignified servitude that they toiled under prior to President Morales’ ascent to office.
“The Latin American Libya”
Acutely aware of the future that awaits them if the military coup succeeds in stripping them of their hard-earned socio-economic rights and institutionalizing their status as slaves to the neoliberal-globalist system supported by their country’s oligarchy and its American/Brazilian backers, it wouldn’t be surprising if the “worst-case” scenario transpires of President Morales’ mostly indigenous supporters waging a full-fledged national liberation insurgency.
That, however, also dangerously carries with it the high risk that the state will “simplify” its “counter-insurgency” strategy by siccing death squads on anyone of native Bolivian heritage (especially in the rural areas), therefore leading to ethnic cleansing against them or even genocide if this strategy is taken to its “logical” conclusion. As such, it’s way too early to say that the Hybrid War on Bolivia is over just because President Morales was forced to resign under duress since this campaign will never truly end given the literally fascist outcome that it’s aiming to indefinitely perpetuate of informally returning the indigenous population to noeliberal slavery. Considering the dynamics at play, Bolivia might soon become known as the “Latin American Libya”, and the consequences could easily spread throughout the rest of South America just as Libya’s spread throughout Africa.
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This article was originally published on OneWorld.
Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Featured image is from OneWorld