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Was Bolivian President Evo Morales ousted in a coup? Show more Show less

Bolivia has been a site of political upheaval since Evo Morales, president of the country for 13 consecutive years, declared his victory in the October 20th election. The streets have been filled with both violent and peaceful protestors. Some argue against the legitimacy of the vote. Others defend the re-election of the left-wing, indigenous leader. On November 10th, Morales resigned and sought political asylum in Mexico.
After his electoral victory in October 20th 2019, Evo Morales faced an orchestrated campaign against his rule, led by his opposition, Bolivia's economic elites and the international community. The campaign concluded with his forced resignation on November 11th.
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The military "suggested" Morales resign and leave the country

The commander of Bolivia's armed forces, General Williams Kaliman, said the military chiefs believed Morales should step down.

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Context

Coups are defined as "ejections from power of political leaders, through unmistakably unconstitutional means, mainly by part of the army, either on their own or in conjunction with civilian elites such as civil servants, politicians and monarchs."[1] Bolivia, like most Latin American countries, has a long-standing history of military coups taking over power by force, including the coups led by Barrientos (1964), Banzer (1971), Natusch (1979) and García Meza (1980). As such, the state is highly sensitive to the possibility of a military takeover and the repression it entails.

The Argument

On November 10th, after several weeks of civil unrest following the national elections of October 20th, the commander of the Bolivian armed forces requested president Evo Morales step down from the presidency. The involvement of the army indicates the violent nature of the power takeover, even if the military was partially supported by popular calls for Evo to resign. Further evidence of the violence involved in the attack comes from the right-wing gangs that attacked elected politicians from the ruling, left-wing MAS party (Movement for Socialism). Morales' own home was ransacked by these mobs, inciting further acts of violence in support of his resignation, such as the public torture of the mayor of Vinto, a town in the province of Cochabamba. [2] A government leader ousted by the military in a show of force and violent repression is the very definition of a coup.

Counter arguments

There are no similarities between the current situation and previous coups d'état in Bolivia. In this case, there was no military presence in the streets leading to the coup. Therefore, the military did not force the population to respond to the change in power in a given manner. In fact, the military did not aim to take control of the government, and the country was left in a power vacuum until the next person in the chain of command, as laid out in the constitution, took control. Crucially, the military was not the only force pushing Morales out and driving regime change. unlike previous coups, many organizations and civil society groups wanted Morales to step down, including major labor unions, civic groups and student organizations. Lastly, there is simply not enough information at this point to understand the politics that took place behind the scenes, nor the exact motivations of the head of government or the army leaders at the time. [3]

Premises

1. A military coup is the ejection from power of a political leader through unconstitutional means, mainly by part of the army. 2. Morales only resigned as president of Bolivia after Gen. Williams Kaliman, the head of the armed forces, suggested he would do so. 3. Therefore, Morales was ousted in a military coup.

Rejecting the premises

1. There is little verified information over the politics that took place behind the scenes as Morales was asked to resign. 2. There is no way to know with certainty if there was violence involved in ousting Morales. 3. Therefore, we can't know there was a military coup.

References

  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies/article/african-military-coups-detat-19562001-frequency-trends-and-distribution/C7E923CE86B78DD099FDEFAF89F1F88E
  2. https://www.elperiodico.com/es/internacional/20191107/turba-incendia-ayuntamiento-veja-alcaldesa-bolivia-7718635
  3. http://theconversation.com/from-zimbabwe-to-bolivia-what-makes-a-military-coup-127138

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 4 Dec 2019 at 15:27 UTC