The political crisis in Bolivia seems to have become another link in the chain of mass protests that have swept Latin America in recent months. The genesis of the Bolivian protest is different from what happened in Chile or Ecuador, where economic reasons were at the core (broader ones than dissatisfaction with fuel and transport price hikes). Bolivia was an island of economic prosperity; all the main socio-economic indicators of Evo Morales’ 14-year rule were steadily improving, even his rivals in the presidential race recognised the merits of the native Indian president.
However, one should not think that all that came as a surprise for the Bolivian government; it was preparing for protests or possible provocations, timed to coincide with the general elections on October 20. Therefore, the public indignation was not a surprise for it, rather the scale of the protest and the fact that its key allies, the trade unions (primarily the largest of them – COB, Central Obrera Boliviana) and the army, turned their back on Evo Morales. Incidentally, we may compare Venezuela’s army amid the crisis, where it remains a factor of stability for Maduro and the Chavists, with that of Bolivia, where the armed forces did not have a “genetic connection” with the authorities and maintained at heart the pro-American orientation they acquired while studying at US military schools. Therefore, the Bolivian military quickly forgot the recent embrace with Morales, advising (and essentially demanding) his resignation.
Bolivian society, which has achieved “a cleaner democracy”, is now on the verge of a sharp civil confrontation, which would have been relatively unthinkable during 14 years of relative stability. The confrontation between supporters and opponents of the previous or current interim government has led to the risk of a full-fledged interethnic, interracial conflict, which could have unpredictable destructive consequences. Having felt its strength, the white European-descended population has demonstrated that it is out for revenge, tearing down the Wiphala flag, which symbolises the ethnic diversity of the country, and vowing to replace Pachamama (a local deity) with Christ. So far no figures are visible on the Bolivian political arena that could reconcile the two halves of Bolivian society – native Indians and whites. The history of the country has shown that reliance on the army and the police is not always justified; the crowd has already swept away their dense cordons more than once. This gives several analysts reason to believe that it is too early to talk about the end of Evo Morales’ political career.