‘This Will Be Forever’: How the Ambitions of Evo Morales Contributed to His Fall

Bolivia prospered on the watch of its firebrand leftist president, but his refusal to step aside led to an ignominious downfall.

Comments: 38

  1. Oh Please. You think there is no connection between Morales' forced removal from power, and the announcement hours later, that huge lithium reserves, used for batteries to power all our devices, are ready for exploitation? Morales had pledged to protect Bolivia's environment from just such destructive mining interests. If you don't think this played into his removal, I have a bridge to sell you.

  2. @Ellen It had nothing to do with it. The people said no to him once and he tried to rig the rules.

  3. @Ellen Or maybe the Bolivians did not want and Evo forever.

  4. @Ellen Why is the exploitation of lithium destructive? We need an explanation, not an unsubstantiated claim.

  5. power often corrupts.

  6. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, everywhere, apparently.

  7. @Victor - I have to agree with you. To bad Mr. Evo Morales was not able to leave power in better terms and not blemish his legacy.

  8. This was mainly a military coup instigated by the wealthy elites in Bolivia and the US. The OAS is a biased institution. Nothing good will come from this for regular Bolivians.

  9. @heinrichz apparently in the name of equality and the advancement of the poor anyone can trample institutions and rig elections.

  10. @Emilio Samper I have not seen any evidence or proof so far that elections were rigged. It’s all hearsay and propaganda!

  11. Very similar situation happened in Venezuela. Chavez lost a referendum (2007) where the possibility to be reelected forever was asked for a vote. He lost but changed the constitution anyway with his loyalist packed supreme court & congress. One thing that Chavez did differently was to also purge the armed forces and make sure that there were only loyalist in it. All the many new generals also freely enjoyed the fruits of the corruption and narcotraffic so that they have no interest in seeing any change in Venezuela, adhere to the constitution or defend the people against the regime. Glad to see that at least in Bolivia this was not the case.

  12. Thus another example of a “socialist utopia” devolving into de facto dictatorship. There is no example on earth where a country who has nationalized the production and distribution of goods and services does not also so end. Followers of “Democratic Socialism” beware; there is no such thing in the long run.

  13. @Evan You do know that Evo Morales did more for the mass of Bolivians in his years as president than centuries of pilfering colonial capitalism which barely let indigenous peoples live at all?

  14. @Evan Dictatorship is NOT socialism. China calls itself still a communist nation but it is anything but. Socialism as seen in some European countries works because it is under a democracy. This socialism vs capitalism argument is so simplistic. In Sweden there are major multi-national corporations. In Germany unions sit on the board of corporations. What these countries do is find a balance between government and private enterprise. In the US just look at the military industrial complex to see government funding at work.

  15. The notion that only a left-wing "firebrand" might remark upon, or object to, U.S. interference in Latin America suggests this reporter has never heard of the Monroe Doctrine -- you know, that assertion of the U.S.'s fundamental right to determine the fate of Latin America? The OAS, btw, gets the bulk of its funding from the U.S. and is located in Washington; it's anything but a neutral party and has a shameful record of supporting the worst regimes of the region. As long, of course, as they're right-wing regimes.

  16. A right wing reactionary coup led to his downfall. He didn't step down because the court rules that term limits in the constitution were inconsistent with the American Convention on Human Rights. If there is legitimate evidence that the vote was rigged, then that needs to be brought forward and a new vote called. Until that time, Morales received the most votes and we need to call this what it is is - a coup.

  17. @Chris Thank you, Chris. Also, Morales agreed to obey the results of the OAS vote count/audit! The so-called election fraud was based on the unofficial vote count. Morales ALSO agree to hold a re-election, but the opposition would not agree to this and took power anyway (likely they didn't want the people to vote again because Morales really did win and would do so again). That should be all we need to know to see that this is a coup.

  18. Remember Bolivia sits on top of a big part of the worlds lithium supply, needed for batteries in cell phones, electric cars, other electronic devices. Morales was going to nationalize their lithium industry right before this happened. What happened was that the rural votes simply came in last, like they tend to do in Bolivia. The US-supported right wing, product of years of US-backed destabilization efforts, simply rioted to reverse the outcome. It's a US-backed coup pure and simple, just like the one that removed Dilma in Brazil, Lugo in Paraguay, Zelaya in Honduras, and attempted coups in Nicaragua, Ecuador (which finally succeeded), and multiple times in Venezuela. Where have we seen this play out before? Some benevolent (U.S. endorsed) military general taking the reigns of power away from a left leaning Latin American leader who is despised by our global elites. 120 years of history shows us that this comes right out of our empire's playbook. This was an illegal military coup funded and orchestrated by the CIA. The military would never be this brazen unless they knew their coup would be legitimized by Washington. That's why Pinera can hold on forever and murder his people and while Morales "has to go" for the crime of winning an election. The US doesn't even pretend to support democracy anymore.

  19. Absolute power went to his head, vanity is the hallmark of an insecure individual. One of the greater questions is that how much money had to change hands for Mexico to grant him political asylum? Nothing is free when it comes to Mexican politicians, so the good people of Bolivia paid in the dollars he stole from them to exile their former savior. Maybe they got a bargain, a small price for good riddance.

  20. @Mr. Lodono, what evidence, beyond Mr. Morales’ dubious claims, that U.S. DEA agents “roughed up” Mr. Morales? There is no credible evidence that this ever occurred, yet you report this as fact. If you cannot provide any substantiation than your reporting is irresponsible. In fact, Mr. Morales, as coca leader was responsible for initiating substantial violence against his fellow countrymen, including lowly farmers who did not want to grow coca.

  21. The disdain for democracy in this story and these comments is truly remarkable. Morales won the most recent election by 10 points. Some comments are correct, this is a bit like Venezuela in that right wing and western capital interests are severely threatened by popular, democratically elected leaders, and will apparently stop at nothing to upend the will of the people.

  22. In the first photo on this article, I’m still looking for the protesters that all this teargas is being used on

  23. @Nathaniel. Your disdain for democracy is to total. You call Mr. Morales running for a 4th presidential which is outlawed in the constitution he wrote democratic? Do you call democratic Mr. Morales running for a 4th presidential term after not accepting a national binding referendum that he put to the Bolivian voters that did not allow him to run? Do you call it democratic when Mr. Morales electoral committees fraudulently manipulate the presidential vote? The fraudulent manipulation was confirmed by investigators the Organization of American States that Morales himself invited. He then demands that the military crack down on Bolivian citizens who have the temerity to protest this usurpation of their democracy. When the military refuses to attack their own citizens, and stand by their oath to defend the constitution (and not a despot trying to use state power to cling on to power illegally) that is a coup?? That is against democracy? If Trump decided to run for a 3rd term and got his Supreme Court to justify it, then committed election fraud to win the election, then ordered the military to crack down on massive protests in Washington that resulted, you would say that it was the protestors that are un Democratic?

  24. @Timoteo Just remember that you are placing yourself with the likes of Bolsonaro.

  25. Unfortunately, corruption seems to be woven in the fabric of politics. He improved the lives of his people and did corrupt things in the process. It seems like it’s easy to know when a Latin American leader can be corrupted, the evidence is that they aren’t murdered.

  26. Classic Shakespeare tragedy: Hubris.

  27. Seriously? The NYTimes is supporting YET ANOTHER coup in South America? So conveniently ignoring that Morales lifted 15% of the poorest of his citizens out of poverty...Ignoring that his margin of support during the vote count increased steadily and consistently? Ignoring that in country after country where Latin American democratically elected leaders who are solidly left wing and for the rights of the people are systematically removed with US backing. What a disgrace!

  28. Londoño’s analysis, such as it is, has critical lapses in judgment, in my view. He cites Jair Bolsonaro’s and Carlos Mesa’s support for the coup as evidence of Morales’s tarred legacy. I think that that can be considered evidence of the opposite. He also mentions what he calls mounting evidence of electoral irregularities. My understanding is that Morales’s enemies made accusations with the aim of discrediting his victory, but there is no actual evidence of wrongdoing by Morales. Londoño also quotes Calla Hummel’s dubious assertion that, since the military did not attack Morales but merely refused to protect him from a violent mob, it can’t be called a military coup. This assertion seems fatuous to me, especially in view of the fact that the military appears to have taken the side of the white and wealthy Bolivians against the millions of indigenous Bolivians whom Morales represented and helped enormously.

  29. @Admiral The only evidence, of course, is that vote counting stopped for 24 hours when it became obvious that Evo was not going to have the necessary 40% and 10% over the next candidate; and when it resumed, Evo miraculously had just enough votes to avoid a runoff.

  30. @Admiral The use of the word "white" is very misleading. Mestizo might be better. I'm white, and the eastern Bolivians do not look like me at all.

  31. @Admiral Olympic-level mental gymnastics are required to not call it a military coup, when a bunch of guys in epaulets are on TV "asking" the President to resign. In Latin America. How many times has this happened before? It's not a new phenomenon...

  32. Ruben Luengas, commenting (in Spanish) from México City, has focused on the nefarious activities in this MILITARY COUP by Luis Fernando Camacho Vaca, president of the Comité Cívico Pro Santa Cruz and Evanagelical Pastor, whose father was a paramilitary officer during the dictatorship of Hugo Banzer and a commander of the student massacre of 19 August 1971. Of course, Camacho-Vaca is "thanking Jesus" for removing Morales, who raised millions of Bolivians out of abject poverty and booted the DEA out of the country. And somewhere in the Trump Administration, "We Secured The Lithium" is being proclaimed with high fives and fist bumps.

  33. He and his vice president have fled the country.

  34. The fact that "Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right leader, saw it as the triumph of peaceful resistance to a despot," tells volumes. Bolsonaro is the man allowing the destruction of the Amazon to exploit it. That tells the whole enchilada in Bolivia too. True. Evo Morales needed to have others leaders to continue his work. A very sad day.

  35. @MavilaO Eastern Bolivia where there are huge gas reserves has long wanted to secede from Bolivia to keep all the tax revenues for themselves. Also eastern Bolivia has a much larger 'blanco' population that around La Paz and the Andes. Bolsonaro supports their separatist movement with eyes on the gas reserves.

  36. It pains me to see the international left decry this as a coup while the right calls it people standing up for their rights. Are we so partisan these days we can't even describe the situation as it is: a leftist leader who objectively did good things for his country, but who also tried to subvert democratic norms set in a constitution that he helped draft?

  37. Whenever a leader puts his/her own political life and power over policy and democracy, so much is lost. Bolivian indigenous have long been ruled by a blanco elite which Morales was the first to break this hold. As the article points out, Morales first terms were concentrated on policies and programs that helped the indigenous populations. However, he has turned his movement into a personality cult. After 8 years in office why he couldn't groom a new leader to carry on progressive policies? Corruption in L America ruins most progressive politicians. I wonder if Morales has enriched himself like all the others and if it was greed that wouldn't let him step down.