I don’t pretend to be an expert in geopolitical affairs, but I do write about them from time to time based on the information that is available to me. One thing that I hold as an advantage, and this could be said about CE as a whole, is that I am only interested in finding and revealing the truth. When readers write in offering a different perspective on what I’ve written, I am happy to evaluate it honestly to see if it makes more sense than what I’ve said, or at least if it provides another side of the story which brings us to a more nuanced and balanced understanding of what is going on in a particular country in the world.
This has happened to me in my reporting on Hong Kong, where my article ‘What Are The Hong Kong Protests All About?‘ led to ‘Let’s Look At Both Sides Of The Hong Kong Protests,’ and reporting on Venezuela, with articles Globalists Want Venezuela As The Next Jewel In Their Crown and Burning Aid Trucks In Venezuela Bring Western Propaganda To Light leading to Reader Emails: Stop Making Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Out To Be A Saint.
Something similar has occurred as a result of our article ‘They’re Killing Us Like Dogs: A Massacre In Bolivia and a Plea for Help‘. Briefly, the article characterized the takeover of the government in Bolivia as a violent and illegitimate coup against Evo Morales, who was forced to flee to Mexico with his family. While I did not write the aforementioned article (it was actually a guest post originally published by Mintpress News), I did receive an email from Ivanka who lives in Bolivia and had a very different take on what is happening on the ground. In the interest of exposing our readership to different perspectives, our reader’s insights are provided here.
Ivanka wrote that ‘I have been following CE for many years and consider it a very trusting and reliable source of information,’ but felt that our article on Bolivia was unfairly slanted and one-sided. Here are the reasons she gave:
FIRST, there was NO coup in Bolivia! The article does not mention the 20 days of peaceful civic resistance across all Bolivia, with the whole country on strike after the October 20 elections due to many reports of fraud (dead relatives voting, people went to the polls and someone had already voted for them, videos of votes being changed or replaced). These were not reports being seen on TV or what people read on newspapers, it was what our friends and family where experiencing and seeing during the voting day and sharing with each other via their phones. During these 20 days, Evo, the president at the time, threatened to lay siege to the cities and prevent food from entering if they did not stop the strike, he made fun of the blockades, sharing that he would give workshops on how to appropriately do a blockade and after two weeks he asked that the country go back to normal as there were not professional soccer matches due to the Resistance. These were all speeches that Bolivians saw. He also ordered the attack with snipers, of a caravan of buses with miners coming from Potosi, that were going to the capital of La Paz to support the demands for the president to resign. Of course Maddeas’ article does not reference any of this.
Second, people were tired of the abuse of power, corruption and lies of Evo’s presidency. He had been president for 14 years (3 terms) and despite losing a referendum in 2016 to change the constitution to run indefinitely, in 2017 he got approval from this selected Supreme Court tribunal, that it was a human right to run indefinitely for president. Does that sound like democracy or respect for people of the country?
3] He claimed he was indigenous supporting the indigenous, yet he approved the burning of over 5 million acres of the Bolivian Amazon in August for coca and soy production, horrifically suppressed de TIPNIs in 2011, built a $7 million dollar museum about himself, built himself a $45 million dollar palace for the government (when one already existed), bought himself a $45 million dollar private airplane, and many more things. This is in a country that is third world and has desperate need for schools, hospitals and even running water in many areas.
4] As far as the violence Maddea describes, she does not explain how Evos supporters were armed with rifles and dynamite and attempted to blow up the Senkata Gas plant on Nov 19, that would have killed hundreds of thousands of people. Nor she mentions how since Nov 10, armed and violent Evos supporters (mostly coca growers) have vandalized, burned and blow up public and private property in La Paz including the burning of homes of civic leaders of the Resistance, burned 68 buses of public transportation in La Paz, blew up overpasses to stop traffic and food from coming into the city.
After I replied to Ivanka she provided additional information in a subsequent email:
I just received this article that does a very good job at providing factual information on the Legality of how things happened after Evo resigned, and how the Bolivian constitution was followed and specific facts on the situation
Here is a song that was written towards the end of 20 day Civic Resistance, they translated the lyrics to english when you use CC. It does a very good job of summarizing the 20 day Civic resistance and how people felt. It references many previous acts like 1]the repression of Tipnis, 2] the repression of the disabled, 3] deaths and impunity of the government to do whatever they wanted, 4] how they disrespected the Bolivian vote in the referendum and then again in the October 20 elections. It’s important to note that NO political party led the civic strike, bolivians did not want politicians involved, they don’t care for them. if you look at history, Bolivia has had many military coups, dictators, political and social unrest even int the last 40 years. the civilian strike was led by civic organizations from accross the country that united and coordinated the efforts.
Evo and his vice president, resigned on November 10 in an effort to “stop the bloodshed that spread across the country in recent weeks”. Yes, that is what he said in his speech, we all heard him. They also insisted they were victims of a coup, but again, there was not political party leading, nor the military was out on the street until November 11. Bolivians were very concerned that Bolivia would become the next Venezuela and Cuba, because of all the policy changes and Evo’s rhetoric. They were the same. People were chanting: This is not Cuba, is not Venezuela, This is Bolivia and Bolivia is respected! Another chant was: “who gives up? No one gives up. Who gets tired? No one gets tired. Evo again? No way in Hell” – of course I translated.
During the 20 day protest, he said many tings (as I pointed out into my previous e-mail) which turned more and more groups against him. So little by little, the glass of water that was already full, kept over flowing with water until it exploded. When Evo was leaving, he went to Chimore which is where Coca is grown and where he built a 45 million dollar airport in the middle of a tiny town of 30 thousand people, and where there are zero international flights. Why do you think he built that brand new airport a few years ago? of course no one internationally mentions this, but all Bolivians know. Here is a map of Evo’s supporters. There were mostly coca growers, as Evo has been the president of all 6 coca growing organizations since about 1995.
Making Sense Of It All
As with my previous experiences diving into the conflicts in Hong Kong and Venezuela, reading these two sides of the Bolivian affair really encourages us to take a more nuanced look at these complex geopolitical conflicts, and resist jumping to one side or the other, as difficult as that is for our minds to handle. In one paragraph of the article we previous published the author intimates that she did process information from both sides in order to come to her conclusions:
It’s little wonder that many Bolivians have no idea what is happening. I have interviewed and spoken to dozens of people on both sides of the political divide. Many of those who support the de facto government justify the repression as a way to restore stability. They refuse to call President Evo Morales’ ouster a coup and claim there was fraud in the October 20 election that sparked the conflict. These claims of fraud, which were prompted by a report by the Organization of American States, have been debunked by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a think tank in Washington, D.C.
However, for Ivanka, the author did not take any of the claims of those who support the de facto government very seriously. It is not a question of doubting that the author reported on what she saw, which inevitably involved protesters with bullet wounds, some of whom died. It is a question of coming into the situation and making a snap-fire judgment of what is going on based only on what she has observed, without really understanding both sides of the conflict and the historical reality of the situation that Ivanka has lived through as a citizen of Bolivia. Ivanka had much more to say about the details, but I believe this will suffice to provide enough information from both sides to give us something to contemplate, and for some create the hunger to look into the situation more deeply, and from a ore nuanced position.
My own takeaway from important emails from people like Ivanka is to try not to stay stuck on one side of a particular narrative while being closed to information from the other narrative. No doubt, there are villains and villainy on each extremity. But more importantly, Bolivia has many good people on either side of the conflict fighting essentially for the same thing: peace, prosperity, and freedom. Only when people on each side of the conflict are able to see the similarities in each other’s desires will it become possible to come together and fully implement their shared goals.