Carlos Sánchez Berzaín
october 18, 2017
(Interamerican Institute for Democracy) In October of 2003, Bolivia was celebrating 21 years of her return to democracy with a situation of extreme political violence around the city of La Paz, a situation that would ultimately give victory to conspirators bent on overthrowing the democratically elected President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada under the scheme of a “forced resignation”. In one earlier attempt to overthrow the President in February of that year there had already been an assassination attempt against his life with tragic consequences and in August of the same year, the leader of the conspirators, Evo Morales, had broken the dialogue sponsored by the Catholic Church announcing, instead, that this was an all-out war. This violent conspiratorial process and the “coup d ètat” was labeled by the over throwers to be “the gas war”.
In Bolivia, with the advent of the 21st century, political crises became more violent, more convoluted and more sustainable because instigators had resources and therefore the protests lasted longer, they were more aggressive and brought back the anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist discourse, they sought a regional confrontation, racial confrontation was added, and the reasons or causes of discontent were multiplied. The main sectors pursuing violent protests and demonstrations were the coca leaf harvesters for the illicit narcotics production and groups self-proclaimed as indigenous from the altiplano (Andean high plains) who were under the influence of guerrillas from Peru. It was the template for the Forum of Sao Paolo.
There had been a transcendental change; with the arrival of Chavez to power in Venezuela, the Castroist regime from Cuba -the only dictatorship in the Americas that after the breakup of the Soviet Union (USSR) and up to 1999 agonized within its “Special Period”- had received resources and had reactivated its interventionist apparatus, recreating its failed plan from the 60`s to expand its influence throughout the region. The Castroist subversives, guerrillas before, had been put into motion and would ultimately end up leading the Bolivarian Movement or ALBA, or 21st Century Socialism of the “Castroist-Chavist dictatorships”.
The year of 2000 brought “The Water War” and the “Altiplano Blockade” against the government of President Banzer. In October of 2001, Evo Morales as the head of the Illicit Coca Leaf Harvesters Unions perpetrated what is known as the Massacre of Sacaba” during the government of Jorge Quiroga (who inherited the presidency for a year after the death of Banzer). The Massacre of Sacaba was Evo Morales` criminal attack against unarmed soldiers in which when injured soldiers were being evacuated by ambulance, the ambulances were attacked and the injured soldiers killed. For these crimes Evo Morales, who was a congressman from the lower house was legally tried and was ousted from Congress at the request of the opposition`s majority lead Sanchez Berzain, but entered into a Plea-Bargain agreement with the then Minister of Government Leopoldo Fernandez –today a political prisoner- who kept Morales from going to jail for 30 years.
The terrorist attacks of 11 September of 2001 in the United States dramatically changed the regional and global situation because the U.S. turned all her interest, resources, and means to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan putting aside the agreements that had been made and promoted with Latin America on matters of the defense of democracy, the fight against narcotics trafficking and economic aid for development. Within this context, the coup d ètat of October of 2003 was largely ignored since it had not been neither the first coup against Sanchez de Lozada and Bolivian democracy, nor in the region where a president was overthrown in Argentina and two in Ecuador.
In January of 2003 Evo Morales organized blockades in the coca leaf harvest zones aimed to paralyze the government and encumber the people. He signed plea-bargain agreements when he was defeated only to immediately thereafter again conspire. The assassination attempt against the President in February of 2003 –investigated by the OAS- enabled to weaken the government while the conspirator effort grew and new demonstrations of violence and force started to flare up beginning with the massive kidnapping of over 1,000 national and foreign tourists that took place in Sorata, followed by the armed ambush against these tourists and the police and army forces who were escorting them back to La Paz.
Civilians, policemen, and Armed Forces` servicemen were attacked with firearms, snipers, and dynamite. The city of La Paz was under siege, the roadways and highways were blockaded. The constitutionally elected government applied lawful means to fulfill its obligation to protect the people, public utilities and services, strategic facilities, and private property, and soon thereafter the label “The Gas War” made its appearance as an alibi, accusing Sanchez de Lozada and his government to wanting “to sell gas to Chile” and wanting “to export gas to the United States through Chile”. With the active participation of Peruvian subversives, members of the Colombian FARC, Castroist operators and local subversives, the over throwers applied the doctrine of the “revolutionary war” that calls for “causing killings in order to accuse the government for them”.
With democracy now broken, they established the so-called October`s agenda” pinpointing as objectives “the constituent assembly”, “the nationalization of the oil industry”, “the legal trial of the ousted government”, “the elimination of traditional political parties”, and others and a new de-facto period started in Bolivia with; amnesty decrees to ensure the impunity of the criminals of October of 2003, while Evo Morales now tried the defenders of democracy firing prosecutors who rejected to try for lack of legal cause, securing the passage of Constitutional Reform Law 2631 which falsifying the existing Constitution introduced the convening of a constituent assembly, superseding the already illegal text of the Constituent Assembly with Law 3941; electoral fraud in a referendum; rampant electoral fraud; disappearance of the Rule of Law; the assumption and control of all the branches of government; the indefinite reelection of Morales, and so forth.
After 14 years, the coup d’état that conspirators call “The Gas War” has produced; Evo Morales` Castroist-Chavist dictatorial regime, the disappearance of the Republic of Bolivia, over 20 bloody massacres, over a hundred political prisoners, over 1,200 political exiles, the disappearance of the freedom of the press, hundreds of new rich, a plurinational narco-state, Armed Forces who honor invaders such as Che Guevara, lies, infamy, and corruption.
Published in Spanish by Diario las Américas on Sunday October 15th, 2017
Translated from Spanish by Edgar L. Terrazas, Member of the American Translators Association, ATA # 234680.