More Bolivia: a coup in the offing?

Folks might recall that in October of last year there were massive mobilizations in Bolivia (you can look back through ZNet Bolivia Watch for lots of material) that led to the ouster of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, a fellow nicknamed the ‘gringo’ for his American accent and his propensity for selling the country off to US Multinationals (to be fair, he wasn’t alone in it, nor did he invent the practice, even in Bolivia). Unlike in Haiti, Sanchez de Lozada really did resign, after trying and failing a vicious repression that killed dozens of unarmed protesters (and unlike Haiti, they really were unarmed protesters and not paramilitary killers). The Vice President, Carlos Mesa, took over.

Well one of the demands of the movement was that the military officers involved in the killings last year be judged. The Military Court absolved them, but the Constitutional Tribunal overturned that verdict. Now the Army has now taken protest action against the Tribunal’s decision. This is essentially a repudiation of the judiciary’s authority over the army. Admiral Oscar Ascarraga, president of the Military Court, says this is because “you can’t judge someone twice for the same crime”.

There is video footage that has been shown on television of these soldiers (Grover Monroy, Rafael Mendieta, Yamil Rocabado and Enrique Costas) shooting and killing people.

This could well be the first step in a coup against the civilian regime. President Mesa says he is “truly worried.”

[Source: DPA and AFP via La Jornada]

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.