Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

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The United States and Bolivia: Propaganda, Lies and False Flags

The United States will always find a way to subvert the will of foreign peoples who choose governments that do not immediately submit to the interests of U.S. foreign policy. A very recent example of this are U.S. actions in Bolivia in 2019.

In November of 2019, Evo Morales, who had recently won a fourth term as president of Bolivia, was overthrown. As the country’s first indigenous president, Morales enjoyed a high level of popularity due to his responsible economic stewardship, which lifted at least half a million people out of poverty since 2006; the 5% annual economic growth rate in Bolivia far exceeded the regional average.

Following his victory, right-wing opponents cried foul. They — in concert with U.S. government — utilized the services of the Organization of American States, which issued a report two weeks after the election, stating that it was tainted by widespread fraud.

U.S. media outlets were quick to jump on this bandwagon, with the New York Times and the Washington Post, two prominent bastions of ‘liberal’ thought, echoing the statements of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among others. Many outlets supported the overthrow, stating that Morales’ very election violated, according to the OAS, the basic tenets of democracy. News outlet after news outlet spread the word that Morale’s overthrow was a victory for the people of Bolivia.

Yet it turns out this wasn’t the case. On June 7, 2020, only a few months later, The New York Times reported that it wasn’t the election that was marred by fraud, but the OAS report. A new study by three scholars that was reported in the NYT indicates that they were unable to replicate the results of the OAS report.

The significance of this admission must be understood in the context of the U.S. and ‘business as usual’ in its foreign policy agenda. When the U.S. government decides, for a wide variety of reasons, that it doesn’t approve of a democratically elected government, it first seeks some false flag, or an event that it can use to accuse that ‘problem’ government of some nefarious deed. It then decrees that that government is illegitimate, and begins sanctions and other non-military tools to destabilize it, often including financing anti-government terrorist groups. Then, usually declaring a ‘humanitarian need,’ it invades to ‘restore democracy.’

There are circumstances, of course, when someone else will do the work without necessitating an invasion to finish the job, and Bolivia is one such example. But let us see how U.S. interference in Bolivia follows this tried and true pattern of government overthrow.

Evo Morales was an avowed anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist. He worked for the benefit of his people, rather than for that of government leaders or the economic interests of the United States. He had no interest in following U.S. dictates simply because the U.S. told him to. These actions are all displeasing to the United States government. So when he was elected to an unprecedented fourth term, with election results certified by the government, the U.S. had to act. So it raised the ‘false flag’ of major election irregularities (the irony of this, after watching the U.S. state of Georgia’s recent primary, is not lost).

One might say that it was the OAS and not the United States that first identified such irregularities. As journalist Patrick Burchat noted, “Since its inception in 1948, the policies and agenda of the OAS (headquartered in Washington) have been dominated by the United States…” So it doesn’t stretch the imagination too far to say that this false flag was inspired by the U.S. and echoed through this closely affiliated organization.

In this light, we can look at an earlier example of U.S. influence over a similar organization, this one being the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. In 1983, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States requested U.S. intervention in Grenada during an uprising there. The U.S. intervened, much to the delight of then-President Ronald Reagan. However, four days after the invasion, the NYT reported that “The formal request that the U.S. and other friendly countries provide military help was made by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States last Sunday at the request of the United States, which wanted to show proof that it had been requested to act under terms of that group’s treaty. The wording of the formal request, however, was drafted in Washington and conveyed to the Caribbean leaders by special American emissaries…” Reagan was desperate to show the U.S. as a strong nation after its defeat a few years earlier in Vietnam. The conquest of tiny Grenada was apparently sufficient in his mind.

So aided by right-wing opposition in Bolivia, the military ousted their long-time, democratically-elected leader, and replaced him with Jeanine Áñez, a white, wealthy Christian. As of this writing, she continues to function as ‘interim president,’ despite the fact that no one in all of Bolivia has ever voted for her for that role. Upon taking office, one of her first actions was the violent, deadly repression of indigenous protesters, and granting immunity to the soldiers who slaughtered them. Elections originally scheduled for May have been postponed until September, due, ostensibly, to COVID-19. Áñez has announced her own candidacy. In March of this year, the Washington Post reported that the new government had unleashed “a wave of political persecution” and “represses, threatens and jails its leftist opponents.”

Another commonality with U.S. foreign interventions is the media serving as a willing accomplice. During World War I and World War II, the U.S. created official propaganda agencies. This is no longer needed, since major U.S. news outlets are willing to parrot whatever it is that government spokespeople spew forth. Consider that the NYT and Washington Post, who are now reporting on OAS lies and Bolivian government repression, didn’t take the time to do any real investigative journalism when the OAS first made its outrageous and inflammatory statements: those periodicals merely reported them unquestioningly, and followed up with governments spokespeople’s equally outrageous and inflammatory words.

Why not talk to some Bolivians on the ground, rather than only listening to the words of right-wing opposition leaders? The U.S. and its willing media are doing the same thing in Venezuela, taking as gospel truth the pronouncements of Juan Guaidó, but not paying any attention to the people. This is part of the pattern. Another recent example is Libya. In 2011, prior to the U.S. invasion of Libya, U.S. media outlets were filled with anti-government demonstrations. Italian Journalist Yvonne De Vito visited Libya during this time and said this: “Even if all the television stations are showing people fighting and demonstrating against Qaddafi, I personally saw many people demonstrating for Qaddafi. I don’t know why so many journalists are not showing this, because they are manipulating the situation.”

But the U.S. government achieved its goals in Bolivia: Morales is out, and a much more compliant leader has been installed as president. It matters little that the people are repressed, suffering, and losing all of the last decade’s gains. Such trivialities as human rights, international law, self-determination, and democracy must not get in the way of U.S. geopolitical goals.