Listening to progressives in the government and the media, you would think that Bolivian citizens ousted Mother Theresa when they turned on former President Evo Morales. Imagine defending a foreign leader who presided over a government that committed human rights abuses with impunity. Well, that’s exactly what many on the hard left are doing in the wake of the country’s contentious election.
It’s not exactly a secret that Morales’ tenure was rife with the type of abuses that plague socialist nations. One only needs to look at the situation in Venezuela to see how dismal conditions can get under this brand of statism. So why would anyone in a free country like the U.S. lament the removal of a socialist leader?
Bolivians Overthrow Morales
Bolivia recently held elections to determine who would lead the country going forward. Morales, who led the country for 14 years, was hoping to maintain his position. But the results were not quite conclusive. It seemed that Morales won most of the votes, but the opposition accused him of rigging the race in his favor. The Organization of American States – a coalition of American nations – launched an investigation and found that electoral problems existed.
The findings bolstered the opposition’s claim that Morales was not playing fair. As the protests intensified, the country’s military and police forces stopped their operations to tamp down on the demonstrations. Morales’ security detail refused to protect him, leaving him open to potential violence. As the opposition to his rule intensified, he relented and announced that he was vacating his position.
In a televised appearance, he informed the public that he was stepping down, but not before characterizing the effort against him as a “coup.” He said: “I am resigning, sending my letter of resignation to the Legislative Assembly” He then stated his “obligation as indigenous president and president of all Bolivians to seek peace.”
Morales then claimed that the police issued an illegal warrant for his arrest and that “violent groups” attacked his home. But the commander of the country’s police force contradicted Morales’ claim, saying there was no such warrant.
President Donald Trump complimented the Bolivian military’s actions against Morales, saying that the incident was a “significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere.” The State Department issued a tamer statement, saying that the U.S. has “no preference” between opposition candidates.
One look at Bolivia’s abysmal record on human rights would reveal the reasons the country’s citizenry may have grown weary of Morales’ tenure in office. Under the former president, citizens were subject to egregious treatment. Human Rights Watch covered his regime in its 2018 report arguing that “impunity for violent crime and human rights violations remains a serious problem in Bolivia.” They continued, asserting that Morales “has created a hostile environment for human rights defenders that undermine their ability to work independently.”
Several prominent progressives criticized Morales’ ouster, claiming that the opposition did not have a legitimate reason to remove him from office. Journalist Ben Norton posed a tweet implicating the United States in the incident:
“Months before the election in Bolivia began, a network of right-wing opposition activists, heavily funded by the US government’s regime-change arms and rich capitalist oligarchs, mobilized to spread propaganda and lies to destabilize leftist President Evo.”
In a not-so-shocking tweet, the Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) excoriated the Bolivian military’s actions, saying that it “condemns in the strongest terms the military coup in Bolivia.” In a statement on its website, the group stated that the incident represented “a blatant and unacceptable encroachment of the military into Bolivia’s democratic system.”
Another journalist, Rania Khalek, also took issue with Morales’ removal, implying that racism was a key factor. “He was elected in democratic elections,” she tweeted. “Just goes to show a blatant bias against brown socialist leaders in the global south. No matter how democratic they are, their legitimacy will always be called into question.”
Last, but most certainly not least, we have Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who predictably sided with the statist president. “There’s a word for the President of a country being pushed out by the military,” she tweeted. “It’s called a coup. We must unequivocally oppose political violence in Bolivia. Bolivians deserve free and fair elections.”
To her credit, she managed to express this sentiment without resorting to race-baiting or issuing thinly veiled anti-Semitic remarks. We have to give credit where it’s due, right?
Why Defend Morales?
In light of the rampant human rights abuses, it is difficult to see why anyone in the western world – leftists included – would oppose the removal of an oppressive leader who seems to have been attempting to hold on to power by subverting the electoral system. It might be easy to assume that their shared political beliefs are the key. But many on the left who supported Morales aren’t advocating for the type of socialism practiced in countries like Venezuela and Bolivia, so why bother defending the former president?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that this represented the citizenry, with the help of the military, overthrowing a government. Could it be the notion that a free populace would rise up against the state when it gains too much power? After all, many on the hard-left wish to drastically expand the government’s interference in the lives of the people. Maybe they are concerned about such a revolution if they manage to get in power. Either way, it appears that those experiencing true socialism are learning that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Read more from Jeff Charles.