Coup or planned political “movida”

Coup or planned political “movida”
Coup or planned political “movida”

There are, of course, several hypotheses regarding what happened on the afternoon of June 26, 2024. In three and a half hours, what began with “irregular troop movements” ended, with the seizure of the government palace, the inauguration of the new military high command, and the instruction of the new general commander to withdraw troops from Plaza Murillo.

Interpretations are varied. Officials call the episode a “failed coup d’état.” Opponents, and much of public opinion, consider it a “self-coup.” The most prominent critics even point out that it was a “crude montage.” On social media, memes reflect what happened, showing Luis Arce receiving an Oscar from the Hollywood Academy.

However, in politics and power games, one must observe, as in a game of chess, the interactions of the actors, as well as their tactics and strategies. In this context, I maintain the hypothesis that the “failed coup” was a planned political action. A masterful move that changes the board.

To support my hypothesis, I will first refer to the context. That is, to the political, economic and social circumstances surrounding the episode. Then, in political terms, as is customary, we will look at the results.

In the political dimension, Luis Arce was experiencing the most difficult days of his almost four years in government. The last few weeks were extremely complicated. The legislative ungovernability is more acute. It is practically impossible to reach a consensus and approve a law. The government has the Legislative Assembly against it, due to the unusual alliance between the radical Evista wing with Comunidad Ciudadana and Creemos.

Politically, too, the visceral dispute with his main enemy today, Evo Morales, has provoked a “zero-sum war” with no respite. Blockades and social upheaval, encouraged by Morales, were on the horizon. The decision to qualify as a candidate, “by fair means or foul,” promised an abominable dispute in the streets. In addition, he is the main party interested in shortening the mandate. Arce’s days were numbered.

In the economic sphere, the situation is more complex. The shortage of foreign currency is dramatic. There are no dollars even to buy gasoline. The fiscal deficit is unsustainable. The State no longer has the large income it had during its glory days. To finance these ten years of sustained fiscal deficit, savings were first wiped out. Then gold and foreign loans were used, increasing the debt considerably. The dollar, on the parallel market, climbed to nine bolivianos, causing a pernicious inflationary process that could become uncontrollable if they continue with the extreme of printing inorganic paper money.

In the social sphere, there is also an escalation of conflicts. Social discontent is manifested daily. The presence in the streets of various sectors such as heavy transport, urban transport, merchants, union members, retirees and rentiers, among others, is recurrent.

As long as fuel supplies are not normalized and inflation is not halted, conflicts are expected to increase in the future.

If one looks closely at this dangerous context, the situation required an extreme and skilful political move. The considerably delicate scenario had to be reversed.

Let us now look at the results of the “coup attempt” to support the hypothesis that it was a planned political action.

First of all, the president emerges stronger. The democracy that was in danger is restored, as he manages to “defeat” the “coup d’état.” He also emerges stronger in his fight for control of social organizations, as all of them, except the parallel ones created by the evismo, give him their unconditional support, achieving an unusual cohesion around his leadership. For his clientele, Luis Arce becomes a true hero who, with great courage, temperance, decision and conviction, faces the “coup d’état” and confronts the coup-monger at the door of the palace.

It also emerged stronger internationally. The support of the international community was overwhelming, from the United Nations (UN) itself, the Organization of American States (OAS) and a large part of the neighboring countries. Support for democracy and rejection of the “coup attempt,” which ultimately became a demonstration of support for the government, was unanimous.

Now, and this is the most important thing, he has emerged significantly strengthened, compared to Evo Morales, his main enemy, who threatened to create blockades and social upheaval in an attempt to shorten his term. In the new scenario that the so-called “self-coup” is propitiating, the threats to take the fight for his candidacy to the streets will eventually be appeased, as they will be interpreted as “coup-mongering” and anti-democratic. For a time, at least, there will be relative stability.

Judging by the context and the results, it is clear that the “coup” was a masterfully planned political act.

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