Claiming to be the victim of a coup, former Bolivian president Evo Morales has been granted political asylum by Mexico, where he and his allies will continue to push the fiction that he was forced out by Bolivias powerful oligarchy.
Moraless claim stands truth on its head. In fact, it was Morales who tried to engineer a coupand not for the first timeby rigging the Oct. 20 presidential election.
Morales came to power at the beginning of 2006 after two previously elected presidents were toppled by Morales-led mobs. As is customary among those embracing 21st century socialism, Morales then convened a constitutional assembly, the main purpose of which was to rubber-stamp his proposal to amend the constitution to allow the president to seek a second term, something the previous constitution expressly banned. Not surprisingly, the constitution was rewritten and Morales was reelected in 2009.
That, too, wasnt enough for Morales. So he turned to Bolivias constitutional tribunalthe court in charge of protecting the constitutionto extend his rule even further. And to no ones surprise, the court decreed in 2013 that he could stand for a third term, ruling that his first term didnt really count since the country had been refounded in 2009 when the new constitution was adopted.
Morales then began to plot against the constitutions two-term limit, with his cronies in the legislature approving a referendum that would put the two-term limit to a vote. When the vote was held in 2016, to Moraless shock, the people rejected the proposal.
But Morales couldnt take no for an answer. His constitutional tribunal decided he had a human right to be reelected. In perfect theater-of-the-absurd style, Morales and his stooges invoked Article 23 of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, which states that citizens have a right to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections. So, once again, Morales stood for reelection.
Only this time things didnt go so well. When it became clear that Morales wouldnt win the needed majority and instead would have to face off against former president Carlos Mesa in a mano a mano contest Morales was likely to lose, the vote counting system mysteriously crashed. Twenty-four hours later, it miraculously recoveredand lo and behold Morales all of a sudden had a better-than-10-point lead, enough to avoid a runoff.
The electoral fraud triggered massive protests that eventually forced the government to accept an international audit by monitors from the Organization of American States. The monitors concluded that widespread irregularities had taken place and that it was statistically unlikely that Morales won the election.
Which brings us to the present mess. After the massive protests turned violent, with several police garrisons stepping in to protect the public from paramilitary thugs loyal to Morales, the head of the military, a longtime ally of the president, suggested that Morales stand down.
The generals stance might have been imprudent, but it had nothing to do with a classic military takeoverso common in Latin America. Instead, it was a decision by the military leadership to steer Bolivia away from a bloodbath, which likely would have occurred if they had rejected the will of the people in support of Moraless attempt to extend his tenure through a rigged election.
This is what led Morales to claim he was the victim of a coup. Since Moraless vice president, a close ally, also resigned, as did the head of the senate, who was next in line to take over, this puts the new president of the legislative assembly in charge until new elections are held and the reins of power are handed over to Moraless duly elected successor.
As I write, the chaos continues, as one might expect given the harm Morales has done to his countrys constitution and institutions, the violence his thugs have instigated and the fury his critics feel after he attempted to steal the presidential election.
But let us be clear: There has been no coup in Bolivia except the one Morales tried to engineer.