[Ed note: “Goni the Gringo” was the nickname for a Bolivian president who fled to the US in 2003 after ushering in a brutal repression in that country.]
Special to Works in Progress. Until just 20 years ago, in our sister republic of Bolivia, the vast majority of its 6,723,045 inhabitants were excluded from all aspects of the so-called “national coexistence”, They were excluded from education, the benefits of its economy, of health services, social security and so on. Of course, most of the population was also excluded from the right to participate in political life, to determine its present and future.
For example, In 1989, Sánchez de Lozada was elected President of the country, although he only obtained 363,113 votes. That’s just 5.4% of the population! Lozada did not speak any of the 36 native languages in which the Bolivians communicate, and since he spoke Spanish with a foreign accent, they called him “GONI the gringo.” The nickname was apt also because he was the deliveryman of US policies that had transformed Bolivia into a US economic colony. Almost 90% of the population did not even participate at the polls. Nonetheless, back then, the Organization of American States (OAS)looked the other way.
In the 2002 elections, a great peasant leader appeared, brilliant and with extensive political experience in trade unions. He was an indigenous person, of Aymara father and Quechua mother.
He was Evo Morales Ayma, and in the “Department of Colonies” that is the OAS, the alarms went off. Morales claimed that he had obtained 21% of the vote, while a pair composed of two men, Sánchez de Lozada and Carlos De Mesa Gisbert, had together obtained 22%. Despite allegations of fraud, the duo representing foreign interests was declared winner. With a difference of only 1% these mean were raised to the presidency and vice-presidency of the country.
They established a neoliberal government and set about to deliver Bolivian water and gas to foreign companies. The gas was to be sent to California, via a gas port in foreign territory (Chile). The people rose against “Goni” and a brutal repression ensued. There were many dead and wounded, until “Goni” fled to the US. Carlos De Mesa, lacking legitimacy to govern had to resign. The OAS, an agency created by the US to try to hide its interference in Latin America and the Caribbean, again looked the other way.
Evo Morales was elected President in 2005, bringing about an era of economic, social and cultural reforms carried out for the benefit of the entire population.
Among other things, the reforms included the participation of the 33 nationalities in a new “pluri-national coexistence,” along with the establishment democratic electoral reforms. Thus, it became law that to be elected president of Bolivia, 50% plus one vote had to be obtained in the First Electoral Round. Failing that, the winner should have obtained at least 45% of the valid vote, with a difference of at least 10% more than the next highest vote-getter. Otherwise, a second round would be held.
Evo Morales won Bolivia’s presidential elections of 2009 and 2014 with more than 50% in the first round. In 2019, he obtained 48% of the vote and had an advantage of more than 10% compared to the next contender. He was legitimately proclaimed President.
But Evo Morales was prevented from taking office. The US, the OAS, the EU, together with the racist oligarchies of Bolivia had other plans. They sought to destabilize Bolivia’s new democratic system, created with such enormous citizen effort. Millions of US dollars printed in the US were brought in to pay for violence and terror against the first democracy that in Our America took firm steps to have a Pluri-national State. This state would cement its antiquity with its modernity, the well-being of all its people, and the exercise of sovereignty over its immense national wealth.
This project of national dignity has been brought to an end by a fascist coup d’etat, imported by the US and its world allies. Once again, hand in hand with the OAS, they want to impose the Gonis of death. I’m sure “they shall not pass”.
Rafael Quintero is an Ecuadorian academic and social scientist member of the FPN (Patriotic National Front). Translated by Enrique Quintero