Why Evo Morales’ fall isn’t the end of socialism in Latin America

Evo Morales’ resignation may seem like the beginning of the end for socialism in Latin America.

As my colleague James Moules outlined yesterday, the days of Lula and Chavez have long gone – and Morales’ resignation looks to have continued the trend.

But a regional expert has told Redaction why the military coup could actually strengthen embattled leftist leaders.

Marie-Christine Doran of the University of Ottawa said: “It is very premature to say this is the end of the left in Latin America.

“We have the new government in Argentina, the liberation of Lula, huge protests in Chile against neoliberalism and also against the centrist regime in Ecuador.

Bolivia’s military coup could actually strengthen the continent’s embattled leftist leaders

“What happened in Bolivia is an awful situation, but it shows that a democratic mandate has been threatened by right-wing forces and neoliberal interests.

“What happened is not a failure of the left but an attack on it.”

Yesterday Jeanine Anez assumed the title of interim president in a move Morales labelled part of “the most cunning and disastrous coup in history.”

There are fears that a Venezuela-type situation may occur and the US may get involved.

Doran said: “We never know what the CIA is going to do – but in this case, US aid may not even be required.

“Right wing forces in Bolivia were able to prepare this coup.

“The US, were of course, very happy about it.”

Morales won the polls comfortably last month but was accused of electoral fraud.

Protests erupted in the country, and the right-wing took full advantage.

This, according to Doran, was partly down to the former president’s refusal to acknowledge the 2016 referendum on lifting term limits.

She said: “He made a mistake when he lost the referendum but did not yield.

“It weakened his legitimacy – Morales was seen to have found a devious method to be re-elected.

“However, he was elected legitimately this time around.”

The Pink Tide is still going strong in many parts of Latin America, but the ‘Domino Effect’ of states falling one way or another is a threat to capitalist and socialist forces.

Venezuela looked set to fall earlier this year after Juan Guaido declared himself interim leader, but Maduro has survived – for now.

The fate of the left in each of this countries is dependent on the other’s survival – but Morales’ resignation could further entrench Maduro, who stuck it out thanks to the support of Venezuela’s military.

Morales has become a living martyr for the left in Latin America

Doran claimed that the military coup in Bolivia was “an ugly picture” to see for Venezuelans, and a clear indication that should Maduro be deposed, the democratic institutions will go with him.

She added: “For the rest of the left in Latin America, Morales is a martyr.

“There has been so much progress under Morales and it is difficult to attack him, with the exception of the referendum.”

Marie-Christine Doran is a Political Studies professor at the University of Ottawa.

She has recently written two books – get them below:

Human Rights as Battlefields: Changing Practices and Contestations,  Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

Le réveil démocratique du Chili. Une histoire politique de l’exigence de justice (préface d’Alain Touraine), Paris : Karthala

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