Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Bolivia's self-declared interim president Jeanine Anez talks during a conference at the presidential palace on November 13, 2019 in La Paz, Bolivia. (Photo: Javier Mamani/Getty Images)

'Pinochet-Style Dictatorship': Bolivia's Coup Government Threatens to Arrest Leftist Lawmakers and Journalists

"Bolivia is living through a violent, regressive, completely undemocratic power grab. All governments must sever relations with this illegal regime."

Jake Johnson

As indigenous-led protests against the military coup that ousted Evo Morales continued in the streets of Bolivia over the weekend in the face of violent repression by police forces, the government of self-declared Interim President Jeanine Añez on Sunday announced the creation of a "special apparatus" to arrest elected lawmakers from the majority Movement for Socialism party.

The Bolivian newspaper Los Tiempos reported that government minister Arturo Murillo announced plans Sunday to publish a "list" of leftist lawmakers he said are guilty of "subversion." Last week, Murillo vowed to "go hunting" for Morales' former top minister Juan Ramón Quintana, who has been forced into hiding.

In response, journalist Ben Norton said the Bolivian government is behaving like a "Pinochet-style dictatorship."

"Bolivia's far-right coup regime is become more authoritarian and murderous by the day," Norton tweeted Sunday.

Murillo's announcement came just days after the coup government's communications minister, Roxana Lizárraga, threatened to arrest journalists and members of the media "involved in sedition."

"This is outrageous and is correctly called a coup," environmentalist and author Naomi Klein said following Murillo's comments. "Bolivia is living through a violent, regressive, completely undemocratic power grab. All governments must sever relations with this illegal regime."

Last Tuesday, as Common Dreams reported, Añez declared herself interim president of Bolivia despite lacking the constitutionally required number of lawmakers to approve her appointment. Añez's move was decried as illegitimate and undemocratic by socialist lawmakers and ordinary Bolivians, who rallied in the streets in protest.

Since seizing power, Añez—a right-wing lawmaker with a history of racist attacks on indigenous people—has moved quickly to drag government policy to the right.

As the New York Times reported:

Añez's revival of Catholic rituals in public events has caused more than a little discomfort because the Constitution defines Bolivia as a secular state. Her religious zeal has also caused concern among some Indigenous groups who associate Catholicism in politics with the former conservative governments that had long treated them as second-class citizens.

In a further shift from Mr. Morales' focus on Indigenous rights, Ms. Añez has filled her cabinet with politicians from the country's eastern lowlands, which are dominated by Bolivians of mixed or European descent. Many of her ministers have been staunch opponents of Mr. Morales' socialist policies or have served in previous conservative administrations.

The most radical changes have come from the Foreign Ministry. In just a few days, Ms. Añez, has cut Mr. Morales' alliances with leftist governments in the region. She broke off relations with President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and kicked out hundreds of Cuban doctors working in the country.

Additionally, the Times noted, Añez "issued a presidential decree exempting the military from criminal prosecution when maintaining public order." A day later, Bolivian security forces opened fire on indigenous anti-coup protestors in the city of Cochabamba, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens more.

Most lawmakers and presidential candidates in the United States have been completely silent about the military coup in Bolivia, even as the nation's military guns down peaceful demonstrators in the streets.

One of the few exceptions, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), once more condemned the coup during a forum hosted by Univision Saturday night.

"When the military intervenes... in my view, that's called a coup," Sanders said.

Watch:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Praised for $15 Minimum Wage Hike for All Federal Workers

"Setting a new $15 per hour wage floor for federal government work will encourage employers across the country who are currently paying poverty wages to compete for labor and start paying fairer rates."

Brett Wilkins ·


Saudi Bombings Kill Scores of Civilians—Including Children—in Yemen

"America is complicit in this," said one critic of "this horrific war that Biden and his senior officials once promised to end."

Andrea Germanos ·


US Risked Killing Thousands by Bombing Syria Dam on 'No-Strike List'

"The number of casualties would have exceeded the number of Syrians who have died throughout the war," said a former director of the Tabqa Dam.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Atrocious': Biden Renominates Chevron Lawyer First Chosen by Trump

Human rights attorney Steven Donziger noted that the president's pick for the federal bench "was paid millions... to help jail me, attack Indigenous peoples, and cover up a massive oil spill in the Amazon."

Jake Johnson ·


Sanders Backs Kroger Workers Striking Over 'Corporate Greed'

"It is time for Kroger to go back to the negotiating table and reach an agreement with the union," writes Sen. Bernie Sanders in a new letter to Kroger's millionaire CEO.

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo