The Trump-endorsed military coup in Bolivia that ousted an elected socialist president and ushered in a repressive anti-indigenous regime was not mentioned once—by moderators or the ten candidates on stage—during the 2020 Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta Wednesday night, despite its major regional and human rights implications.
While U.S. foreign policy was briefly discussed during the two-hour debate, hosted by NBC News and the Washington Post, the Democratic candidates were not asked to explain their positions on the ouster of former Bolivian President Evo Morales and the massacres of anti-coup protestors that followed.
Progressives on Twitter called attention to the flagrant omission:
The #DemDebate moderators didn’t ask at all about an undemocratic, violent, military coup in Bolivia against a democratically elected president that has resulted in violence, dozens of deaths, and the takeover of govt by a right-wing party that only won a tiny sliver of the vote.
— Micah Uetricht (@micahuetricht) November 21, 2019
One word not spoken tonight: "Bolivia."
— The Gravel Institute (@GravelInstitute) November 21, 2019
Did I miss the debate about Bolivia?
— Nomiki Konst (@NomikiKonst) November 21, 2019
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the only 2020 Democratic presidential candidate on the debate stage Wednesday night who has condemned the coup in Bolivia, which analysts say was driven in part by the U.S.-backed Organization for American States (OAS).
"When the military intervenes... in my view, that's called a coup," Sanders said during a Univision forum last weekend.
As Common Dreams reported, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sparked backlash this week for her comments on Bolivia, which did not describe the ouster of Morales as a coup.
"The Bolivian people deserve free and fair elections, as soon as possible," Warren tweeted Monday afternoon. "Bolivia's interim leadership must limit itself to preparing for an early, legitimate election. Bolivia's security forces must protect demonstrators, not commit violence against them."
In response to Warren's remarks, which came after a week of silence, Al Jazeera host Sana Saeed said "if you're going to call yourself a progressive who stands up for the little guy you might want to start calling a right-wing coup that's resulted in the curbing of democratic freedoms and onslaught of violence... well, a right-wing coup."
"And condemn it," Saeed added.
The other top-tier 2020 Democratic presidential candidates—former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg—have not spoken out about the crisis in Bolivia, which has reportedly resulted in at least 31 deaths.