On Nov. 10, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales Ayma was removed from office. Technically Morales resigned, but the conditions for his resignation had been set by the Bolivian oligarchy (egged on for 13 years by the United States government, as Noam Chomsky and I indicated in this statement the day before the coup).
Having won re-election for the fourth time, Morales faced an open insurrection from his opponent — former president Carlos Mesa — who lost the election conclusively. A team from the openly hostile Organization of American States (OAS) arrived and provided legitimacy for the coup with a report on the elections that was long on accusations and short on facts. Using this OAS report — fully backed by the United States — as justification, the police mutinied, and then the army (which had remained neutral) told Morales he had to resign. There was no choice.
A coup is a curious thing. Those who make the coup never admit that they have made the coup. They claim that they are restoring democracy or that they are taking extraordinary means to establish the conditions — eventually — for democracy. This is precisely why the definition of the events are so fraught. But all coups are not the same. There are at least two types of military coups — the General’s Coup and the Colonel’s Coup.
It has been a long time since we have seen a classic Colonel’s Coup, perhaps the last major successful one being in Upper Volta (later Burkina Faso) in 1983 when Captain Thomas Sankara took office. These coups, from that of Egypt in 1952 onwards, are driven by non-commissioned officers who have a close fealty to the working-class, the peasantry, and the urban poor; their coup is often against the oligarchy and in favor of some variety of socialism (the Bolivian National Revolution of 1952 falls into this category).