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Dissecting the Racist Coup in Bolivia

Neo-liberal Restoration at the Barrel of a Gun

Some characteristics of the contemporary phase of global neo-liberalism in light of the recent coup organised by the extreme right-wing forces in Bolivia against the leftist President Evo Morales in 2019 are examined. Despite having minuscule popular support, the backing of the armed forces and United States imperialism emboldened the post-coup government to aggressively restore neo-liberal policies in an unabashedly dictatorial fashion. The coup in Bolivia becomes a paradigmatic case that highlights how neo-liberalism as a political–economic doctrine continues to articulate with racism and religious fundamentalism to establish and maintain its dominance.

At the turn of the 21st century, when the hegemony of neo-­liberal orthodoxy reigned supreme, Latin America was the place where its confident and seemingly invincible march was interrupted. Forcefully defying pro­phecies of the end of history and the end of ideology, new left governments were elected in Latin America that challenged the neo-liberal consensus of the era. This process not only rekindled hopes for a revival of the left, but also cleared the grounds to build new left alternatives that can learn from the shortcomings of its 20th century counterparts. However, the last five years have witne­ssed a weakening of the left in the ­region. Brazil, Chile and Ecuador turned to the right and Venezuela is reeling ­under a severe economic crisis. Even then, Bolivia still stood out as a beacon of hope for the Latin American left. Though it did not enjoy the same degree of popular support as it did earlier, the government of Evo Morales still remai­ned the most powerful political force in the country, and Bolivia had the highest rate of economic growth in the region continuously for five years, ens­ured economic and political stability. For all these reasons, there was a lot at stake in the Bolivian presidential elections of 2019 for the Latin American (and global) left, the national oligarchic elites and United States (US) imperialist interests.

However, what eventually happened turned out to be worse than the worst nightmares. Through an analysis of the usurpation of power by the extreme right-wing forces in Bolivia, this article examines the characteristics of the conte­mporary phase of global neo-liberalism.

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Updated On : 23rd Jun, 2020

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