A History of Coups: The U.S. Doesn’t Want Socialism To Succeed
The U.S. loves to intervene through coups to prevent socialist leaders from creating change in their own countries. And they’ve just done it again in Bolivia.
By Reina Sultan
The United States is—if nothing else—consistent in its obsession with remaining a power player in every country in the world. To do this, capitalist and white supremacist policies must remain in place, with privatization reigning supreme over nationalized industries. One of the best ways to illustrate this American support of coups in countries whose leaders introduce socialist policies that threaten American interests in any given region. Let’s remind ourselves of a few of these coups, shall we?
In Iran, the CIA planned a covert operation in 1953 to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh who had just nationalized Iranian oil. If there’s something that drives American imperialist policy— it’s oil in the Middle East.
Just a year later, the U.S. armed rebels and paramilitary troops to oust President Jacobo Árbenz who had attempted reforms that would threaten the American-owned United Fruit Company. God forbid Americans stop making money off the labor of Black and brown people.
In 1964, American government officials and the CIA backed a coup against President Joao Goulart, fearing his leadership would encourage communism in the country. The military ruled in Brazil until 1985. Nice, USA!
Chile’s President Salvador Allende was an avowed socialist. As such, President Nixon and the CIA tried to keep him from assuming office in 1970. However, it was the U.S.-backed coup in 1973 that eventually ended Allende’s presidency. The CIA avidly supported the leader of the coup, Augusto Pinochet, when he took office. He and his supporters murdered political dissidents, among other human rights abuses. That sure sounds better than socialism, though!
If this is starting to sound familiar, it should. The United States loves to intervene abroad to prevent socialist leaders from effecting change in their own countries. And they’ve just done it again in Bolivia. This month, a U.S.-backed coup ousted the Indigenous socialist President Evo Morales of Bolivia.
Coups like these often end in military, capitalist, right-wing, or fascist rule. It could even be all of the above.
President Morales— Bolivia’s first Indigenous leader— had ushered in an era of prosperity under his leadership. Poverty has been slashed from 33 percent in 2006 to 15 percent in 2018. The middle class was growing and investment in public infrastructure made the country’s poor healthier and more comfortable. In late October, Morales won enough votes to beat his closest opponent, Carlos Mesa. Mesa and his supporters accused Morales of fixing the election. The U.S. supported Mesa’s claim of fraud, though third-party evaluators found that the results were consistent. It’s pretty rich that the U.S. even pretends to be the bastion of democracy when our current president lost the popular vote by millions.
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The supposed election inconsistencies spurred several right-wing attacks on Morales’s supporters and government officials. This included the kidnapping and public abuse of Mayor Patricia Arce, who was dragged through the streets and harassed. After Morales stepped down in an attempt to stop the violence, his opponents ransacked his home. People were seen burning Bolivia’s Indigenous flag in the streets and soldiers took to cutting off the Indigenous flag from their uniforms.
In Bolivia, as in many other countries, the United States refuses to call the situation what it really is— a right-wing coup. This could be because of a section of the Foreign Assistance Act mentions that the U.S. will suspend government aid to any country that has been faced with a coup. If President Trump called Evo Morales’s overthrow a coup, it would threaten diplomatic ties with the country. As is often the case, American aid is only provided in countries of political significance. Bolivia’s lithium deposits make the country very significant. Coincidentally, Evo Morales was planning to nationalize the lithium extraction industry to ensure the profits were seen by Bolivians, rather than by large multinational companies’ executives.
Fascist, white supremacist capitalists are the supporters of this coup and were the opponents of Morales’s nationalization plans. It’s disgraceful that the U.S. government is on their side. It’s not a surprise, though. This is business as usual.
Reina Sultan (she/her) is a Lebanese-American Muslim woman working on gender and conflict issues at her nine to five. A California native, she enjoys the beach, the sun, and complaining about the weather in D.C., where she now lives. Reina is passionate about smashing the patriarchy and eating the rich. Her work can also be found in Huffington Post, Rewire.News, and Rantt. Following @SultanReina on Twitter will provide you with endless hot takes and photos of Reina’s extremely cute cats.
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