Written by Jhr Cronos exclusively for SouthFront
Months ago, an accurate forecast about the probable victory of former president Evo Morales party was made here. But since political struggles never end, what matters is not what has already been said, but rather to describe what happens now and will happen in the future. Or try, at least.
Those who lost Bolivian presidential election.
Up there is the image, and those lost within Bolivia. The coup plotters, mostly with right-wing and conservative agenda. Even ultra conservative if possible, reaching religious extremism and open racism against the majority of its population. The de facto president Jeanine Añez lost, and probably will escape or face justice. The military leadership loses, and although the true military coup leader took his share and left, a large part of those who supported the coup still remain. The MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) must have done its studies on the issue, analyze how and when they lost control of the military, and have some replacements… but anyway it’s complicated, due to matters of rank, experience and suitability. At the time of posting this story, news came out that the Bolivian congress modified a couple of rules so that some decisions, including military promotions, can be made with simple majority and not only with two-thirds of congressional votes.
But let’s get to geopolitics. The OAS (Organization of American States), which is just bureaucratic to give some kind of floor and legality to the intervention of the US establishment in the region, lost. Their secretary general, Luis Almagro, lost; and although mass media points to him as the great responsible for the participation of OAS in the Bolivian coup last year, he just does what his bosses tell him. For the ones who don’t know, OAS is the mayor political organization in America continent (OEA in spanish) and all independent countries of the region are members, except for Cuba and Venezuela. What happened to those two? OAS was born (1948) with the theoretical purpose of helping in the pacific resolution of quarrels between American countries, promote and finance big infrastructure projects, and help with the coordination of a lot of issues. But the real practical purpose was to promote United States interests for the region. Soon, those interest were Cold War anti socialist agenda, so Cuba was expelled (1962). Recently, the problems between Venezuela and US escalated, so a bunch of economic and political sanctions where place in effect, with OAS been the political and judicial organization that approved some of them; so Venezuela put his resignation on 2017, supposedly in effect since 2019 (Juan Guaidó, recognized as president by some 50 countries and OAS said he wanted to stay in, but legal UN recognized government of Nicolás Maduro just went out). There was a brief moment during the 2000 in which specially “progressive” left-wing South American countries tried to take over OAS, lifting the ban on Cuba for example, but that was short living, Cuba rejected the offer and they decide to create UNASUR and CELAC, another political group. OAS history is pretty interesting and good to check it out. They are a symbol, and what proceeds is to explain the meaning… a little later.
The Lima Group lost. What is or was the Lima group? Twelve Latin American countries that, in face of political upheaval in Venezuela, decided to form a block (2017) to put pressure on what they saw as Venezuelan dictatorial government. The formation of the group was not a goodwill endeavor but a geopolitical move. At that time there were changes in the political tendencies of the region, passing from the self-proclaimed progressive movements of Lula Da Silva and Dilma Roussef in Brazil, Bachelet in Chile, Cristina Kichnner in Argentina, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, to a more right-wind neoliberal ones. The new governments, wanting to attack and dismantle their rivals influence, also attack their foreign policies. So they proceed with dismantling UNASUR and attacking Venezuela, their former ally. Also and in no small degree, they wanted to please United States government and win political and economic help, and they really needed it in the aftermath of 2008-09 global economic crisis. With the fall of Evo Morales and his government in Bolivia, which has been a staunch ally of Chavismo and the regional left from the beginning, they immediately succeeded in getting Bolivia to join the Lima Group. For them it was important, due to the last changes of government in Mexico and Argentina, which stopped actively supporting their policies and in the case of Mexico, to openly criticize them. With Bolivia inside they could show that the consensus “grew”. Well, now it does not grow but falls apart, because its enemies have taken advantage of the elections results to get the most out of it politically.
If the OAS was discredited for its support to the coup in Bolivia… how would they judge the election in Venezuela now in December? Well, they are not invited, but will speak anyway and the this author prophesies ten to one that its Secretary General will say that the elections are fraudulent, invalid and that Maduro is a dictator. In practice, what does it mean? Well, not much. The United States will maintain its economic blockade, and perhaps even add some cosmetic measure to celebrate the victory of the PSUV, the ruling party in Venezuela. Victory? That is what they say and it is probably true: the opposition is atomized and its main leaders discredited. Therefore, Venezuela’s oil will remain in the hands of its government.
Having mentioned the United States, we can add that they were interested in the coup plotters prospering. To regain control of Bolivia’s raw materials, including natural gas (which is very important for Argentina) and lithium (Elon Musk’s message has no waste), always with growing demand. In addition to cutting the small but incipient ties of Russia in the country, related to hydrocarbon and technology sectors; and those of China, more important in the subject of transport and the famous bi-oceanic train. Train that by the way Brazil was and should be very interested, but as long as Bolsonaro is president, they cannot be counted on. Now, as the coup failed and Evo Morales’s party returns with greater popular approval than before… relations with the United States will simply return to the previous years status quo, except for a small loss of “imperial” prestige in the popular perception of the region, that US doesn’t care much about.
Did Brazil lose? Brazil had lost since Bolsonaro became president. He and his internal allies abandoned the geopolitical positions and ambitions of Brazil, which cost them so much work and money to create during the “golden decade.” He was fighting with the Bolivian government, which he despises because he is racist. The economic elite continued its business in eastern Bolivia, but stagnated, and will continue to do so. It was the last country in the region to congratulate the winners, almost a week later. The return of MAS was a hard pill to swallow for Bolsonaro.
Dashboard, but if nothing changes, why are you writing this?
The winners of the Bolivian elections.
We already mentioned Venezuela. Politically it is a great victory for them, although economically not quite, due to the low level of their bilateral trade (and it’s a pity because their economy is in deep trouble). Their government will be able to regionally market the idea that the OAS and the Lima group (countries that do not recognize president Maduro) are only right-wing coup plotters, and bilaterally try to get some of those countries to change their position and recognize their government. They are very likely to succeed, with some small countries. And they will be more prepared for when the changes continue, in the next electoral appointments in the region, such as those in Ecuador, Peru and Chile next year. Because it is convenient to know and this author repeats it: Venezuela is one of the very few countries in Latin America with geopolitical plans and ideas for the medium term.
Argentina is also a winner. Trade with Bolivia currently favors Argentina, and when not, it is due to the great economic weight of natural gas imports. When Argentina privatized its gas, during former president Menem’s period, all that industry went down the drain and although today they have control over part of that strategic industry again, during the Macri years the participation of private companies increase while the state ones collapsed. Although the shale fields predict a rise in production, they still depend heavily on imported Bolivian gas, the cheapest. But that gas is coveted by Brazil as well (even by Chile), and Bolivia distributes it according to its interests. During the government of Evo Morales, relations with Argentina improved and his party, the winner of the elections, is much closer to the heirs of Kichnnerism than to Bolsonaro. Argentina received Morales in his exile and allowed him to direct the political campaign from there (in general, so much political activity is not allowed to an asylee or similar). On the other hand, if the coup plotters had won, the gas quota was in danger of leaning too much towards Brazil, or suffering some price increase that for Argentina today, deeply indebted, would be a great blow. And, if by chance it were privatized, there was even a risk of closing the pipes, due to Argentine debt problems. Finally, Bolivia is a good destination for Argentine industry, which is of a medium technological level, and is in competition with Brazil and China.
Very interesting is the case of Mexico, one of the big winners. Its trade with Bolivia is relatively low. They have some commercial treaty, but nothing special. Why then did the government of Mexico, headed by López Obrador, decide to risk great political capital by taking the cause of Evo Morales for themselves? At the height of the coup, with Morales in hiding and sleeping on a backyard, Mexico offered him asylum and a Mexican air force plane for his transfer, which he accepted.
Days later Evo Morales would thank Mexico for saving his life.
No matter how good intentions or moral appreciations exist, in political and geopolitical struggles the profit that is expected behind each movement must always be sought. Mexico changed its political trend in a substantial way, after decades of being extremely subordinate to what the United States says. This author had dedicated some lines to the topic, here. Since then, two years have passed, in which they have tried to create political space, gaining relevance in Latin America and even lead a group, with some success. This is the main benefit of Mexico with the Bolivian issue. They opposed the coup from the beginning and time proved them right, they took the luxury of criticizing the OAS, “forget” that the Lima Group exists, and call on others to ask for Secretary General Almagro’s resignation. There are no votes to dispatch Almagro, but the marketing is done.
“Mexico shouldn’t be looking for trouble with the United States and the others; it does not give them any economic gain”.
But Mexico was already fighting with the United States, and cannot stop doing it! Not if they want to carry out their geopolitical ideas, to control their strategic natural resources and stop depending so completely on their powerful neighbor. Making that clear, Mexico must direct its plans to mitigate the damages that would come with the process. Of course, at the beginning they were simple words, distant projects that the political opposition would tackle… But no longer, things are happening and the Mexican economic elites had not managed to stop anything. So the United State’s plutocracy decided to go to work and send a letter opening hostilities, and no one can be confused with it:
“Dear Mr. President,We write today to bring to your attention concerning actions by the Government of Mexico that threaten U.S. energy companies’ investment and market access and undermine the spirit of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). As you know, Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. petroleum products and is a growing market for natural gas exports. In fact, U.S. exports of refined products to Mexico have tripled over the past decade. …”.
Who ignores that for the United States, its interests anywhere in the world are part of its sovereignty? The letter is signed by congressmen from both main parties, Democracts and Republicans. Nor should it come as a surprise to Mexicans. Their government took advantage of its diplomatic success in Bolivia to send the forceful response: resources and energy policy will not be negotiated, it’s a State affair and there is no free trade agreement about the issue. Trump is in elections, so they probably won’t respond for now. There was also a clash recently regarding water that Mexico must send to the US, which really was a political attack on both governments, but will become another pebble in the shoe very soon. Equally the penetration of Chinese investments in Mexico, with technologies such as 5G, because capturing Mexico for Chinese technologies, would drag several Latin American countries in which Mexican telecommunications companies are leaders.
So Mexico is looking for political and economic allies. The more the merrier, and that’s what Bolivia is for now. Venezuela since before, and next year Chile enters a new stage, with a new constitution included, and it’s expected to make a left turn. Likewise, relations with Argentina are good. With Bolivia and Venezuela influence, Mexico would have allies between the small countries of the Caribbean and Nicaragua, which, although they are not economically important, are diplomatic votes. And Mexico would take advantage of the vacuum left by Brazil in terms of investment and political consensus. Stop! Don’t get too excited. For now, it’s only a few steps. But if the left-wing government in Mexico aspires to govern for a few more electoral periods, they will need to try and advance further in the construction of regional leadership.
And what about Chile? Did they gain something with the Bolivian issue? Of course, but not today but next year. Because the government that will emerge with the new constitution will need all the help possible…
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