A reactionary right wing coup has deposed Evo Morales, the left wing and self proclaimed socialist  President of Bolivia, after 14 years of rule. This coup has been executed by the Bolivian armed forces and police in conjunction with the right wing opposition Citizens Community led by Carlos Mesa, probably with the backing, behind the scenes, of the far right Bolsonaro government in Brazil and the US State Department.

Evo Morales was elected President of Bolivia in 2005 with 54% of the vote as a result of a massive wave of popular revolt by workers, campesinos (rural labourers) and indigenous people including the famous Cochabamba Water War (which played a role in inspiring Ireland’s water charges revolt). He became Latin America’s only indigenous head of state and he pursued policies designed to strengthen indigenous rights, combat racism, reduce inequality and advance an ecological agenda. Bolivia has an indigenous majority  and in 2009 Morales was re-elected with an increased majority of 64% and again for a third term in 2014 with 61%. 

His overthrow by the military and the right is now a serious blow to the working class, peasants, indigenous people and all the poor and left in Bolivia and Latin America, just at a time when there have been mass spontaneous uprisings against poverty and inequality in Haiti, Ecuador and Chile. Therefore People Before Profit, like every socialist and progressive, condemns this coup unreservedly. 

At the same time it is undeniable that in recent years mistakes by Morales have undermined his position and contributed to his own downfall.  The social movements which led became more and more merged with the State administration but this had the effect not of radicalising the state apparatus but of co-opting and corrupting the movements. Similarly Morales started to collaborate more with multinational corporations and alienate the working class. 

In May 2010 he faced a general strike over the inadequate level of the minimum wage . Then he went on to sign a contract with a Brazilian company to construct the TIPNIS highway through indigenous lands in order to facilitate hydrocarbon exploration. And in 2016 he ignored a Referendum vote that he should not stand for a fourth term, after saying he would accept it. 

All of this made Morales increasingly vulnerable to attack by the right and weakened the support from his own popular base. Hence he does not seem to have been able to resist the pressure on him from the military to resign. 

It may be, and it is greatly to be hoped, that popular resistance may yet defeat this reactionary coup but it remains a fact that the fall of Morales reinforces the old lesson that when the left collaborates with the establishment and the ruling class it seals its own fate.

Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin is the People Before Profit candidate for the Dundrum ward in Dublin Rathdown. He is a musician, a Psychology graduate and a native Irish speaker. Eoghan is part of a newly politicising generation of young activists who are no longer willing to accept a political system that allows thousands of people to remain homeless, that leaves tens of thousands of people on hospital waiting lists, that leaves asylum seekers languishing in the glorified prisons that are the Direct Provision system, and that is doing nothing to stop an existential threat to the human species due to climate change. The water charges and repeal movements have shown over the last few years that people power can win positive changes, and Eoghan believes we can draw inspiration from these victories in other struggles. As a Psychology graduate, Eoghan has a major interest in mental health, and is particularly concerned with a system that is a breeding ground for mental distress. With people now being forced to work longer hours, experiencing mortgage distress, paying exorbitant rents, childcare and other costs, and with almost 800,000 people living in poverty, it is little wonder that we are experiencing a mental health crisis. While the increased awareness of mental health issues in recent years is welcome, it has not come with any significant action on the part of the government to improve the situation. Eoghan believes the fight for improved mental health is two-faceted: We need to fight for better services, but we must also fight for a better society that provides people with their needs and allows them to flourish, explore their own creativity, and enjoy their lives. Eoghan has been heavily involved in campaigns for housing, repeal of the 8th amendment, ending direct provision and many other issues over the last few years. He believes that real change can only come through grass roots campaigns from below and if elected, he will use his position as a platform for progressive ideas and to further build these campaigns.

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