June 26, another plurinational tragicomedy

Hugo Marcelo Balderrama

By: Hugo Marcelo Balderrama - 30/06/2024

Guest columnist.
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On June 26, the little tranquility that the Bolivian population has was interrupted by the announcement of an alleged coup d'état. The media showed a military unit taking over Plaza Murillo, the most important in Bolivia, along with a tank demolishing the main door of the Quemado Palace, the president's former office, now abandoned.

General Juan José Zúñiga Macías, General Commander of the Army of the Plurinational State of Bolivia appointed by Luis Arce Catacora, commanded the operation. In an incendiary statement to the press he said: "We demand the release of all political prisoners." The face to face that he had with Luis Arce Catacora inside the Palacio Quemado also went viral.

Precisely, that is the conversation that brings down the version of the coup, since the president and Zúñiga did not use risque words, and the General did not even have a weapon in his hand. Likewise, the soldiers deployed were armed with rubber pellets, tear gas and P44 batons, useful weapons to contain street riots, but useless to overthrow a government.

Minutes later, Arce Catacora was in La Casa Grande del Pueblo, the new and current presidential office, appointing a new High Command of the Armed Forces, meaning that the alleged coup plotter gave the president time to return to his office, meet with others military and call a press conference.

The Division General, José Wilson Sánchez, new General Commander of the Army, just minutes after his appointment, ordered that all mobilized uniformed personnel retreat to their barracks. Something that happened almost immediately, since in ten minutes Plaza Murillo was invaded by Arce Catacora followers shouting: "Lucho is not alone."

But, regardless of all the spectacle that the dictatorship put on, what did the regime intend with this whole operation?

First, divert attention from Bolivia's economic problems, since all this happens in the context of a great crisis that left Bolivians without dollars, without gas and even without food.

Second, perhaps the most important part of the agenda, to achieve international solidarity for a weakened Arce Catacora, since many voices came in favor of "respecting" Bolivian democracy. Very shameful attitude of the international community, since, in Bolivia, since October 2003 and with greater emphasis after the approval of the Castro-Chavist constitution in 2009, none of the essential elements of democracy exist.

Third, show the world the supposed great approval that Arce Catacora has. Although, according to CID GALUP, the Bolivian president's support does not exceed 18%. Therefore, the celebration of the 54th General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Paraguay provides an immediate resonance stage for any extraordinary event, such as a "coup d'état."

Fourth, according to several analysts and experts on the subject, including Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, the entire June 26 operation is a strategy that would give the dictatorship the legitimacy to apply state terrorism. A not crazy theory, because, in less than 72 hours, 21 people have already been arrested, and more will still come.

The pathetic thing about the day was seeing the official opposition spokesmen supporting Arce Catacora. An attitude that reveals, once again, that between the Movement Towards Socialism and the opposition there is an incestuous relationship that is mutually beneficial for them, but lethal for the life and freedom of Bolivians.

In conclusion, June 26 is another Bolivian tragicomedy. Poor country!

«The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author».