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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Bolivian people and President rise to foil coup attempt

"Brothers, I want to thank you. You have mobilized quickly throughout the country... No one can take away the democracy we've earned in the streets through the blood of the Bolivian people!"


Various Sources


In remarkable scenes of courage and resistance, the people of Bolivia and their democratically elected leftist President Luis Arce rose up and united to defeat a short lived coup attempt by elements within the Bolivian military that included the former commander of the Armed Forces of Bolivia, Juan José Zúñig.


Troops under his apparent command surrounded the Presidential Palace and Congress after arriving in La Paz's central Plaza Murillo square. An armoured vehicle was seen to ram a door of the palace and soldiers ran in.


The President, Bolivian social movements, trade unions and other political figures -- such as former president Evo Morales who was himself ousted in a coup in 2019 -- swiftly took to the streets and the airwaves to stand the coup down.


Arce called on the people to resist as the military surrounded him and those with him. "Today the country is facing an attempted coup d'état. Today the country faces once again interests so that democracy in Bolivia is cut short. The Bolivian people are summoned today. We need the Bolivian people to organize and mobilize against the coup d'état in favor of democracy."


And they did mobilize by the tens-of-thousands.



In one remarkable moment Arce himself went out and confronted coup leaders personally.





Bolivia’s largest trade union confederation, the COB (Bolivian Workers' Center) called for an emergency mass mobilization and a general strike in response to the coup attempt.


Despite their recent political differences Morales also called for everyone to defend democracy and Arce.


The coup attempt was also condemned by governments across the region and around the world with countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia denouncing it and even the European Union speaking out against it.


This quick action and mass mobilization caused the coup to collapse within mere hours.


A new military leadership was appointed and Juan José Zúñig was arrested.






The military forces involved withdrew.



Addressing the mass crowds who had assembled in defense of democracy after the threat had been overcome Arce said "Brothers, I want to thank you. You have mobilized quickly throughout the country... No one can take away the democracy we've earned in the streets through the blood of the Bolivian people!"




It was a remarkable display of the power of the people in action.




Going forward there will, no doubt, be an investigation into what other forces may have been behind the attempted coup, but Bolivian democracy appears to be safe.



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