Upheaval in Bolivia: How is it affecting the Canadian political scene?
A backer of former Bolivian president Evo Morales kneels in front of soldiers guarding a street in downtown La Paz, Bolivia, Friday, November 15. Photo by the Associated Press.
On November 11, 2019, following the violent, racist, US-led coup in Bolivia against Evo Morales — which was supported from the outset by the Canadian government — I posted an appeal (in English, French, and Spanish) on YouTube denouncing the green light given by Canada on October 29 to US President Donald Trump’s plan. Just a few hours after the coup was consummated, Justin Trudeau declared his support for it.
What right does Canada have to elect the government of Bolivia, or to intervene in that country’s internal affairs?
My video appeal was particularly directed at New Democratic Party MPs, who were elected with the support of the trade unions. As I stated, “I’m appealing to the unions and the workers of Canada to put pressure on the NDP to take a stand against the Trudeau government, which is supporting this racist attack against Evo Morales.”
The appeal was also directed at the Bloc Québécois, which won more Québec seats in Canada’s parliament then Trudeau’s own Liberal Party:
We the people of Québec and Canada, along with our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Canada cannot turn our back on the Indigenous people of Bolivia. Especially when some in Bolivia are burning the Wiphala flag, which is not only the symbol of the original peoples of Bolivia but the emblem of the whole region… How would we feel if somebody somewhere decided to burn the Québec or the Canadian flag? We must defend the people of Bolivia and take a strong position against Justin Trudeau’s interventionist, pro-imperialist policy.
Further to these and other appeals and comments on social networks, responses started coming in. The first one of note appeared on the Facebook page of Natalia d’Agnese, an activist with Québec’s left-wing Québec Solidaire party. She wrote: “Totally agree. The Canadian government is supporting a coup by a far-right, evangelistic, racist component of the opposition. Some Latin American countries have begun taking positions, including Mexico, Uruguay, the Argentine senate and its new president, and others.”
Next up was Alexandre Boulerice, Deputy Leader of the NDP, the party’s Québec lieutenant, and a member of the Canadian Parliament since the 2011 elections, who tweeted:
En Bolivie, le « wiphala », drapeau des indigènes, est attaqué après le départ d’Evo Morales https://t.co/AhJw8uJ7QV via @LObs Je suis indigné par le coup d’état contre @evoespueblo et inquiet des dérives contre les #autochtones et les #socialistes. #democratie #Bolivie #NPD— Alexandre Boulerice (@alexboulerice) November 13, 2019
In addition, the Durham Region Labour Council announced:
Earlier this week, delegates at labour council unanimously voted to condemn the actions of @cafreeland to undermine democracy in Bolivia. We stand with Bolivian people as they work to restore democratically elected President, @evoespueblo #ElMundoConEvo #GolpeDeEstadoBolivia pic.twitter.com/cq9MWYsC1Z— Durham Region Labour Council (@DurhamRegionLC) November 14, 2019
Canada’s largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), with over 680,000 members throughout the country, published a statement expressing its concern about the developing situation in Bolivia:
CUPE calls on the Government of Canada to recognize and respect the sovereignty of the Bolivian people to determine their own political future, without military or foreign interference. We further call on the Liberals to stop taking their foreign policy cues from some of the world’s most right-wing governments.
We extend our solidarity and support to the Bolivian people who will be most affected by the social or economic instability that accompanies this attack on their democratic rights.
The situation concerning Bolivia is developing by the minute. It is too early to draw conclusions, however the initial reaction proves what has been stated in previous articles about Latin America: that a large majority of Canadians oppose US imperialism and its allies.
Arnold August is an author, journalist and lecturer living in Montreal. He is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections (editorial José Martí). He has also contributed a chapter entitled ‘Socialism and elections’ for the volume Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal (University Press of Florida).
This article was originally published in Spanish in Trabajadores, the official newspaper of the Cuban Trade Union Central.