• Bolivia Crisis Shows the Blurry Line Between Coup and Uprising

    Often, they are one and the same: mass public uprisings alongside military defections that compel the resignation or removal of a country’s leader.

    But the overlapping terms often carry moral connotations that could not be more divergent: Coups, in today’s understanding, are to be condemned; revolts are to be championed.

    “People who get hung up on whether or not something is a coup or a revolution are missing the point,” said Naunihal Singh, a leading scholar of power transitions and coups. “The question is what happens next.”

    That has opened space for a kind of linguistic warfare, in which a political takeover can be portrayed as legitimate by labeling it a revolt, or illegitimate by terming it a coup.

    The narrative-building “has consequences” for what kind of government comes next, Mr. Singh said. Transitions like Bolivia’s tend to be fluid and unpredictable. The perception of legitimacy, or a lack thereof, can be decisive.

    • C’est assez largement du flan, cette idée que la proximité entre « coup » et « soulèvement » serait nouvelle. Ça a toujours été comme ça, et ça fait partie de mode d’emploi des coups soutenus par les Américains.

      Relire les prémices du renversement d’Allende au Chili :
      Le coup fait suite à des mois et des mois de crise, avec beaucoup de manifestations et de blocages. Et une bonne partie des médias occidentaux (j’ai vu passer une copie de The Economist d’époque, récemment, à ce sujet – quasiment les mêmes fadaises qu’aujourd’hui), en ont profité pour mettre la responsabilité du coup sur Allende, en présentant son renversement comme le fruit d’un authentique soulèvement populaire.

      Rien de nouveau sous le soleil. À part que le NY Times n’a guère d’autre choix que de faire semblant de s’interroger (s’agit-il un peu d’un coup, ou un peu d’un soulèvement populaire ?).

    • Merci @Nidal, je ne savais pas comment le prendre : « le NYT fait semblant de s’interroger », c’est parfait.

      The Economist ne fait pas semblant.

      Was there a coup in Bolivia ? - The end of Evo Morales

      Evo Morales (…) resigned on November 10th, fleeing into exile in Mexico. This prompted a chorus of denunciations of a coup from the Latin American left and even some European social democrats. This time, at least, the critics are wrong.

      True, Mr Morales’s term was not due to end until January. His fall followed violent protests and a mutiny by the police, who failed to suppress them. The final straw came when the head of the armed forces “suggested” that he quit. But that is to tell only a fraction of the story.

      Mr Morales, who is of Aymara indigenous descent, long enjoyed broad popular support. He imposed a new constitution, which limited presidents to two terms. Thanks to the commodity boom and his pragmatic economic policy, poverty fell sharply. He created a more inclusive society.

      But he also commandeered the courts and the electoral authority and was often ruthless with opponents. In his determination to remain in power he made the classic strongman’s mistake of losing touch with the street. In 2016 he narrowly lost a referendum to abolish presidential term limits. He got the constitutional court to say he could run for a third term anyway. He then claimed victory in a dubious election last month. That triggered the uprising. An outside audit upheld the opposition’s claims of widespread irregularities. His offer to re-run the election came too late.

      Mr Morales was thus the casualty of a counter-revolution aimed at defending democracy and the constitution against electoral fraud and his own illegal candidacy. The army withdrew its support because it was not prepared to fire on people in order to sustain him in power. How these events will come to be viewed depends in part on what happens now. An opposition leader has taken over as interim president and called for a fresh election to be held in a matter of weeks. There are two big risks in this. One is that ultras in the opposition try to erase the good things Mr Morales stood for as well as the bad. The other is that his supporters seek to destabilise the interim government and boycott the election. It may take outside help to ensure a fair contest.

      That the army had to play a role is indeed troubling. But the issue at stake in Bolivia was what should happen, in extremis, when an elected president deploys the power of the state against the constitution. In Mr Morales’s resignation and the army’s forcing of it, Bolivia has set an example for Venezuela and Nicaragua, though it is one that is unlikely to be heeded. In the past it was right-wing strongmen who refused to leave power when legally obliged to do so. Now it is often those on the left. Their constant invocation of coups tends to be a smokescreen for their own flouting of the rules. It should be examined with care.

      The Economist avait aussi approuvé sans aucun état d’âme les conquêtes coloniales les plus sanglantes de l’Empire britannique. À lire dans le @mdiplo de novembre (en accès libre). https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2019/11/ZEVIN/60958