By Walid & Theodore Shoebat
During the Bolivian coup that the world just witnessed, the leader of the protestors, Luis Fernando Camacho, exclaimed that his aspiration was to “bring the Bible back to the palace of government”. And this is what he did, when he held up a Bible in the presidential palace in downtown La Paz on November 11th, 2019. “I’m not going with weapons, I’m going with my faith and my hope; with a Bible in my right hand and a resignation letter [for Morales] in my left hand.”
While this is a noteworthy action, what has been happing in Bolivia recently has all of the traces of a US Gladio-like operation. For those of you who don’t know, Gladio was an operation conducted by NATO during the Cold War in which Western intelligence agencies backed Right-wing, nationalist and Nazi militias or “stay-behinds” so that they can do terrorist attacks in Europe that would then be blamed on the Left in order to spark nationalism against the Soviet Union. The United States government continued its Cold War policies in Latin America during the Dirty Wars of Central America and also backed regime change in South America such as the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile.
For years the United States government has had tensions with the socialist state of Evo Morales in Bolivia and his party, the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo, or Movement towards Socialism). In 2013, Evo Morales declared the expulsion of USAID (United States Agency for International Development) from Bolivia, a terrible move if one wants to keep diplomatic ties with the Americans. Nonetheless, Morales gave the reason for his action: the United States had been conspiring against him. In his own words:
“The United States does not lack institutions that continue to conspire, and that’s why I am using this gathering to announce that we have decided to expel USAID from Bolivia.”
The tension between the Bolivian government and USAID are said to go as far back as 2006. Well, it was going on before this date. Jeremy Bigwood, an investigative journalist, found documents that revealed that as early as 2002 USAID funded a “Political Party Reform Project,” the purpose of which was to “serve as a counterweight to the radical MAS [Morales’ political party] or its successors.”
In a 2006 cable written by Ambassador Greenlee, just months after Evo Morales’ election, it reads: “U.S. assistance, the largest of any bilateral donor by a factor of three, is often hidden by our use of third parties to dispense aid with U.S. funds.” In the same cable, Greenlee admits that “[m]any USAID-administered economic programs run counter to the direction the GOB [Government of Bolivia] wishes to move the country.”
The means of pressure against Bolivia would possibly include veto power within the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to prevent loans to Bolivia, postponing debt cancellation and threatening to suspend trade benefits. In another cable from Greenlee recounting a meeting between American officials and members of Morales’ government, the Ambassador told the Bolivian officials: “When you think of the IDB, you should think of the U.S….This is not blackmail, it is simple reality.” The use of USAID against the Bolivian government is not really much of a surprise, since it is known in Latin America as a facilitator for destabilization. As we read in a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research:
“As Brazilian investigative journalist Natalia Viana recently detailed in The Nation, USAID was funding groups in Paraguay that would eventually be involved in the ouster of President Lugo. Viana writes that through USAID’s largest program in Paraguay, they would end up supporting “some of the very institutions that would play a central role in impeaching Lugo six years later, including not just the police force but the Public Ministry and the Supreme Court.””
The US government has also been involved in backing a separatist movement within Bolivia’s Santa Cruz region. On top of being Bolivia’s most Right-wing region, it is also the country’s wealthiest, which gives its elite circle tremendous political leverage and influence. This movement is led by the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee the president of which is Luis Fernando Camacho, a businessman with connections to Right-wing paramilitaries and a backer of Jeanine Anez. It is even said that the armed militia for the Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee has received American training. As we read in a report from Hoy Bolivia:
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) allocated about $84 million to strengthen opposition groups and parties in Bolivia to take power, said Venezuelan-American lawyer and researcher Eva Golinger, in an interview with the government newspaper Cambio and cited by the Bolivian Information Agency.
On the other hand, Golinger said that the National Foundation for Democracy of the United States Congress (NED) has financed the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee since 2005 when this railroad entity opposed to Morales participated in the mobilizations for departmental autonomy.
The Venezuelan-American lawyer, who wrote four books on the interference of the United States in Venezuela and who managed to declassify CIA documents to support her claims, said that another US agency that filters money from USAID is the National Democratic Institute for Affairs International.
This institution paid for the trip of people who are part of the Cruceñista Youth Union (UJC), considered the shock arm of the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee, to receive in the United States Tactical training workshops in what is called the soft coup”
Camacho emerged as the leader of the anti-Morales protests that lasted for three weeks and commenced after Bolivia’s controversial election in which Morales was declared the winner but whose victory was exclaimed by both protestors and the US government as fraudulent. Camacho united protestors against what he called “the dictatorial tyranny of Morales.” Camacho’s activities behind the coup is not really shocking at all given the fact that he is from the Santa Cruz region which has a heavy Right-wing presence.
Camacho stated that his desire is to “bring the Bible back to the palace of government”, which he literally did when he brought a Bible to the presidential palace in downtown La Paz on November 11th, alongside a Bolivian flag and a resignation letter which he wanted Morales to sign. “I’m not going with weapons, I’m going with my faith and my hope; with a Bible in my right hand and a resignation letter [for Morales] in my left hand.” Jeanine Añez, who is currently the interim president of the country, echoed this idea when she said, “God has allowed the Bible to come back into the palace. May he bless us.”
The carrying of the Bible was an expression of conquest over the anti-Christian ways of Evo Morales. Bolivia was until recently officially a Catholic country where officials all swore oaths on the Bible and fealty “to God and country”. All of this ended in 2009 when Morales’ administration created a constitution which declared Bolivia a secular country with no official religion. The Left-wing socialist government said that making the Catholic religion into the state religion discriminated against the pagan indigenous religions.
The Pro-Santa Cruz Civic Committee has its origins in the 1950s, in a time when Bolivia’s regional unity was in horrendous condition. The Santa Cruz Civic Committee was founded by the region’s elites and challenged the power of the revolutionary government of Bolivia (the MNR or the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement). Regionalism eclipsed the authority of the state, as the Committee in Santa Cruz ruled the province between 1957 and 1959.
Once Bolivia went under military rule in 1964, members of the Civic Committee got high ranking positions in the Bolivian government. The power of these committees was due to the brittle state of the official government, hence why committees would bypass political parties to fulfill the demands of the people.
America’s backing of these Right wing elements in Latin America is not surprising at all given how long of a history the US military and intelligence has in that part of the world. To have a better comprehension of this we can always look to the School of the Americas (today known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC), a military academy in Fort Benning, Georgia that specializes in training the elite military units of Latin American countries. In fact, the Bolivian general, Williams Kaliman, who went on TV to demand that Morales step down “for the good of our Bolivia” right before Morales resigned, was a graduate of the School of the Americas and served in 2013 as the Bolivian military attache in Washington and worked closely with the FBI. More than this, as least six of the key coup plotters were graduates of the School of the Americas.
The School of the Americas apparatus was a part of the US’ Cold War policy against Soviet influence in South America, but it continued nonetheless in the 1980s during the Dirty Wars of Central America to counteract Communist militias. One Bolivian graduate of the military academy, Juan Ricardo, explained the mission that was given to soldiers:
“[Our instructors] explained the antiterrorist operations that were taking place in Argentina …and we knew about Chile and Uruguay, too. Although we did not know any details about the operations, we knew that those militaries were our allies and we were all fighting to eliminate communism from Latin America.” (See Gill, School of the Americas, ch. 4, p. 96)
One graduate of the School of the Americas was Hugo Banzer who would rule Bolivia from 1971 to 1978 and whose regime was backed by the Nixon administration.
The story of Banzer’s coup connects strongly with the Right-wing Santa Cruz Civic Committee. Before Banzer took over, Bolivia was ruled under the Left-wing government of Juan Jose Torres whose policies were agitating the Right-wing and anti-Communist elements within the country. For example, Torres convened an Asamblea del Pueblo, or a gathering of working people, such as people from the peasant class, miners, teachers and students.
Right-wing opposition called the Asemblea a gathering of essentially soviets. Banzer was amongst the Right-wing circle of the Bolivian military and together they were conspiring a coup. In the early part of 1971 they attempted to overthrow the government but failed, and Banzer fled to Argentina. They reattempted their plan again in August 18th of 1971, but this time they succeeded. Torres fled to Buenos Aires but was eventually assassinated by the Argentinian government at the request of Banzer. Banzer and his team commenced the revolution from Santa Cruz de la Sierra where Banzer had many fans, and they were backed by the Nixon administration.
Here we have a parallel situation to today. A Left-wing socialist president, Evo Morales, was overthrown by Right-wing elements backed by Luis Fernando Camacho, the president of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee, based in Santa Cruz where there is a strong Right-wing presence.
Banzer’s regime was a part of Operation Condor which was a transnational intelligence network between other Latin American countries like Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Together these governments surveilled political dissident refugees in member countries and even ordered their assassinations (ibid). After the fall of Banzer Bolivia fell into political chaos and this was reflected in the fact that between July of 1978 and and July of 1980, there were two general elections, five presidents held office and there were four military coups, three of which were actually successful.
The School of the Americas did not just specialize in military training, but also in the strategy for implementing coups. “The academy,” explained Juan Ricardo, “was like an echo chamber for military coups. It was the institution where commandants, who were planning coups, went to find allies and to test their ideas. If the cadets were supportive, they became a source of legitimacy [within the military] for the coup.” (Ibid, p. 98) The School of the Americas training for Bolivian soldiers continued on after the Cold War. Between 1997 and 2000, 287 Bolivian soldiers and elite counternarcotics police forces trained at the School of the Americas (Ibid, ch. 7, p. 168)
The connection between Gladio and American foreign policy in Bolivia is solidified by the fact that US and German intelligence placed the major Nazi mass murderer, Klaus Barbie, to work in anti-Communist operations in Bolivia after the Second World War. A central part of NATO’s Gladio operation was the recruitment of Nazi leaders to spearhead the anti-Communism of the Cold War. Klaus Barbie was one of them. In a 1984 report from United Press International, which can be found in the CIA archives, it reads that:
German prosecutors learned of Barbie’s whereabouts as early as 1961 but terminated their probe when they discovered Barbie’s CIA and German intelligence connections. Stern [Magazine] said Barbie paid the last of many postwar visits to West Germany in November 1981 to recruit mercenaries for his Bolivian paramilitary commandoes. The article said Barbie was responsible for planning numerous military coups in Bolivia, introducing political torture and personally ordered mass murders. “In the 1980 coup that established the brutal regime of Gen. Meza that was linked to the cocaine Mafia, he directed not only strategy but the political planning,” the first article said. It said that Barbie had eight members of the social-democratic MIR Party leadership shot at a meeting in 1981. An accompanying photograph showed the grisly scene of the alleged July 17, 1980 slaying by Barbie’s paramilitary units of the noted author Quiroga Santa Cruz, the popular social democratic leader. Barbie was security advisor to the Barrientos dictatorship in La Paz and had a hand in the 1967 manhunt and subsequent murder of guerrilla chieftain Che Guevara, Stern reported.
So the Nazi, Klaus Barbie, was behind the execution of Che Guevara, who was another murderer who enjoyed killing his enemies. Devil killing devil. The US backed Barbie in Bolivia, regardless if he was a Nazi, and the US is backing the anti-Communist forces in Bolivia today. It is the Left-Right conflict, the Shia vs. Sunni struggle of the Western world. The struggle between Left and Right, this is what we are witnessing in Bolivia. The Nazi element within the history of anti-Communism in Bolivia should lead us to at least hold our excitement for people like Camacho, even if he does hold up the Bible.
Evo Morales was a Communist who hated Christianity. And his usurpers are presenting themselves as the Christian heroes who have defeated the far-Left socialist regime. But in the phenomena of political struggle, there is always a continuous duality between the force of chaos and the force of order; the former presents itself as the bringer of rebellion, the latter as the bringer of purity, morality and the rule of law. When the force of chaos takes over, the force of order is riled up and fights for dominion. Within this duality there are those agents of bad faith who use the perception of order to convince people that they are the heroes against the chaotic forces. The end result of this is a chaos cloaked with order.