Interim Bolivian president Añez calls Indigenous citizens “savages”
Bolivian opposition politician Jeanine Anez, center, wearing the Presidential sash and holding a Bible, addresses the crowd from the balcony of the Quemado palace after she declared herself interim president of the country, in La Paz, Nov. 12, 2019. The Christian fundamentalist coup leader says "savages" must not be allowed to win in elections scheduled for May. She was referring to ousted President Evo Morales, Bolivia's first Indigenous president. | Juan Karita / AP

The outlaw Bolivian president Jeanine Añez has announced that new elections in the country will be held on May 3, 2020. And just prior to that, it was disclosed that Añez called on Bolivians to prevent the return of “savages” to power, referring to Evo Morales, the country’s first Indigenous president.

According to a Jan. 6 report from Resumen: Latinoamericano and the Third World, she stated: “Let’s not allow any personal ambition, on the one hand, disperse the vote…. Let’s not allow the arbitrary, the violent, and the savage return to power….” Añez’s use of the term “savage” is a racist insult not just to Indigenous Bolivians, but to all the Indigenous of North and South America.

Morales fired back: “We are ‘savage’ because we are Indigenous, peasants, factory workers, miners, union members, popular organization leaders, and the committed middle class. We are ‘savage’ because we are anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-neoliberal, and anti-colonialist.”

He continued: “For the coup mongers, we are ‘savage’ because we support nationalization, because we recovered our natural resources and the Homeland’s dignity, because we fought poverty and achieved better economic growth in the region.”

The exiled president could not have responded with more lucidity, eloquence, and determination. As for the racist statement issued by the usurper Añez, it begs the question: How can fair elections be expected under a regime that regards so many of its people as “savages”?

The racist attitude of the European-descended oligarchy and the wealthy Mestizo elite (however, keep in mind that the majority of Mestizos are oppressed, exploited, and in poverty and more often than not make common cause with the Indigenous) is reflected in other Latin American countries. A good friend of mine, an internationally known U.S. Indigenous poet, recounted that in the 1980s returning from a conference in Brazil she was sitting behind a group of American and Brazilian businessmen on the plane and overheard one of the Brazilians remark to the Americans, “Brazil is one of the few countries where you can still hunt Indians.” No comment needed on this genocidal statement.

Ominously, to further add to the perilous political situation for the Indigenous and democracy in Bolivia is the news that officials of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) arrived in Bolivia at the invitation of the Añez regime on Jan. 9 to “give technical aid to the electoral process in Bolivia.” This a euphemism for giving aid to the fascist regime to strengthen its dictatorship over the country’s Indigenous majority under the guise of a fair, democratic election. Just the opposite is in the making.

USAID is a clandestine arm of U.S. imperialism. In 2014, USAID was exposed by the Associated Press for its role in setting up a “Cuban Twitter”—a social media network known as ZunZuneo—in the hopes of fomenting the formation of mobs to protest against the Cuban government. The agency has a long history as a vehicle for various covert CIA subversions promoting right-wing activities in Egypt, Iran, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and other countries. It seems pretty clear that USAID is in Bolivia to intervene in the electoral process to favor the fascist oligarchy.

Under Morales, USAID was expelled from the country on May 1, 2013. Morales claimed it was undermining the socialist government. He accused the agency of seeking to “conspire against” the Bolivian people and their government.

As for the further objectives of USAID, Latin American historian Thomas Field aptly observes: “With USAID and OAS assisting in the May 2020 election, we can be sure its goal will be similar to Bolivia’s 1966 election (following the ’64 coup), which the CIA steered to ensure the country returned to constitutionality in a way that meshed with U.S. interests.”

Menacingly, on Jan. 19, Bolivian media reported that a senior U.S. official, Mauricio Claver-Carone accused Morales of fostering instability and violence in the country from inside Argentina. Claver-Carone is a senior adviser to Trump and a far-right Cuban-American attorney. He visited Bolivia earlier that week to meet with Añez and took potshots at Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, declaring that his organizing of armed militias was an act of “gangsterism.”

Claver-Carone remarked that Morales tried the same “gangsterism” in Bolivia. He is so far to the right, most infamously known as one of the harshest critics of Obama’s efforts to improve U.S. relations with Cuba. Apparently, he is the Trump administration’s point man for strengthening the fascist coup that overthrew Morales.

The fascist, right-wing Añez regime, which unilaterally claimed its own legitimacy in November after the overthrow of the democratically-elected Morales government, has focused on plunder. It has privatized Bolivian resources (particularly the country’s vast lithium deposits), reversed many of Morales’s reforms, and resumed close ties to the U.S.

Trump, of course, has welcomed these actions of the brutal Añez government.


Albert Bender
Albert Bender

Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty and working on a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war He is a consulting attorney on Indigenous sovereignty, land restoration, and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) issues and a former staff attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma (LSEO) in Muskogee, Okla.