Two Interviews on the Bolivian Coup and Its Aftermath

October 20, 2020

Francesca Emanuele

In interviews recorded for a new podcast,While We were Sleeping,” host Francesca Emanuele investigates overlooked cases of state violence and the human stories behind them. Two new interviews offer useful context for the October 18 general elections just carried out in Bolivia.

In the first, Emanuele interviews Jhocelin Caspa, an Indigenous Aymara woman from Bolivia. Caspa is a witness to the Senkata Massacre, which occurred November 19, 2019. Her first-hand chronology addresses the events of the massacre that occurred just days after Bolivian president Evo Morales was forced to resign. Caspa was on a bus arriving at Senkata, in El Alto, Bolivia, when military forces stopped the vehicle, forcing everyone to get off. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., she fled the military through the streets of her city, running for her life. Along the way, she witnessed numerous acts of brutality perpetrated by the Bolivian military. According to the investigations of the Inter-American Commission of Human rights, the death toll was nine people, but Caspa questions this number and believes many more people were killed that day. 

“In the middle of the highway, they had lined up the caskets of all of the fallen. There were approximately eight to 10 bodies, and those were just the bodies whose family members allowed for them to be shown. There are a lot of bodies that haven’t had their public wakes because their families have not wanted to politicize their deaths and so they arrange private wakes.”

“The days after the massacre, there were people who said that their children had disappeared, that they couldn’t find their spouses, that they had been on their way to work but it seems like they got caught in the clash and they never arrived.”

Caspa endures the constant repression that her community and other predominantly Indigenous communities have experienced under the interim government of Jeanine Añez.

The second interview is with CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston, who provides a broader perspective around the events that led to the forced resignation of Evo Morales: the unfounded allegations of electoral fraud by the Organization of American States and the geopolitical context, including the role of the United States in supporting the coup and the interim government. Johnston analyzes the changes in domestic and foreign policy that have occurred during the past 11 months in Bolivia.

“Since the coup there is this real consolidation of a far right in Bolivia that has used unelected power and it’s no surprise that the communities that have had the worst impacts from that are largely Indigenous communities or areas with high support for Evo Morales and its MAS party.”

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