Statement Condemning the US backed Military Coup in Bolivia

Declaración en español aquí

The Veterans of About Face vehemently and unequivocally condemn the U.S. role in facilitating and supporting the coup d’état of the democratically elected Bolivian Socialist President Evo Morales. President Morales was ousted on November 11 by the Bolivian military and its right-wing mob of reactionaries and Christian fascist paramilitaries who terrorized supporters, government ministers, and elected officials.  We support the self-determination of the Bolivian people who are filling the streets to demand the restoration of the constitutional order and to return democratically elected President Evo Morales to office. 

As of this statement, Morales’ supporters — who are coming from the rural areas to the cities to protest and show their support — are being met with military and police repression, as well as with right-wing violence.  Long considered the poorest country in South America, Bolivia is an indigenous majority country with a minority European descendant population who control most of the country’s wealth. Evo Morales is the country’s first Indigenous president in 480 years.  While in the past, Bolivia’s government has marginalized poor and Indigenous peoples and ruled on behalf of the wealthier white elites and foreign corporate interests, Morales’ strong support base lies with the Indigenous communities who for the first time have a leader who looks like them and truly represents their concerns. Under Morales’s leadership, the country recovered its sovereignty from corporate entities, experienced an upsurge in economic growth and equity, and saw social and ecological advances. As a result, Bolivians have seen a higher standard of living- lifting 40 percent out of poverty, and 60 percent out of extreme poverty. We have no doubt that it is for exactly these reasons that the United States government, heavily influenced by corporate influence, is comfortable with, if not supportive of, this gross violation of democratic values.

We call on the global community to reject this affront to democracy and the farcical “interim presidency” of Jeanine Añez who proclaimed herself president.  It is shameful that the White House so quickly legitimized the coup and recognized the coup government. Meanwhile, Democrats continue to give their consent by remaining silent. This is completely unacceptable.

Furthermore, we demand that U.S. elected officials, particularly Senator  Marco Rubio (R- FL), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Congressman Robert “Bob” Menendez (D- NJ), come clean about any participation in the removal of Morales. Coup plotters themselves claim in leaked audio to have had conversations with these three U.S. officials and to have gotten their support.  

This is not the first time that Sen. Marco Rubio has involved himself in the destabilization of a Latin American country. The Senator has made several attempts to help push forward the overthrow of the government in Caracas, and at each failure, he continues to push for harsher US sanctions intended to cause economic collapse. He also pushes for crushing sanctions against Cuba and Nicaragua, which cause undue harm to everyday people rather than those in power. We urge the constituents of these three elected officials to demand answers and hold them accountable. 

As Veterans who have witnessed the fallouts of U.S. policies abroad personally, we know that this support for violent coups comes with no regard for the consequences — often leading to wars, atrocities, unnecessary deaths, and mass migrations. Despite what Trump and other politicians may claim, we understand that they have no true concern for the people or for any of the people’s grievances against the leaders the US targets — instead, this moment fits into a long US history of overthrowing democracies in favor of right-wing regimes willing to align themselves to the US government and corporate interests. We believe in the self-determination of the people, free from US interference that will serve only to make violence and tensions worse.

Call to action

Call, write or visit Senator Cruz, Senator Rubio, and Representative Menendez.
  • Demand that they actively work to stop US interventionism 
  • Demand their vocal condemnation of this coup and support for reinstating Evo Morales 
  • Respect international law and the self-determination of the people of Bolivia to choose their own government. 

Contact your Congressperson now!
  • Demand an investigation into the role that the US played in the Bolivian coup, specifically Senator  Marco Rubio (R- FL), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Congressman Robert “Bob” Menendez (D- NJ)  
  • Demand that the constitutional order be restored.  
  • Demand that the Democratic candidates denounce the coup and call out President Trump’s overreach in international affairs and the affairs of Bolivia.

Learn More

Statement on Attempted Coup in Venezuela

Uniformed soldiers and police have blocked off the streets. People are fleeing the city center, and gunfire sounds. The now-infamous coup is underway. While jets come screeching down and bombs drop, rebel soldiers take control of what remains of the presidential palace. The coup has succeeded. The president is dead. A general has taken power and declared martial law. Now soldiers patrol the streets, rounding up hundreds of citizens they see as loyal to the fallen government and to its party. People are forced in masses to the nearest football stadium for an unspecified time of confinement.  

This is not Venezuela. This is Chile on September 11, 1973, but the path the US government is now on feels far too similar to what happened then. We’ve been down this road countless times before, and the consequences have always been devastating.  

Chile’s violent coup came with the encouragement and endorsement of the Nixon Administration, who opposed the popularly elected and socialist government of Salvador Allende. In the lead-up to the overthrow, the U.S. funded a vicious media campaign meant to sow division and paint the Allende government as incompetent, corrupt, and irresponsible. The U.S. also imposed brutal sanctions, contributing to skyrocket inflation, fallen markets, food shortages, fear, and discontent. After the coup, Washington and London directly supported a fascist dictatorship responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and disappearances, the liberalization of the Chilean economy that brought huge profits to Western companies and their local acolytes, and brutal austerity for the poor, which helped cause the great income gap that plagues Chile to this day.

Today Venezuela finds itself in a similar situation. The nation is deeply polarized, divided along racial and socioeconomic lines, and falling global oil prices have spelled further disaster for a country whose main economic driver is oil. An already challenging dynamic has been exacerbated by US-imposed sanctions, a negative international media campaign, a virulent right-wing insurgency committed to overthrowing the governing party, and the threat of a military intervention from Washington. If Chile’s history has taught us anything, it’s hard to deny the likelihood of CIA involvement in the conservative opposition to Venezuela’s current government.

Recently, members of the Trump Administration including John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Mike Pence, along with legislators like Senator Marco Rubio, have implicitly called for the violent overthrow of the Maduro government and recognized, as president of Venezuela, a relatively unknown and unelected politician named Juan Guaidó.

As post-9/11 veterans, this isn’t the first time we’re seeing the parallels between past and present US policies. It’s not lost on us that sanctions preceded US military occupation in Iraq or that oil was a resource in question. Washington, Ottawa and European partners have aligned with local elites, a fragmented opposition, and regional right-wing governments to do everything in their power to oust the current government in favor of one that will serve their interests. And as it has before, we know this policy of US-backed regime change — rather than self-determination — could help lead to the destabilization of an entire country, if not the entire region, with grave consequences to the people of Venezuela for generations to come.

Through our military experience, we’ve witnessed firsthand the impacts of foreign interventions undertaken with little consideration for the civilians being affected. We’ve seen the chaos and destabilization that reverberates. Knowing that the people of Venezuela will continue to organize for their rights and for self-determination — whether or not they support Maduro — we oppose a US intervention that history proves would only serve to worsen, rather than advance, that cause.

We know unequivocally that the interests of the Trump administration do not align with the well-being of the majority of Venezuelans. As they do domestically, Trump’s interests instead lie with a wealthy minority and with international investors and corporations, eager to extract and exploit the region’s natural resources. If the Trump Administration is truly concerned with the plight of the Venezuelan people, we call on them to lift US-imposed sanctions on Venezuela, allow the opportunity for economic recovery without foreign manipulation, and to encourage a diplomatic — not military — solution to the ongoing situation.