Reports are breaking this evening of a massacre of left-wing and indigenous protestors in Bolivia.
Pictures and videos being widely shared on social media show that at least 4 protestors have been killed with many more wounded, police and military being said to have opened fire on civilian crowds in the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba.
Protesting the U.S.-backed military coup against the socialist government of Evo Morales, activists have been taking to streets throughout Bolivia to stand against the illegal seizure of power by senator Jeanine Anez, backed by Carlos Mesa and the far-right Fernando Camacho.
The massacre comes amidst the alarming news that Cuban medical personnel have been detained by police in the Bolivia capital of La Paz and journalists are in hiding throughout the country as the government enforces the closure of news outlets.
The killings also come amongst a campaign of spiralling racist violence in the country, with increasing evidence of hit squads going from house to house and both beating and detaining minorities and left-wing activists alike as indigenous symbols are burned in the street.
Prominent leaders of the Bolivia coup d’etat have been revealed as having extensive far-right, Christian fundamentalist and white supremacist links and backing with Luis Fernando Camacho, the leader of the Santa Cruz Civic Committee and leader of the insurgency against Morales, known to have extensive links to far-right paramilitaries.
“[Comacho] legitimizes his authoritarian stance with Bolsonaro-style religious discourse… [It is] an expression of the Bolivian protofascist right”Julio Cordova, Bolivian sociologist
The far-right leader has been compared by many to a combination of Venezuela’s Juan Guaido and Brazil’s Jair Bolsanaro, being called a racist and misogynist by both social and feminist activists.
“In line with other representatives of the new regional right, such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Camacho handles a speech with a very strong religious anchor. [He has a method of] speech that, although it tries to associate it with ‘the peace and unity of the Bolivian people’, ends up fraught with racism, class hatred and provocation.”Mariela Franzosi, journalist
On wednesday, police in La Paz attacked another peaceful demonstration by thousands of indigenous supporters, firing tear gas into the crowd and beating protestors.
“They have carried out a coup d’etat against us, but not only that, last night Ms. Jeanine Anez became the self-proclaimed president. We are against that right now. We simply want to ask for her resignation at once… As of last night, we are living like in dictatorship times. They are hunting our leaders, they are hunting… It’s very likely that they’ll see me and want my head too”Jaime Alquizalet, demonstrator
Many in the indigenous community feel that police actions are inspired by racism.
“They persecute us, as Bolivians, those from El Alto. They discriminate against us because we come from El Alto and La Paz. They call us ‘collas’ [term for highland indigenous groups]. They discriminate against those who wear skirts [referring to indigenous women] and we won’t allow it to happen”Yolanda Albarrazin, demonstrator
While western media and governments continue to support the illegal seizure of power from Evo Morales, continuing their pro-imperialist and anti-socialist agenda, the truth of the coup will undoubtadly be suppressed. The killings in Cochabamba mark a new level in the violence seen in Bolivia and one that sadly many commentators had predicted was around the corner. The danger now arises of further racist and anti-socialist killings in Bolivia and the potential that widespread deadly violence may now spread across the country.