The coup leader Camacho, being arrested in La Paz

There are eleven governments of the left against seven of the center and right in Latin America, now that Lula takes over in Brazil. An unprecedented scenario if we consider that the largest Latin American economies are under the command of democratic and progressive governments. However, 2023 begins with far-right terrorism and coup leaders picking up the bill for their defeat, at least in Peru and Bolivia.

The disturbances that occur in Bolivia and Peru are new knowledge to Brazilians, since Jair Bolsonaro was defeated in the October elections. They are blockades and violent demonstrations motivated by coup conflicts provoked by the right-wing elite of these countries.

In Colombia, in turn, the government of Gustavo Petro was embarrassed after announcing a bilateral ceasefire between guerrillas, which did not exist. The first left-wing government in the country still hasn’t reduced the distrust of the armed left, which still resists in some territories.

Read also: Opposition assumes violent fascist practices in Bolivia

protests to the left

The most serious situations, however, are observed in Peru and Bolivia. In Peru, several social and trade union organizations and movements in favor of indigenous peoples and peasants in Peru started this Wednesday (4) a new wave of demonstrations against the government of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte.

The mobilization of all these entities has three demands in common, the main one being the holding of new elections in the country in the first half of 2023, as a way of resolving the political crisis that has taken hold in the country since the ousting of left-wing President Pedro Castillo, in December. Castillo was arrested after reacting to numerous attempts to remove him from Congress, which also impeded his governance.

Other important claims are the holding of a constituent assembly in the country, to replace the current magna carta imposed in 1993 by then dictator Alberto Fujimori, and an investigation to determine political responsibility for the 22 deaths of demonstrators that occurred during the December protests.

Read also: Protests grow across Peru and Boluarte puts the Army in the streets

Protests on the right

In Bolivia, the protests that started in Santa Cruz, the country’s richest department, on December 28, after the arrest of Governor Luis Camacho, intensified this Tuesday (3). Hundreds of trucks blocked highways in the region and roads in other regions, according to an agency survey. Reuters.

A right-wing conservative and opponent of the government of socialist Luis Arce, Camacho was arrested on “terrorism” charges related to the 2019 coup against then-president Evo Morales. Since the left’s return to power, the leader of Santa Cruz’s conservative elite has been accused of supporting terrorist groups that riot in the region to weaken the Arce government. He has been doing this since 2019, when Evo Morales was overthrown with many deaths and violence.

Now, his supporters have again blocked streets and highways with tires, branches and stones, demanding Camacho’s release. The blockades form long queues at the border with Brazil, and threaten grain and food deliveries across the country. As a result, both the Bolivian population and Brazilian truck drivers are under fire from a political dispute.

Read also: Colombia announces resumption of relations with Venezuela

new and old left

Colombian President Gustavo Petro ended the year by announcing a “bilateral ceasefire” with the National Liberation Army (ELN), dissident Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and paramilitary groups. The pause in matches would start on January 1, 2023 and initially run until June 30.

But the ELN contradicted him three days later, claiming it had not agreed to any truce. Petro remained silent, but government spokesmen tried to extinguish the fire by suspending, on Wednesday, the ceasefire with the guerrillas.

The ELN commander, Antonio García, accused Petro of acting like “the traditional governments”, with which he did not sign the peace.

Petro is part of a left that resists the countless right-wing authoritarian governments that have always ruled Colombia. However, the president laid down his arms and opted for the democratic dispute. With that, he has been defending this position to demobilize both what is left of the guerrillas, as well as the right-wing militias that keep the conflicts active in the poorest regions of the country.

With the embarrassment of the government gesture that starts in 2023, the biggest challenge now will be how the government will regain the trust of the ELN, and the resumption of dialogue will be more difficult. In previous governments, such as that of Ivan Duque, the country agreements that demobilized the FARC were followed by the persecution and arrest of former guerrillas, which intensified mistrust and mobilized new guerrillas.

Read also: Lula has bilateral meetings with representatives of 15 countries

Lula and bilateral relations

After Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva assumed the Presidency, great expectations were generated due to the importance that Brazil has for the integration of the continent. His first working day was marked by bilateral meetings with his Colombian colleagues, Gustavo Petro, and Bolivian, Luis Arce. From Peru came the president of the Council of Ministers of the Republic, Luis Alberto Otárola Penaranda.

The conversations dealt with interest in the defense and development of the Amazon, the largest tropical forest region on Earth, divided between Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, which during the government of the predecessor of Lula, Jair Bolsonaro, was threatened by uncontrolled exploration, without care for the preservation of the region.

Petro spoke with Lula to review the bilateral agenda, which, in addition to the pact to take care of the forest, includes the electrical interconnection of the region with clean energy, changes in the anti-drug policy, and the Brazilian role in peace negotiations in Colombia with the guerrilla army of National Liberation (ELN).

Read also: Former President of Bolivia Jeanine Áñez is convicted of coup against Evo Morales

Given this, the two presidents agreed to convene an Amazon Summit to be held on the border between Colombia and Brazil, either in the city of Letícia, on the Colombian side, or in Tabatinga, on the Brazilian side.

In meetings with the president of Bolivia, he made a special request to the Brazilian, regarding a judicial process involving the Bolivian opposition and the now former Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro.

In an exclusive interview with NewspaperArce revealed that he made a request to Lula, for the new Brazilian government to help investigate possible links between Bolsonaro and Bolivian coup leaders, especially Camacho.

Arce pointed out that one of the signs of Brazilian participation in the 2019 coup in Bolivia is “the new gas contract we signed, which was totally favorable to the Brazilian government, and also the declarations [de Bolsonaro] in support of [Jeanine] Áñez, in addition to the story of the planes that suggest a meeting of the two in Brazil during the setting up of the operation”.

In March 2021, the Justice of Bolivia ordered the preventive detention of Áñez, also due to investigations into the politicians involved in the coup. She has been trapped ever since. Former Brazilian President Bolsonaro used her case several times, in statements given during the year 2022, to say that he feared that she could have the same fate if she did not get her re-election.

A matter of Forum Magazinein November 2019, revealed that Camacho was also in Brasília before the coup against Morales, and was received by Chancellor Ernesto Araújo – in a meeting that was attended by federal deputy Carla Zambelli (PL-SP).

As Dina Boluarte is plunged into a crisis of legitimacy after the recent ousting of Pedro Castillo, she ended up being the only South American head of state who did not attend Lula’s inauguration. The new Brazilian president even greeted the new president of Peru, formerly vice-president of Castillo, who lasted a year and four months in office.

According to newspaper sources The globe, there was the intention of a bilateral meeting between Lula and Boluarte, “to analyze ways in which Brazil could collaborate with political stability in Peru”. In Lula’s note on Castillo’s ousting, he lamented “that a democratically elected president has this fate.”


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