I am sure by now you are aware that there has been a right wing coup in Bolivia against Evo Morales, the nation’s socialist and first indigenous president.
There is little more I can say about this that has not already been said. I am not an expert on international relations, nor am I an expert on Latin American culture.
What I am is a socialist who believes in international solidarity, and that is thanks to Evo Morales.
Picture this: I was fifteen years old, I had already earned a reputation as an “activist” at my school because I was quite vocal about my hatred for George W Bush and rich people, which opened me up to the taunting of a right wing student body at my school.
I knew that Bush was evil, I also knew that the Democrats were being cowards for never even attempting to impeach him. This was around 2007 and the Democrats were pathetic to me. Democratic “leaders” were still not defending gay marriage and most had still yet to come to terms with the fact that invading Iraq was a mistake. I also knew that Democrats who hated the poor had no business calling themselves “Democrats.” I was taught by my parents that a “Democrat” was supposed to believe in social programs and would never cut them.
I called myself a Democrat, but deep down I knew that these pro-corporate, anti-poor Democrats did not represent me.
While I was an activist, politically speaking I felt very alone.
I knew I believed in more people owning what I called “the wealth” and having more democracy, but I had no word for what it was I believed in or what I even meant by “wealth.” Combine that with the backdrop full of my teenage right wing bullies, and you get an idea of how alone I felt. Confused, isolated, angry, and alone.
Then one night, when I was taking my solace in the humor of Jon Stewart as most on the left were keen to in those days, he had on a guest that was different from any of the others I had watched on the show.
It was Evo Morales, the newly elected president of Bolivia.
I was enthralled with that interview. For one my eyes were opened for the first time to the realities of imperialism and white supremacy. When I learned that Morales was Bolivia’s first Indigenious president I was shocked, naive as I was, I thought that by now most leaders in Latin America were indigenous or of indegenious desent.
This was not all. Evo talked about the programs of his nation, how they are reclaiming wealth and redistributing it, and how his government was fighting multi national corporations and protecting the environment.
I was only 15, but when I heard what he believed and fought for I realized that he spoke for me more than any Democrat at the time ever had.
This was how I realized that I was a socialist!
After that interview I dove deep into the red rabbit hole. From Evo Morales, I found Marx, from Marx I found Lenin, this would eventually lead me to Occupy, to Anonymous, to Bernie Sanders, and it all eventually led me to the DSA, where I am now a chapter co-chair.
All of this was started by an interview with Evo Morales on a comedy show.
The man had a level of integrity that I found inspiring, and what is amazing is after 14 years he still has that integrity. In an attempt to prevent violence he conceded to another election, despite having clearly won the first time, and when that did not appease the right wing’s blood thirst he conceded power all together, all in the hopes of saving his loved ones and party members from violence.
This is the power of socialists, the power of integrity.
I can trace my socialism back to several things, my upbringing, my family history, my experiences growing up surrounded by annoying over privileged white boys, but I owe it most to Evo Morales.
One thing he said in that interview was so simple, but it stuck with me for so long.
When Jon Stewart conceded that in America, the election system is pretty much “rigged” against the idea of a poor indigenous farmer from becoming president. Evo, with a simple yet genuine reply, said, “If it’s rigged then something needs to be done to change that.”
So simple yet so true, something needs to be done!