Bolivia and the double play of drug trafficking for the United States
On May 3, Bolivia was due to go through elections, but the COVID-19 pandemic ended up imposing a new calendar and pushing the process to a date probably closer to the end of the year. The postponement turned out to be positive for the current president, Jeanine Áñéz, one of the five right-wing candidates who stand for the post that has been of Evo Morales for 14 years.
Áñéz's candidacy surprised. Internally and externally, it was expected that she would only be the element of transition from one regime to another. The delay in setting a date for the elections was an inconvenience, but the announcement by the then president of the Senate – that she would be a candidate – was something to cause fear in Bolivia and its geographic surroundings.
Located in the center of South America, Bolivia has immense strategic value. The country borders Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru and is one of the main producers of cocaine worldwide. In 2008, the United States anti-drug agency (DEA) was expelled from Bolivia by then President Evo Morales. He had previously expelled USAID (the US cooperation agency and civilian arm of the CIA).
For the United States, the change of command in Bolivia has always been an object of desire. Washington never accepted a cocalero leader in power. The Bolivian government's links with drug trafficking only made things worse. For a country whose population is the world's main drug consumer, ignoring Bolivia is completely out of question.
This is where Jeanine Áñéz appears as one of the opponents of the Morales regime, linking it precisely with the international drug trade. The political group of former President Morales claims that the United States is behind a coup which intends to make Áñéz a “puppet” president on Washington’s hands.
It turns out that she herself faces strong denouncements of association with drug trafficking. Carlos Andrés Añéz Dorado, Áñéz's nephew, was arrested on October 16, 2017, when landing a small plane with 480 kg of cocaine on a rural property near Cuiabá (state of Mato Grosso, Brazil), where he remains detained. Añéz Dorado supposedly is a partner of drug traders linked to the Cartel de Cali, from Colombia. The denuncement put an end to the immaculate image of the then senator and further disrupted the Bolivian political scene.
However, the accusations against the interim president's nephew have been intentionally and strategically ignored, for example, by the DEA itself, despite the fact that Carlos Andrés Añéz Dorado is potentially one of the links in the international drug trade from Peru to Brazil, from where they follow to the United States and Europe.
In silencing before the severity of the matter, the United States reinforces the thesis that they are doing everything to ensure that Jeanine Áñéz wins the next elections. In Washington's view, plans B and C would be Carlos Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho. Still, Morales' candidate is ahead in the polls.
What happens in Bolivia is not an isolated act. Maybe it is that the United States is feeling China's presence increasingly strong in the region. The fact is that Washington seems to have awakened to old strategies applied to the region, when it determined who would rule and who would not. What the United States do since 1962 against Cuba, now turns against Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
And the problem is not corruption, human rights violations or despotism, but the fact that they are countries that are not aligned with American interests. That simple. And Brazil is not immune, despite differing – a great deal – from leftist governments from those countries.
The perception is that national interests are once again ignored in the name of very specific goals. The United States is waging war with China, a country that has consolidated its presence in Latin America and has become the main trading partner of most countries in the region, including Brazil. Beijing's associates are merely side effects.
Another important aspect that must be meticulously analysed regards the defense agreements signed by the United States that may hide an implicit interest in using the region's Armed Forces according to its interests. The pretext? Anti-drug fight fits perfectly within the professionally crafted rhetoric.
Marcelo Rech is a journalist, international analyst and director of the InfoRel Institute of International Relations and Defense: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.