Residents of poor communities in El Alto, Bolivia, are facing threats of violence or “fines” they cannot afford if they do not join socialist riots against the interim conservative government that replaced ex-President Evo Morales, local media reported on Friday.
The Bolivian newspaper Página Siete republished an anonymous message from the poor communities in the outskirts of El Alto, a socialist stronghold, in which locals complained that their neighbors were threatening to burn down entire neighborhoods. Another Bolivian newspaper, El Deber, reported that criminal gangs were going door-to-door demanding “fines” from families that did not take the streets to loot and ransack homes and businesses.
Morales, of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, resigned on Sunday following the publication of evidence compiled by the Organization of American States (OAS) of fraud in the October 20 presidential election. Morales vied for an unconstitutional fourth term and won after the servers counting the votes shut down and diverted the count to an unknown private server, the OAS found.
Morales resigned voluntarily, then fled to Mexico, where he claimed to be the victim of a right-wing “coup.”
Jeanine Áñez, a conservative senator, replaced Morales as president following the abandonment of dozens of MAS politicians, including those above Áñez in the chain of command, of the country.
In response, thousands of allegedly indigenous socialists have staged violent riots, many marching from El Alto to nearby La Paz, the executive seat of government, this week. El Deber found evidence that the mob burned down and looted at least five police stations on their march to La Paz.
Police first began to counter the claim that these protesters were indigenous, organic supporters of Morales with a series of arrests of Cubans, Venezuelans, and others paying off protesters and building explosives. Now, Bolivian media are hearing from the victims of these socialist operatives, who say they do not want to participate in the riots but have no choice.
“Friends, I can’t anymore with this situation. Here in El Alto, we are suffering too much under threats from our own El Alto brothers because we don’t support ‘the struggle’ that is supposedly for all of us,” a Whatsapp neighbor group text message published by Página Siete reads. “With the excuse of the Wiphala they want to invade our neighborhood … we are having a truly bad time.”
The Wiphala is a legal flag of the country of Bolivia that represents its 36 indigenous communities. A video circulated on social media this week showing unidentified people burning it, which many considered an act of racism. Members of the socialist groups marching on La Paz told reporters that they are doing so to avenge the Wiphala.
Página Siete reported that rioters are committing “acts of terror” with the help of “foreign operatives” to intimidate the poor of El Alto into joining the riots. Among the “acts of terror” committed in La Paz, the newspaper reported, was the burning of multiple private homes of local opposition officials and the destruction of a third of the public bus service’s fleet.
MAS supporters also reportedly attempted to destroy the headquarters of various public utilities and broadcast networks. In the latter case, rioters attempted to break the satellite towards at the cable stations to interrupt broadcasts, the newspaper reported.
Página Siete also cited a security expert who said the socialists “hired Peruvian peasants to train the Bolivians” in how to cause destruction, though he did not elaborate on that claim.
The Bolivian newspaper El Deber reported that some MAS sympathizers did not threaten El Alto’s poor with violence, but with even more poverty, imposing “fines” on families who did not join the protests. According to the newspaper, officials threatened to make it more difficult for families to procure food and other basic goods and threatened them with a 100-150 bolivianos ($14.46-$21.69) fine.
El Deber cites conversations with eight El Alto locals who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from socialists who, they say, are using the Federation of Neighborhood Councils-El Alto to trickle down orders block by block to get people protesting.
“In [the neighborhood of] Ventilla, for example, they were told that there are three areas where the government built public housing. To the families living there, they said that, since the government built the houses, the new government will take their homes and leave them with nothing,” the newspaper reported. This is reportedly why the residents of those buildings marched.
In another lower-class neighborhood, local officials supportive of Morales refused to offer basic infrastructure services like water and claimed that, since Morales had resigned, there would be no more services. Yet another report indicated that the rioters were attempting to shut down all access to gasoline.
Police warned on Friday that MAS leaders are heavily armed and possessing tear gas and a host of firearms used by trained snipers in Yapacaní.
Authorities in Bolivia have arrested nearly ten foreigners organizing violent riots in the country. Among the first identified was Facundo Molares Schoenfeld, an Argentine member of the communist terrorist group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Police officials told reporters that they had reason to believe Schoenfeld was hired by socialists within the country to arm and train local Bolivians to commit acts of terror. Schoenfeld had been missing since 2017 following the “peace deal” between the FARC and the government of Colombia.
Bolivian officials have also revealed the arrests of four Cuban nationals carrying thousands of dollars in cash, arrested after neighborhood watch groups told police that they were handing out money to people in exchange for committing acts of violence. Several of those arrested claimed they had the money to pay slave doctors operating in the Cuban medical system in Bolivia.
On Thursday, Bolivia’s new foreign minister announced that, after a conversation with her Cuban counterpart, the communist regime would withdraw over 700 agents working within the country.
Ten people have died in clashes since protests began following the October 20 election.