The Bolivian Minister of Defense, Luis Fernando López, closed the Juan José Torres Anti-Imperialist Command School founded by former President Evo Morales in 2016, claiming that the school “does not represent military doctrine.” In its place, he inaugurated the Heroes of Ñancahauzú Military School, in honor of the soldiers who killed Che Guevara.
This comes just two months after the right-wing coup that ousted Morales with the help of the Organization of American States. Morales was forced to resign and is now in exile in Argentina. Jeanine Áñez, an ultra-right-wing figure, has taken the presidency promising to “bring back” Christianity to the government. The heroic protests of indigenous peasants and workers have been violently repressed, resulting in the murder of activists. The state is also attempting to replace traces of Morales’ party, the MAS, which may not be allowed to run in the upcoming May elections.
The military base that was closed this week was based on a (naive) idea of “reforming” the military by building a school that would be the antithesis to the School of the Americas, the U.S. platform for destabilizing “leftist” governments in Latin America. Nonetheless, the Bolivian military eventually sided with the right wing, resulting in the coup against Morales.
López declared that the military is “restoring the rightful place of the Armed Forces.” He added, “Part of that is changing something that does not go with the military doctrine because, under the concept of anti-imperialism, false doctrines were generated that had nothing to do with the spirit of the Bolivians and, worse, with the Armed Forces.” MAS’ attempts to equip the army with an anti-imperialist ideology clearly fell on deaf ears, and the Áñez government has openly established the army’s role as a mere auxiliary in the service of U.S. imperialist policies.
This is clear in renaming the military academy after the killers of Che Guevara and other guerrillas in Ñancahuazú. The Ñancahuazú Guerrilla, or Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia, were guerrillas under the command of Che Guevara in 1966-67. The group intended to use a guerrilla strategy to overthrow the Bolivian government, replicating the strategy of the Cuban guerrilla in Bolivia, as he unsuccessfully did in the Congo. At the time, Bolivia was ruled by the military dictatorship of Rene Barrientos Ortuño, a U.S. puppet. The Bolivian military forces advanced against the Ñancahuazú Guerrilla, killing Guevara with intelligence and advice from the CIA. Felix Rodriguez, a CIA operative, was with the battalion that killed Che.
The right wing coup’s actions, as well as this renaming makes clear the kind of government they want: an anti-left government aligned with U.S. imperialism. Although they claim that Morales was anti-democratic, this is clear hypocrisy: The repression against protesters that has left more than 30 dead and the militarization of Bolivia make clear that it has no interest in democracy.
Socialist comrades in Bolivia from the LOR-CI say, “We are not surprised by this attitude on the part of this government, nor by the bourgeoisie, which has always sought to bury Che’s image without success. Although we do not agree with the avant-garde methods divorced from the workers and mass movement that Che used, we know that he was an internationalist and committed revolutionary. Now, more than ever, we must assume that revolutionary commitment in the face of the escalating repression that continues to grow under this coup government.”