The Three-Hour Coup. What Just Happened in Bolivia? – Ted Snider 7/3/24


One of the strangest and most incomprehensible coup attempts has just unfolded in Bolivia. Not only are the motives unclear, it is even unclear who ordered it: the general who led the coup against the president or the president. But the stage upon which it unfolded was partly set by a U.S.-supported coup that took place four years ago.

On June 26, Bolivian General Juan José Zúñiga used the nation’s own armed forces to surround the presidential palace and other government buildings. He positioned tanks and armoured vehicles in Plaza Murillo, the main square in the capital of La Paz and the location of Bolivia’s government. One tank smashed through the door of the presidential palace so soldiers could flood in.

In a bizarre scene, Bolivia’s president, Luis Arce, with cabinet ministers at his side, heroically confronted General Zúñiga, saying, “I am your captain, and I order you to withdraw your soldiers, and I will not allow this insubordination.” Moments later, a defeated Zúñiga turned away and left, taken into custody and escorted away in a bulletproof army vehicle. The commander of the navy, Vice-Admiral Juan Arnez Salvador, was also arrested.

Acre quickly appointed new leaders of the army, navy and air force. The new army commander ordered the troops to return to their barracks, and the three hour coup attempt was over.

Two very different accounts of the coup have since emerged. The first is that it was a genuine coup attempt undertaken by the army commander, who had reportedly been dismissed from his post by Arce the day before, and a civilian mastermind named Anibal Aguilar Gomez….

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