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Army raises profile in the region, except for Argentina

This article was published on The Essential on April 23rd

By | [email protected] | April 27, 2020 11:02am

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“You don’t repress the people,” Bolivian General Williams Kaliman told President Evo Morales. “This is what you taught us.” Evo’s excessive thirst for power had become toxic. After his third electoral mischief, he had to go. Distracted statesmen came to his aid, enthusiastic about defending a lost cause.

Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, proclaimed with solemn emphasis: “We are at war against a powerful enemy.” Just another rhetorical excess motivated by the popular mobilizations against him. But General Javier Iturriaga del Campo was quick to contradict him: “I am happy, I am not at war with anyone,” he said.

In Uruguay, (retired) General Guido Manini Ríos launched a presidential bid. “If Pepe Mujica could do it, why can’t I be president as well?” he probably thought. With Cabildo Abierto, his right-wing creation, Manini Ríos got 11% in the first round. Those votes would eventually prove decisive for Luis Lacalle Pou to win the runoff.

In Brazil, after some tragicomic display of bravado, President Jair Bolsonaro started to decline. The Army is eating away at his power, like with Bordaberry in the 70s, and even stopped his first attempt to fire former Health minister Luiz Mandetta, also a military man.

Despite this, 60% still oppose ousting Bolsonaro. The other 40% is not insisting too strongly with the idea either, as that would trigger a new presidential election. If they put up with him until 2021, he could be taken out like Dilma Rousseff or Fernando Collor de Melo, and be replaced by his vice-president, Hamilton Mourão — an Army man as well, although the real military power in Brazil lies with General Walter Souza Braga Netto.

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