Three Things I Learned

  1. The theories on what it takes to make a successful revolution. DeFronzo’s factors are a very interesting way of quantifying the steps needed (though it seems to only apply to popular revolutions).
  2. A definition of reform versus revolution. I found the definition we used interesting because it focused on goals rather than means: you could theoretically have a revolutionary movement through constitutionalist means. I’m not sure of its usefulness in practice, as it is at odds with other more common definitions. It is something to think about though.
  3. Not to completely trust the OAS. With our analysis of the Cuban Revolution, and my own work with researching the coup in Bolivia, the credibility of the organization has been shaken for me. Even more generally, I’ve learned to be a lot more skeptical of graphs and charts, looking at what information they leave in and what they leave out. The OAS’s charts on Venezuela seemed nice and accurate, but it was still a good mindset to be wary about the organization’s motive. No data is free of bias.

Evo Morales Steps Down as President of Bolivia

Evo Morales announces his resignation on November 10th.

On November 10th, 2019, Bolivia’s three-term president stepped down after weeks of widespread protests and violence due to the results of the October 20th election, in which Morales achieved a surprise victory over his opponent Carlos de Mesa. In Bolivian elections, a candidate requires either 50 percent of the vote, or at least 40 percent with a 10 percentage point lead over the next candidate (CEPR). If a candidate doesn’t reach either of these, the top two candidates are placed into a runoff election against one another. In Bolivia, there are also two vote-counting systems. The first is the “quick count”, a system which gives a count of the votes received on election night for use by the media. The second is the official count, which usually takes longer to count, includes all votes, and is the only system that is legally binding (CEPR). The quick count gave Morales a lead over de Mesa, but not the 10 percentage point lead he needed to avoid a runoff election. A few days later, the final election results through the official count were delivered, and Morales won with just over a 10 percentage point lead.

Subsequently, the opposition to Morales denounced him and his results and took to the streets in protest. The opposition cites his decision to run for a fourth term despite his promise that he wouldn’t, his successful removal of term limits through the constitutional court declaring them a human rights violation, his decision to build a luxury presidential palace and a museum dedicated to himself, and the fact that the votes he needed to win coming in at the last minute as justification for their belief that the election was illegitimate (CNN). After weeks of protest and calls to resign, Morales offered to hold a second election. However, the opposition and Bolivian protestors were not placated by this, and with the military joining in against Morales, him and much of his cabinet stepped down in an attempt to “stop the bloodshed” (NYT), and stating that what was occurring was a coup.

Carlos de Mesa speaking to the media.

Morales’s supporters agree that a coup occurred. They cite widespread right-wing violence in the weeks after the election for calling this a coup, with terror tactics such as Carlos de Mesa’s party paying youths to cause chaos as primary examples (teleSUR). Racism is also said to be a motivation behind this alleged coup. Morales is the first indigenous president of Bolivia and is immensely popular with the indigenous people of the country due to his major reforms. Much violence has been specifically targeted towards indigenous women, such as when a mayor of Morales’s party “was beaten, dragged through the dirt and doused with red paint in ritual fashion” (teleSUR). Furthermore, many of the votes which gave Morales his belated lead were from rural areas with a high indigenous population, areas which historically report late and heavily favor Morales.

What I found highly interesting was how the event has been portrayed in United States media outlets versus Telesur, a Latin American news network sponsored by Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Bolivia. The New York Times portrays Morales as a leader desperately trying to hold on to power, but does make note of his accomplishments of lifting many out of poverty. Both the New York Times and CNN describe the response to Morales as an “rebellion” (NYT) of the people against an oppressive ruler, both portray the delayed votes as the votes being delayed without any known reason, and cite the OAS as evidence that the election results were highly irregular. Telesur takes a diametrically opposed viewpoint. It, unlike the other articles, mentions that Morales’s party asked the OAS to recount the results, and characterizes the opposition as seeking to seize power in any way possible, not caring about the results of the election. Telesur does not mention Morales successfully petitioning to have term limits removed, or any criticisms of his actions as president. It should be noted that the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a think-tank based in Washington D.C., has examined the results of the election and found nothing out of line in this election when compared to previous elections, calling the OAS’s decision to question the election results without providing any evidence as “very unusual, and highly questionably” (CEPR).

Jeanine Áñez, the current president of Bolivia. She was 5th in the line of succession as Second Vice President of the Senate.

In the context of our class themes, I see these events as indicative of a counterrevolution, most similar to what occurred in Chile in 1973. Morales as president was a popular leftist leader, who was forced out of office by the actions of the military, an event very obviously reminiscent of Allende’s fall (do note that the New York Times clarifies that this is not an “old-school coup in which the military aims to take power itself”). Furthermore, this comes after Bolivia’s cancelling of an agreement with a foreign firm to mine lithium in the country (Common Dreams), much like how the Chilean nationalization of copper in 1971 under Allende prompted the military coup there and then. The OAS is also a major player in these recent events, hearkening back to our class examination of Fidel Castro’s denouncement of the OAS, and adding in themes of imperialism and neocolonialism. Finally, US support of dictatorship can be seen in the portrayal of these events, as the New York Times article ends with a quote from far-right President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, an authoritarian leader who has on numerous occasions praised Brazil’s oppressive military dictatorship—quite literally giving him the last word in this matter.

Works Cited:

Beeton, Dan. “No Evidence That Bolivian Election Results Were Affected by Irregularities or Fraud, Statistical Analysis Shows: Press Releases.” CEPR, Center for Economic and Policy Research, 8 Nov. 2019,

Forster, Cindy. “Bolivia in Crosshairs of US Counter-Revolution.” TeleSUR English, TeleSUR, 11 Nov. 2019,

Ghitis, Frida. “Bolivia’s Blunt Message to Leaders Drunk on Power.” CNN, Cable News Network, 11 Nov. 2019,

Higgins, Eoin. “Bolivian Coup Comes Less Than a Week After Morales Stopped Multinational Firm’s Lithium Deal.” Common Dreams, Common Dreams, 11 Nov. 2019,

Londoño, Ernesto. “Bolivian Leader Evo Morales Steps Down.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Nov. 2019,

Peer Review Reflection

The peer reviews were distributed between my talk page and as a response to my edit of the talk page for my article. The shared response I got was that I might be aiming for too much with my planned edits of the article. Furthermore, I was reminded to add citations, and keep a neutral voice. My plans for reorganization were affirmed by my reviews. My plan now is to begin with a reorganization, then add new information.

Guerrilla Warfare (book)

This article is about Che Guevara’s book, Guerrilla Warfare. It doesn’t seem to have a bias, and accurately represents that it is a book, written by Che Guevara, about Guerrilla Warfare. It’s really just a summary of the contents of Guerrilla Warfare. The sources are either the book itself or reviews and articles about the book. I might want to improve this article by seeing how these lessons Guevara wrote about were inspired by experiences he had during the Cuban Revolution.

Subcomandante Marcos

The article I have chosen is the one on Subcomandante Marcos. It is in three WikiProjects: WikiProject Mexico, WikiProject Biography / Military, and WikiProject Indigenous peoples of the Americas. In all three of these, the article is ranked B-Class and in quality, and Mid-importance in importance.

The balance of information in the article is good. The sections on his popularity and relations with the Inter Milan soccer club are very short, the sections on his writings and his life prior to the Zapatistas are of moderate length, and the longest section is his role in negotiations during the Zapatista Crisis of the 1990s.

However, the section on the Zapatista crisis is rife with errors and just poorly made. It focuses very much on the negotiations Marcos made with the Mexican government, which is understandable, as the bulk of the information on the fighting should not be on Marcos’s personal page, but it includes nothing of his other military actions.

Many statements made in this section are uncited, or very clearly biased. The second paragraph includes the phrase “The facts seemed to confirm”, when that paragraph is completely without citations. The most egregious piece of this article is under the subsection titled “Executive decision.” The paragraph concerns value statements, such as referring to certain decisions as “politically and honorably correct”, and is completely free of citations for statements like “[President] Zedillo avoided innocent bloodshed”, which itself is also somewhat a value statement.

With regards to the citations, many are either in Spanish or behind a paywall, if they are even there at all. The citations which are best paraphrased and sourced are the ones that are used as biographical information on Marcos’s life, such as citations 7 and 8.

The talk page has very little discussion, with only four posts made by users. One user in 2016 mentioned that they were working on a re-boot of the page, but it doesn’t seem to have arrived.

Little information is given on the page about more recent events, such as Marcos’s role in contemporary Zapatista struggles, or his experiences as spokesperson for the Zapatistas during The Other Campaign. There is nothing in the body of the article about Marcos post-2006.

The information differs from what we have talked about in class, as it focuses more on the man Marcos than the Zapatista struggle itself.

Class Notes 9/18/19

The first item on our agenda Wednesday was the Border Studies program, discussed by a guest speaker in class. In the program, which is structured similarly to studying abroad, students live mainly in Tuscon, Arizona, but cross the border often on excursions to areas in Mexico. Students live with Spanish-speaking families, so experience in the language is required. Additionally, all students intern with organizations in the borderlands area. Those with high proficiency in Spanish may work with detained migrants and work in areas such as migrant justice or the interviewing of detained asylum seekers, and those with a lower proficiency may work in community gardens or schools. Those who can’t take part in this program (most likely seniors) can apply for internships, and there are week-long non-student programs.

After this, Professor Holt informed us of the History department picnic, and the screening of the documentary “Undeterred”, both events occurring later that Wednesday. She also played a segment of “Corrido de Nipsey Hussle”, a contemporary song about the late rapper in the corrido style we learned about in during our study of the Mexican Revolution. Gio then presented his “LA in the News” research, on government sponsored killings in Nicaragua. Professor Holt then spoke briefly on the fact that the Ortega in Nicaragua today resembles little the Ortega of the revolution, and that in our future study of the revolution it will be important to make a distinction between the two.

Our discussion of our readings and HAP was brief. Professor Holt showed us a 1959 American newsreel celebrating Fidel Castro, portraying him as charismatic, a man who would bring Cuba “back to normal.” In this sense, normalcy refers to aligning with US economic interests, as Batista was previously supported by the US and produced vast amounts of sugar. The clip is very clearly on the side of the revolution, quoting Castro as saying “I am fighting for a democratic Cuba and an end to dictatorship”, which would soon be greatly ironic as American governmental opinions shifted.

In our groups, we discussed the “Declaration of San José” by the Organization of American States, and Castro’s response of the “Declaration of Havana.” The bureaucratic nature of the former when compared to the fiery rhetoric latter was attributed by Professor Holt as the first document being written by committee, while the second was written by Castro as a speech. Questions about the nature of imperialism were raised, as the Declaration of San José claims it rejects imperialism in all forms, and specifically calls out Sino-Soviet influence in the western hemisphere by name, referencing Castro’s decision to ally himself with the Soviet Union. Castro rebuts this by calling into question the Monroe Doctrine as an extension of US imperialism in the western hemisphere, that by giving America the right to police the hemisphere, the clause is already broken.

Corrido—a popular Mexican style of song, in the format of a ballad that tells a story.

Borderlands—the area beside a border, used here in reference to that between the United States and Mexico. It also has connotations of being a liminal space, a space of overlap, which relates to the cultural aspect of the Border Studies program.

Imperialism—the action of one country extending its influence over another using force or coercion.


Does imperialism always have to be militaristic? Must coercion always come from the barrel of a gun? Why or why not?


How are cultures blended together today in the United States? Specifically, how do the cultures which exist on either side of the US-Mexico border interact with and change one another? Is the cultural divide distinct or blurred?


Our discussion of the protests in Nicaragua mentioned the fact that the protesters in the photo were wearing masks. Is hiding one’s face when engaging in this action morally acceptable, if it’s to do more than to protect from tear gas? Does its acceptability change if it is a protest in the United States, rather than in Nicaragua?



Further information on the events in Nicaragua.

A history of US-Cuba relations.

Corrido de Nipsey Hussle (Music Video)

Cuba’s New Government Recognised By Us (1959)