Jim Shultz is the founder and executive director of The Democracy Center, a nonprofit that tackles issues of social, economic, and environmental justice, with a focus on Latin America. Working for the organization, he lived from 1998 to 2017 in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where he also served as president of an orphanage. He is a co-author and co-editor of Dignity and Defiance: Stories from Bolivia’s Challenge to Globalization (2008) and the author of the forthcoming memoir My Other Country: Nineteen Years in Bolivia. (November 2019)
The end of Morales’s historic presidency has the quality of one of those inkblot tests in which everyone sees what they want to see. The global left, from British Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn to an assortment of foreign intellectuals, immediately denounced what had happened as a military coup, linking it in the public mind to the old, familiar scenes of tanks rolling into South American capitals. Those who have long hated Evo declared it a blow against the evils of socialist dictatorship. But if I learned anything in my time in the country, it is this: nothing is simple in Bolivia, and such was the case with the turbulent political career of Evo Morales.