State violence against indigenous populations is arguably the most visible of human rights violations and, conversely, of the least concern to the international community. After the military coup in Bolivia which deposed indigenous President Evo Morales, Israel has secured another ally in Latin America, right-wing interim president Jeanine Añez who announced the restoration of diplomatic ties with the settler-colonial state.
Eleven years have passed since Morales cut all ties with Israel in response to the 2008-2009 Israeli offensive against Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead. According to Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Bolivia’s reversal will “contribute to Israel’s foreign relations and to its international status,” adding that Morales was “hostile to Israel.”
Together with Cuba and Venezuela, Bolivia under Morales was vocal in consistently pointing out Israel’s human rights violations without resorting to euphemisms or attempting any false equivalence between the coloniser and the colonised. Sacha Llorenti, Bolivia’s former ambassador to the UN, was equally persistent in communicating the government’s stance of tirelessly highlighting Israeli atrocities. The only flaw exhibited by Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela was their adherence to the two-state compromise, which diluted the decolonisation stance which these countries, under Morales, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, called for relentlessly.
Predictably, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the Bolivian coup leaders in a tweet which portrayed the disfigurement of democracy and its tacit acceptance by the international community. Perhaps it is time to ponder the fact that it is the world powers and states built upon ethnic cleansing and settler-colonialism that have monopolised “democracy” and the attributes associated with it as opposed to values, namely a vast spectrum of violations juxtaposed against weak rhetoric about human rights.
The Palestinians and indigenous people in Latin America have much in common. The current turmoil in the region, in particular Bolivia, Brazil and Chile, all of which are now colluding in the repression of their indigenous populations, serves Israel well in terms of diplomacy. The so-called democracies which kill and permanently maim their opponents in the streets – reviving memories of dictatorships and their crimes in the region – are employing a similar security narrative as that promoted by Israel at an international level to obtain perpetual impunity for its crimes against the Palestinian people.
Now that Israel can celebrate the formation of yet another link in its Latin America diplomatic strategy, it would be wise to remember that internationalist solidarity between the people of Latin America and Palestine is now more important than ever. Leaders such as Fidel, Chavez and Morales imparted the best of examples when it came to their commitment to the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle due to the fact that their understanding departed from the historical processes in the region. As failing leaderships – in terms of contempt for human rights and political irresponsibility — take over, it is imperative that indigenous struggle for liberation is not isolated.
Without dispelling the fact that each struggle has its own specifics to contend with, it must be remembered that the root of indigenous dispossession is settler-colonialism, in Latin America as well as Israel and elsewhere. Palestinians have much support for their cause, but it is the Palestinian leadership that keeps referring to the wrong authorities to disable the empowerment of its own people to liberate themselves from colonial occupation.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.