On Thursday afternoon in Bolivia, a convoy led by the head of the country’s military, Gen. Juan José Zúñiga, staged an unsuccessful coup attempt against incumbent President Luis Arce. Mobilized outside of the presidential palace, at around 5 p.m the insurgents attempted to ram open the doors of the Palacio Quemado using an armored vehicle. Thereafter, Arce reprimanded the general face-to-face, ordering him to stand down before proceeding to replace the heads of the armed forces. By the end of the hour, Zúñiga had been placed in custody and a majority of his troops removed from the scene. All told, Bolivia’s 2024 coup attempt lasted three hours, as even jailed opposition leaders denounced the plot.

Just five years ago, the armed forces staged another purported coup against then-President Evo Morales, who ruled from 2006 to 2019. The standard-issue “anti-imperialist” narrative on the subject treats a stupid one-off tweet from Elon Musk—“We will coup whoever we want!”—as the genesis of a vast, global conspiracy meant to rob Bolivia of its lithium wealth. Then as now, this view omits the crucial detail that Morales has been the source of every crisis in Bolivia since 2016. 

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