John Bolton’s Sin

John Bolton’s Sin | OP-ED

Analysis from Latin America of the statements made by Donald Trump’s former advisor in which he admits he helped organize coups.


From Bogotá, in a Colombia battered by years of war, it is not new that the United States has promoted coups in the region or in other latitudes. Since before the independence of Latin American and Caribbean countries from the Spanish crown, it has stuck their nose in the destinies of their people.

The reason has always been to scare away those who try to interfere with its interests. It happened after 1819 when it sought to take business away from the British in the region and, indeed, it succeeded. The separation of Panama from Colombia and the possession of the canal, the incidence of the CIA in the promotion of military dictatorships in the region, the training of the Latin American military at West Point, the Pinochet coup in Chile, the attempted invasion of Cuba and the embargo during more than half a century.

And the list is longer. No wonder John Bolton, National Security Advisor when Donald Trump was President, told a CNN reporter: “As someone who has helped plan coups, not here, but in other countries, I can tell you it takes a lot of work”. He said that his former boss was not capable of a “carefully planned coup”. He also made reference to the Venezuelan situation and the promotion of Juan Guaidó, a mediocre opposition politician, who played at being President in the cloud with the support of Trump and the Colombian Government of Iván Duque.

Bolton did not specify where he had “helped plan coups”, but it is not necessary to go much deeper. In Latin America, in addition to Venezuela, Evo Morales’ Bolivia was surely his target.

What’s new about Bolton is that he talked; he gave voice to what everyone knows. That is his sin. Suspicion is not the same as ratification that it is not speculation. It also confirms the importance of Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump. Can you imagine what the region would be in if that had not been the case?

In Colombia, something similar happened in 2016, when after the “No” to the peace agreement with the FARC won in a baffling plebiscite. The head of the campaign that promoted that vote admitted that they had lied and caused fear among voters to achieve the goal.

That the country would be left in the hands of the guerrillas, that Colombia would become the economic disaster that Venezuela turned out to be, that children would run the risk of becoming homosexual because of the contents of the school textbooks...

Well-informed people knew that this was not true and questioned the leaders who opposed peace for the nonsense of their opinions. But the confession of the head of the “No” campaign confirmed that these were not isolated messages, but a coldly calculated strategy to prevent reconciliation. 


In the end, the peace agreement was signed with some adjustments pressured by those who lied. It began to be implemented and nothing of what was promised by the extreme right opposition happened. The right-wing Duque Government, which ends on August 7th, boycotted the agreement and did nothing to prevent the assassination of more than 300 ex-guerrillas and more than a thousand social leaders.

What was kept was the doctrine of the internal enemy, promoted by the United States in the 60’s in the face of the communist threat, but which in Colombia was consolidated as a way to combat the opposition through the violation of human rights.

Now comes a progressive Government in Colombia and the willingness of Biden’s administration to support peace and help resolve the many crises in the South American country. Can you imagine where that country and Latin America would be if Trump were still President?


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