What is a coup d'état?


The political situation in Bolivia after the resignation of Evo Morales to the presidency of Bolivia, made one question whether or not what happened in the South American country was a coup d'état.

What is a coup d'état? Photo: Telesur
What is a coup d'état? Photo: Telesur

After the armed forces suggested to Evo Morales that he leave the presidency after the elections that he himself called and that he won -something that the opposition described as electoral fraud- the former Bolivian president said that all this was a coup d'état "with the intention of imposing his coup intentions".

What is a coup d'état?

A coup d'état is the radical seizure of political power by a group that breaks the constitutional order, which was democratically elected.

Let's say it's a violent action carried out by military, civilian or civilian-military forces that violate the law to appropriate control of a democratic government. Generally, the coup d'état always targets a designated Executive Branch through legal procedures.

Democracy implies that a president remains in office until his term ends when his good behavior lasts. If a president is forced to resign or is detained for reasons not provided for in existing law, it is an illegal act that history and political science have defined as a coup d'état.

A coup d'état is a violent action carried out by military, civilian or civil-military forces that violate the law in order to appropriate control of a democratic government. If the violent action is directed towards an illegal authority, it is a palatial coup or an internal fray, because the basic element of the coup is the interruption or beheading of a legally constituted government.

A coup d'état always targets a designated Executive Branch through legal procedures, and its methodology is almost infinite. In the beginning, conspirators are needed, which can be military, civilian or a mixture of both factions. These conspirators do not share the government program they seek to overthrow, and so opt for the coup instead of competing with clean and transparent elections.

Types of coup d'état

There are four types of coups d'état:

Military uprising: Protagonized by the military sectors of the country, be they all, some or even a small fraction of some, who rise up in arms against the very State that should defend and propose to take control in order to impose its new rules.

Institutional coup: This type of coup d'état, usually the executive power (presidents or general secretaries), decide not to be governed anymore by the legal norms contemplated in the Constitution and to usurp the functions of other powers at their convenience.

Self-coups: It is a coup d'état given by the government of a nation against the State itself that administers, to change in its favor the rules of the game and, in general, to carry out illegal actions and/or to perpetuate itself in power.

Soft hit: This is the name given to a series of conspiracy actions that certain sectors of a country, generally in agreement with foreign powers, carry out to gradually destabilize the country, affect its economy, its international image and its legal functioning, with the sole purpose of depose the current government and illegally impose a new one.

Coups d'état in Latin America

If one analyzes the interests that pushed most of the coups d'état in Latin America, their logic is always the same: economic reasons - oil, bananas, sugar cane, expropriations of land, cows, medicines, geographical location, diamonds and gold-covered by a fiery nationalism.

In the region throughout the twentieth century, there were institutional breakdowns in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Peru, to cite paradigmatic cases.

Finally, to the collapse of democracy as a division of powers must be added prior to censorship, the reduction of civil rights and even the possibility of disappearing in an operation of the Armed Forces. A coup d'état is not only the rupture of the national constitution, but it is also the rupture of a way of life.


President Andrés Manuel López Obrador ruled out the existence of conditions for a coup d'état in Mexico, referring to the recent statements of an Army general who spoke of a "polarization of society".

AMLO denies the possibility of a coup d'état in Mexico
AMLO denies the possibility of a coup d'état in Mexico

Nobody should be thinking that there are conditions for a coup d'état.

The president said at his daily press conference when he responded to a reporter who asked him why a series of messages written by the president on Twitter over the weekend.

How wrong are conservatives and their hawks. They were able to commit the felony of overthrowing and murdering (President Francisco) Madero because this good man, Apostle of Democracy, did not know, or circumstances did not allow him, to rely on a social base that would protect and support him.

In another message, he assured that "although they are other realities and should not fall into the simplicity of comparisons" with the assassination of Madero in 1913, the transformation he leads "has the support of a free and conscious majority, just and lover of legality and peace, which would not allow another coup d'état.

Carlos Gaytán Ochoa was the general who spoke of the polarization of society.

At the press conference, López Obrador said that his messages also responded to the statements of General Carlos Gaytán Ochoa, who last October 22 questioned the strategic decisions of the Executive and spoke of polarization of society.

Today, the high command holds on its shoulders the very high responsibility of keeping the country cohesive, of contributing to its pacification as soon as possible, of doing everything with the lowest social cost, and the greatest efficiency.

He assured that "we currently live in a politically polarized society, because the dominant ideology, which is not the majority, is based on supposedly leftist currents, which for years accumulated a great deal of resentment.

In this regard, Lopez Obrador said that the general "has every right to express himself, but if you read the text there is an attitude that is not very measured.

Regarding Gaytan's reference to the dominant ideology, which is not a majority ideology, he said it is quite a conservative language.

By Mexicanist

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