Calling a Coup a Coup: The State Department Ignores the Law, Again — CEPR

Since 1986, US budget bills have included a provision ― commonly identified as Section 7008 ― that expressly prohibits providing financial aid to governments that have taken power via a military coup. In its most recent form, the provision reads:

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available … shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’état or decree or … a coup d’état or decree in which the military plays a decisive role: Provided, That assistance may be resumed to such government if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office: Provided further, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes….

The language of this provision is clear, yet the State Department often fails to act when coups take place. In some cases, this is because the US government supports the coups (in some cases aiding or orchestrating them). It would appear that the US government has a selective approach to dealing with military coups, depending on whether they are seen as favorable or detrimental to US power and influence in the region. In cases in which the US government considers a coup a positive development, the secretary of state often avoids complying with Section 7008 by simply choosing to ignore that a coup has taken place. The aftermath of the overthrow of Evo Morales’s government in Bolivia provides the latest example of how US leaders disregard the law in this way, and indeed how they are growing bolder in doing so.

You can read the rest of my post on CEPR’s The Americas Blog here.

Originally published at on January 7, 2020.

Writer on politics, public policy, and current events. All opinions here are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of employers past or present.

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