In the days since Evo Morales stepped down as president of Bolivia and fled to Mexico, two starkly divergent accounts of his downfall have emerged among observers around the world. In one, Morales is the victim of a brazen right-wing coup, the latest in a long line of progressive Latin American leaders toppled by reactionary forces. In another, Morales had turned increasingly autocratic, clinging to power with little regard for checks and balances, and his ouster was a rare victory for democracy and the rule of law at a time when authoritarianism is on the upswing.
Neither narrative captures the whole story, yet both contain a kernel of truth. Morales and his allies all too often used their popularity as license to concentrate political power and marginalize opponents, and in so doing laid the groundwork for his ultimate downfall. Yet in his nearly 14 years in power, Morales also oversaw social