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To Western Media, Prosecuting Bolivian Coup Leaders Is Worse Than Leading a Coup

BY JOE EMERSBERGER | FAIR | MARCH 23, 2021

One can imagine an editor of the London-based Guardian (3/17/21) shaking her head sadly as she typed the headline: “Cycle of Retribution Takes Bolivia’s Ex-President From Palace to Prison Cell.”  The subhead told readers, “Jeanine Áñez’s government once sought to jail the country’s former leader Evo Morales for terrorism and sedition—now she faces the same charges.”

The Guardian article by Tom Phillips wants us to lament an alleged incapacity of Bolivian governments to stop persecuting opponents once they take office. We are told that Áñez’s government did it, and that now the government of President Luis Arce (elected in a landslide win on October 18, 2020) is also doing it.

The article’s premise is a lie, and the liberal Guardian has hardly been the only outlet spreading it, with help from Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), whom Philips quoted. A team effort between Western media and NGOs like HRW often reinforces the views of the US government (FAIR.org8/23/188/31/185/31/2o11/3/18).

Áñez was a US-backed dictator installed after a military coup sent democratically elected President Evo Morales fleeing Bolivia for his life on November 10, 2019.  Once in power, Áñez immediately promised security forces legal immunity as they massacred dozens of protesters. She is now charged with terrorism (in addition to sedition and criminal conspiracy) over her attempt to keep power by terrorizing the public. Her arrest is good news to people who support democracy and human rights.

But now, as when the coup took place in 2019, the most obvious conclusions are evaded when they are incompatible with US foreign policy (FAIR.org11/11/19). It should surprise nobody that US officials have made statements depicting her arrest as political persecution.

Fighting to spring an ex-dictator

In downgrading the coup that installed Áñez to a mere allegation made against Áñez, Reuters (3/13/21), the Financial Times (3/13/21), the Washington Post (3/13/21), CNN (3/15/21) and Canada’s National Post (3/13/21) have all run articles quoting HRW’s Vivanco criticizing her arrest. CNN quoted him:

The arrest warrants against Añez and her ministers do not contain any evidence that they have committed the crime of “terrorism.” For this reason, they generate well-founded doubts that it is a process based on political motives.

The Washington Post article, whose headline alleged a “crackdown on opposition,” used a shorter version of the same quote from Vivanco.

While all the articles described the coup as an allegation, CNN stands out for getting the most ridiculous with its denialism:

Then-head of the Bolivian Armed Forces, Cmdr. Williams Kaliman, asked Morales to step down to restore stability and peace; Morales acquiesced on November 10 “for the good of Bolivia.”

But political allies maintain he was removed from power as part of a coup orchestrated by conservatives, including Áñez.

Did Kaliman need to be filmed putting a gun directly to Morales’ head for CNN to admit it was a coup?

Adding to the disinformation loop from his own platform on Twitter, Vivanco spread an Americas Quarterly op-ed  by Raul Peñaranda (3/16/21) that denounced the arrest of Áñez. Peñaranda once said that Bolivia’s democracy was “saved” the day Morales was overthrown, and his recent op-ed depicts the November 2019 coup as a legal transfer of power.

In 2019, the military publicly “urged” Morales to resign, as both the military and police made clear they would not protect him from violent right-wing protesters, some of whom ransacked his house.  Áñez, a right-wing senator whose party received only 4% of the national vote in the 2019 legislative elections, had the presidential sash placed on her by military men, while lawmakers from Evo Morales’ party (Movimineto al Socialismo, or MAS), the majority in the legislature, were absent: some in hiding, others refusing to attend without guarantees of their safety and their families’.

Ignoring all that, the Guardian article by Tom Philips refers to “claims the former senator [Áñez] was involved in plotting the right-wing coup that Bolivia’s current government claims brought her to power.” (My emphasis.) Editors are usually big fans of concision. The highlighted words should have been deleted. An added benefit would have been accuracy.

Of course, it’s easier to deny that Áñez was involved in plotting the coup that put her in power (hardly a stretch) if you do not even accept that a coup took place. Reuters placed scare quotes around the word “coup” in headlines about Áñez’s arrest: “Bolivian Ex-President Áñez Begins Four-Month Detention Over ‘Coup’ Allegations” (3/16/21); “ Bolivian Ex-President Áñez Begins Jail Term as Rights Groups Slam ‘Coup’ Probe” (3/14/21).

Reuters (3/14/21) and CNN (3/15/21) also uncritically reported the thoroughly debunked pretext for the coup. CNN reported, “Though an international audit would later find the results the 2019 election could not be validated because of ‘serious irregularities,’ [Morales] declared himself the winner, prompting massive protests around the country.” (The “international audit” is the OAS’s widely debunked report.) Reuters simply stated that the Organization of America States (OAS) “was an official monitor of the 2019 election and had found it fraudulent.”

Cycle of dishonesty

The coup was incited by transparently dishonest claims repeatedly made by OAS monitors about the presidential election won by Morales on October 20, 2019. Three days after the election, they claimed there was a “drastic,” “inexplicable” and “hard to explain” increase in Morales’ lead in the vote count (FAIR.org12/17/19).

The Washington, DC–based Center for Economic and Policy Research immediately pointed out that this was utter nonsense. But in the crucial months following Morales’ ouster, outlets like Reuters constantly shielded the OAS from devastating criticism. Eventually, expert criticism of the OAS continually mounted and disrupted the media silence. Details from the election results in 2020, in which Evo Morales’ party triumphed by an even greater margin than in 2019, further exposed OAS dishonesty.

Like Reuters, the widely quoted Jose Miguel Vivanco of HRW spread fraud claims when it mattered most in 2019. The day after the election won by Morales, Vivanco  tweeted in Spanish that “everything indicates that [Evo Morales]  intends to steal the election.” As late as December 2019, HRW executive director Ken Roth was also promoting OAS claims without the slightest trace of scepticism. Months into the murderous illegitimate rule of Áñez, Vivanco explicitly referred to Bolivia as a “democracy.” He did so in a Spanish-language interview with BrujulaDigital  (5/15/20), an outlet edited by Raul Peñaranda, the coup supporter whose Americas Quarterly op-ed Vivanco recently promoted on Twitter. Meanwhile, on Twitter, Vivanco constantly refers to the governments of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, and President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua–two democratically elected presidents the US government wants overthrown–as “dictaduras” (dictatorships).

The New York Times editorial board openly supported the coup that ousted Morales in 2019:

The forced ouster of an elected leader is by definition a setback to democracy, and so a moment of risk. But when a leader resorts to brazenly abusing the power and institutions put in his care by the electorate, as President Evo Morales did in Bolivia, it is he who sheds his legitimacy, and forcing him out often becomes the only remaining option. That is what the Bolivians have done, and what remains is to hope that Mr. Morales goes peacefully into exile in Mexico and to help Bolivia restore its wounded democracy.

So predictably enough, a Times article (3/12/21) about the recent Áñez arrest referred vaguely to the utterly debunked OAS fraud claims (“a contested vote count”) and took the same kind of dishonest stance as HRW and other Western media by equating a US-backed dictatorship to a democratically elected government whose ouster the US supported: “Both Mr. Morales and Ms. Añez used the judiciary to go after their critics.”

The Washington Post editorial board (3/18/21) came out with a wild defense of  Añez, headlined: “The Bolivian Government Is on a Lawless Course. Its Democracy Must Be Preserved.” Most ominously, the editorial said, “The Biden administration should lead a regional effort to preserve democratic stability in this long-suffering country, lest crisis turn into catastrophe.” Informed people may laugh at this for a few seconds–until they remember that Bolivia’s people could eventually face lethal US sanctions for daring to hold murderers to account. Left unchallenged, that’s the catastrophe that propaganda like this could bring about.

Brutal dictators supported by Washington have no reason to doubt that establishment journalists and big NGOs will try very hard to keep them out of jail. Removing the threat of US -backed coups from the world will involve a constant struggle against Western media and the sources they present to us as reliable.

March 26, 2021 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Bolivia has every right to prosecute coup perpetrators for their crimes

By Bradley Blankenship | RT | March 17, 2021

The arrest of Bolivia’s former interim president Jeanine Áñez and her coup co-conspirators is being painted by pro-Western organizations as political persecution, but it’s far from that.

Bolivian authorities arrested ex-interim president Jeanine Áñez on March 14 for sedition, terrorism and conspiracy for her role in the 2019 coup that ousted former president Evo Morales and ushered in a dark age of violence and repression in the country. Justice Minister Ivan Lima said days after the arrest that he would seek a 30-year sentence for Áñez if found guilty, a sign that the victims of the coup regime’s repression will get the justice they deserve.

There have been many more arrests, including several ministers under the Áñez government and right-wing paramilitary leaders involved, and more are expected to follow. In many of these cases, it’s social movements leading the pressure for charges to be brought against co-conspirators in the coup.

This shows that President Luis Arce, a member of Morales’ Movement toward Socialism (MAS), is serious about getting the country back on its pre-coup developmental path – and keeping criminals accountable.

To be sure, the coup government of Jeanine Áñez tried hard to take Bolivia off of this path and that’s why they worked to radically change the character of institutions in the country. They repressed the MAS and grassroots social movements; allowed street gangs to terrorize and murder dissenters; worked to destroy the free press and opened the country back up to Western capital penetration, which they called a “return to civilization.” (A racist dig at Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous leader).

Now, for Arce and his government, course-correcting will take a correspondingly heavy approach. That being said, it does not mean that one should fall into the intellectual trap of both-sidesism, i.e. that both sides are just as bad as one another. Such a position fails to appreciate exactly how repressive Áñez and her co-conspirators were, and, by comparison, how orderly the judicial process they face is.

Just look at the 2019 Senkata and Sacaba Massacres that occurred immediately after Áñez took power. With Decree 4078, a license to kill that was so blatant it was even denounced by Amnesty International, Áñez absolved armed forces of any criminal liability in their actions and they immediately massacred anti-coup protesters. That same month, family members carried the coffins of those killed in the attack through the city of La Paz and Áñez ordered a crackdown on the march.

This isn’t even to speak of the violence that took place during the events of the coup. Áñez was actually able to seize power in the first place after the resignation of Victor Borda, former president of the lower house representing MAS, after protesters tortured his brother and burned his family home down.

Despite these extraordinarily well-documented crimes, many in the Western media and Western-backed institutions are painting the arrests of the former coup government officials and their street militias as political persecution against the MAS’ opposition.

These are the same kinds of people that have criticized independent governments for decades, who have apparently no limit to the amount of empathy they can express for murderers and traitors, and whose barometer for democracy is whether pro-Western radicals are allowed to carry on with impunity.

Just look at the Organization of American States (OAS), an organization that was one of the main drivers of the 2019 coup when it falsely claimed there were election irregularities during that year’s presidential election. The OAS recently called on Bolivia to release Áñez and the other coup co-conspirators because of supposed problems in the country’s judicial system, saying they should be tried before the International Criminal Court (ICC) instead to provide a “fair” trial.

Likewise, this sentiment was followed by Human Rights Watch. For its part, this human rights NGO denounced Bolivia last week for giving amnesty to those arrested by the coup government. According to them, the amnesty decree issued by President Arce was too broad and could allow for serious crimes to be dismissed.

Western media outlets are predictably condemning the arrests, labeling them as persecution. The AP ran with the headline, “Bolivia’s ex-interim president arrested in opposition crackdown,” which was reprinted as-is in many major English language media publications.

For her part, Áñez is also actively fielding support from foreign governments. A letter sent by Áñez to OAS chief Luis Almagro dated March 13, a day before her arrest, described the charges as political persecution. The memo apparently got through to at least an imaginary government since Venezuela’s “Legitimate Government,” the one headed by Venezuelan non-president Juan Guaidó issued a statement of support for Áñez.

Pro-Western organizations and media have little concern for “democracy” or “human rights” and only truly care about supporting governments that kowtow to the interests of multinational corporations. Holding their favored leaders accountable for crimes is “political persecution” and apparently in the same category as street violence, torture and mass murder. The hypocrisy never ends.

When President Arce took office in November, he promised to “rebuild the country in unity.” What he did not say was that Bolivia would allow murderers to roam freely, because surely that would only set the country up to be further divided by external forces. That is exactly what happened the whole year before he took office.

Bolivia is showing the world what justice and the rule of law look like, whether Western countries like it or not.

Bradley Blankenship is a Prague-based American journalist, columnist and political commentator. He has a syndicated column at CGTN and is a freelance reporter for international news agencies including Xinhua News Agency.

March 18, 2021 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Bolivian Court Issues Warrants for Arrest of Former Interim President Jeanine Añez, Other Ministers

By Morgan Artyukhina – Sputnik – 12.03.2021

Last week, Jeanine Añez, the former self-proclaimed interim president of Bolivia, refused a summons to meet with the state prosecutor in her home province of Beni, paving the way for her arrest for giving security forces a “license to kill” protesters who challenged her interim government’s rule in 2019 and 2020.

A Bolivian court has issued arrest warrants for Jeanine Añez, the former interim president who seized power in a coup d’etat in late 2019, alongside several of her senior ministers, warning they are a “flight risk.”

According to the court filing shared by Bolivian news outlet Kawsachun News, Añez and nine other senior officials from her administration are charged with terrorism, sedition and conspiracy.

In response to the arrest warrants being issued, Añez took to Twitter on Friday to beg for support.

​”The political persecution has begun,” she wrote. “The MAS has decided to return to the styles of the dictatorship. A shame because Bolivia does not need dictators, it needs freedom and solutions.”

Rise and Fall of the House of Añez

Añez left office in early November when Luis Arce from the Movement for Socialism (MAS) took office, having won in a landslide election on October 18. The vote was repeatedly postponed, sparking protests and fueling fears of a turn even further from democracy.

A former senator from the lowland Beni region in northeastern Bolivia, Añez rose to power in the chaos of November 2019, when a coordinated campaign by domestic and international forces attempted to void the re-election of MAS leader and then-President Evo Morales the previous month. After right-wing militias and sympathetic police forces locked out MAS lawmakers and Añez found herself the head of a rump parliament, she declared herself the interim president on November 12.

US media and the US government both provided support to the anti-MAS forces in the country, with then-US President Donald Trump and allies like Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro quickly extending recognition to Añez’s declared interim government. However, after months of claiming Morales had stolen the vote, US papers like the Washington Post were forced to admit that the Organization of American States report underpinning those claims was “deeply flawed.”

“There is not any statistical evidence of fraud that we can find – the trends in the preliminary count, the lack of any big jump in support for Morales after the halt, and the size of Morales’s margin all appear legitimate,” the Post wrote in February 2020, after months of street violence between Añez’s police and military forces and the indigenous-led protests against them had solidified her rule.

A backer of former President Evo Morales scuffles with police in La Paz, Bolivia, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. The opposition senator who has claimed Bolivia’s presidency Jeanine Anez, faces the challenge of stabilizing the nation and organizing national elections within three months at a time of political disputes that pushed Morales to fly off to self-exile in Mexico after 14 years in power.

New elections were originally slated for May 2020, but after the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier in the year, Añez’s government repeatedly postponed the elections until ten days of mass demonstrations forced it to commit to October 18. Ironically, the leading contender in the race was the MAS candidate Luis Arce, who swept the October elections with 55% of the vote.

In the weeks that followed, the new Plurinational Legislative Assembly, Bolivia’s parliament, issued indictments for Añez in connection with a series of massacres of protesters by police under her watch. She and 11 of her then-ministers were implicated in massacres in the indigenous-majority communities of Senkata, Sacaba and Yapacani and accused of genocide for giving police a “license to kill.”

Last week, she refused a summons to meet with the state prosecutor in Beni on pain of arrest.

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Bolivia’s Central Bank Returns Añez’s Requested Loan To IMF

teleSUR | February 17, 2021

Bolivia’s Central Bank announced on Wednesday that it had returned US$346.7 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a loan irregularly managed by the de facto government of Jeanine Añez.

“This loan, in addition to being irregular and onerous due to its financial conditions, generated additional and millionaire economic costs to the Bolivian State, which as of February 2021 amount to US$24.3 million of which US$19.6 million are due to exchange rate fluctuations 19.6 million for exchange variation and 4.7 million for commissions and interest,” the institution explained in a statement.

The Central Bank denounced that the IMF jeopardized the “country’s sovereignty and economic interests” through its Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), which conditioned the funds to fiscal, financial, exchange rate monetary duties, which violate the Bolivian legal framework.

Moreover, authorities explain that they would start an investigation to prosecute all officials involved in the IMF’s illegal arrangement.

February 18, 2021 Posted by | Corruption | , , | 1 Comment

Will Arce bring Cuban doctors back to Bolivia?

By Lucas Leiroz | December 12, 2020

For the supporters of Evo Morales and MAS, the election of Luis Arce in Bolivia was a great victory. But the challenges for the new president are enormous and opposition to his plans is strong. One of the most recent challenges is to decide about the future of medical cooperation between Bolivians and Cubans. Arce, in the midst of his country’s political chaos, must choose the future of Bolivian health cooperation with Cuba.

For 13 years, thousands of Cuban doctors have been in Bolivia and helped to make up for the shortage of health professionals in this South American country. Altogether, more than 70 million medical consultations were carried out by Cubans in Bolivia. A real dependency relationship was created. Without Cubans, thousands of Bolivians are unable to receive any medical treatment and entire regions of the country are excluded from the national health system, mainly the urban peripheries and rural zones. Even so, shortly after the coup that overthrew Morales, one of the first attitudes of the government of Jeanine Áñez was to expel the brigade of Cuban doctors from Bolivia, as part of the alignment measures with the US planned by the opponents of Morales.

Despite the undeniable benefits of the Cuban presence, Bolivia’s departmental medical schools vehemently reject the Cuban brigade’s presence in the national territory. According to representatives of such departments, the members of the Cuban medical brigades are “supposed doctors” who perform secret activities for the Communist government of Cuba. Another widely used argument is that Cubans “take jobs” that would be for Bolivian doctors. In this regard, the Doctors’ Union announced that health professionals will soon go on strike against the Arce government and that services will only resume if the president maintains the veto against Cubans.

In addition, the La Paz Faculty of Medicine recently stated that it sent a letter to the Ministry of Health addressing the issue of Cuban doctors. The Faculty, like the Union, is directly opposed to the presence of foreign doctors in the country, however, it assumes a more “peaceful” posture, trying to negotiate with the government instead of starting a national strike.

This rivalry between Bolivian and Cuban doctors is not new. During the government of Evo Morales, Bolivian doctors carried out repeated strikes, which lasted for months, resulting in leaving a large percentage of the population dependent on the public health system without an adequate care. There was no statistical study on the case, but it is known that many Bolivians became ill, died, or had serious consequences due to the resistance of doctors to assist them – which is a crime. That is precisely why Arce is acting so cautiously: his goal is to prevent further strikes in the midst of the pandemic.

However, the idea of replacing Cuban doctors with unemployed Bolivian professionals seems to be nonviable. At the time of the expulsion, the Áñez government had declared that it would immediately fill these positions with Bolivian doctors, which never really happened, showing that Bolivia really has no structure to supply the absence of Cuban doctors.

There are a number of factors that must be considered when analyzing this case. First, it deals with a question of quality over quantity. Regardless of the numbers and whether or not there are enough Bolivian doctors to replace the brigades, Cuban medical training is noticeably more appropriate, with the Caribbean country being recognized worldwide for its medical quality. During the pandemic, Cuba sent humanitarian aid to several countries, including developed nations, such as Italy. It is impossible to deny the ability of Cuban professionals – which is usually done only based on ideological assumptions. Still, the numbers of Cuban actions in Bolivia are impressive: more than 70 million consultations, 47,000 laboratory tests and 253,000 surgeries. The main merit of these professionals serving remote regions, where the Bolivian public system has difficulty reaching. Bolivia is a country marked by mountainous and desert regions, where access by health professionals is often difficult. Bolivian doctors most of the time do not arrive in such regions as large urban centers are treated with priority. Cooperation with Cuba met this need.

It is also important to demystify the discourse of Bolivian health professionals that Cubans are “taking their jobs”. This is not true. It is important to remember that Bolivia is the poorest country in South America, with poor education conditions for most of the population. In general, Bolivians who graduate in medicine are part of the country’s economic elite and are, therefore, interested in guaranteeing their own interests, and not those of the population, when they criticize the government and promote strikes and stoppages.

Still, what to expect from professionals who refuse to treat their own countrymen, promoting stoppages of essential services only for political reasons? Apparently, the close links between the Bolivian opposition and the medical centers have reached intolerable levels. In any case, the scenario only tends to get worse.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

December 12, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , | Leave a comment

Masterminds of 2019 Coup in Bolivia Denounced

teleSUR | December 2, 2020

The former deputy of the governing Movement towards Socialism (MAS) Lidia Patty presented on Monday a lawsuit before the Prosecutor’s Office of the city of La Paz (administrative capital) against the leader of the political group Creemos, Luis Fernando Camacho, and his father José Luis, for alleged crimes of “conspiracy” and “destabilization” after the victory of former president Evo Morales in the elections of November 2019.

The complaint also accuses the former commanders of the Bolivian Armed Forces, Williams Kaliman, and the police, Yuri Calderón, of having committed the crimes of “terrorism, sedition and conspiracy,” for which they have requested their immediate arrest given the danger of their escape from the Andean country.

“We have filed a lawsuit with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, together with my lawyer, and this is important because no one is doing any follow-up because they are free, calm and have destabilized our country economically and politically, Camacho and his father,” Patty told reporters.

According to the complaint, after the November 2019 elections, the accused’s acts caused a “social commotion” in the country that resulted in Morales’ resignation. She also portrayed Camacho and his father as some of the “masterminds” of the coup, who negotiated and paid high military officials to destabilize the democratically elected government.

The former Parliament member also repudiated that the ex-military had “deliberated and suggested” to Morales his resignation, thus violating the Bolivian Constitution. Furthermore, she explained that the former president, who no longer had the Armed Forces command, was forced to withdraw from power because of “the risk of losing his life” and the fear that the Bolivian people “would be massacred.”

Morales resigned as President of Bolivia on November 10, 2019, amid a coup d’état orchestrated against him by the opposition backed by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United States. He first traveled to Mexico and then to Argentina, where he was granted political asylum status.

Morales returned to his country on November 9 after Luis Arce, the candidate of his political formation, the MAS, won the first round of the Bolivian presidential elections last October with more than 55 % of the votes.

December 2, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Bolivians Face Major Post-Coup Struggles As Luis Arce Seeks Justice, Economic Reforms, Activist Says

By Demond Cureton – Sputnik – 17.11.2020

Bolivians are tasked with numerous challenges after successfully voting out the former Jeanine Anez coup government, who seized control last year in elections contested by opposition forces. The nation has entered a period of restructuring and healing following major political crises in recent months.

Miriam Amancay Colque, spokeswoman for the Bartolina Sisa Resistance movement in London, spoke to Sputnik about events in Bolivia following President Luis Arce and Vice-president David Choquehuanca’s victory in national elections.

SPUTNIK: Can you tell us about the current mood in Bolivia? How are people feeling after Luis Arce’s electoral victory?

Miriam Amancay Colque: The Bolivian people have regained their hope or, as we call it, their Ajayu, or their ‘soul’.

The victories of President Arce and Vice-president Choquehuanca mark those of the Bolivian people that, despite intimidation, persecution and massacres, defended democracy against racist, genocidal Jeanine Anez dictatorship.

Bolivians, in particular indigenous people, feel that their dignity and identity has been restored and are now placing faith in their new leadership.

Former president Evo Morales has also returned from exile in Argentina, back to his roots in Bolivia. Nearly 1m people welcomed him in El Chapare, and we are sure he will work positively with the new government.

SPUTNIK: How was the swearing in ceremony and how did people react?

Miriam Amancay Colque: The swearing-in ceremony for the President and Vice-President was inspiring. It took place on 8 November and was attended by global delegates and Bolivians. Social movements from across the country joined the parade to show support for the two officials, and the event was celebrated with music and dances for over eight hours.

There was widespread jubilation, with several thousands taking part in the event. A small opposition group protested the event but failed to dampen the celebrations.

Bolivians have shown the world that a humble but dignified and courageous people were able to break the chains of the former Anez dictatorship to reclaim their democracy.

SPUTNIK: What has become of the previous coup administration?

Miriam Amancay Colque: The former regime strongman who launched massacres across the country, Arturo Murillo Prijic, was the first to flee the country. Jeanine Anez is also believed to have fled Bolivia, and her collaborators have either renounced or left their posts.

Most of them will face justice for numerous crimes, including massacres, torture, imprisonment, corruption and others.

SPUTNIK: Have they accepted defeat or do you think they will attempt further coups in the country?

Miriam Amancay Colque: The opposition will always be on the lookout, but as long as Bolivians remain united and mobilised, it will be very difficult for them to violate the rule of law and its institutions again.

Those most affected by the attacks from the right-wing groups were always indigenous people who, after over 500 years, continue to struggle against oppressors and will continue to defend their rights.

Dignified and sovereign people rebelled and empowered themselves by speaking out against the Anez regime and emerged victorious.

But it should be known that the opposition never works alone. US organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded the right-wing opposition with millions to destabilise left-wing governments.

Groups such as Rios de Pie (Standing Rivers) were camouflaged as an environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) lead by Jhanisse Vaca Daza, a US-backed operative with experience in toppling progressive governments.

Daza also holds racist views and is now campaigning against President Arce in an attempt to divide Bolivians again.

SPUTNIK: How will the incoming administration deal with those responsible for crimes against humanity?

Miriam Amancay Colque: To bring peace we need justice, and all people involved in crimes against humanity must be tried and punished. Massacres took place against mostly indigenous people, leading to over 30 people killed and hundreds injured, and cannot go unpunished.

Judicial authorities in Bolivia will need to investigate and restore justice and peace to affected families, and President Arce has met with families in Senkata to listen to their testimonies.

We remembered the victims killed and injured in Ovejuyo, Pedregal, Rosales and Chasquipampa in southern La Paz City on 11 November, and victims of the Huayllani, Sabaca massacre last year were remembered on the 15th.

Many of them have been unable to seek justice, and our organisation sends our heartfelt solidarity to all those affected.

Despite the pain and trauma, it is important to seek justice for all victims and their relatives subjected to threats and mistreatment by security forces, including police and paramilitary groups as well as health professionals refusing to provide medical care to victims because they ‘looked like Masistas’, or indigenous people.

SPUTNIK: According to Reuters, Arce promises “moderate” Socialism for the Bolivian people. What precisely does he mean by this and how would it work compared to socialism under Evo Morales?

Miriam Amancay Colque: Neoliberal policies have been imposed on Bolivia, leading to major poverty, unemployment and inequality, among others.

Capitalism is not the answer for these people there is a need to move to a system that works for the people rather than exploiting them, and that supports the majority rather than a few by redistributing wealth to the poorest and marginalised.

Arce’s socialist views were formed when he was a member of the Socialist Party 1 (PS1) in the 80s. His party leader, Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, was tortured, killed and disappeared by military dictator Luis Garcia Mesa in July 1980.

We also recognise that Morales is an undisputed and charismatic indigenous leader with a major place in history, and Arce is, after all, the architect of the miraculous economic policies that transformed Bolivia under Morales.

Arce’s policies halved extreme poverty from 38 percent to 17 percent, reduced national debt and increased wealth by 5 percent each year. It is thanks to Arce that Bolivia has made such progress prior to the US backed coup. He is also a more pragmatic person and is well-qualified to rescue the nation from economic collapse and bring people together.

SPUTNIK: What are the most important challenges for the Arce administration?

Miriam Amancay Colque: President Arce has inherited a real challenge after the coup government left the country economically destroyed with state companies privatised and bankrupt, along with a -11 percent recession rate and unemployment tripled.

Jeanine Anez took power only to embezzle public funds with her collaborators, who never offered support to Bolivians left to their own devices in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dead victims were found in the streets, in houses and other places, without medical assistance and abandoned by the state.

President Arce’s top priority will be to tackle COVID-19 by providing full assistance to Bolivians. He recently stated he would rebuild the economy, boost domestic consumption and pledge financial support, and announced on 12 November a further Bonus Against Hunger to be paid in December to unemployed people over 18 years old.

The most pressing problems in the country will be economic and health issues. President Arce has said he would need to implement measures to boost the economy.

Personally, I think there should be no payments of foreign debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) until the economy is back on track and COVID-19 is suppressed.

The government should also continue industrialising national gas, lithium and other resources, and further advancements in social services should be implemented to inspire young, new leaders in the future.

SPUTNIK: What issues will they need to reverse from the former Anez coup government?

Miriam Amancay Colque: Measures will need to be implemented to reverse the damage of the Anez coup government, including boosting internal demand, renationalising strategic companies from foreign companies and backing state firms.

Education will need to be restored after the coup government shuttered schools for the year, leaving thousands of children without access to education.

The Arce government has reestablished the Culture and Decolonisation Ministry to continue to support the Bolivian people.

The Bolivian people are beginning to decide their own future for themselves.

November 17, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

Bolivia’s former ‘interim president’ and coup government ministers could face trial over 2019 crackdown on protesters

RT | October 27, 2020

The Bolivian parliament has approved a resolution demanding a criminal case be opened against the nation’s former interim president Jeanine Anez and some of the ministers in her government over their 2019 crackdowns on protests.

The motion says Anez must stand trial over a decree authorizing the army to use force against the protesters back in November 2019, and exempting the military from any criminal responsibility as well as for what was called “massacres” in the cities of Cochabamba and El Alto.

Anez and her government had just ousted President Evo Morales in a coup, and deployed the security forces in a violent crackdown on his supporters. The law enforcement and the military fired live rounds at the demonstrators on several occasions.

At least 37 people died in clashes with the soldiers and riot police officers, according to local media reports. Police and army were even reported to have assaulted processions of mourners carrying coffins of those killed in previous demonstrations.

In addition to Anez herself, seven ministers from her government also face various charges that include corruption and illegal purchase of non-lethal weapons. The list of those that could stand trial involves Foreign Minister Karen Longaric, Defense Minister Fernando Lopez, and Justice Minister Alvaro Coimbra.

Upon learning of the parliament’s decision, Anez rushed to Twitter to declare it an example of political persecution.

“MAS [Movement Towards Socialism party] is returning to its habit of prosecuting those who think differently,” she wrote, even though it was her own government that was accused by Human Rights Watch of persecuting its political opponents.

Anez came to power after Morales, who had ruled the country for some 14 years, resigned under pressure from the military. The November 2019 coup came following massive protests led by the opposition supporters of the former Bolivian president, Carlos Mesa, who insisted that the October elections that handed victory to Morales had been rigged.

As Morales resigned and fled, first to Mexico and then to Argentina, Anez declared herself “interim president,” even though she lacked a quorum in the Senate to get a confirmation.

Earlier this month, MAS leader Luis Arce won the presidential election in a landslide. Anez herself had withdrawn from the running after polls showed her with just ten percent of popular support.

October 28, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | Leave a comment

Bolivian court drops ‘terrorism’ charges against ex-President Evo Morales, withdraws arrest warrant

RT | October 26, 2020

Bolivia’s regional court in La Paz has dismissed “terrorism” charges and dropped the arrest warrant issued against former President Evo Morales, arguing that his rights were violated and judicial procedures breached.

The ex-president’s rights, including his right for judicial protection, have been violated, Judge Jorge Quino, the head of the Departmental Court of Justice in La Paz, said as he explained the court’s decision to grant a request filed by Morales’ lawyers.

He also said that judicial procedures were violated in this case since Morales was not properly summoned. The charges were dropped as the prosecutors did not comply with the procedures established by law, Quino told Bolivia’s Unitel TV Network.

The ruling does not mean though that the currently exiled former president, who was indicted for inciting riots and “terrorism” in the wake of his ousting last year, can safely return home just yet. The decision is yet to be approved by the nation’s Plurinational Constitutional Court which can still reverse it.

An arrest warrant against Morales was issued by the Bolivian prosecutor general back in December 2019 under a ‘provisional’ government formed in the wake of a coup. The interim government, led by right-wing Senator Jeanine Anez, argued that his calls for protest amounted to “sedition and terrorism,” and vowed to jail the ex-president “for the rest of his life.”

Morales, who ruled the nation for 14 years, resigned from the presidency and went into hiding in November 2019, under pressure from the military. Earlier that month he was [falsely] accused of election fraud by the opposition after a controversial vote.

Following his resignation, Morales first traveled to Mexico and eventually arrived in Argentina where President Alberto Fernandez granted him political asylum.

Still, even in absence of its leader, Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party secured majorities in both chambers of the Bolivian parliament in the latest general elections held on October 18. Socialist Luis Arce, who served as an economy minister under Morales and was allegedly handpicked by the former leader as a presidential candidate, also won the vote, securing a landslide victory against his leading rival, Carlos Mesa.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Bolivian President Demands OAS Chief Resign Over His Part in 2019 Coup

By James Tweedie – Sputnik – 25.10.2020

Bolivia’s newly-elected president, Luis Arce, has demanded the head of the Organisation of American States (OAS) resign over his role in the 2019 coup d’etat.

Arce, Movement for Socialism (MAS) leader, said on Saturday OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro should go for “moral and ethical reasons.”

“We do not agree that an important body should be in the hands of people who support a particular political party or political trend in the region, and that it interferes in the internal affairs of a country,” Arce said. “If it was able to do that in Bolivia, imagine, you could do it with any other country, and we can’t allow that.”

Almagro oversaw the OAS audit of last year’s presidential election that overturned president Evo Morales’ landslide victory in the first round. Morales, Latin America’s first fully-indigenous leader, reluctantly invited the OAS to validate the count after a wave of opposition rioting over alleged ballot fraud and violent attacks on MAS politicians.

That included the shocking attack on Patricia Arce Guzman, the mayoress of the town of Vinto. Opposition rioters dragged her from the municipal offices before setting them on fire, then cut her hair, painted her face red and forced her to walk barefoot through the town as they spat and urinated on her. Arce Guzman was elected a senator last week.

​”There was no fraud, there was a whole preparation for a coup, of which the OAS was unfortunately a part,” Arce told La Razón in reference to the audit, adding that Almagro “interfered, violated Bolivian regulations, and those of any international body observing an electoral process; he interfered in internal affairs.”

Other Latin American government officials laid into Almagro this week.

Venezuelan UN envoy Samuel Moncada pointed out Almagro’s dishonesty in claiming at the OAS General Assembly in Washington this week: “We told Evo Morales not to quit”

“Almagro has no shame, he represents the ideological, political and moral ruin of the OAS on the continent.” Moncada wrote. “Never more will this kind of criminal be able to deceive our peoples!”​

Mexican undersecretary of foreign affairs Maximiliano Reyes Zúñiga accused Almagro on Tuesday of making “factious” use of the OAS electoral observer mission in 2019 to legitimise the opposition fraud claims.

And on Wednesday the Puebla Group, whose members include former presidents of Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay and Spain, published an open letter urging Almagro to resign.

Despite formerly serving as foreign minister of his native Uruguay under leftist president José Mujica, Almagro has led the charge against socialist governments in Latin America Since assuming leadership of the Washington-based OAS in 2015.

He has been a constant critic of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his government, even attacking the country’s National Electoral Council after the opposition failed to gather enough signatories for a presidential recall referendum. In 2016 he invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter against Caracas, claiming there had been “an alteration of the constitutional order” there.

In 2018 Almagro led efforts to bring Maduro and other Venezuelan leaders to trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In 2019 he revived the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” – previously used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq – to urge other states to intervene in Venezuela.

Nicaragua’s elected government has also been an occasional target for Almagro. In 2019 he sought to invoke the Democratic Charter against Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government.

Just this week at the OAS meeting in Washington, the secretary-general warned Managua the bloc would not recognise the result of next November’s presidential election if it did not comply with a list of demands.

“Daniel Ortega will have to demonstrate how independent he is from the bad practices that Cuba and the Bolivarian regime [in Venezuela] instigate,” Almagro said.

A group of 14 OAS members, led by the US, voted to expel Cuba from the bloc in January 1962. In response, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro dubbed the organisation the “Yankee Ministry of Colonies and a military bloc against the peoples of Latin America.”

Even after the OAS voted to allow Cuba to re-join in 2009, the island nation has consistently refused to do so.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Data from Bolivia’s Election Add More Evidence That OAS Fabricated Last Year’s Fraud Claims

The MAS Received More Votes in Almost All of the OAS’s 86 Suspect Precincts in 2020 than in 2019

By Jake Johnston | CEPR | October 21, 2020

On Sunday, October 20, Bolivians went to the polls and overwhelmingly elected Luis Arce of the MAS party president. Private quick counts released the night of the vote showed Arce receiving more than 50 percent of the vote and holding a more than 20 percentage point lead over second place candidate Carlos Mesa. As of Wednesday morning, just over 88 percent of votes had been tallied in the official results system — and Arce’s lead is even greater. The MAS candidate’s vote share is, at the time of writing, 54.5 compared to 29.3 for Mesa. As the final votes are counted, Arce’s vote share will likely increase further.

At this point, there can be no questioning Arce’s victory. The election came nearly exactly a year after the October 2019 elections which were followed by violent protests and the ouster of then president Evo Morales, who resigned under pressure from the military. Official results in that vote showed Morales and the MAS party winning with a 10.56 percentage point advantage over Mesa, just over the 10 point margin of victory needed for Morales to win the election outright, without having to stand in a run-off election. However, the Organization of American States (OAS) alleged widespread manipulation of the results, feeding a narrative of electoral fraud that served as a pretext for  the November 10, 2019 coup.

With Arce’s 2020 victory now all but confirmed, what do the 2020 results tell us about the OAS allegations of fraud in last year’s vote?

The OAS’s initial claims of fraud centered around a “drastic” and “inexplicable” change in the trend of the vote, which allegedly took place after the preliminary results system, or TREP, was suspended for nearly 24 hours. In the time since, myriad statistical analyses — from CEPR (beginning the day after the OAS allegations), and from academics at MIT, Tulane, University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere, have shown the OAS’s statistical analysis to be deeply flawed. In fact, there was no “inexplicable” change in the trend of the vote.

The OAS has refused to respond to these studies, or to queries about their statistical analysis from members of Congress, and has instead pointed to other alleged irregularities identified in the OAS audit. Statistical analysis is just informative, the OAS claimed, but the real evidence was in an audit that they carried out after the elections.

In that audit, the only evidence purporting to show an actual impact on the results of the elections were 226 tally sheets from 86 voting centers across the country. The OAS alleged that the tally sheets had been doctored. They noted that, if you removed the votes for Morales from all of these 226 tally sheets, his entire advantage above the 10 percentage point threshold for a first-round win disappeared. In other words, these 226 tally sheets served as supposed proof that Morales had cheated in order to win in the first round.

Excerpts from the OAS audit report

In March 2020, CEPR published an 82-page report detailing how the rest of the OAS allegations were just as flawed as the statistical analysis that formed the basis for the fraud narrative that led to Morales’s forced removal from office. We looked into these 226 tally sheets, showing the flaws in the OAS analysis and pointing out that the results in these voting centers closely matched results from previous elections. There was, in fact, nothing surprising about MAS performing extremely well in these areas. Further, we noted that while OAS officials had repeatedly spoken publicly about forged tally sheets, the auditors had provided no evidence to back up that allegation.

Now that there are disaggregated voting results from this Sunday’s elections, we can see that results in the centers where the OAS had allegedly identified doctored tally sheets follow the same patterns as in the 2019 elections.  Table 1, below, presents the 2020 results (with 88 percent of votes counted overall) in all 86 voting centers where the OAS alleged that tally sheets had been manipulated last year.

Table 1.

We have at least partial data for 81 of the 86 voting centers, and in all but 9, the MAS share of the vote has increased when compared to 2019.

In 2019, the OAS and other observers appeared scandalized by the fact that, in many rural areas, Morales had received more than 90 percent of the vote — and in some cases, even 100 percent of the vote. This, they claimed, surely sufficed as evidence of fraud. But, the 2020 results thus far further discredit the unsubstantiated claims made by the OAS, which served as justification for a coup d’etat and the repression that followed. To this day, former electoral officials remain under house arrest based on nothing more than the OAS audit.

As we noted in the March report, the communities targeted in the OAS analysis of these 226 tally sheets are, in the majority of cases, predominantly Indigenous. Though it may come as a shock to see a candidate receive 100 percent of the votes, it shouldn’t. Community voting — in which a community comes to a consensus around who to vote for — is a widely recognized phenomenon in Bolivia.

What the OAS alleged is that electoral jurors, the citizens selected at random by the electoral authorityTSE to serve as electoral officials at each voting table, did not print their names on the tally sheets — but that someone else had written their names. To be clear, the OAS does not allege that all 226 were filled out by the same individual; —  in no case does the OAS allege that more than 7 tally sheets were filled out by the same person. Further, in only one of the 226 cases does the OAS allege any problem at all with any signatures on the tally sheets. Rather than fraud, the most likely explanation for this is simply that a notary (each notary oversees about 8 voting tables), or some other official with clear handwriting, printed the names and then each juror signed the tally sheet. It is not clear, from the electoral regulations, that this is even a violation of the electoral law. Either way, the results from 2020 further confirm that there was nothing abnormal about the results on these 226 tally sheets in 2019. Further, what the OAS identified as irregularities had no discernable impact on the results of the election.

We can’t go back to 2019, or erase the racist violence unleashed on the population following the coup. On Sunday, Bolivians showed their courage, and the power of organized social movements, in righting the wrong of 2019. But that victory shouldn’t allow us to forget about 2019, or the role that international actors played in overthrowing a democratically elected government. Those 226 tally sheets never showed fraud, as the OAS asserted. They do, however, reveal how the OAS disenfranchised tens of thousands of Indigenous Bolivians in its galling attempts to justify the undemocratic removal of an elected leader.

Jake Johnston is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

En español

October 23, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Bolivia election is a blow to Trudeau’s policy

By Yves Engler · October 21, 2020

Massive support for Bolivia’s Movimiento al Socialismo at the polls is a rejection of last year’s Canadian-backed coup against Evo Morales. The vote was also a blow to Trudeau’s policy of seeking to overthrow left-wing governments in the region.

On Sunday Morales’ former finance minister, Luis Acre, won 55% of the vote for president. His MAS party also took a large majority in the Congress.

The unexpectedly large victory is a decisive rebuke of Ottawa’s support for the ouster of Bolivia’s first indigenous president. Hours after the military command forced Evo Morales to resign on November 10, then foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland released a celebratory statement declaring, “Canada stands with Bolivia and the democratic will of its people.”

Ottawa provided significant support for the Organization of American States’ effort to discredit Bolivia’s 2019 vote, which fueled opposition protests and justified the coup. Ottawa promoted and financed the OAS’ effort to discredit the presidential poll and two Canadian technical advisers were part of the audit mission to Bolivia. “Canada commends the invaluable work of the OAS audit mission in ensuring a fair and transparent process, which we supported financially and through our expertise”, noted Freeland at the time.

But, the OAS audit mission was designed to precipitate Morales ouster. A slew of academic and corporate media studies have demonstrated the partisan nature of the OAS audit mission and the weekend’s election results confirm it. Still, Global Affairs promoted the organization’s involvement in Bolivia’s elections. On Saturday their Canada in Bolivia account tweeted, “Canada is pleased to support the Organization of American States (OAS) electoral observation mission to Bolivia.”

For a year Ottawa stayed silent while the unelected Jeanine Anez regime ramped up repression and anti-indigenous measures as well as drastically shifted the country’s foreign policy. Worse than silence, on Bolivia’s national day in August Global Affairs claimed Canada and Bolivia’s “strong bilateral relationship is founded on our shared values of democracy, human rights and a celebration of diversity.”

Global Affairs ignored the ‘caretaker’ government’s repeated postponement of elections. Even worse, when the country’s social movements launched a general strike in August to protest the ‘caretaker’ government’s repeated postponement of elections Global Affairs echoed the coup government’s claims that the protests undermined the fight against the pandemic. Canada in Bolivia tweeted, “Canada calls for humanitarian aid to be allowed to circulate freely in Bolivia to fight #COVID19 & calls on all social actors to support the country’s democratic institutions and to use those mechanisms to resolve any disputes.” (Protesters let ambulances and other medical vehicles circulate with little disruption.)

Looking at a year of the Canada in Bolivia Twitter account I did not find a single criticism of the coup government. But, there were more than 15 posts critical of the Venezuelan government. On October 14 Canada in Bolivia tweeted, “the conditions needed for free and fair elections do not exist in Venezuela” and linked to a Lima Group statement declaring renewed “support of President Juan Guaidó.” (After usurping power Anez joined the Lima Group of countries seeking to oust Nicolas Maduro’s government.) Two months earlier the account called for “concerted international actions in support of a peaceful return to democracy in Venezuela” and linked to a Lima Group statement reiterating their “firm commitment to interim president Juan Guaidó.”

Contrasting the Trudeau government’s response to an unelected, anti-indigenous, elitist government in Bolivia to that of Venezuela’s elected, pro-poor president is telling. So is their silence on the election results in Bolivia. Nearly 72 hours after the polls closed Ottawa has yet to release a statement congratulating Arce or the MAS on their massive victory.

The election results in Bolivia are a major blow to Canadian policy in that country and Ottawa’s bid to wipe out the remnants of the leftist pink tied in Latin America.

Further, the victory of MAS shows Canada for what it has always (unfortunately) been: an imperialist power seeking to maintain the world’s massively unfair status quo.

October 21, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment