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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

Arce to Restore Bolivian Relations With Cuba and Venezuela, Blasts OAS

 Arce emphasized that his government will open the door to all countries under the basis of mutual respect and sovereignty.

teleSUR – October 21, 2020

Bolivia’s elected president Luis Arce said that he would carry out a foreign policy of restoration of relationships with Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran.

“We are going to reestablish all relations. This government has acted very ideologically, depriving the Bolivian people of access to Cuban medicine, Russian medicine, and advances in China. For a purely ideological issue, it has exposed the population in a way unnecessary and harmful,” Arce explained.

The former Economy Minister, during the 14 years mandate of Indigenous leader Evo Morales, participated in the process of increasing Bolivian’s literacy levels and offering free healthcare to thousands with the support of Cuban doctors. All this social progress was radically paralyzed by the coup born government of Jeanine Añez.

Likewise, Arce emphasized that his government will open the door to all countries based on mutual respect and sovereignty. “Nothing more,” Arce remarked.

On the other hand, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) leader warned that the Organization of the American States (OAS) has to amend its mistakes in Bolivia. The OAS co-authored the report on the 2019 elections that served as a pretext to coup Evo Morales. This report was later proved to be inaccurate. It has also supported the de facto government of Jeanine Añez, who carried out massacres and sank the country into an unprecedented economic recession.

In this sense, Arce was clear that the “OAS has to make amends for their mistakes. But if it does not, we (the elected government) will work, as well as with other countries, with international organizations that respect us.”

October 21, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 1 Comment

Socialist Presidential Candidate Arce Wins Bolivia’s Elections

Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca celebrate the results of the elections, La Paz, Bolivia, Oct. 19, 2020.

Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca celebrate the results of the elections, La Paz, Bolivia, Oct. 19, 2020. | Photo: EFE
teleSUR – October 19, 2020

After midnight on Sunday, Bolivian authorities allowed the results of the exit polls to be known. The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) presidential candidate Luis Arce obtained 52.4 percent of the votes, the Citizen Community (CC) candidate Carlos Mesa got 31.5 percent, and the “We Believe Alliance” candidate Luis Fernando Camacho reached 14.1 percent of the votes.

Bolivia’s president-elect Arce thanked the people for their support and for their peaceful participation in the electoral process.

“We have recovered democracy and hope. We ratify our commitment to work with social organizations. We are going to build a national unity government.”

Previously, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) spokesperson Sebastian Mitchell made an official statement regarding the absence of definitive data on the elections. He said that mainstream media and exit-polls companies know that Socialist candidate Arce had already exceeded 45 percent of the votes.

“Election observers do not understand if the absence of information results from inefficiency or if the government is implementing a strategy to win two or three days, generate violence, and justify a military intervention,” Mitchell said.

The Bolivian Socialists’ message was categorical and clear: “we call on the community to avoid provocations… let’s end this nightmare we have been living for a year.”

A few minutes before the official information was issued, former President Evo Morales, who remains a political asylee in Argentina, recalled that millions of Bolivians cast their vote peacefully and demanded that the coup-born regime led by Jeanine Añez respect the results.

“Yesterday we denounced that the authorities suspended the presentation of the results of the exit poll companies. That was suspicious,” the Socialist leader said

“Everything indicates that the MAS has won the elections and won a majority of seats in both chambers,” Evo added.


Luis Arce: ‘We Recovered Democracy and Took Back Our Country’

The winner of Bolivia’s elections Luis Arce Monday celebrated the unofficial results of the quick vote-counting as he said, “we will govern for all, we will redirect the change without hate.”

On Sunday night, Bolivian authorities allowed the results of the exit polls to be presented to the public. There it was observed that the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) won the elections with 53 percent of the votes in its favor. In the second place was the right-wing candidate Carlos Mesa, who got the 30.8 percent of the votes.

Minutes after learning of these results, Arce assured the people that “we will restore unity in our country, and we will recover the economy, step by step.”

In the Socialist headquarters in La Paz, the slogans “We are MAS” were heard repeatedly. In several areas of El Alto, La Paz, and Cochabamba, firecrackers were heard as a sign of celebration.

“I want to thank the Bolivian people for their vote. We will work to recover their hopes and expectations,” said Arce, who was accompanied by Vice-President David Choquehuanca.

MAS Senate candidate Leonardo Loza expressed that “we will not be a government of persecution. But there will be no forgetting or forgiving for those who got killed in Senkata and Sacaba during the 2019 coup.”

“MAS had a resounding victory. We have become millions,” Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales stressed.

The coup-born regime’s leader Jeanine Añez acknowledged MAS’ victory and congratulated the Arce-Choquehuanca binomial for having achieved a majority of the votes.

“We still do not have the official count, but the data shows that MAS won. Congratulations to the winners. I ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind,” Añez tweeted.

So far, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) official vote count has only processed 15.66 percent of the total votes.

October 19, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Coups and Neo-Coups in Latin America

By Juan Paz y Miño Cepeda |Venezuelanalysis | September 15, 2020

I recently received an article entitled “Coups and neo-coups in Latin America. Violence and political conflict in the twenty-first century” by Carlos Alberto Figueroa Ibarra, a long-time friend and academic at the University of Puebla, Mexico, and Octavio Humberto Moreno Velador, a professor at the same university.

The authors say that since the 1980s, democracy in Latin America has asserted itself across the continent, so much so that the topic has become recurrent in the political sciences. However, during the first seventeen years of the 21st century, new coups resurfaced, which they describe as “neo-coups.”

During the twentieth century, the authors identified 87 coups in South America and the Caribbean, with Bolivia and Ecuador being the most hit countries, while Mexico has only suffered once. The greatest concentration of coups occurred in four decades: 1930-1939 with 18; 1940-1949 with 12; 1960-1969 with 16 and 1970-1979 with 13. Between 1900-1909 and 1990-1999, the fewest coups occurred (3 and 1, respectively). Finally, 63 coups were deemed as military-led; 7 civilian; 8 civic-military; 6 presidential self-coups and three military self-coups. 77 percent of coups had a marked influence of right-wing ideology and party participation, and since the 1960s US intervention has been observed in several coups.

The neo-coups of the 21st century, however, are different from the coups of the twentieth century and with distinct characteristics. Of the seven studied, four have been carried out by the military/police (two which failed in Venezuela/2002 and Ecuador/2010 and two which were successful in Haiti/2004 and Honduras/2009). Likewise, two were parliamentary coups (Paraguay/2012 and Brazil/2016, both successful) and one was a civilian-state-led coup (Bolivia/2008, failed). In three of them, there is evidence of US intervention (Haiti, Bolivia and Honduras).

The intervention of the military or police took place in Venezuela, Haiti, Honduras and Ecuador. In Haiti, Bolivia and Brazil, large-scale concentrations of opposition citizen groups preceded the coups, exerting political pressure. There were also other cases of subsequent concentrations in support of Presidents Hugo Chávez and Rafael Correa, which prevented the success of the coups against them.

In three cases there was clear intervention by the judiciary (Honduras, against Manuel Zelaya; Paraguay, against Fernando Lugo; and Brazil, against Dilma Rousseff), and also of the legislative powers.

In addition, regional and supranational institutions have intervened in defence of democracy, specifically MERCOSUR, UNASUR, CELAC and even the Rio Group.

The authors conclude that “The new coups have sought to evade their cruder military expression in order to seek success. In this sense, the intervention of judicial and parliamentary institutions have represented a viable alternative to maintaining democratic continuity, despite the breakdown of constitutional and institutional pacts.”

To the analysis carried out by the two professors, and which I summarise without going into too many details, some considerations may be added.

All the coups of the 21st century have been directed against rulers of the Latin American progressive cycle: Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Manuel Zelaya, Rafael Correa, Fernando Lugo, Dilma Rousseff, and Haiti, where the case is particular because of the turbulence that the country has experienced where the military coup was against Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had won the election with 91.69 percent of the vote.

Progressive governments aroused furious enemies: business elites, traditional oligarchies, military sectors of old “McCarthyism” anti-communism, the political right, “corporate” media, and, no doubt, imperialism.

There is not a single coup d’état led by “leftist” forces, which reveals an equally new phenomenon: the entire left has accepted democracy as a political system and elections as an instrument through which they may come to power. Historically speaking, this phenomenon represents a continuation of Salvador Allende’s and the Chilean Popular Unity’s thesis, which trusted in the possibility of building socialism through a peaceful path. It is the political and economic right, which have turned to neo-coup mongering, with their discourse of defending “democracy.”

Those same right-wing sectors have not only sponsored “soft coups,” but also promoted the use of two mechanisms that have been tremendously successful to them. Firstly, lawfare, or “legal war,” used to pursue, in appearance of legality, those who have served or identified with progressive governments. Secondly, the use of the most influential media (but also of social media and their “trolls”), which were put at the service of combating “populists” and “progressives,” and defend the interests of persecuting governments, business elites, rich sectors and transnational capital. These phenomena have been clearly expressed in Brazil against Inácio Lula da Silva, Dilma Roussef and the PT Workers’ Party, but also in Bolivia, against Evo Morales and the MAS Movement to Socialism and in Ecuador, where righting forces have achieved the prosecution of Rafael Correa, of figures of his government and of the “correístas.” In Argentina Alberto Fernández’s triumph stopped the legal persecution against Cristina Fernández and “Kirchnerismo”.

But there is, finally, a new element to be added to the neo-coup mongering of the 21st century, which is the anticipated coup d’état. This has been inaugurated in Bolivia and Ecuador.

In Bolivia, not only was the vote count suspended and Evo Morales forced to take refuge outside the country, but [he and his party] have been politically outlawed, and every effort has been made to marginalise them from future elections.

In Ecuador, all kinds of legal ruse have been used to prevent Rafael Correa’s vice-presidential candidacy (he was ultimately not admitted), to not recognise his party and other forces that could sponsor him, as well as to make it difficult for the [Correa-backed] Andrés Araúz team to run for the presidency.

It also has an equally unique characteristic of what happened in Chile. In Chile, despite the protests and social mobilisations, as well as domestic and international political pressure, the political plot was finally manipulated in such a way that the plebiscite convened for October/2020 will not be for a Constituent Assembly (which could dictate a new constitution), but for a Constitutional Convention, which allows traditional forces to preserve their hegemony, according to the analysis carried out by renowned researcher Manuel Cabieses Donoso.

As a result, neo-coup mongering has shown that, while institutional and representative democracy has become a commonplace value and a line of action for the social and progressive lefts, it has also become an instrument that allows access to government and, with it, the orientation of state policies for the popular benefit and not at the service of economic elites.

On the other hand, it has become an increasingly “dangerous” instrument for the same bourgeoisie and internal oligarchy, as well as imperialism, to such an extent that they no longer hold back from breaking with their own rules, legalities, institutions or constitutional principles, using new forms of carrying out coups.

It is, however, an otherwise obvious lesson in Latin American history: when popular processes advance, the forces willing to liquidate them are also prepared. And finally, for these forces, democracy doesn’t matter at all, only saving businesses, private accumulation, wealth and the social exclusiveness of the elites.

Juan J. Paz y Miño Cepeda is an Ecuadorian historian from the PUCE Catholic University of Quito. He is also the former vice-president of the Latin-American and Caribbean Historian’s Association (ADHILAC).

Translation by Paul Dobson for Venezuelanalysis.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bolivia: La Paz Uses Mobile Crematories as COVID Deaths Increase

Mobile crematory in La Paz, Bolivia. August, 2020.

Mobile crematory in La Paz, Bolivia. August, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @ConElMazoDando
teleSUR | August 13, 2020

Bolivia COVID-19 victim’s relatives use mobile crematories as an alternative to burials after cemeteries collapsed due to the increase in virus-related deaths.

“We wanted to help in this pandemic, and one possibility was showing others how to make a crematory oven. Then we asked ourselves, wouldn’t it be better if it could be mobile, to move it from one place to another?” the environmental engineer and mobile crematory inventor Carlos Ayo says.

The mobile crematory poses an alternative for less advantaged families who cannot dispose of a dignified and sanitary end for their relative’s remains. A cremation with the mobile device costs 40 USD, while the cost of the conventional incinerator reaches 144 USD.

The itinerant crematorium fits in a trailer and uses locally produced liquefied petroleum gas. It can process a corpse in 30 to 40 minutes and about 20 bodies per day.

According to Ayo, several local authorities requested his services as corpses pile up in the streets, and families wait for days to bury their beloved ones.

La Paz Mayor’s Office, one of the cities most harmed by the virus, reported local cemeteries received over 2,000 bodies in July, an atypical figure from the 500 average.

As of Thursday, Bolivia health authorities registered 96,459 COVID-19 cases, 3,884 deaths, and 33,720 recoveries from the virus.

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Bolivia general strike exposes Canada’s undemocratic policy

By Yves Engler · August 7, 2020

If Indigenous lives really mattered to the Trudeau Liberals the Canadian government would not treat the most Indigenous country in the Americas the way it has.

Canada’s policy towards Bolivia is looking ever more undemocratic with each passing day. A general strike launched on Monday in the Andean nation is likely to further expose Canada’s backing for the alliance of economic elites, Christian extremists and security forces that deposed Bolivia’s first Indigenous president.

Hours after Evo Morales was ousted in November, foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland released a statement noting, “Canada stands with Bolivia and the democratic will of its people. We note the resignation of President Morales and will continue to support Bolivia during this transition and the new elections.” Freeland’s statement had no hint of criticism of Morales’ ouster while leaders from Argentina to Cuba, Venezuela to Mexico, condemned Morales’ forced resignation.

The anti-democratic nature of Canada’s position has grown starker with time. Recently, the coup government postponed elections for a third time. After dragging their feet on elections initially set for January the “interim” government has used the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to put off the poll until mid-October. But, the real reason for the latest postponement is that Morales’ long-time finance Minister, Luis Arce, is set to win the presidency in the first round. Coup President Jeanine Áñez, who previously promised not to run, is polling at around 13% and the main coup instigator, Luis Fernando Camacho, has even less popular support. To avoid an electoral drubbing, the coup government has sought to exclude Morales’ MAS party from the polls.

After ousting Morales the post-coup government immediately attacked Indigenous symbols and the army perpetrated a handful of massacres of anti-coup protesters. The unconstitutional “caretaker” regime shuttered multiple media outlets and returned USAID to the country, restarted diplomatic relations with Israel and joined the anti-Venezuela Lima Group. They also expelled 700 Cuban doctors, which has contributed to a surge of Covid-19 related deaths. In a recent five day period Bolivia’s police reported collecting 420 bodies from streets, houses, or vehicles in La Paz and Santa Cruz.

The pretext for Morales’ overthrow was a claim that the October 20, 2019 presidential election was flawed. Few disputed that Morales won the first round of the poll, but some claimed that he did not reach the 10% margin of victory, which was the threshold required to avoid a second-round runoff. The official result was 47.1 per cent for Morales and 36.5 per cent for US-backed candidate Carlos Mesa.

Global Affairs Canada bolstered right-wing anti-Morales protests by echoing the Trump administration’s criticism of Morales’ first round election victory. “It is not possible to accept the outcome under these circumstances,” said a Global Affairs statement on October 29. “We join our international partners in calling for a second round of elections to restore credibility in the electoral process.”

At the same time, Trudeau raised concerns about Bolivia’s election with other leaders. During a phone conversation with Chilean president Sebastián Piñera the Prime Minister criticized “election irregularities in Bolivia.” Ottawa also promoted and financed the OAS’ effort to discredit Bolivia’s presidential election.

After the October 20 presidential poll, the OAS immediately cried foul. The next day the organization released a statement expressing “its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results [from the quick count] revealed after the closing of the polls.” Two days later they followed that statement up with a preliminary report that repeated their claim that “changes in the TREP [quick count] trend were hard to explain and did not match the other measurements available.”

But, the “hard-to-explain” changes cited by the OAS were entirely expected, as detailed in the Washington-based Centre for Economic Policy Research’s report “What Happened in Bolivia’s 2019 Vote Count? The Role of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission”. The CEPR analysis pointed out that Morales’ percentage lead over the second place candidate Carlos Mesa increased steadily as votes from rural, largely Indigenous, areas were tabulated. Additionally, the 47.1% of the vote Morales garnered aligned with pre-election polls and the vote score for his MAS party.

Subsequent investigations have corroborated CEPR’s initial analysis. A Washington Post commentary published by researchers at MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab was titled “Bolivia dismissed its October elections as fraudulent. Our research found no reason to suspect fraud.” More recently, the New York Times reported on a study by three other US academics suggesting the OAS audit was flawed. The story noted, “a close look at Bolivian election data suggests an initial analysis by the OAS that raised questions of vote-rigging — and helped force out a president — was flawed.”

But, the OAS’ statements gave oxygen to opposition protests. Their unsubstantiated criticism of the election was also widely cited internationally to justify Morales’ ouster. In response to OAS claims, protests in Bolivia and Washington and Ottawa saying they would not recognize Morales’s victory, the Bolivian president agreed to a “binding” OAS audit of the first round of the election. Unsurprisingly the OAS’ preliminary audit report alleged “irregularities and manipulation” and called for new elections overseen by a new electoral commission. Immediately after the OAS released its preliminary audit US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went further, saying “all government officials and officials of any political organizations implicated in the flawed October 20 elections should step aside from the electoral process.” What started with an easy-to-explain discrepancy between the quick count and final results of the actual counting spiraled into the entire election is suspect and anyone associated with it must go.

At a Special Meeting of the OAS Permanent Council on Bolivia the representative of Antigua and Barbuda criticized the opaque way in which the OAS electoral mission to Bolivia released its statements and reports. She pointed out how the organization made a series of agreements with the Bolivian government that were effectively jettisoned. A number of Latin American countries echoed this view. For his part, Morales said the OAS “is in the service of the North American empire.”

US and Canadian representatives, on the other hand, applauded the OAS’ work in Bolivia. Canada’s representative to the OAS boasted that two Canadian technical advisers were part of the audit mission to Bolivia and that Canada financed the OAS effort that discredited Bolivia’s presidential election. Canada was the second largest contributor to the OAS, which received half its budget from Washington. In a statement titled “Canada welcomes results of OAS electoral audit mission to Bolivia” Freeland noted, “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.”

A General strike this week in Bolivia demanding elections take place as planned on September 6 will put Canadian policy to the test.

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

US-Backed Coup Gov’t in Bolivia Suspends Elections for Third Time

By Alan Macleod | MintPress News | July 24, 2020

Amid a rapidly worsening COVID-19 pandemic, Bolivia’s coup government has once again suspended much-anticipated elections that were due to be held on September 6. This is the third time the administration of Jeanine Añez has postponed them because of the virus, setting a new date for October 18.

The move has drawn condemnation from both left and right, but for different reasons. MintPress’ Ollie Vargas, who covered events from inside the country since last year’s November 10 coup, was dismayed, announcing:

Bolivia’s unelected coup regime has extended it’s illegitimate power by canceling elections once again. When we get to October they’ll invent another reason to postpone, then another, till they’ve found a buyer for the lithium & other natural resources. This is a dictatorship.

Former President Evo Morales of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) party agreed, stating that “The de facto government wants to gain more time to continue the persecution of social leaders and against MAS candidates. It’s yet another form of persecution. That’s why they don’t want elections on September 6.” Meanwhile, coup leader Fernando Camacho rejected the new date, demanding elections be scrapped altogether, a position shared by the far-right Santa Cruz “Civic Committee.”

Morales was reelected in October for another five year term. A popular president, he reduced poverty by half and extreme poverty by three quarters, while increasing the (inflation-adjusted) per capita GDP by 50 percent in his 13 years in office. He managed this primarily through a series of nationalizations of the country’s key industries and by expelling the predatory International Monetary Fund (IMF) from Bolivia. But in November, the military and police intervened, demanding he resign. Today he lives in exile in Argentina. Nevertheless, the latest polls show that the MAS candidate Luis Arce, who served as Morales’ finance minister, would win the election outright on the first ballot if it were held today. Arce accused Añez of using the pandemic as a pretext to extend her rule.

From popular mandate to elitist candidate

A little-known senator from a party that received only just four percent of the vote in October, Añez was handpicked by the military to become the new president. A strongly Christian conservative who described the country’s indigenous majority as “satanic,” she arrived to take her new place in government clutching an oversized bible. She enjoyed the support of the country’s elite, the U.S. government, and the entire spectrum of corporate media, who cheered the events as they happened. The new administration immediately began to suppress and criminalize dissent, including massacring protesters who objected to the takeover. Despite leading in the polls, the MAS have been suppressed, with many of their leaders jailed or facing dubious charges. Morales himself faces life in prison for “terrorism” if he sets foot in his country again.

Añez has also overseen the selling off of the country’s national resources, including in the hydrocarbon industry, and has completely reoriented its foreign policy to align with the United States. She has also begun working with the IMF, taking out a $327 million loan in April. The U.S. government strongly backed Añez from the beginning; three days after the coup the State Department released an official communiqué “applauding” her for “leading her nation” through a “democratic transition.”

The stated reason for the postponement of the elections is the country’s continued inability to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Supreme Electoral Tribunal President Salvador Romero said the move was necessary to keep Bolivia’s hospitals and cemeteries from collapsing under the strain of the increased deaths. “This election requires the highest possible health security measures to protect the health of Bolivians,” he said. One reason why the country’s medical system is under such pressure is that Añez expelled hundreds of Cuban doctors working primarily with the country’s poorest people, leading to closures of hospitals and health clinics. While Bolivia has officially reported 65,000 cases and 2,407 deaths, some believe those figures could be an underestimate. This week, police said they recovered 420 dead bodies from streets, vehicles and homes in La Paz and Santa Cruz. In June, Añez herself tested positive for COVID-19.

In response to the delayed elections, Bolivian trade unions have given the government 72 hours to reverse the decision, threatening “indefinite mobilizations” to restore democracy. Thus, it appears that even after eight months of constant political struggle, tensions could be about to be increased once again.

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent.

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , | 1 Comment