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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

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

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

NYT Acknowledges Coup in Bolivia—While Shirking Blame for Its Supporting Role

If the New York Times (6/7/20) has had second thoughts about its coverage of the 2019 Bolivian election and subsequent coup, it hasn’t shared them with its readers.
By Camila Escalante with Brian Mier | FAIR | July 8, 2020

The New York Times (6/7/20) declared that an Organization of American States (OAS) report alleging fraud in the 2019 Bolivian presidential elections—which was used as justification for a bloody, authoritarian coup d’etat in November 2019—was fundamentally flawed.

The Times reported the findings of a new study by independent researchers; the Times brags of contributing to it by sharing data it “obtained from Bolivian electoral authorities,” though this data has been publicly available since before the 2019 coup.

The article never uses the word “coup”—it says that President Evo Morales was “push[ed]…from power with military support”—but it does acknowledge that “seven months after Mr. Morales’s downfall, Bolivia has no elected government and no official election date”:

A staunchly right-wing caretaker government, led by Jeanine Añez… has not yet fulfilled its mandate to oversee swift new elections. The new government has persecuted the former president’s supporters, stifled dissent and worked to cement its hold on power.

“Thank God for the New York Times for letting us know,” must think at least some casual readers, who trust the paper’s regular criticism of rising authoritarianism within the US—perhaps adding, “Well, I guess it’s too late to do anything about Bolivia now.”

The fact is, the Times has been patting itself on the back for acknowledging authoritarianism in neofascist regimes that it helped normalize in Latin America for at least 50 years. The only surprise to readers who are aware of this ugly truth is that this time it took so long.

It only took the Times 15 days and the arrest of 20,000 leftists, for example, to counter nine articles supportive of the April 1, 1964, Brazilian military coup (Social Science Journal, 1/97) with a warning (4/16/64) that “Brazil now has an authoritarian military government. ” As was the case with Brazil in 1964, recognizing that Bolivia has now succumbed to authoritarianism may help the New York Times’ image with progressive readers, but it doesn’t do anything for the oppressed citizens of the countries involved.

While the coup was unfolding, and when Northern solidarity for Bolivia’s Movement for Socialism government (MAS in Spanish) might have helped avert disaster, the New York Times was whistling a different tune. The day after Morales’ re-election (10/21/19), it portrayed the paramilitary putschists who were carrying out violent threats against elected officials and their families as victims of repressive police actions perpetrated by the socialist government. “Opponents of Mr. Morales angrily charged ‘fraud, fraud!’” read the post-election article:

Heavily armed police officers were deployed to the streets, where they clashed with demonstrators on Monday night, according to television news reports.

One day after Morales was removed from power, the Times (11/11/19) engaged in victim-blaming, with a news analysis headlined ‘This Will Be Forever’: How the Ambitions of Evo Morales Contributed to His Fall.” The first Indigenous president in Latin American history was not being deposed illegally, after winning a fair election, by groups of armed paramilitary thugs, amid threats of murder and rape to his family members, the Times implied; rather, he was being brought down due to his own character faults as a Machiavellian back-stabber.

I arrived in Bolivia on November 13, 2019, shortly after Jeanine Añez’ unconstitutional swearing in as unelected, interim president, on a cartoonishly oversized Bible. I was there as a reporter for MintPress News and teleSUR, and two of the active sites I reported from were in the most militantly MAS-dense areas: In Sacaba, where the coup regime’s first massacre took place on November 15, and in El Alto, where the Senkata massacre took place on November 19.

The third, and most extensively covered, resistance to the coup was in the heart of the city of La Paz, where daily protests were staged. Beyond these major conflict areas, there were large mobilizations in Norte Potosí, the rural provinces of the department of La Paz, Zona Sud of Cochabamba, Yapacani and San Julian. The vast majorities within all rural areas across the country were also in deep resistance to the coup.

The November coup represented the ousting of a government deeply embedded in the country’s Indigenous campesino and worker movements, by internal colonial-imperialist actors, led in large part by Bolivia’s fascist and neoliberal opposition sectors, most notably Luis Fernando Camacho and Carlos Mesa, who received ample support from the US government and the far-right Bolsonaro administration of Brazil. The Indigenous and social movement bases resisting the coup were deeply distrusting of Bolivian media, which they immediately deemed as having played a key role in it.

Those same groups that were hostile towards major Bolivian news networks and journalists lined up to be heard by myself and those who accompanied me, once they recognized my teleSUR press credentials. One woman attending a cabildo (mass meeting) of the Fejuves (neighborhood organizations) of El Alto detailed how her workplace, Bolivia TV, had been attacked by right-wing mobs as the coup authorities got rid of those deemed sympathizers of the constitutional government, replacing them by force almost immediately.

Indigenous Bolivian communities were at the very forefront of the protests and resistance actions against the coup, namely the blocking of key highways and roads, as in the case of Norte Potosí, the blocking of the YPFB gas plant in Senkata, and 24-hour camps blocking the entry to the Chapare province. La Paz was militarized, making it impossible to get near Plaza Murillo, the site of the Presidential Palace and the Congress. I witnessed daily violent repression by security forces against those who gathered in protest near the perimeter of the Plaza, including unions and groups such as the Bartolina Sisa Confederation, a nationwide organization of Indigenous and campesina women, and the highly organized neighborhood associations of El Alto.

One might think this kind of grassroots, pro-democracy mobilization coordinated by working-class people against an authoritarian takeover would be the type of thing the New York Times would applaud. After all, it ran over 100 articles championing Hong Kong’s protesters in the last six months of 2019 alone.

Anatoly Kurmanaev, author of this New York Times piece (12/5/19) that ignored real-time critiques of the OAS’s complaints about the Bolivian election, was a co-author of the piece (6/7/20) acknowledging that some have “second thoughts” about the OAS attacks on Evo Morales.

As resistance grew on the streets of Bolivia, however, the New York Times only continued the  rationalization of the unconstitutional, authoritarian taking of power, using the now-discredited OAS report to do so.

“Election Fraud Aided Evo Morales, International Panel Concludes,” read a December 5 article—one of several the paper ran discrediting the democratic electoral process. Like the others, it failed to challenge dubious claims by the right-wing coalition in charge of the OAS—which received $68 million, or 44% of its budget, from the Trump administration in 2017—that Evo Morales was elected via “lies, manipulation and forgery to ensure his victory.”

A newspaper that prides itself on showing the full picture could have cited the debunking of the OAS study conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), an organization with two Nobel Laureate economists on its board, whose co-director Mark Weisbrot has written over 20 op-ed pieces for the New York Times. Even before the coup, CEPR (11/8/19) published an analysis of the Bolivian vote that concluded, “Neither the OAS mission nor any other party has demonstrated that there were widespread or systematic irregularities in the elections of October 20, 2019.”

The fatal flaws in the report the OAS used to subvert a member government, long obvious, are now undeniable even to the New York Times. But the paper still hasn’t acknowledged, let alone apologized for, the credulous reporting that gave it a leading role in bringing down an elected president and the violence that followed.

July 11, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Bolivia’s Struggle to Restore Democracy after OAS Instigated Coup

By Frederick B. Mills, Rita Jill Clark-Gollub, Alina Duarte | Council on Hemispheric Affairs | July 9, 2020

On October 21, 2019, the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a fateful communique on the presidential elections in Bolivia: “The OAS Mission expresses its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results revealed after the closing of the polls.”[1] The mission’s report came in a highly polarized political context. Rather than wait for a careful and fair-minded analysis of the election results, it raised unsubstantiated doubts about the legitimacy of President Evo Morales’ lead as some of the later vote tallies were being reported. This was a bombshell report  at a time when it appeared that Morales had garnered a sufficient margin of victory over his right wing opponent, Carlos Mesa, to avoid a runoff election.

The manufactured electoral fraud was quickly debunked by experts in the field. Detailed analyses of the election results were conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)[2] and Walter R. Mebane, Jr., professor of Political Science and Statistics at the University of Michigan in early November 2019.[3]  These were later corroborated by researchers at MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab[4] and more recently by an article published by the New York Times[5] featuring the study of three academics: Nicolás Idrobo (University of Pennsylvania), Dorothy Kronick (University of Pennsylvania), and Francisco Rodríguez (Tulane University)[6].

All of these professional and academic analyses found the charges of fraud by the OAS to have been unfounded.

The OAS electoral mission, however, had already poisoned the well. The false narrative of electoral fraud gave ammunition to anti-Bolivarian forces in the OAS and the right wing opposition inside Bolivia to contest the outcome of the election and go on the offensive against Morales and his party, the Movement Towards Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS). During a three-week period, a right wing coalition led protests over the alleged electoral fraud, while pro-government counter protesters defended the constitutional government. The military and police cracked down on the pro-Morales protesters, while showing sympathy for right wing demonstrators. Then, on November 10, 2019, in its “Electoral integrity analysis,” the OAS doubled down on its dubious claims, impugning “the integrity of the results of the election on October 20, 2019.”[7]

The track record of the OAS electoral mission, which was invited to observe and assess the election by the Bolivian government of Evo Morales, had already been stained by its 2015 debacle in Haiti.[8] In the case of Bolivia, the mission politicized election results and set the stage for murder by a coup regime. It appears that there is not much political daylight between the judgment of the OAS electoral commission and the rabidly anti-Bolivarian OAS Secretary, Luis Almagro. Far from finding that the coup against Morales constituted a breach in the democratic order of Bolivia, the OAS simply exploited its position as arbiter of the election to rally behind the right wing coup leaders.

Morales resigns and a “de facto” right wing regime unleashes a wave of repression

Despite the relentless drive by Washington against Bolivarian governments in the region, President Morales was apparently unprepared for the disloyalty within his security forces and he was caught off guard by the OAS propensity to serve US interests in the region. MAS activists, legislators, union activists, Indigenous organizations, and social movement activists, however, continued to resist the coup even as they faced arrest and violence from the de facto regime.

The coup forces exercised extreme violence against authorities of the Morales’ administration and MAS legislators (the majority of Congress). Several houses were burned down and some relatives of authorities were kidnapped and injured, all with total impunity and without protection by the security forces.[9]

With the OAS-instigated coup gaining traction within the security forces and police, as well as Morales’ political adversaries, the President chose the path of accommodation. He offered to reconstitute the electoral authority and hold fresh elections. This concession to OAS authority was met by calls from the police and military for his resignation. Rather than launch a campaign of resistance from the MAS stronghold of Chapare, Morales resigned his post, opting for exile in an unsuccessful bid to avoid further bloodshed. Jeanine Áñez, an opposition party senator with Plan Progreso para Bolivia Convergencia Nacional, proclaimed herself President after the resignation of Senate President Adriana Salvatierra, who refused to legitimize the coup with an unjustified “succession.”[10]

The scenes in the streets of Cochabamba turned ugly. It was a field day for racist attacks on the majority Indigenous population. The Indigenous flag–the wiphala–was burned in the streets, and much fanfare was made when Áñez, surrounded by right wing legislators, held up a large leather bible and declared, “The Bible has returned to the palace.” Such attempts to resubordinate Bolivia’s plurinational heritage were met with widespread resistance.

Workers of all industries and sectors continue protests against Áñez and to protect social rights created under Morales’s government (photo credit: MAS-IPSP, http://www.masipsp.bo).

After thirteen years of impressive economic growth, poverty reduction, recovery of the nation’s natural resources, and the inclusion of formerly marginalized sectors in the political life of the country under the leadership of President Evo Morales, Bolivia  had now suffered an enormous blow to the liberatory project of the 2009 Constitution. But the coup fit perfectly into the US-OAS drive to recolonize the Americas.

Secretary General Luis Almagro, who would never let an opportunity to attack the Bolivarian cause go to waste, immediately recognized self-proclaimed President, Senator Jeanine  Áñez, adding yet one more crime to the long list from his shameful tenure at the OAS.[11] At a special meeting of the OAS on November 12, 2020 Almagro declared, “There was a coup in the State of Bolivia; it happened when an electoral fraud gave the triumph to Evo Morales in the first round.”[12]

During the meeting, 14 member states of the OAS (Argentina, Brasil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the US, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru) and the unelected US-backed shadow government of Venezuela called for new elections in Bolivia “as soon as possible,” while Mexico, Uruguay and Nicaragua warned against the precedent being set by the “coup” against Evo Morales. The ambassador of Mexico to the OAS, Luz Elena Baños, described the coup against Morales as “a serious breach in the constitutional order by means of a coup d’etat,” adding “the painful days when the Armed Forces sustained and deposed governments ought to remain in the past.” [13] The Trump administration echoed Almagro’s declaration and moved quickly to endorse what was now a “de facto” government.[14] The OAS was now at the service of two unelected, US-backed, self-proclaimed presidents (Juan Guaidó for Venezuela and Jeanine Áñez for Bolivia).

What followed was the brutal repression of widespread protests amid grass roots clamor for the return of President Morales,[15] who, from his exile in Mexico and later Argentina, still held great clout among rank and file MAS militants and the popular movements. The  horrific massacre in Sacaba, on November 15, followed by a massacre in Senkata, on November 19, carried out by the security forces, exposes the coup regime to future prosecution for crimes against humanity.[16] Rather than pacify the country, the repression only galvanized the MAS, which still held a majority in the legislature, as well as the peasant unions and grassroots organizations in their struggle to restore Bolivian democracy. There was indeed a coup, but it had not and still has not been consolidated.

New elections could be compromised by lawfare

Today, Bolivia stands at a crossroads. In June 2020, popular calls were mounting for new elections and the restoration of democracy, despite the ongoing repression. In response to this pressure, on June 22,  Áñez signed off on legislation to hold new elections in September. Former president Carlos Mesa (2003-2005) of the right wing Citizens Community Party would face off against the MAS  candidate, former Minister of Finance  (2006-2019), Luis Arce. Áñez’s decision drew the ire of Minister of Government, Arturo Murillo, who characterizes the most popular political party in the country as narco-terrorist. Murillo even threatened MAS legislators with arrest if they refused to approve promotions for the very military officials responsible for the repression.[17]

Should democratic elections prevail, recent polls do not look good for the “de facto” regime. In a poll taken by CELAG between June 13 and July 3, the MAS candidate, Luis Arce, leads with 41.9% support, followed by Carlos Mesa, with 26.8%, and Áñez, with 13.3%.[18]

Luis Arce, from the MAS party, leads the presidential race in Bolivia (Source: CELAG, https://www.celag.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/panorama-politico-y-social-bolivia-web-2.pdf)

Although Áñez initially said she would not run for president,[19] she later decided to do so even over the objections of her fellow opposition members.[20] The latter said that this went against her purported objective of only serving as a transition government until new elections could be held—initially on May 3, but later canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only was Áñez never a favorite in the polls, her de facto government has been unrelenting in its attempts to persecute the MAS and kick it out of the race.

On March 30 a government oversight agency (Gestora Pública de Seguridad Social de Largo Plazo) filed formal charges against MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce for “economic damages to the State” while he was Minister of Finance. According to the Bolivian Information Agency, his alleged crimes are linked to the contracting of two foreign companies to provide software for the administration of the national pension system.[21]

The charges state that the previous administration paid US$3 million as an advance for a contract valued at US$5.1 million to the Panamanian company Sysde International Inc. However, said company never delivered the software. Consequently, the MAS administration contracted the Colombian company Heinsohn Business Technology for US$10.4 million, on top of which payments were to be made of US$1.6 million annually for the license and source code.

Luis Arce responded to the charges during a press conference,[22] stating that during his tenure, “We entered into a contract for a system and the company failed us, so we filed suit against the company.” But he stressed that the charges simply seek to disqualify the MAS to prevent the party from participating in the presidential election.

Evo Morales took to Twitter to say, “The imminent electoral defeat of the de facto government is leading it to trump up new charges against the MAS-IPSP every day. Now, as we have denounced, they have filed charges based on false conjecture against our candidate to ban him from running for office because he is leading in the polls.”[23]

On July 6, the Attorney General of Bolivia charged Evo Morales himself. The charges are terrorism and financing of terrorism coordinated from exile, and preventive detention has been requested.  This is a rehashing of similar charges brought last November, charges denied by Morales.[24]

The persecution against the overthrown government has not stopped. Seven former officials remain asylees at the Mexican Embassy in La Paz: the former Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana Taborga; the former Minister of Defense, Javier Zavaleta; the former government minister, Hugo Moldiz Mercado; the former Minister of Justice, Héctor Arce Zaconeta; the former Minister of Cultures, Wilma Alanoca Mamani; the former governor of the Department of Oruro, Víctor Hugo Vásquez; and the former director of the Information Technology Agency, Nicolás Laguna.

The current Minister of Government, Arturo Murillo, affirmed upon assuming power that the authorities of the constitutional government of Evo Morales would be “hunted” and imprisoned before any arrest warrant was issued.[25] And now, eight months after the coup d’etat, the de facto government has refused to deliver safeguards to the asylum seekers at the embassy even though Bolivia and Mexico are parties to the American Convention on Human Rights, which in its article 22 establishes the right to seek and receive asylum[26].

Calls for free and fair elections without subversion by the OAS

The consequences of the OAS’ bad faith monitoring of the 2019 Bolivian election cannot be overstated. Not only were lives lost in the chaos and violence spurred by the statements of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission, which also resulted in scores of injuries and detentions. But the de facto regime continues its reign of terror, even repressing people protesting hunger during the pandemic lockdown,[27] while it dismantles the extensive social programs put into place during the years of MAS government.[28] Despite the repression, grassroots social movements in Bolivia, most notably peasant and Indigenous women who have bravely withstood attacks by the de facto regime, continue to insist on true democracy. They are inspired by the 2009 Constitution creating the Plurinational State, with its promise of a “democratic, productive, peace-loving and peaceful Bolivia, committed to the full development and free determination of the peoples.”[29]

Indigenous women have been at the forefront of the fight to restore democracy in Bolivia (photo credit: MAS-IPSP, http://www.masipsp.bo).

On July 8, the MAS-IPSP “categorically” rejected the participation of an OAS electoral mission for the September presidential election, on account of their responsibility for the coup against the constitutional government.[30] The communique declared that “it is not ethical for [the OAS electoral mission] to participate again for having been part of and complicit with a coup against the democracy and  Social State of Constitutional Law of Bolivia”, and “that [the OAS] is not an impartial organization to defend and guarantee peace, democracy and transparency, but rather a sponsor of petty interests that are foreign to the democratic will of the Bolivian people.” [31]

Bolivia is at a crossroads.  Will the de facto regime of Jeanine Áñez, having completed a coup and in command of the security forces, allow a return to democratic procedures to resolve political differences? Or will she join her Minister of Government, Arturo Murillo, in seeking to undermine, through political persecution and lawfare, any chance that the MAS ticket will be on the ballot, let alone allow free elections to take place?

The condemnation of the coup by Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay on November 12 was just the start of international solidarity with the call for a return to democracy in Bolivia. On November 21, 31 US organizations denounced “the civic-military coup in Bolivia.” [32] On June 29, 2020 the Grupo de Puebla, a forum that convenes former presidents, intellectuals, and progressive leaders of the Americas, released a statement condemning the actions of the OAS. “The Puebla Group considers that what happened in Bolivia casts serious doubts on the role of the OAS as an impartial electoral observer in the future.”[33] The international community can honor the clamour for free and fair elections in Bolivia by condemning the de facto regime’s use of political persecution and lawfare, supporting democratic elections in September, and rejecting any further  role of the OAS in monitoring elections in the Americas.

Patricio Zamorano provided editorial support and research for this article.
Translations from Spanish to English are by the authors.

Luis Arce, presidential candidate, and David Choquehuanca, running for the vice-presidency. They lead all surveys so far (photo credit: MAS-IPSP, http://www.masipsp.bo/).

End notes

[1] “Statement of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Bolivia,” https://www.oas.org/en/media_center/press_release.asp?sCodigo=E-085/19

[2] “What Happened in Bolivia’s 2019 Vote Count?” https://cepr.net/report/bolivia-elections-2019-11/

[3] “Evidence Against Fraudulent Votes Being Decisive in the Bolivia Election,”  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~wmebane/Bolivia2019.pdf

[4] “Bolivia dismissed its October elections as fraudulent. Our research found no reason to suspect fraud,” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/02/26/bolivia-dismissed-its-october-elections-fraudulent-our-research-found-no-reason-suspect-fraud/

[5] “New York Times Admits Key Falsehoods that Drove Last Year’s Coup in Bolivia: Falsehoods Peddled by the US, its Media, and the Times,” https://theintercept.com/2020/06/08/the-nyt-admits-key-falsehoods-that-drove-last-years-coup-in-bolivia-falsehoods-peddled-by-the-u-s-its-media-and-the-nyt/. See also the study by CELAG, “Sobre la OEA y las elecciones en Bolivia”, (Nov. 19, 2019). CELAG conducted a study of both the OAS report and CEPR’s analysis and concluded: “The findings of the analysis allow us to affirm that the preliminary report of the OAS does not provide any evidence that could be definitive to demonstrate the alleged “fraud” alluded to by Secretary General, Luis Almagro, at the Permanent Council meeting held on November 12 . On the contrary, instead of sticking to a technically grounded electoral audit, the OAS produced a questionable report to induce a false deduction in public opinion: that the increase in the gap in favor of Evo Morales in the final section of the count was expanding by fraudulent causes and not by the sociopolitical characteristics and the dynamics of electoral behavior that occur between the rural and urban world in Bolivia.” https://www.celag.org/sobre-la-oea-y-las-elecciones-en-bolivia/

[6] “Do Shifts in Late-Counted Votes Signal Fraud? Evidence From Bolivia,” https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3621475

[7] “Preliminary Findings Report to the General Secretariat,” http://www.oas.org/documents/eng/press/Electoral-Integrity-Analysis-Bolivia2019.pdf

[8] “Elections in Haiti pose post-electoral crisis, by Clément Doleac and  Sabrina Hervé, Dec. 10, 2015. COHA. https://www.coha.org/elections-in-haiti-pose-post-electoral-crisis/

[9] “El Grupo de Puebla rechazó el golpe contra Evo Morales y se solidarizó con el pueblo boliviano,” https://www.infonews.com/el-grupo-puebla-rechazo-el-golpe-contra-evo-morales-y-se-solidarizo-el-pueblo-boliviano-n281357

[10] “Salvatierra: Mi renuncia fue coordinada con Evo y Alvaro,” https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2020/1/24/salvatierra-mi-renuncia-fue-coordinada-con-evo-alvaro-244454.html&sa=D&ust=1593696030403000&usg=AFQjCNE_kAMqtAOBGCXdjJV5nkBsfQEWPQ

[11] “Almagro: Evo Morales fue quien cometió un “golpe de Estado,” DW. https://www.dw.com/es/almagro-evo-morales-fue-quien-cometi%C3%B3-un-golpe-de-estado/a-51218739

[12] https://twitter.com/oas_official/status/1194389549037830145?lang=en

[13] “La OEA y la crisis en Bolivia: un choque de relatos irreconciliables”, EFE, Nov. 12, 2019. https://www.efe.com/efe/usa/politica/la-oea-y-crisis-en-bolivia-un-choque-de-relatos-irreconciliables/50000105-4109588

[14] “Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding the Resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales,” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-donald-j-trump-regarding-resignation-bolivian-president-evo-morales/

[15] “With the Right-wing coup in Bolivia nearly complete, the junta is hunting down the last remaining dissidents,” https://thegrayzone.com/2019/11/27/right-wing-coup-bolivia-complete-junta-hunting-dissidents/

[16] “Brutal Repression in Cochabamba, Bolivia: So far nine killed, scores wounded,” COHA.  https://www.coha.org/brutal-repression-in-cochabamba-bolivia-november-15-2019/

[17] “Bolivian regime threatens to imprison lawmakers, officials,” https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Bolivian-Regime-Threatens-to-Imprison-Lawmakers-Officials-20200524-0004.html

[18] “Encuesta Bolivia, July 2020”, CELAG, https://www.celag.org/encuesta-bolivia-julio-2020/

[19] “Evo Morales busca un candidato y Añez dice que no participará en elecciones”, https://www.lavoz.com.ar/mundo/evo-morales-busca-un-candidato-y-anez-dice-que-no-participara-en-elecciones

[20] “A Jeanine Añez hasta los aliados le critican su candidatura”, https://www.pagina12.com.ar/244221-a-jeanine-anez-hasta-los-aliados-le-critican-su-candidatura

[21] Gestora Pública denuncia formalmente al exministro Luis Arce por daño económico al Estado” https://www1.abi.bo/abi_/?i=452014

[22] “Luis Arce asegura que la denuncia en su contra busca inhabilitar su participación en las elecciones”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DYvPUk643w

[23] “Fiscalía boliviana acusa de terrorismo a Evo Morales.” https://www.eltiempo.com/mundo/latinoamerica/fiscalia-boliviana-acusa-de-terrorismo-a-evo-morales-515054

[24] “Fiscalía boliviana acusa a Morales de terrorismo y pide su arresto,” https://www.hispantv.com/noticias/bolivia/470654/anez-morales-terrorismo-detencion

[25] “¿Quién es Arturo Murillo?”, https://www.pagina12.com.ar/239232-quien-es-arturo-murillo

[26] “American Convention on Human Rights,” https://www.cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic3.american%20convention.htm

[27] “Valiente resistencia en K’ara K’ara enfrenta represión policial y militar”, https://www.laizquierdadiario.com/Valiente-resistencia-en-K-ara-K-ara-enfrenta-represion-policial-y-militar

[28] “Bolivia’s Coup President has Unleashed a Campaign of Terror,” https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/05/bolivia-coup-jeanine-anez-evo-morales-mas

[29] “Bolivia (Plurinational State of) Constitution of 2009,” https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Bolivia_2009.pdf

[30] MAS-IPSP tweet, July 8, rejecting OAS mission for September elections.

[31] “El MAS rechaza observadores de la OEA en elecciones bolivianas,” July 9, Telesur. https://www.telesurtv.net/news/bolivia-movimiento-socialismo-rechazo-observadores-oea-20200709-0002.html

[32] “31 US organizations denounce the brutal repression in Bolivia,” COHA. https://www.coha.org/31-us-organizations-denounce-the-brutal-repression-in-bolivia/

[33] ttps://www.telesurtv.net/news/grupo-puebla-rechaza-oea-observador-internacional-20200629-0085.html

July 11, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 2 Comments

Washington Post Admits OAS Bolivia Election Report It Defended During Coup Was ‘Deeply Flawed’

By Morgan Artyukhina | Sputnik | February 27, 2020

The Washington Post reported Thursday on a study concluding the Organization of American States’ claims of voter fraud in the October 2019 Bolivian election “appear deeply flawed.” However, the paper’s editorial board consistently pushed the narrative that Evo Morales was “undermin[ing] Bolivia’s democracy” during the crisis leading to his ouster.

‘Deeply Flawed’ Conclusions

“Bolivia dismissed its October elections as fraudulent. Our research found no reason to suspect fraud,” reads a Thursday headline in the Washington Post’s analysis section. Penned by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Election Data and Science Lab researchers John Curiel and Jack R. Williams, the piece based on their study closely examines data from the October 20 Bolivian election and methods used by the Organization of American States (OAS) to determine the vote count had been fraudulent.

“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 duo concluded. “All in all, the OAS’s statistical analysis and conclusions would appear deeply flawed.”

MIT Graph showing Morales’ Movement for Socialism steadily gained ground as votes were tallied, explaining Evo Morales’ late victory

According to the researchers, the OAS’ conclusion relies on an undemonstrated assumption: that actual voting results are accurately reflected by unofficial counts and by reported voter preferences, and that deviation between these heavily points to voter fraud by the Bolivian government once official counting was resumed the day after election day. La Paz had previously promised to count four-fifths of preliminary votes on election night and count the rest the next day, but when Morales’ standing began to improve after the resumption of counting, the OAS cried foul.

“Our results were straightforward. There does not seem to be a statistically significant difference in the margin before and after the halt of the preliminary vote,” Curiel and Williams wrote. “Instead, it is highly likely that Morales surpassed the 10-percentage-point margin in the first round.”

MIT Graph showing correlation margin of voting precincts’ results before and after tallying was paused, demonstrating no new irregularities

The researchers ran 1,000 simulations to see if the difference between votes for Morales and his closest competitor, Carlos Masa, could be predicted. “In our simulations, we found that Morales could expect at least a 10.49 point lead over his closest competitor, above the necessary 10-percentage-point threshold necessary to win outright. Again, this suggests that any increase in Morales’s margin after the stop can be explained entirely by the votes already counted.”

MIT Graph showing Evo Morales’ margin of victory in 1,000 simulations of the October 20, 2019 Bolivian election

The study was reprinted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), which noted in a disclosure that it “contracted with the authors to see if the numerical and statistical results of CEPR’s November 2019 study could be independently verified. Any analysis and interpretation of findings in this report express the sole views of the authors, researchers at MIT Election Data and Science Lab.”

“The OAS greatly misled the media and the public about what happened in Bolivia’s elections, and helped to foster a great deal of mistrust in the electoral process and the results,” economist and CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said in a Thursday statement about the MIT report. “The OAS needs to explain why it made these statements and why anyone should trust it when it comes to elections.”

Parallel Findings Prior to Coup Ignored

However, at the time of the crisis, Washington Post editors seemed uninterested in CEPR’s analysis, deferring instead to the OAS, whose faults CEPR had already seen through even before Morales was ousted.

The day after the OAS statement and two days after the election, Weisbrot called on the body to retract its “irresponsible” statement on the election.

“The OAS statement implies that there is something wrong with the vote count in Bolivia because later-reporting voting centers showed a different margin than earlier ones,” Weisbrot said. “But it provides absolutely no evidence – no statistics, numbers, or facts of any kind – to support this idea. And in fact, a preliminary analysis of the voting data at all of the more than 34,000 voting tables – which is all publicly available and can be downloaded by anyone – shows no evidence of irregularity.”

“This kind of change in voting results, due to later-reporting areas being politically or demographically different than earlier ones, is quite common in election returns – as anyone who has watched election returns come in on CNN in the United States knows,” Weisbrot continued. “That is why it is wrong to draw conclusions from a change in the voting pattern without any statistical analysis or even looking closely at the data.”

“As this narrative gets repeated in the media, it will take on a life of its own, and will be difficult to correct, even as more people look at the data, or produce statistical analysis,” he warned.

CEPR’s formal report was published on November 8, titled, “No Evidence That Bolivian Election Results Were Affected by Irregularities or Fraud, Statistical Analysis Shows.” Two days later, opposition forces, urged on by supportive western powers including the United States, forced Morales from office, and the opposition and began a violent and bloody purge against the Movement for Socialism–Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP), Morales’ indigenous-working class umbrella party.

Newspaper Beat Coup Drums During Crisis

As Weisbrot predicted, the media did perpetuate this narrative – and the Washington Post played a key role in building momentum for Morales’ ouster.

On October 14, six days before the election, the Post ran a story titled “How Evo Morales running again – and again – undermines Bolivia’s democracy,” which warned that “depending on how the election goes,” Morales’ next term “could place democracy itself at risk in the Andean country.”

“In a tight race, international scrutiny and a strong, unified response to any electoral irregularities could be what allows Bolivians to salvage their democracy from the brink,” the opinion piece warns.

​However, four days after the election, on October 24, the Washington Post’s editorial board made its official voice known, declaring that “There’s still time for Bolivia’s president to right the path to democracy.” The article justifies its position using the OAS La Paz observer statement from October 21 and a similar one by the US State Department, which was adamantly pro-coup.

Then on November 10, the coup came, and Morales was forced to resign and flee the country. After pro-opposition police forces and far-right militias acted to block MAS senators from attending a key Senate session on November 12, the highest-ranking opposition senator, Jeanine Añez, declared herself the country’s interim president. Añez moved quickly to prepare de facto martial law, and the army and police massacred dozens of Morales supporters who rallied against the seizure of power.

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. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
© AP Photo / Natacha Pisarenko 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.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, built a bulwark of pro-coup support for its readers in the nation’s capital and around the world. On November 11, during the interregnum, the Post’s editorial board once again made its voice heard: “Bolivia is in danger of slipping into anarchy. It’s Evo Morales’s fault.”

“Mr. Morales, who had grown increasingly autocratic in nearly 14 years in office, insisted on running for a fourth term even after he lost a national referendum on whether he could seek it. The electoral tribunal, which he controls, then moved to falsify the results of the Oct. 20 vote so as to hand him a first-round victory,” the paper’s editors wrote, stating as fact what had previously been merely warned to be suspected. “The result was predictable: Angry Bolivians took to the streets all over the country. They had been demonstrating for weeks when, on Sunday, an audit released by the Organization of American States reported massive irregularities in the vote count and called for a fresh election.”

Two days later, the day after Añez seized power, the Post ran another story by the title “It’s not just a ‘coup’: Bolivia’s democracy is in meltdown.” Then on the 15th came the laconically titled piece, “The Bolivian ‘coup’ that wasn’t.” While the two stories quibble over what to call the opposition’s seizure of power, the underlying point is the same: Morales tried to steal the election and went against world opinion and domestic popular will by clinging to power.

With the publication of Curiel’s and Williams’ findings, the Post has helped to unring the bell it shook so hard during the election crisis. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the paper helped provide ideological cover for the ouster of yet another democratically elected leader in a Third World nation by uncritically accepting and repeating the US State Department’s positions and those of international bodies like the OAS that help forward its policies.

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | Leave a comment

Venezuela Blocks OAS Human Rights Commission Visit

By Paul Dobson | Venezuelanalysis | February 3, 2020

Mérida – Venezuela has warned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that its proposed visit to the country has not been authorised and will not be accepted.

The Washington DC-based organisation announced a five-day delegation to Venezuela starting on Tuesday. It was invited by self-declared “Interim President” Juan Guaido to “observe” the human rights situation in the country. The IACHR has not visited the Caribbean country in 18 years.

Caracas reacted on Friday, however, describing the proposed visit as “improper” given that the country is no longer part of the IACHR’s mother institution, the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Venezuela left the OAS in April 2019 after accusing the multilateral organisation of repeated acts against Venezuela’s sovereignty. Guaido appointed representatives, however, continue participating in OAS meetings.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza took to Twitter on Friday, clarifying that “The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not invited nor accepts the visit of any IACHR delegation. The visit announced in the press is NOT authorised.”

Caracas’ general secretary of the National Human Rights Council, Larry Devoe, also explained that Venezuela “does not recognise nor assign legal value to the actions of the OAS and the IACHR,” in a public communiqué to the multilateral body.

In addition, Devoe confirmed that the country will rather continue working with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the matter. The body, headed by former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, sent a delegation to Venezuela last July.

Guaido responded to the measure by assuring followers that the IACHR visit will proceed, as well as reaffirming his credentials to extend such invitations.

“As the legitimate government and with Venezuela a member of the OAS and the Inter-American system, we ratify the invitation for the IACHR to visit our country,” he wrote on Twitter.

The former National Assembly president is currently wrapping up an international tour which has taken him to Colombia, the UK, Belgium, France, Spain, the USA and Switzerland, where he attended the Davos Forum.

Guaido has been in Florida in recent days, where he has met with Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, as well as Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Shalala and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. Florida representatives have been some of the drivers of sanctions and legislation against Venezuela.

Despite coinciding with US President Donald Trump’s visit to his Mar a Lago resort also in Florida, no meeting took place between the two men. According to media reports, Guaido’s team lobbied for a meeting with Trump but to no avail.

The opposition leader also held a rally for US-based supporters at the Miami Convention Centre on Saturday, before meeting with US charge d’affaires for Venezuela, James Story.

Guaido has stated that he will return to Venezuela in the “next few days” and has called for more street rallies.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.

February 4, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

The OAS lied to the public about the Bolivian election and coup

Facts show nothing suspicious about the re-election of Evo Morales

By Mark Weisbrot | MarketWatch | November 19, 2019

What is the difference between an outright lie — stating something as a fact while knowing that it is false — and a deliberate material representation that accomplishes the same end? Here is an example that really pushes the boundary between the two, to the point where the distinction practically vanishes.

And the consequences are quite serious; this misrepresentation (or lie) has already played a major role in a military coup in Bolivia last week. This military coup overthrew the government of President Evo Morales before his current term was finished — a term to which nobody disputes that he was democratically elected in 2014.

More violent repression and even a civil war could follow.

OAS mission

The Organization of American States (OAS) sent an Electoral Observation Mission to Bolivia, entrusted with monitoring the Oct. 20 national election there. The day after the election, before all the votes were even counted, the mission put out a press release announcing its “deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results…”

Here is what the OAS was referring to: there is an unofficial “quick count” of the voting results that involves contractors who upload results at intervals, as the tally sheets are available. At 7:40 p.m. on election day, they had reported about 84% of the votes and then stopped reporting for 23 hours (more on that below).

When they resumed reporting results at 95% of votes counted, Morales’s lead had increased from 7.9% before the interruption to just over 10%.

This margin was important because in order to win without a second-round runoff, a candidate needs either an absolute majority, or at least 40% and a 10-point margin over the second-place finisher. This margin — which grew to 10.6% when all the votes were counted in the official count — re-elected Morales without a second round.

Morales’s lead grew steadily

Now, if you had any experience with elections or maybe even arithmetic, what is the first thing you would want to know about the votes that came in after the interruption? You might ask, were people in those areas any different from people in the average precinct in the first 84%?

And was the change in Morales’s margin sudden, or was it a gradual trend that continued as more vote tally sheets were reported?

You might even want to ask these questions before expressing “deep concern and surprise” about what happened, especially in a politically very polarized situation that was already turning violent. … continue

November 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , | 1 Comment

OAS election observers subvert Bolivian democracy

By Yves Engler · November 18, 2019

Organization of American States election observers have played an important role in subverting Bolivian democracy.

While some may find it hard to believe that a regional electoral monitoring body would consciously subvert democracy, their actions in the South American country are not dissimilar to previous US/Canada backed OAS missions in Haiti.

The OAS Election Audit That Triggered Morales’ Fall in Bolivia”, explained a New York Times headline. For his part, Bolivian President Evo Morales said the OAS “is in the service of the North American empire.”

After the October 20 presidential election, the OAS immediately cried foul. The next day the organization released a statement that expressed “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 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 points 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 aligns with pre-election polls and the vote score for his Movement toward Socialism party. The hullabaloo about the quick count stopping at 83% of the vote was preplanned and there is no evidence there was a pause in the actual counting.

But, the OAS’ statements gave oxygen to opposition protests. Their unsubstantiated criticism of the election have also been widely cited internationally to justify Morales’ ouster. In response to OAS claims, protests 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 Tuesday’s 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.

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 is the second largest contributor to the OAS, which receives between 44% and 57% of its budget from Washington.

It’s not surprising that an electoral mission from the Washington-based organization would subvert Bolivian democracy. OAS electoral observers have played more flagrant role in undermining Haitian democracy. In late 2010/early-2011 the US/Canada used an OAS election “Expert Verification Mission” to help extreme right-wing candidate Michel Martelly become president. Canada put up $6 million for elections that excluded Fanmi Lavalas from participating and following the first round of voting in November 2010, forced the candidate whom Haiti’s electoral council had in second place, Jude Celestin, out of the runoff. After Martelly’s supporters protested their candidate’s third place showing, a six person OAS mission, including a Canadian representative, concluded that Martelly deserved to be in the second round. But, in analyzing the OAS methodology, the CEPR determined that “the Mission did not establish any legal, statistical, or other logical basis for its conclusions.” Nevertheless, Ottawa and Washington pushed the Haitian government to accept the OAS’s recommendations. Foreign minister Lawrence Cannon said he “strongly urges the Provisional Electoral Council to accept and implement the [OAS] report’s recommendations and to proceed with the next steps of the electoral process accordingly.” In an interview he warned that “time is running out”, adding that “our ambassador has raised this with the president [Rene Préval] himself.” The CEPR described the intense western lobbying. “The international community, led by the US, France, and Canada, has been intensifying the pressure on the Haitian government to allow presidential candidate Michel Martelly to proceed to the second round of elections instead of [ruling party candidate] Jude Celestin.” This pressure included some Haitian officials having their US visas revoked and there were threats that aid would be cut off if Martelly’s vote total was not increased as per the OAS recommendation.

Half of Haiti’s electoral council agreed to the OAS changes, but the other half did not. The second round was unconstitutional, noted Haïti Liberté, as “only four of the eight-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) have voted to proceed with the second round, one short of the five necessary. Furthermore, the first-round results have not been published in the journal of record, Le Moniteur, and President Préval has not officially convoked Haitians to vote, both constitutional requirements.”

The absurdity of the whole affair did not stop the Canadian government from supporting the elections. Official election monitors from this country gave a thumbs-up to this exercise in what they said was democracy. After Martelly won the second round with 16.7 percent of registered voters support Cannon declared: “We congratulate the people of Haiti, who exercised their fundamental democratic right to choose who will govern their country and represent them on the world stage.” The left weekly Haiti Progrès took a different view. Describing the fraudulent nature of the elections, the paper explained: “The form of democracy that Washington, Paris and Ottawa want to impose on us is becoming a reality.”

A decade earlier another OAS election mission helped sabotage democracy in Haiti. After voting for 7,000 positions an OAS team on site described the May 2000 elections as “a great success for the Haitian population which turned out in large and orderly numbers to choose both their local and national governments.”

As the opposition protested the scope of Fanmi Lavalas’ victory, the OAS jumped on a technicality in the counting of eight Senate seats to subsequently characterize the elections as “deeply flawed”. The 50 percent plus one vote required for a first-round victory was determined by calculating the percentages from the votes for the top four candidates, while the OAS contended that the count should include all candidates. OAS concerns were disingenuous since they worked with the electoral council to prepare the elections and were fully aware of the counting method beforehand. The same procedure was used in prior elections, but they failed to voice any concerns until Fanmi Lavalas’ landslide victory. Finally, using the OAS method would not have altered the outcome of the elections and even after Jean Bertrand Aristide got the seven Lavalas senators to resign (one was from another party) the “deeply flawed” description remained.

Haiti’s political opposition used the OAS criticism of the election to justify boycotting the November 2000 presidential election, which they had little chance of winning. The US and Canada used the claims of electoral irregularities to justify withholding aid and Inter-American Development Bank loans to the Haitian government. OAS Resolutions 806 and 822 gave non-elected opposition parties an effective veto over the resumption of foreign aid to Aristide’s government. The OAS claims of “deeply flawed” elections played an important part in a multipronged campaign to oust Aristide’s government.

In an editorial responding to the coup in Bolivia, People’s Voice called for Canada to withdraw from the Washington dominated OAS. Internationalist minded Canadians should support that position.

But we should also recognize the blow Morales’ ouster represents to any effort to subvert the OAS. The Bolivian President’s removal is a further setback to the Latin American integration efforts represented in forums such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. A potential replacement for the OAS, CELAC included all Latin American and Caribbean nations. But Canada and the US were excluded. By helping oust Morales the OAS has taken revenge on a politician who pushed an alternative, non-Washington based, model for ‘Nuestra America’.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

The Bolivian Coup Is Not a Coup—Because US Wanted It to Happen

By Alan MacLeod | FAIR | November 11, 2019

Army generals appearing on television to demand the resignation and arrest of an elected civilian head of state seems like a textbook example of a coup. And yet that is certainly not how corporate media are presenting the weekend’s events in Bolivia.

No establishment outlet framed the action as a coup; instead, President Evo Morales “resigned” (ABC News11/10/19), amid widespread “protests” (CBS News11/10/19) from an “infuriated population” (New York Times11/10/19) angry at the “election fraud” (Fox News11/10/19) of the “full-blown dictatorship” (Miami Herald11/9/19). When the word “coup” is used at all, it comes only as an accusation from Morales or another official from his government, which corporate media have been demonizing since his election in 2006 (FAIR.org5/6/098/1/124/11/19).

The New York Times (11/10/19) did not hide its approval at events, presenting Morales as a power-hungry despot who had finally “lost his grip on power,” claiming he was “besieged by protests” and “abandoned by allies” like the security services. His authoritarian tendencies, the news article claimed, “worried critics and many supporters for years,” and allowed one source to claim that his overthrow marked “the end of tyranny” for Bolivia. With an apparent nod to balance, it did note that Morales “admitted no wrongdoing” and claimed he was a “victim of a coup.” By that point, however, the well had been thoroughly poisoned.

CNN (11/10/19) dismissed the results of the recent election, where Bolivia gave Morales another term in office, as beset with “accusations of election fraud,” presenting them as a farce where “Morales declared himself the winner.” Time’s report (11/10/19) presented the catalyst for his “resignation” as “protests” and “fraud allegations,” rather than being forced at gunpoint by the military. Meanwhile, CBS News (11/10/19) did not even include the word “allegations,” its headline reading, “Bolivian President Evo Morales Resigns After Election Fraud and Protests.”

Delegitimizing foreign elections where the “wrong” person wins, of course, is a favorite pastime of corporate media (FAIR.org5/23/18). There is a great deal of uncritical acceptance of the Organization of American States’ (OAS) opinions on elections, including in coverage of Bolivia’s October vote (e.g., BBC11/10/19Vox11/10/19Voice of America11/10/19), despite the lack of evidence to back up its assertions. No mainstream outlet warned its readers that the OAS is a Cold War organization, explicitly set up to halt the spread of leftist governments. In 1962, for example, it passed an official resolution claiming that the Cuban government was “incompatible with the principles and objectives of the inter-American system.” Furthermore, the organization is bankrolled by the US government; indeed, in justifying its continued funding, US AID argued that the OAS is a crucial tool in “promot[ing] US interests in the Western hemisphere by countering the influence of anti-US countries” like Bolivia.

In contrast, there was no coverage at all in US corporate media of the detailed new report from the independent Washington-based think tank CEPR, which claimed that the election results were “consistent” with the win totals announced. There was also scant mention of the kidnapping and torture of elected officials, the ransacking of Morales’ house, the burning of public buildings and of the indigenous Wiphala flag, all of which were widely shared on social media and would have suggested a very different interpretation of events.

Words have power. And framing an event is a powerful method of conveying legitimacy and suggesting action. “Coups,” almost by definition, cannot be supported, while “protests” generally should be. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera, a conservative US-backed billionaire, has literally declared war on over a million people demonstrating against his rule. Corporate media, however, have framed that uprising not as a protest, but rather a “riot” (e.g., NBC News, 10/20/19Reuters11/9/19Toronto Sun11/9/19). In fact, Reuters (11/8/19) described the events as Piñera responding to “vandals” and “looters.” Who would possibly oppose that?

Morales was the first indigenous president in his majority indigenous nation—one that has been ruled by a white European elite since the days of the conquistadors. While in office, his Movement Towards Socialism party has managed to reduce poverty by 42% and extreme poverty by 60%, cut unemployment in half and conduct a number of impressive public works programs. Morales saw himself as part of a decolonizing wave across Latin America, rejecting neoliberalism and nationalizing the country’s key resources, spending the proceeds on health, education and affordable food for the population.

His policies drew the great ire of the US government, Western corporations and the corporate press, who function as the ideological shock troops against leftist governments in Latin America. In the case of Venezuela, Western journalists unironically call themselves “the resistance” to the government, and describe it as their No. 1 goal to “get rid of Maduro,” all the while presenting themselves as neutral and unbiased actors.

The media message from the Bolivia case is clear: A coup is not a coup if we like the outcome.

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

OAS Appoints Former ICC Prosecutor Ocampo to Look Into Venezuela ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Luis Moreno Ocampo (L) discusses human rights with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (R) at the CFR Symposium on International Law and Justice sponsored by the Pitt-Jolie Foundation.

Luis Moreno Ocampo (L) discusses human rights with NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof (R) at the CFR Symposium on International Law and Justice sponsored by the Pitt-Jolie Foundation*
teleSUR | July 25, 2017

Luis Almagro, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, has appointed former International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo as OAS special adviser on crimes against humanity.

Ocampo, who also served as a World Bank consultant, is a controversial figure who has been described as erratic and prone to grandstanding performances that undercut his own legal efforts.

According to a statement published by the OAS, Ocampo’s tasks will include analyzing, studying and discussing the situation in Venezuela with all interested parties and, consequently, making suggestions on possible courses of action by the OAS.

Almagro said the decision was made in light of an “escalation of human rights violations in Venezuela and the systematic attack on the civilian population includes murder, imprisonment and torture … it is evident in the eyes of the international community that we are witnessing crimes against humanity. ”

Caracas has repeatedly accused Almagro and the OAS of promoting intervention and destabilization in Venezuela, which ultimately led to the Bolivarian nation leaving the regional body on the grounds that its continued presence there posed a threat to the country’s sovereignty.

“The OAS can prevent impunity in Venezuela,” Ocampo said. “The secretary-general is creating a new space within the OAS, focusing on crime prevention and control, as well as gathering information that may be useful to the OAS in conducting an independent judicial investigation”

Luis Moreno Ocampo earned much of his recognition during his time as deputy prosecutor during the case of nine members of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. However, his time as ICC prosecutor is largely seen as a failure in which the global court lost a great deal of its credibility as some impartial body, largely thanks to Ocampo’s wild moves and desire to seek the media spotlight.

Ocampo drew criticism for his role in Colombia, where in 2008 he suggested that the ICC should begin investigating the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC for crimes against humanity. At the time, then-President Alvaro Uribe was busy pursuing a bloody counterinsurgency campaign against the group, utilizing paramilitary death squads and security forces whose operations led to the execution of 2,364 civilians, a figure that dwarfed the death toll resulting from FARC actions during Uribe’s reign.

In recent years, Ocampo also drew negative attention for his proceedings against sitting heads of state, a pattern that also began in 2008 when he sought a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Bashir amid the raging conflict in Darfur. Critics claim that the evidence cited by Ocampo was a spurious mix of fact and fiction, and such an intervention while the civil war raged would only stymie the possibility of an internationally-mediated peace process.

“My time in the ICC was a mixture of a fascinating time and a terrible time,” a former staffer for the Office of the Prosecutor said at the time, according to World Affairs Journal. “The prosecutor was erratic, so irrational sometimes that you felt despair. He uses his charisma in a negative way.

Since then, Ocampo has pursued the prosecution of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on charges of genocide while likewise charging deceased former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with crimes against humanity for alleged massacres committed against anti-government protests that became increasingly violent before culminating in an open “regime change” campaign spearheaded by the U.S. with European and Gulf Arab allies.

The court has largely been discredited among non-Group of 7 nations as a neocolonial tool of Western capitals seeking to control the Global south. Last October, Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang noted that the ICC is, “in fact, an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color.”

Most recently, the former ICC prosecutor advised the Israelis on how to evade criminal charges for their perpetual expansion of illegal settlements. Ocampo noted that the settler-colonial state could successfully defend itself by manipulating international legal perceptions through arguments that the ongoing settlement construction is legal “once ratified by the country’s top court,” the Israeli High Court, which Ocampo argued “is highly respected internationally.”

* Photo: YouTube-Council on Foreign Relations

July 26, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment