Since the presidential elections in October, Bolivia’s opposition forces have committed numerous acts of violence: they have looted and set fire to homes, humiliated democratically elected government officials, kidnapped and threatened those individuals’ families, set the house of the president’s sister alight and stormed Evo Morales’ own home. This was all done to force Evo Morales, his Vice President Álvaro García Linera and many other leaders of the president’s party, Movement for Socialism (MAS), to resign. These attacks were fuelled by racism and religious fundamentalism, which is extremely concerning, as that goes against the inclusive spirit of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. President Morales is now in exile in Mexico, where he has been granted political asylum.
President Morales had accepted the audit by the Organization of American States (OAS) and said he would call another election, replace all members of the electoral board and allow other candidates to run. Despite this, the opposition still chose to be intransigent and to disregard democracy.
What is more, both the police and the armed forces have interfered in the democratic process: members of the police force have mutinied and their indiscriminate use of force has incited major unrest, while the commander-in-chief of the armed forces made statements to the country in which he clearly called for the president to resign. We have also received reports that there would be resistance in various parts of the country and that there are growing fears of large-scale civil confrontations.
Bolivia is seeing its democracy unravel at a time when there have been a number of popular uprisings against conservative governments across Latin America, including Alberto Fernández’s victory in the elections in Argentina. Unlike the recent coups in Honduras, Paraguay and Brazil, which at least pretended to respect constitutional order, the coup in Bolivia mimics the bloody military coups that took place in the 1960s and 1970s.
It is therefore extremely important for as many countries as possible to categorically condemn the coup in Bolivia in order to prevent this disregard for democracy from taking hold in Latin America once again.
We stand united with the people of Bolivia and Evo Morales and call for the human rights of all Bolivians to be respected in all circumstances – that includes the life and integrity of the president, his team and their families. We support Evo Morales’s call for those behind the coup to ensure a peaceful return to normal and for the senate to call elections immediately in order to restore democracy to Bolivia.
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