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  • Supporters of Bolivia's ousted President Evo Morales hold a placard outside the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires to protest against the U.S. government

    Supporters of Bolivia's ousted President Evo Morales hold a placard outside the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires to protest against the U.S. government | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 December 2019
Opinion

A month after the coup in Bolivia, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses concern about "serious human rights violations."

While Argentina celebrated Tuesday the swearing-in of Alberto Fernandez to the presidency, in neighboring Bolivia, the de-facto government that overthrew exiled President Evo Morales marked its first month in power amidst allegations of human rights violations, political persecution, and media censorship.

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On Nov.10 due to civil, police and military pressure, the first Indigenous president in the history of Bolivia resigned from his post after allegations of “electoral fraud” related to the Oct. 20 elections. The right-wing narrative of "fraud" sparked violent demonstrations and even though Morales agreed to a new electoral process he was ousted. 

"A month after the coup d'etat was consummated, the right-wing from its racist and discriminatory logic massacred the people, assaults the state’s patrimony and returns to the old system of public institutions of neoliberalism," Morales wrote on his Twitter account recalling the event that also had the participation of the Organization of American States (OAS).

After the first round of the elections that gave Morales as a winner with a 10-point advantage over right-wing Carlos Mesa, the radical sectors of the right did not recognize the results, denounced an alleged “electoral fraud” and called for the street demonstrations.

The demonstrations of their followers were present with violence mainly against supporters of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party led by Morales, while the civic committees continued to stir up protests, police mutinied and the armed forces "recommended" for the legitimate president to resign.

Morales, who received asylum in Mexico, under pressure decided to resign to avoid more violence and pacify the country.

Amid a political-social crisis and without government on Nov. 12 in a surprising way, an opposition senator and deputy minority speaker of the Senate Jeanine Añez Chavez, without a required quorum by the Upper House, proclaimed herself interim president of Bolivia. Thereafter, the Andean country was immersed in a series of human rights violations, as the U.S.-backed leader tries to violently impose her new-gained power. 

The armed forces, protected by a decree that gave them impunity, were sent to the streets to stop the massive demonstrations against the coup as deep-rooted racism was expressed in the burning of the wiphala (flag of the Indigenous Peoples). The climax of repression and violence was reached at the massacre of Sacaba, Cochabamba, and Senkata, El Alto.

Almost 30 people died and more than 800 were injured by the armed forces during the post-coup demonstrations, with the actions of the Añez government being strongly criticized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the United Nations and others international organizations such as Human Rights Watch.

The local press was censored and international media was harassed and attacked. Even an Argentinian delegation of social, trade union and human rights organizations that traveled to the country and denounced “crimes against humanity” was attacked, followed and publicly threatened by the Government Minister Arturo Murillo.

On Tuesday, on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day, the IACHR presented its preliminary observations following its visit to Bolivia, expressing concern about the “serious human rights violations” and made an urgent call for an international investigation.

 

On the other hand, the de-facto government re-established its relations with the United States and Israel, which were suspended more than a decade ago, showing a new alignment in terms of international policy. Meanwhile, the ​​​​​​​OAS, that without a final report denounced “irregularities,” presented its final report on Dec. 4, alleging that Morales "would have obtained the majority of votes, but would not have obtained the difference of 10 percent."

As Bolivia, continues in this new path of uncertainty and violence, new elections are expected to be held in early 2020, without the participation of Morales or Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera. The political scene shows again a divided right-wing and an attempt at unity by the MAS party, which last Saturday led held a national meeting where hundreds of militants from 20 organizations participated and Morales was appointed as the campaign chief for the elections.

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