The Canadian Peace Congress stands in solidarity with the people of Bolivia in their struggle to force the coup regime headed by Janine Añez to resign and for a return to democratic conditions.
Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism Party (MAS) was re-elected President of Bolivia in the first round of voting on October 20, 2019 with 47% of the popular vote. Carlos Mesa of the right-wing Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) received only 36.5%, thus negating the necessity of a second round of voting.
Prior to the election, Mesa had hinted that he would not accept the results. Immediately after the MAS victory, US imperialism and the Organization of American States (OAS) claimed the Morales government had engaged in electoral foul play and vote-rigging to prevent a second ballot vote. However, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have since cast serious doubt on the OAS claims, pointing out in a comprehensive study that, “The statistical evidence does not support the claim of fraud.”
The OAS charges of fraud gave a green light to violent opposition attacks on President Morales, his family, and other MAS leaders and property. To prevent further bloodshed, Morales agreed to hold new elections. This did not satisfy the OAS, and the Bolivian coup d’état was completed when Army General Williams Kaliman “asked” Morales to resign. With a gun to his head – and to those of his MAS members and supporters – President Morales resigned on November 10, 2019, and went into exile in Mexico. Opposition Senator Janine Añez Chávez then appointed herself “Interim President” until new elections are held.
Yet, despite waves of repression from police and right-wing paramilitary groups, support for Morales and the MAS has remained strong, especially among the working class, the poor and the Indigenous people, which together comprise the vast majority of the country’s population. With MAS presidential candidate Luis Acre showing a commanding lead in opinion polls, the coup government has repeatedly postponed the elections originally scheduled for this past May.
Angered by these politically-motivated stalling tactics, workers, their trade unions, and social movements across Bolivia have repeatedly called for early elections to be held. On August 3, 2020, they launched a general strike demanding the “immediate removal of the coup-installed government” and democratic elections. These actions were met by renewed attacks on peaceful protests, and bogus charges filed against many MAS leaders and candidates for supporting “sedition and terrorism”.
The mass mobilizations ended when agreement was reached for a new law guaranteeing the election will be held by October 18, 2020, without any further postponement.
However, the danger of a military coup d’état to prevent a MAS victory remains very present.
The Canadian Peace Congress:
- calls for the immediate release of all imprisoned labour, Indigenous and other social activists, and for the dropping of all “sedition and terrorism” charges against MAS leaders, supporters and other pro-democracy activists;
- insists that there be no further delays in holding democratic elections in the country, and that independent international monitoring take place prior to and during the October 18, 2020 vote;
- demands the Canadian government end its tacit support for the coup regime in Bolivia, and support the speedy restoration of democratic norms in that country; and
- urges all peace, indigenous, labour and other democratic organizations and movements across Canada to speak out in support of the struggle of the Bolivian people for democracy, social justice and indigenous rights.
We call upon the government of Canada to speak up for the democratic rights of the Bolivian people to hold open, transparent elections with no further delays or attempts at muddying the democratic process.
Canadian Peace Congress
August 30, 2020