Last Sunday, Evo Morales, Bolivia’s leftist president, announced that he was stepping down from his position to calm down the political climate in the country. Violent demonstrations and riots have been taking place in Bolivia since the general election of MPs, Senators, President and his deputy on 20th October. The opposition have alleged that electoral fraud and vote-rigging took place. The country’s Electoral Monitoring Committee announced that Evo Morales won the election with 47.1% of the votes and there was no need for a second round. Morales secured more than 40% of the electorate’s vote and there was also more than a 10% margin between him and his nearest challenger (who secured 36.5% of the vote) as stipulated under the electoral rules in Bolivia.
However, supporters of Morales’s main rival, the former Bolivian President, Carlos Mesa, claimed even before the announcement of the final result that the election had been rigged and should be taken to the second round and began to whip-up public protest demonstrations. The Western and especially American media also began to report on election fraud and ballot rigging on the day of the General Election.
Following the escalation of the protests, Morales first called for talks with the opposition parties, but they rejected negotiation. He then accepted the recommendation of the Organisation of American States to null and void the results and hold the election again. However, following continuing violence against activists and leaders of the Movement towards Socialism (Morales’s own political organisation), kidnapping, intimidation of journalists, and the damaging and burning down of the homes of government officials and their families (including Morales’s sister) by the protesters, together with the request from the Commander of the Bolivian Armed Forces, Morales announced last Sunday night that both he and his deputy would step down to prevent further violence and for the restoration of peace and calm.
“I decided to resign so that Carlos Mesa … stopped harassing thousands of people … My job is to keep the peace and the conflict between Bolivians hurts me” he said in a press statement. “We will fight for equality and peace.” “Struggle continues. This is not the end. If the IMF policies return to Bolivia, it will be worse for Bolivia” he wrote in a tweet released the same day. Along with the resignation of Evo Morales and his deputy, the Speaker of the Senate (who would be acting president under the constitution) resigned. A number of ministers and MPs also resigned. As such, a vacuum has formed in the Bolivian state apparatus that is likely to be seized upon by the opposition.
Evo Morales said in a tweet early Monday morning: “Mesa and Camacho, opposition leaders, conspirators and agitators for sowing division, will go down in history as racists and coup plotters… they bear full responsibility to calm the country and guarantee and ensure political stability and peaceful co-existence between the people. The world and the patriots of Bolivia reject the coup… They [the coup plotters] are lying when they blame us for the turmoil and violence that they themselves have created. ” Evo Morales was first elected as to the presidency in 2005, and then re-elected three times in subsequent elections, serving as the Bolivian President for a total of 13 years. He was the first Bolivian president to hail from the indigenous (or so-called Indian) population of the country.
He regarded himself and his government at the service of the toiling masses and was oriented towards socialism. Morales has carried out many socio-economic projects during his presidency since 2006 for the benefit of the working and poor people. Bolivia’s economy improved greatly in a variety of areas, including in the transportation industry, industrialisation and energy production, so much so that its GDP had tripled by 2013. During Morales’ presidency, poverty fell by 42% and extreme poverty was reduced by 60%. By implementing popular economic policies, Morales’ governments increased the public services expenditure by 750% in the first nine years of his presidency, resulting in the construction of large numbers of schools, gymnasiums and medical clinics.
Bolivia is one of the countries with the highest increases in real minimum wage in Latin America and its per-capita income growth rate is twice that of Latin America’s average. The food security policies of the Morales governments, providing the people with their needs, is exemplary among Latin American countries. During Morales’ presidency, these domestic policies, as well as Bolivia’s foreign policy in defence of peace and national sovereignty, did not please the right-wing forces inside and outside Bolivia. Diplomatic relations between the United States and Bolivia have also been cut at ambassadorial level since 2009. A number of leaders and international organisations have expressed their solidarity with Morales. Alberto Fernandez, the Argentine president elect, called Morales’ resignation “a coup against the president”. And he said: “We, the defenders of democratic institutions, condemn the blatant violence that altered the electoral process and prevented Evo Morales’ presidency to complete its course”.
Former Brazilian President, Lula, who was recently released from prison, condemned the coup against Morales which forced him to resign. The governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, and Mexico and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America also issued messages condemning the coup by the right-wing forces and stating their support for the Morales government. The Cuban foreign minister, while expressing solidarity with Morales, also called for “a global mobilisation to defend the life and liberty of Evo Morales”. In Europe, both Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labour Party, and Jean-Luc Melanchon, the left-wing leader of France Unbowed Party, condemned what had taken place as a coup against the people of Bolivia and Morales. According to the “Entekhab” news portal in Iran, referring to recent events in his country, the Bolivian ambassador in Tehran, said that “the coup in Bolivia has fascistic colours and that Evo Morales’s life is in danger”. Meanwhile, the right-wing forces in Brazil and Chile and their American counterparts have welcomed what is happening in Bolivia.
In a Twitter message on Monday morning, Evo Morales thanked his supporters in Bolivia and abroad for their solidarity and wrote: “Very grateful to the solidarity of the people, brothers from Bolivia and the world who communicate with recommendations, suggestions and expressions of recognition that give us encouragement, strength and energy. These messages have deeply affected me and brought tears to my eyes. They never abandoned me, and I will never abandon them”.
The Tudeh Party of Iran, alongside progressive forces from around the world, condemns this new coup attempt undertaken by the right-wing force in Latin America, this time against the president Evo Morales, the elected president of Bolivia’s people, and his government. The Party expresses its solidarity with the people of Bolivia, the Communist Party of Bolivia, and other Bolivian and Latin American progressives in their struggle to continue the process for the realisation of democracy, social justice and independence.
The Tudeh Party of Iran
Monday 11 November 2019
The original Farsi language version of this statement Published in Nameh Mardom, The Central organ of the Tudeh Party of Iran on 11th November 2019.