CEPR Spotlight: Bolivia

12/22/2021 12:00am

CEPR’s work looking at the 2019 coup d’etat in Bolivia that ousted the elected government was decisive in refuting the false narrative that was deployed, and unfortunately reported for nearly a year in major media, that the 2019 election was stolen. This narrative served as the principal justification for the coup, and for the political violence and repression of the coup government. . CEPR published eight reports and numerous op-eds, articles, and blog posts on the topic, which documented the central role of the Organization of American States (OAS) in creating and promoting the false narrative.

CEPR’s work fundamentally changed reporting on the Bolivian election, including in coverage by the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Salon, Al Jazeera and numerous Spanish language outlets. CEPR’s work demonstrating that the OAS lacked evidence to support its claims that the preliminary vote count contained an “inexplicable change in trend” in Evo Morales’s favor led to similar statistical analyses by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, and Tulane University, which were published in the Washington Post and reported in the New York Times. CEPR also showed that consultants hired by the OAS to analyze the results committed drastic errors. CEPR’s work also brought a great deal of attention to the issue on social media.

After the June 7, 2021 news article in the New York Times that finally showed the claims of fraud to be false, most journalists then knew that their previous understanding and reporting had been wrong. It is partly due to CEPR’s work that the party that was overthrown in the coup – Evo Morales’ part – was able to obtain a free election a year later, which it won by a large margin.

In October, CEPR organized an event at the OAS headquarters in Washington, DC that detailed numerous flaws, errors, and lies that the OAS made in statements and its audit of the Bolivian elections. Before an audience that included the diplomatic representatives of 16 OAS member countries, experts including CEPR’s Jake Johnston were joined by the ambassadors of Bolivia, Argentina, and Mexico, who denounced the OAS’s actions, as well as by Bolivia’s procurador general (equivalent to the attorney general), who had just overseen a tally sheet by tally sheet review of the election results (with CEPR participation). The event was covered in detail in Bolivian media. 

And in this recent piece for NACLA, CEPR’s Guillaume Long looked at how the OAS, particularly Secretary General Luis Almagro, supported the repressive, post-coup government in Bolivia.

CEPR played a key role in bringing to light the truth of what happened in Bolivia, and the consequences were very important to the lives of millions, and to democracy in the Americas. Thanks to everyone who has donated to our Spotlight campaign. If you haven’t done so, please consider making a contribution today so that we can continue to speak out on important developments in South America that ― if it weren’t for CEPR ― would not get the attention or understanding that they deserve.

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