•Press Release Bolivia Latin America and the Caribbean US Foreign Policy World
Washington, DC ― A new letter to Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union, from Members of the European Parliament representing their respective parties to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (Eurolat) and to the Delegation for Relations with the Andean Community criticizes recent statements and actions by the Organization of American States (OAS) with regard to Bolivia’s 2019 elections. It notes that “the independent investigation by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, as well as that published by academics from the universities of Pennsylvania and Tulane … throw serious doubts on the accusation of electoral fraud launched by the [OAS].” It also cites a June 7 article by The New York Times on a study that found that the OAS had no statistical basis to support its initial claims disputing election results showing then president Evo Morales with a first-round victory.
One of the letter’s three signers is Maria-Manuel Leitão Marques, Eurolat coordinator for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), which includes Borrell’s party, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, as a member.
“This is an important rebuke to the OAS and to European authorities who have supported the OAS’s baseless attacks on the legitimacy of Bolivia’s 2019 election results ― attacks that spurred opposition protests and rejection of the results, and paved the way for the coup d’etat that followed,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said.
The letter, also signed by Manu Pineda, Eurolat coordinator for European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), and Benoît Biteau, vice president of the Delegation for Relations with the Andean Community from the Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA), also condemns racism and repression by the de facto government of Jeanine Áñez: “This government has undertaken a campaign of violent racism against the indigenous population,” citing Inter-American Human Rights Commission observations. Together, the signers’ three respective parties represent some 254 seats in the European Parliament.
It notes that the de facto government in Bolivia has
undertaken a campaign of repression against authorities, including members of the previous Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and also leaders of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) [Evo Morales’s political party]. This is creating a climate of criminalization of social movements and of the left that makes us doubt that the next elections can take place under normal conditions and with guarantees of equality of all participants.
The MEPs’ letter to Borrell came the same day that seven US senators, including Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Edward Markey (D-MA) ― all members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee ― and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wrote to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voicing similar concerns about human rights abuses under the Áñez government, and threats to free and fair elections later this year.
The OAS’s claims that that there was a “drastic” and “inexplicable” change in the trend of the vote count following an interruption of the transmission of the election results have since been refuted by The New York Times, professors at Tulane and University of Pennsylvania, researchers at MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab (and their post at the Washington Post site), 133 economists and statisticians, a study by a University of Michigan statistician, and several reports published by CEPR. In response, the OAS has shifted its arguments and has engaged in name-calling and baseless attacks on the credibility of these researchers and also, the New York Times’ reporting.
In a 3,200-word press release last month, OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro made a number of wild allegations about The New York Times (attacking their reporting as far back as 1931), as well as various scholars at universities whose research and analysis has shown that many of the OAS’s claims about the Bolivian elections are not based on evidence.
“This letter from European MEPs shows that the Trump administration’s support for the military coup in Bolivia, and the false narrative from the OAS on which it was based, is opposed by other governments,” Weisbrot said. “The rest of the international community should also support democracy and demand truly free and fair elections in Bolivia in September, and ensure that MAS and its presidential candidate, Luis Arce, are fully allowed to participate and are not barred by the repression of the de facto government.”