Above photo: Protest in Bolivia. Corrado Scropetta.
Members of the Progressive International call on the UN and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to guarantee fair elections in Bolivia.
We are witnessing the systematic destruction of democracy at the hands of the de facto government of Jeanine Añez and its allied forces of repression in the streets, on the highways, and the communities across Bolivia.
Through this letter, the members of the Progressive International demand that you take urgent action within your mandate to restore the fundamental rights of the Bolivian people to peace, protest, and democratic self-determination. In our message to you, we emphasize the urgency of your action to protect the integrity of the electoral process in the Plurinational State, to prevent the violent persecution of the indigenous population, and to ensure that similar coup d’états do not spread throughout Latin America and the world.
We are outraged that the de facto government has been permitted to continue its assault on the democratic institutions of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Although it has not yet been able to consolidate its rule — due to the courageous and sustained resistance of the Bolivian people — it has used every tool to prevent the return of democracy since the military coup that led it to power on the night of 11 November 2019.
It was then that the Armed Forces and the Police — ignoring the constitution and the electoral result of 20 October — threatened to kill President Evo Morales and Vice President Álvaro García Linera, inciting violence against the sympathizers of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) that has cost hundreds of their lives in communities across Bolivia.
The Organization of American States (OAS), and its Department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation, led by Gerardo de Icaza Hernández, reported electoral fraud that did not exist, as was later demonstrated by multiple studies.
Article 12 of the Bolivian Constitution states that there are four branches of government: the Legislative, Executive, Judicial and Electoral branches. The Plurinational Electoral Body is regulated by Law No. 018 promulgated in 2010. Article 24 indicates that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, led today by Salvador Romero, has the power to: “Convene fixed-term elections established in the Political Constitution of the State, setting the date for elections and approving the corresponding electoral calendar.”
On the other hand, the Plenary of the Plurinational Constitutional Court issued the PLURINATIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL DECLARATION 0001/2020 resolved in Sucre on January 15, which requires that, within the year 2020, with the deadline of December 31 of this year, that the country be normalized, with a new government elected and with new authorities taking office.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal claimed this jurisprudence in order to set the new unilateral electoral schedule announced this Thursday, July 23. As announced by its President, Santiago Romero, it was reported that the General Elections of 2020 where the President and Vice President would be elected for the period 2020-2025 along with 36 Senators and 130 Deputies, representing the 8 departments of the country, would finally take place on Sunday October 18, 2020 (1st round) and Sunday November 29, 2020 (2nd round), if necessary.
The application of this legislation, designed for democratic times, was legitimately questioned by MAS, the country’s majority political force, considering the evident institutional interruption that has occurred in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and the state of exception that has ensued.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal had maintained until Wednesday, July 22, its commitment to hold elections on September 6. It even communicated its decision to several international bodies, asking for their assistance and election observation. Its change of approach brought further instability to an already very complex situation.
The situation has worsened since the rejection by the population and social movements of the postponement of the elections by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), with mass demonstrations that have been violently repressed.
In this institutional, political and social context, the unilateral adoption of measures related to the postponement of the election date — which deviate from the agreements reached by the different state powers and sectors of society — breaks the delicate balance built between the various social actors, contradict the intrinsically transitory nature of the de facto government of Jeanine Añez, and alienates the Bolivian people from the right to elect their own representatives, asserting the popular will.
The democratic recovery of the Plurinational State of Bolivia can be set in motion in spite of the many threats that still plague it. It is the commitment of all democratic states, national and international parliaments, and groups and organizations of all kinds to reaffirm their commitment to democracy in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, by accompanying the process and conducting an international audit of the election itself. Democracy in the Plurinational State of Bolivia must be a commitment by all.
As members of the Progressive International we urge:
- That safeguards be activated to immediately restore civil and political rights in the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
- That the bodies to which we send this letter activate the independent mechanisms to observe the legitimacy and impartiality of the pre-electoral and electoral process in the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
- That the relevant bodies declare measures to guarantee the PLURINATIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL DECLARATION 0001/2020 resolved by the Plenary of the Plurinational Constitutional Court, issued in Sucre on 15 January, which obliges that, within the year 2020, with a maximum period of 31 December of the current year, that the country be normalized, with a new government elected and with new authorities taking office.
- That the relevant international bodies urge the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to guarantee
the general elections scheduled for 18 October, monitored by international bodies which can ensure a process with transparency and without proscriptions.
From the Progressive International, we await your response to this request and we reiterate our commitment to democracy and human rights, which we will monitor from all jurisdictions, spaces, organizations and movements where we are present.
Former Foreign Minister of Brazil
Former Minister of Ecuador
International Human Rights Lawyer
Former President of Ecuador
Former Ambassador of Argentina and Trade Union leader
Assistant Professor in the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico
Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta
Minister of Women, Gender, and Diversity in Argentina
Member of the Chamber of Deputies of Chile
Director of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research
Member of the Hellenic Parliament and the Secretary-General of MeRA25
Member of Costa Rican Congress
Wiphalas across the World