CubaBrief: Critical moment for democracy in Bolivia and for the Americas.

This is a critical moment for democracy in Bolivia and for the Americas. The movement that has opposed Evo Morales’s compromising of democracy and the rule of law in the South American nation over the past few years needs to double down in their efforts to save democracy in Bolivia and strengthen its institutions.

Evo Morales resigned the presidency of Bolivia on November 10th followingvoting irregularities, in the October 20th election and violent repressionagainst non-violent protestersthat led the Bolivian military to say it would not “confront the people” over their opposition to fraudulent elections.

Demonstrators had been calling for the nearly 14-year long tenure of this autocrat to come to an end. Police were also seen to be refusing to repress protesters. This is a positive example for the military and police in Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba to follow.

Evo Morales and his regime undermined the rule of law, compromised the independence and integrity of the electoral system that violated democratic norms, tried to build a highway through a national park occupied by indigenous communities that met popular resistance in 2011 and again in 2017, ignored a 2016 referendum against scrapping presidential term limits, and the October 20th fraudulent election combined with repression of protesters was the last straw for many Bolivians.

Morales has the Latin American disease of autocrats, “no se quiere ir” [he doesn’t want to leave], and Bolivian democrats should remain vigilant. This is not over, and the opposition maintains mobilized and in the streets. Now is the time to focus on restoring peace, stability and organizing free and fair elections that meet international standards with full guarantees.
The Castro regime, its vassal state in Venezuela, and the rest of the Sao Paulo Forum are mobilizing to back Evo Morales, denouncing his departure, and seek to carry out Morales’s coup against Bolivia’s democratic order.

Today, there are violent protests in the streets both against and in favor of Morales, and calls for civil war now by pro-Evo groups. The democratic opposition must hold firm, and use non-violent tactics to bring order to the situation.

The White House has issued an important statement on events in Bolivia, but omitted Cuba from the list of illegitimate regimes that do not have the consent of the governed. Previous Administrations also made this omission, then legitimized and engaged with the Castro regime to the detriment of democracy in the region. Hopefully this pattern will not be repeated. In order for a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere to be established and endure, Cuba must undergo a democratic transition and return to the family of free nations.

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The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, November 11, 2019

Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding the Resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales

The resignation yesterday of Bolivian President Evo Morales is a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere. After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard. The United States applauds the Bolivian people for demanding freedom and the Bolivian military for abiding by its oath to protect not just a single person, but Bolivia’s constitution. These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”

Conclusions of the preliminary findings In the four factors reviewed (technology, chain of custody, integrity of the tally sheets, and statistical projections), irregularities were detected, ranging from very serious to indicative of something wrong. This leads the technical audit team to question the integrity of the results of the election on October 20, 2019. As regards I.T. aspects, serious security flaws were discovered in both the TREP (Preliminary Election Results Transmission) and final count systems. In addition, a clear manipulation of the TREP system was discovered, which affected the results of both that system and the final count. The existence of 1,575 TREP tally sheets in the final count corresponds to approximately 350,000 votes. The first round margin of victory is fewer than 40,000 votes. Therefore, an irregularity on that scale is a determining factor in the outcome. For those reasons, the audit team is unable to confirm a first round victory.

The manipulations of the I.T. system are of such magnitude that they should be investigated in depth by the Bolivian State in order to get to the bottom of them and determine who is responsible for such a serious situation. The existence of physically altered tally sheets and forged signatures also undermines the integrity of the official count. Of the 176 tally sheets in the sample that had been counted in Argentina, 38.07% were inconsistent with the number of citizens casting a vote. That is to say, the tally sheets showed a higher number of votes than voters on the voter registration lists.

Taking statistical projections into account, it is possible that candidate Morales came in first and candidate Mesa second. However, it is statistically unlikely that Morales obtained the 10% difference needed to avoid a second round. The OAS technical personnel were given the information and access needed to do their job. The audit team cannot validate the results of this election and therefore recommends another electoral process. Any future process should be overseen by new electoral authorities to ensure the conduct of credible elections. Finally, the audit team will continue to process information and the more than 250 complaints received regarding the electoral process, with a view to producing the final report, which will contain a series of recommendations. Nevertheless, the preliminary findings are conclusive.

Amnesty International, October 22, 2019

Bolivia: Authorities must respect the right to peaceful protest

In response to the Bolivian authorities’ repressive reaction to demonstrations by people who believe there was fraud in the recent elections, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

“Instead of replicating the sad scenes of violent repression that we have seen in great swathes of Latin America in recent weeks, the Evo Morales administration must guarantee the Bolivian people’s right to peaceful protest.”

“So far, the Bolivian authorities’ response to the demonstrations has been deeply alarming and has shown contempt for human rights. We are monitoring their actions and urge them to avoid the excessive use of force.”

“We also condemn the attacks against human rights defenders, including Waldo Albarracín, rector of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz and a well-known human rights defender, who suffered an act of violence while demonstrating yesterday.”