National Lawyer's Guild

NLG is Hiring in New Orleans, San Francisco & Los Angeles!

Work with the NLG!

NLG projects and chapters are hiring! Below are 3 open positions based in New Orleans, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Please see the full job descriptions and application instructions linked below — and share far and wide!

These positions, along with other legal/movement related jobs are posted on the NLG Members-Only Job Board.

Office Coordinator, National Police Accountability Project (NPAP) of the NLG  – Part-time (30 hrs/week) with potential to be full-time

Executive Director, NLG San Francisco Bay Area Chapter – Full-time

Program Coordinator, NLG Los Angeles Chapter – Full-time

NLG Calls Upon US to Immediately Comply with International Humanitarian Law in its Illegal Occupation of the Hawaiian Islands


The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the oldest and largest progressive bar association in the United States, calls upon the United States to immediately begin to comply with international humanitarian law in its prolonged and illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom since 1893. As the longest running belligerent occupation of a foreign country in the history of international relations, the United States has been in violation of international law for over a century.


On November 28, 1843, Great Britain and France jointly recognized the Hawaiian Kingdom as a sovereign and independent State, which was followed by formal recognition by the United States on July 6, 1844. By 1893, the Hawaiian Kingdom maintained over 90 legations (embassies) and consulates throughout the world, to include a legation in Washington, D.C., and consulates in the cities of New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, San Diego, Boston, Portland, Port Townsend and Seattle. The United States also maintained a legation and consulate in Honolulu.

The Hawaiian Kingdom also held treaties with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Belgium, Bremen, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hamburg, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Samoa, Spain, Switzerland, the unified Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, and the United States. It was also a member of the Universal Postal Union.

As a constitutional monarchy, the kingdom provided universal healthcare for the aboriginal Hawaiian population since 1859 with the establishment of Queen’s Hospital, and it became the fifth country in the world to provide compulsory education for all youth in 1841. This predated compulsory education in the United States by seventy-seven years and its literacy rate was universal and second to Scotland. Also, between 1880 and 1887, a study abroad program was launched where 18 young Hawaiian subjects attended schools in the United States, Great Britain, which included Scotland, Italy, Japan and China where they studied engineering, law, foreign language, medicine, military science, engraving, sculpture, and music.


After completing an investigation into the United States role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom government on January 17, 1893, President Cleveland apprised the Congress of his findings and conclusions. In his message to the Congress, he stated, “And so it happened that on the 16th day of January, 1893, between four and five o’clock in the afternoon, a detachment of marines from the United States steamer Boston, with two pieces of artillery, landed at Honolulu. The men, upwards of 160 in all, were supplied with haversacks and canteens, and were accompanied by a hospital corps with stretchers and medical supplies. This military demonstration upon the soil of Honolulu was of itself an act of war.” He concluded, that “the military occupation of Honolulu by the United States on the day mentioned was wholly without justification, either as an occupation by consent or as an occupation necessitated by dangers threatening American life and property.”

This invasion coerced Queen Lili‘uokalani, executive monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, to conditionally surrender to the superior power of the United States military, where she stated, “Now, to avoid any collision of armed forces and perhaps the loss of life, I do, under this protest, and impelled by said force, yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon the facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.” The President acknowledged, that by “an act of war…the Government of…friendly and confiding people has been overthrown.”

Through executive mediation between the Queen and the new U.S. Minister to the Hawaiian Islands, Albert Willis, that lasted from November 13, 1893 through December 18, 1893, an agreement of peace was reached. According to the executive agreement, by exchange of notes, the President committed to restoring the Queen as the constitutional sovereign, and the Queen agreed, after being restored, to grant a full pardon to the insurgents. Political wrangling in the Congress, however, blocked President Cleveland from carrying out his obligation of restoration of the Queen.


Five years later, at the height of the Spanish-American War, President Cleveland’s successor, William McKinley, signed a congressional joint resolution of annexation on July 7, 1898, unilaterally seizing the Hawaiian Islands for military purposes. In the Lotus case, the Permanent Court of International Justice stated that “the first and foremost restriction imposed by international law upon a State is that…it may not exercise its power in any form in the territory of another State.”

This rule of international law was acknowledged by the Supreme Court in United States v. Curtiss-Wright, Corp. (1936), when the court stated, “Neither the Constitution nor the laws passed in pursuance of it have any force in foreign territory unless in respect of our own citizens, and operations of the nation in such territory must be governed by treaties, international understandings and compacts, and the principles of international law.” In 1988, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded, it is “unclear which constitutional power Congress exercised when it acquired Hawaii by joint resolution.”

Under international law, “a disguised annexation aimed at destroying the independence of the occupied State, represents a clear violation of the rule preserving the continuity of the occupied State (Marek, Identity and Continuity of States in Public International Law, 2nd ed. 110 (1968)).”

Despite the limitations of United States legislation, the Congress went ahead and enacted the Territorial Act (1900) changing the name of the governmental infrastructure to the Territory of Hawai‘i. Fifty-nine years later, the Congress changed the name of the Territory of Hawai‘i to the State of Hawai‘i in 1959 under the Statehood Act. The governmental infrastructure of the Hawaiian Kingdom continued as the governmental infrastructure of the State of Hawai‘i.

According to Professor Matthew Craven in his 2002 legal opinion for the Hawaiian Council of Regency concluded, “That authority exercised by [the United States] over Hawai‘i is not one of sovereignty i.e. that the [United States] has no legally protected ‘right’ to exercise that control and that it has no original claim to the territory of Hawai‘i or right to obedience on the part of the Hawaiian population. Furthermore, the extension of [United States] laws to Hawai‘i, apart from those that may be justified by reference to the law of (belligerent) occupation would be contrary to the terms of international law.”


Despite over a century of occupation, international humanitarian law, otherwise known as the laws of war, obligates the United States to administer the laws of the occupied State. In 2018, United Nations Independent Expert, Dr. Alfred deZayas, sent a communication from Geneva to the State of Hawai‘i that read:

“As a professor of international law, the former Secretary of the UN Human Rights Committee, co-author of [the] book, The United Nations Human Rights Committee Case Law 1977-2008, and currently serving as the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, I have come to understand that the lawful political status of the Hawaiian Islands is that of a sovereign nation-state in continuity; but a nation-state that is under a strange form of occupation by the United States resulting from an illegal military occupation and a fraudulent annexation. As such, international laws (the Hague and Geneva Conventions) require that governance and legal matters within the occupied territory of the Hawaiian Islands must be administered by the application of the laws of the occupied state (in this case, the Hawaiian Kingdom), not the domestic laws of the occupier (the United States).”

Violations of the provisions of the 1907 Hague Regulations and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention are war crimes. Professor William Schabas, recognized expert in international criminal law, determined in a 2019 legal opinion for the Hawaiian Royal Commission of Inquiry, that war crimes have and continue to be committed in the Hawaiian Islands since January 17, 1893. He states, “In addition to crimes listed in applicable treaties, war crimes are also recognized under customary international law. Customary international law applies to States regardless of whether they have ratified relevant treaties. The customary law of war crimes is thus applicable to the situation in Hawai‘i. Many of the war crimes set out in the first Additional Protocol and in the Rome Statute codify customary international law and are therefore applicable to the United States despite its failure to ratify the treaties.” And according to Professor Lenzerini in his 2019 legal opinion for the Royal Commission of Inquiry, that violations of human rights in the Hawaiian Kingdom “would first of all need to be treated as war crimes, which are primarily to be considered under the lens of international criminal law.”


How could such a travesty have gone unnoticed until now? The answer is obliteration of Hawaiian national consciousness through a process of denationalization. Predating the policy of Germanization in the German occupied State of Serbia from 1915-1918, a formal policy of Americanization was initiated in 1906 that sought to obliterate the national consciousness of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the minds of school children throughout the islands. Classroom instruction was in English and if the children spoke Hawaiian they were severely punished. The Hawaiian Gazette reported, “It will be remembered that at the time of the celebration of the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, an agitation was begun looking to a better observance of these notable national days in the schools, as tending to inculcate patriotism in a school population that needed that kind of teaching, perhaps, more than the mainland children do.”

In 1907, a reporter from New York’s Harper’s Weekly visited Ka‘iulani public school in Honolulu and showcased the seeds of indoctrination. The reporter wrote:

“At the suggestion of Mr. Babbitt, the principal, Mrs. Fraser, gave an order, and within ten seconds all of the 614 pupils of the school began to march out upon the great green lawn which surrounds the building.… Out upon the lawn marched the children, two by two, just as precise and orderly as you find them at home. With the ease that comes of long practice the classes marched and counter-marched until all were drawn up in a compact array facing a large American flag that was dancing in the northeast trade-wind forty feet above their heads.… ‘Attention!’ Mrs. Fraser commanded. The little regiment stood fast, arms at side, shoulders back, chests out, heads up, and every eye fixed upon the red, white and blue emblem that waived protectingly over them. ‘Salute!’ was the principal’s next command. Every right hand was raised, forefinger extended, and the six hundred and fourteen fresh, childish voices chanted as one voice: ‘We give our heads and our hearts to God and our Country! One Country! One Language! One Flag!’”

The word “inculcate” imports force such as to convince, implant, or to indoctrinate. Brainwashing is its colloquial term. Within three generations, the national consciousness of the Hawaiian Kingdom was effectively obliterated from the minds of the Hawaiian people.


The year 1993, which marked the 100th anniversary of the American invasion and occupation, began the resurgence of Hawaiian national consciousness. It was also the year that the Congress enacted a joint resolution apologizing for the United States role in illegally overthrowing the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Six years later on November 8, 1999, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague accepted a dispute between Lance Larsen, a Hawaiian subject, and the restored Hawaiian government—the Council of Regency (Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom). Larsen alleged the Council of Regency was legally liable for “allowing the unlawful imposition of American municipal laws over the claimant’s person within the territorial jurisdiction of the Hawaiian Kingdom.” The Regency’s position was that it was not liable and that the United States was responsible under international humanitarian law. Due to the United States decision not to participate in the arbitral proceedings after being invited by the Regency and Larsen’s counsel, Larsen was unable to maintain his suit against the Hawaiian government.

These proceedings, however, drew international attention to the American occupation which prompted the NLG’s International Committee to form the Hawaiian Kingdom Subcommittee in March of 2019. The Subcommittee “provides legal support to the movement demanding that the U.S., as the occupier, comply with international humanitarian and human rights law within Hawaiian Kingdom territory, the occupied. This support includes organizing delegations and working with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and NGOs addressing U.S. violations of international law and the rights of Hawaiian nationals and other Protected Persons.”

In December of 2019, the NLG’s membership voted and passed a resolution where “the National Lawyers Guild calls upon the United States of America immediately to begin to comply with international humanitarian law in its prolonged and illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Islands.”

  • NLG strongly condemns the prolonged and illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • NLG also condemns the unlawful presence and maintenance of the United States Indo-Pacific Command with its 118 military sites throughout the Hawaiian Islands, which has caused the islands to be targeted for nuclear strike by North Korea, China and Russia.
  • NLG calls for the United States to immediately comply with international humanitarian law and begin to administer the laws of the Hawaiian Kingdom as the occupied State.
  • NLG calls on the legal and human rights community to view the United States presence in the Hawaiian Islands through the prism of international law and to roundly condemn it as an illegal occupation under international law.
  • NLG supports the Hawaiian Council of Regency, who represented the Hawaiian Kingdom at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in its efforts to seek resolution in accordance with international law as well as its strategy to have the State of Hawai‘i and its Counties comply with international humanitarian law as the administration of the Occupying State.
  • NLG calls on all United Nations member States and non-member States to not recognize as lawful a situation created by a serious violation of international law, and to not render aid or assistance in maintaining the unlawful situation. As an internationally wrongful act, all States shall cooperate to ensure the United States complies with international humanitarian law and consequently bring to an end the unlawful occupation of the Hawaiian Islands.

The National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.

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NEW: Persian/Farsi Know Your Rights Handbook!

Just in time for #NoWarWithIran actions, we’re thrilled to release the Persian/Farsi translation of our “Know Your Rights” (KYR) handbook. A HUGE thank you to the Iranian American Bar Association – New York Chapter for this translation!

In addition to Persian, our KYR handbooks are available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Urdu, and Bengali. All of them are available for free download at

As articulated the January 6 statement, NLG Strongly Condemns Illegal Targeted Assassinations by U.S. & Increased Repression of Iranian Nationals at U.S. Borders: “We know too well that periods of escalation of endless U.S. wars are connected to an escalation of the racialization and repression of Middle Eastern, Muslim, and all Black and Brown communities, not just under the hands of federal border agents but also local and federal police across all levels of law enforcement.”

NLG Strongly Condemns Illegal Targeted Assassinations by U.S. & Increased Repression of Iranian Nationals at U.S. Borders

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the oldest and largest progressive bar association in the United States, strongly condemns recent illegal U.S. actions in Iraq, including the killing of Iranian and Iraqi nationals and threats of military attacks on Iran as clear violations of both U.S. and international law. We call on our members and all people of conscience to mobilize in opposition to war with Iran, and we call on Congress to block access to funding for any military action against Iran, to lift sanctions against Iran, and to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Legal Community Must Act to Defend Iranians and other Middle Eastern Communities from Targeted Harassment and Repression by the U.S.

The NLG is alarmed by the reports of the detention and questioning of dozens of Iranian nationals and U.S. nationals of Iranian descent at U.S. borders by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials. Assisted by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), those detained reported that their passports were confiscated and they were questioned about their political views and allegiances.

A U.S. citizen of Iranian descent detained with her family at the U.S.-Canada border last night reported that “The vast majority of people being [detained] were American citizens and We kept asking why we were being detained and asked questions that had nothing to do with our reason for traveling and was told ‘I’m sorry this is just the wrong time for you guys.’” 

The NLG’s concern goes further than the actions of CBP. We know too well that periods of escalation of endless U.S. wars leads are connected to an escalation of the racialization and repression of Middle Eastern, Muslim, and all Black and Brown communities, not just under the hands of federal border agents but also local and federal police across all levels of law enforcement.



On December 29th, the U.S. killed 25 people and wounded 50 fighters in Iraq claiming that it was a “response” to a Dec. 24 rocket attack on its occupation military base in Kirkuk that allegedly killed one private military contractor, despite the fact that the organization targeted denied this allegation and had no fighters stationed in the area. On this false pretext – much like many other imperialist wars, including the U.S.invasion of Iraq nearly 17 years ago –  the U.S. launched the deadly Dec. 29 attack.

On December 31, a popular mobilization responded to this attack with an unarmed protest at the U.S. embassy in the Iraqi Green Zone, where most of the occupation forces reside. Protesters breached the embassy walls, demanding an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. On January 2nd, the Trump Administration ordered a drone strike on a convoy leaving Baghdad International Airport, killing Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mehdi Al Muhandis of the Popular Mobilization Forces of Iraq.


The killing of Soleimani and others, Muhandis, and others by drone is not justified under any notion of international humanitarian law or human rights law. Targeted killing is the intentional premeditated and deliberate use of lethal force by states or their agents acting under color of law, who is not in the physical custody of the perpetrator.  If the person against whom lethal force is directed has not been convicted of a crime for which a death sentence is permissible in the state where the killing occurs, the targeted killing is also an extrajudicial killing outside of any legal process. Targeted extrajudicial killing is, by its very nature illegal. It is an arbitrary deprivation of the right to life guaranteed by Articles 6 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


The U.S. killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and others by drone strike in Baghdad is an illegal act of aggression violating U.S. and international law, including the United Nations (U.N.) Charter which all members of the U.N. including the United States are legally bound to adhere to. The Charter was ratified by the United States and by virtue of Article VI, section 2, of the U.S. Constitution it has the force of domestic law.

Current discourse on the matter by political leaders, especially those in the US, shows a distressing lack of understanding or disregard for the principles of the Charter which was agreed upon by the global community to prevent future generations from experiencing the “scourge of war.” Furthermore, current references to the “legality” of the strike have been limited to issues of “proportionality” and “imminence” of a “threat”.  Neither of these matters addresses the fundamental issues of legality.


Attacks onU.S.military bases in Iraq, allegedly by Iraqi based militias which are Iraqi non-state actors, do not qualify as an armed attack on Iran.  Neither does the protest action at theU.S.Embassy in Baghdad as a result ofU.S.strikes against the militias amount to an armed attack by Iran against the U.S.

Article 2.4 requires that all U.N. Charter member refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations. The only two exceptions to the use of force are contained in Article 51 and 42.  Article 51, which recognizes the inherent right to self-defense, is operative only in response to an armed attack by another state. By definition, if an act is not in self-defense it is aggression, which is prohibited under the UN Charter. Article 42 permits the use of force when authorized by the Security Council. The U.S. did not bring the matter to the Security Council to seek a resolution regarding its claims about the activities of Iraqi militias.


The reference to proportionality by many commentators is misplaced.

Proportionality under international humanitarian law, otherwise known as the laws of war, relates to whether a particular military action is expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, or civilian objects which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage.  By its very nature, the principle of proportionality applies to cases of armed conflict, whether legal or illegal. The U.S. is not in an armed conflict with Iraq where the killing occurred, nor is it in an armed conflict with Iran.

Proportionality does not apply to considerations such as whether the killing of a high ranking army general of Iran is in some equation with the killing of a U.S. army contractor. Similarly, the issue of the imminence of a threat is not recognized under international law to convert an act of aggression into an act of self-defense. Although the Bush Administration used the concept to invade Iraq without UN approval, the international community roundly rejects the concept.

Solidarity with the People of Iran & the Region Means Building a Movement to Dismantle U.S. Imperialism

For too long, the people of both Iran and Iraq have suffered the crippling consequences of war, economic sanctions, instability, and constant threats of more war. The hands of extremist and hardline forces in both Iran and Iraq will be strengthened by Trump’s illegal acts of aggression. We must stand in solidarity with the people of Iran and Iraq who are struggling to achieve democracy by opposing U.S. imperialism and supporting people’s movements.

 The United States plays no positive role in Iraq or in the region and is the biggest threat to world peace. Therefore, we demand a full withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military bases from Iraq, halting all hostilities with Iran, and an international inquiry into and prosecution of the criminal behavior of the United States and its leadership. There is an urgent need to build an anti-war movement this year. Weapons manufacturers and those who profit from war must be shut down. There must be no support given for any electoral candidates and politicians that support this criminal war. And we must end the callous slaughter of millions around the planet. We encourage popular mobilizations in the streets as well as the growth of strategic campaigns around divestment, demilitarization, and international solidarity. No War with Iran! U.S. out of Iraq!”  -Excerpt from the Red Nation. Read more here 

  • NLG strongly condemns the assassination of General Soleimani as well as all threats by the United States against the Islamic Republic of Iran, its people, its leadership and its cultural heritage.
  • NLG also condemns the outrageous threats by U.S. President Trump to attack 52 targets in Iran, including cultural sites of deep importance to Iranian culture. Such an action would without a doubt constitute a war crime. Iran is home to 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites. The 1954 Hague Convention, of which the U.S. is a party, bars any military from “direct hostilities against cultural property.”
  • NLG condemns the racist and arbitrary detention and harassment of people of Iranian heritage by U.S. Customs and Border officials and calls on the U.S. legal community to act in defense of Iranians and other Middle Eastern Communities from targeted state repression.
  • NLG calls for an immediate inquiry into the harassment of Iranian nationals and U.S. citizens of Iranian heritage being stopped by CBP and by other government officials.
  • NLG calls on the legal and human rights community to view the attack on General Soleimani through the prism of international law and to roundly condemn it as an illegal act of aggression, a crime against peace, and a crime of aggression under UN General Assembly Resolution 3314.
  • NLG further calls on the legal and human rights communities to oppose the deployment of approximately 100 Marines and 750 members of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, and the pending deployment of 3,500 additional airborne troops to the region, actions which can only inflame the situation.
  • NLG joins the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) to call on the United Nations Security Council to immediately address the issue and take all necessary measures to put an end to all U.S. aggressions and interferences in the Middle East and to maintain peace and security in the region.
  • NLG joins IADL to call on all UN member states not to provide any political or logistical support for U.S. acts of aggression or war crimes against Iran or any other country.

he National Lawyers Guild, whose membership includes lawyers, legal workers, jailhouse lawyers, and law students, was formed in 1937 as the United States’ first racially-integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.


NLG Students Stand Up For Reproductive Justice

By David Gespass, NLG Past President

In 2019, a wave of anti-choice bills swept through state legislatures as anti-abortion politicians moved to restrict access to abortion across the country. After passing an organizational resolution opposing the criminalization of people’s reproductive lives in 2019, Guild members have organized to write and submit amicus briefs in states where these bills are under consideration.

The Trump administration’s appointment of historic numbers of federal judges and two Supreme Court justices has sparked the passage of laws in at least nine states designed to challenge and overrule Roe v. Wade (1973), the decision that protected a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion. With Catholic reactionary ideologue and Federalist Society stalwart Leonard Leo selecting Trump’s judicial picks, there is good reason to think that Roe is doomed, whether in one fell swoop or by a thousand cuts.

With the rash of Fed. Soc. judges now deciding important issues of privacy and personal liberty, it is clear that reliance on precedents like Roe, which emphasize individual rights, will be less and less persuasive to the emerging federal bench. To that end, law professor and NLG Review editor Brendan Beery wrote an article titled, “How to Argue Liberty Cases in a Post-Kennedy World: It’s Not About Individual Rights, But State Power and the Social Compact.” Beery’s argument is that challenges should focus on intrusive and overreaching government laws and regulations, rather than on the privacy rights of individuals.

With the passage of ever more restrictive laws limiting abortion rights came the dubious opportunity to test this thesis. Professor Beery and two of his students drafted a template based on his article, and over a dozen NLG law students volunteered to draft amicus briefs based on that thesis and tailored to each of the various state laws. Guild students are currently working under the supervision of Guild attorneys on briefs to submit in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Utah.

There remains a danger that judges will find that fetuses are “persons” under the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore entitled to “life, liberty or property.” For strict constructionists who look to the intent of the written word, one would think that would not be an issue, since the Amendment protects “persons born . . . in the United States.” On its face, that would seem to preclude the unborn or preborn but originalists’ capacity for sophistry is not to be underestimated. To that end, I added a section to the briefs arguing that fetuses are not persons contemplated by the Fourteenth Amendment, a position endorsed even by Antonin Scalia.

The cases have moved fairly quickly through the district courts, as the statutes were intentionally written to be unconstitutional under current law. Only judges willing to defy the law (an oxymoron, but one that cannot be discounted in the present environment, viz. Roy Moore) would do anything but strike the statutes down and allow their decisions to be appealed. The Guild anticipates filing amici in the circuit courts and, when one or more reaches the Supreme Court, to file them there as well. The intent is to give the judges the choice between adhering to the originalist principles they claim to espouse or exposing those supposed principles as smokescreens for decisions dictated by the desired outcome and not by any adherence to law or precedent. We hope for the former, but fear the latter.


Main Image: By Fibonacci Blue taken at the Stop Abortion Bans Rally in May 2019, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

NLG Statement on Coup in Bolivia

PDF in English

PDF en español

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) strongly condemns the military coup that took place in Bolivia on November 10, followed by the self-declared presidency of extreme right-wing Bolivian senator Jeanine Áñez, in violation of the Constitution of Bolivia.

There is strong evidence that U.S. elected officials and agencies worked to foment this coup in the Plurinational State of Bolivia against elected President Evo Morales, at the expense of indigenous people, campesinos and social movements of the poor and working class and in violation of the OAS Charter, the UN Charter and international law and resolutions.

The role of the Organization of American States (OAS) is particularly troubling, especially as the OAS leadership is serving as a proxy for U.S. political maneuvers throughout the region, despite the position of many American states in opposition to this intervention.

We also express our strongest solidarity with the people of Bolivia who continue to march, organize and resist despite facing harsh violence and military repression. We emphasize the importance of ending U.S. intervention in Bolivia and throughout Latin America and urge the restoration of legitimate civil government and democracy in Bolivia.

The Coup Violates the Constitution of Bolivia

President Morales’ eligibility to run for re-election was established by the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal, which in 2017 abolished term limits as violating the American Convention on Human Rights. This decision overturned the results of a 2016 referendum which would have prohibited Morales from running.

The Constitutional Tribunal was established by the 2009 Bolivian Constitution. It is the final authority in Bolivia adjudicating the constitutionality of laws, government power, and treaties.  There is no argument that the Tribunal’s decision was outside its subject matter jurisdiction or otherwise ultra vires. Thus, its decision establishing President Morales’ eligibility for re-election was final and binding.  The coup’s perpetrators are unhappy with the result of the court’s decision. But the coup plotters rejected the course provided by the Constitution of Bolivia to address their unhappiness, which would be to elect a new President using the democratic process established by the Constitution, who could appoint members of the Tribunal more to their liking.

There is no dispute that the coup perpetrators’ candidate, the neoliberal Carlos Mesa, lost the first round to Morales. The only question was the margin of Morales’ victory.  Instead of joining President Morales’ call for new elections, the plotters gained the upper hand in the military and forced Morales out with violence and threats of force. As the second Vice-President of the Senate, Añez, the self-proclaimed President installed by the coup plotters, was not in the Constitutional line of succession.  All the Constitutional successors resigned along with Morales. Restoration of Constitutional authority requires restoration of Morales to the Presidency. Then, the election could be rerun in accordance with the Constitution and domestic and international law, as already proposed by Morales before the coup, with Morales as a candidate and with more credible and reputable international election observers than the Organization of American States (OAS).

No Credible Findings of Election Fraud:  Fraud a Pretext for the Coup

The lead-up to the coup included allegations of electoral fraud against President Morales. Primarily, these allegations centered on the claim that Morales was unable to legitimately achieve a 10% margin above the second-place candidate, Carlos Mesa, thus avoiding a December runoff. Most commonly, an alleged delay in the reporting of results was used to back up these allegations. Of course, by the time the coup was executed in Bolivia, Morales had already agreed to call new elections, despite the lack of any proof or documentation backing up these allegations.

Despite the lack of evidence of election fraud, the OAS issued a statement one day after the October 20 elections warning of an “inexplicable” change in the trend of the vote count. This statement came despite the fact that rural areas in Bolivia have consistently shown slower-reporting results as well as higher support for Morales and the MAS. The OAS issued a “preliminary” report questioning the outcome of the elections on November 10, shortly before the coup was carried out.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) presented a comprehensive statistical analysis that found not only no evidence of fraud or irregularities but also indicated that the voting and results pattern reflected highly similar patterns from past years, especially in terms of the delay in reporting of rural votes. Further research by CELAG (Centro Estratigico Latinonamericano de Geopolítica) also backed up this analysis and pointed to the insufficient evidence to back up the assertions in the OAS statement.

OAS Violates its own Charter and Serves as An Arm of US Foreign Policy 

The role of the OAS leadership in Bolivia echoes its actions in Venezuela, Nicaragua and elsewhere in the region. In Venezuela, the officialdom of the OAS has been an increasingly vociferous proponent of regime change, and its pronouncements have come closely in line with the mandates of U.S. foreign policy. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has repeatedly promoted the exclusion of the internationally recognized Venezuelan government from hemispheric and international bodies and supported the imposition of unilateral coercive measures against the country, despite their illegitimacy under international law and their devastating effects on the social and economic rights of the Venezuelan population. These actions by OAS leadership undermine the organization’s legitimacy as a representative of American states collectively.

Despite the OAS’ stated concern with constitutional order in Bolivia, it failed to condemn or even criticize the military coup or the self-designated presidency of Jeanine Áñez. The OAS has a long history of anti-communism and was founded at a conference convened by U.S. military officials at the beginning of the Cold War in 1948. Even with this history, however, the membership of the OAS has not been willing to go along with the plans of its leadership and their U.S. backers, prompting the creation of the Lima Group. Nonetheless, in 2018, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – which has provided millions of dollars to anti-Morales Bolivian groups over the years – declared that the OAS “promotes U.S. political and economic interests in the Western Hemisphere by countering the influence of anti-U.S. countries such as Venezuela.”

These actions undermine the OAS’ own charter, which claims to support “the peace and security of the continent.” The OAS charter declares that “Every State has the right to choose, without external interference, its political, economic, and social system and to organize itself in the way best suited to it, and has the duty to abstain from intervening in the affairs of another State.” Nevertheless, the OAS has served as an arm of U.S. foreign policy in the region, at the same time that the U.S. has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council and has otherwise attempted to undermine multilateral human rights organizations.

Violation of the UN Charter and UN Resolutions 

The UN Charter also obliges member countries to “refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” This provision of the Charter is expanded upon by UN Resolution 2625, the Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States, which makes clear that this principle applies not only to military intervention but to other forms of intervention, including unilateral coercive measures such as economic sanctions. A mainstay of generally accepted international law, these principles emphasize the necessity of “the strict observance by States of the obligation not to intervene in the affairs of any other State is an essential condition to ensure that nations live together in peace with one another, since the practice of any form of intervention not only violates the spirit and letter of the Charter, but also leads to the creation of situations which threaten international peace and security…[and] the duty of States to refrain in their international relations from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any State.”

In Bolivia as in Venezuela, Honduras, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and repeatedly throughout the region, the U.S. government has repeatedly breached and continues to breach its obligations under the UN Charter, the OAS Charter and international law. The cooptation of the OAS to do so does not mitigate the responsibility of the U.S. government for the current destabilization in Bolivia, including ongoing violations of the right to freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of the press and the right to life itself. We also note the dire threat to the economic, social and cultural rights of the plurinational peoples of Bolivia, particularly the rights of indigenous peoples. Under the MAS-led government of Evo Morales, Bolivia reduced poverty by 42% and extreme poverty by 60%. The fomentation of a military coup risks the destruction of over a decade of advances that has seen Bolivia lower its Gini coefficient, measuring economic inequality, by 19%.

The Coup is Led by Openly Fascist, Anti-Indigenous Groups and Oligarchic Interests

The racist, anti-indigenous nature of the coup is apparent in the statements of many of the coup’s leaders and most widely recognized public figures. When Áñez declared herself president of Bolivia despite the lack of a quorum in the Senate due to the absence of senators from the Movimento al Socialismo (MAS), President Morales’ party, she lifted a huge bible, declaring that “The Bible has returned to the palace,” echoing her 2013 tweet that the indigenous Aymara people’s new year celebrations were “satanic,” and declaring that “no one can replace God.” (The Aymara people make up 41% of Bolivia’s plurinational population.) It also echoes the rhetoric of fellow far-right coup proponent Luis Fernando Camacho, formerly affiliated with the openly fascist Unión Juvenil Cruceñista. Camacho entered the presidential palace after Morales’ exit, holding a Bible as one of his supporters declared that “Pachamama will never return to the palace. Bolivia belongs to Christ.”

The anti-indigenous aspects of the coup were not confined to statements from prominent far-right leaders. Video footage was widely disseminated featuring pro-coup groups on the streets in La Paz, burning the Wiphala, the square flag representing indigenous people of the Andes. Police were photographed cutting out the Wiphala from the flag patches on their uniforms or lowering the indigenous flag from the front of Bolivian state flags. The Wiphala was integrated by the Morales government as the dual flag of Bolivia in 2009, along with a new constitution.

In the days following the coup, at least 23 deaths at the hands of military or police forces have been documented in Bolivia. A decree issued by self-proclaimed president Áñez claims to exempt members of the military or police from prosecution for crimes committed during the repression of anti-coup protests. Despite the role that OAS leadership has played in Bolivia, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an arm of that body, expressed grave concerns about this decree, noting that it “ignores international human rights standards and encourages violent repression.”

The coup, unsurprisingly, also implicates the Bolivian oligarchy, whose control over wealth and resources continued to be challenged by the MAS government and its social programs Camacho himself has a long-running alliance with separatist oligarchs and large landowners in the Santa Cruz area of Bolivia. The government’s efforts toward nationalization were limited rather than radical. Indeed, many left and indigenous organizers and social movements sharply criticized the Morales government for the concessions that it made to oligarchs and multinational corporations. Nevertheless, the Morales government faced fierce opposition from oligarchic figures like Branko Marinkovic, a longtime Camacho backer and the former president of the Federation of Private Industries in Santa Cruz. He warned in 2006 that pursuit of land reform would lead to “civil war,” and was charged in 2009 with providing $200,000 to plotters planning the assassination of Morales. He fled to Brazil, where he remains today, a strong supporter of extreme-right president Jair Bolsonaro. The Bolivian oligarchy has retained a close alliance with foreign corporations, including Canadian, Swiss and German mining companies, who have objected strongly to constraints on their activities by the Morales government and brought lawsuits in an attempt to perpetuate their exploitation of Bolivian resources. In particular, Bolivia is home to the world’s largest reserves of lithium, an element necessary to the development of electric-car batteries. The future of Bolivia’s lithium industry and the people and lands affected by it also hang in the balance.

The United States Has a Long History Of Destabilizing Progressive Regimes in Bolivia and throughout Latin America via the School of the Americas

There is a lengthy history of U.S. involvement in destabilization and dictatorship in Bolivia. In the 1970s, Gen. Hugo Banzer, a right-wing military dictator, was backed by the U.S. in his coup to bring down the left-leaning government of Juan José Torres, who was later killed in the U.S.-backed covert Operation Condor in Argentina. The military training academy in Fort Benning, Georgia, now known as WHINSEC and previously as the School of the Americas, has trained coup plotters and human rights violators throughout the region for decades. Infamous training manuals used at the school openly encouraged the use of blackmail, torture and the targeting of civilians.

At least six major figures in the coup were trained at WHINSEC/School of the Americas. Bolivian army commander Williams Kaliman, who issued the “suggestion” that Morales resign only hours before he did, citing a “civic, military and political coup,” completed a class there in 2003. He also served as Bolivia’s past military attache in Washington. Meanwhile, commanding police general Vladimir Yuri Calderon Mariscal, who reportedly led a police revolt on November 9, previously served as the President of Police Attachés of Latin America in the United States of America (APALA). This security alliance has been strongly criticized for attempting to bring Latin American police departments into the security ambit of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Political Leaders in the US Openly Supported the Coup

Leaked audios released before the coup implicate SOA alumnus Manfred Reyes Villa, a U.S. resident, in plotting to bring down the Morales government. Four former military officials, all SOA graduates, are also heard on the recordings. But most troubling, the recordings include boasts of support from various U.S. elected and appointed officials, including Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Bob Menendez. Rubio, in particular, has made no secret of his advocacy to bring down the Bolivian government, echoing his threats against the Venezuelan and Cuban governments. He also attempted to intervene in and impugn the credibility of the Bolivian electoral process.

Following the coup, President Donald Trump issued a statement “applauding…the Bolivian military,” and declaring that the military coup “send[s] a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua….We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere,” in a blatant endorsement of the seizure of power by unelected military officials.

NLG Calls for A Restoration of the Legitimate MAS Government and Compliance With the Bolivian Constitution and Laws against the Coup

The National Lawyers Guild supports the movement of the Bolivian people marching and struggling to undo the coup and restore the legitimate government in line with the Bolivian Constitution. A strong response of solidarity has been seen in other Latin American countries, including mass mobilizations in Argentina as well as official responses from Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua and Uruguay. For lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers in the United States, it is urgent that we do our utmost to stop U.S. human rights violations and violations of international law throughout Latin America and the world. Of course, there is a long, bloody history of U.S. imperialism in Latin America that continues to threaten the continent and the world today. In particular, we must act to challenge U.S. involvement in the ongoing coup in the Plurinational State of Bolivia and unilateral coercive measures against states in the region including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, and show solidarity with indigenous people, campesinos, workers and social movements braving military control to stand for their rights and restore democracy in Bolivia.


El Gremio Nacional de Abogados (NLG) de los Estados Unidos condena enfáticamente el golpe militar que tuvo lugar en Bolivia el 10 de noviembre, seguido por la presidencia autodeclarada de la senadora boliviana de extrema derecha Jeanine Áñez, en plena violación de la Constitución de Bolivia.

Hay pruebas contundentes de que funcionarios y organismos electos de los Estados Unidos trabajaron para fomentar este golpe de estado en el Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia contra el presidente electo Evo Morales, a expensas de los pueblos indígenas, los campesinos y los movimientos sociales de los pobres y la clase trabajadora y en violación de la Carta del Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, y las leyes y las resoluciones internacionales.

El papel de la OEA es particularmente preocupante, especialmente porque el liderazgo de la OEA está sirviendo como un apoderado de las maniobras políticas de Estados Unidos en toda la región, a pesar de la posición de muchos estados de América Latina en oposición a esta intervención.

También expresamos nuestra firme solidaridad con el pueblo de Bolivia que continúa marchando, organizando y resistiendo a pesar de enfrentar violencia dura y represión militar. Destacamos la importancia de terminar la intervención de los Estados Unidos en Bolivia y en toda América Latina e insta a la restauración del gobierno civil legítimo y la democracia en Bolivia.

El golpe de estado viola la Constitución de Bolivia

La elegibilidad del presidente Morales para postularse a la reelección fue establecida por el Tribunal Constitucional Plurinacional, que en 2017 abolió los límites del mandato por violar la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos. Esta decisión anuló los resultados de un referéndum de 2016 que habría prohibido a Morales postularse.

El Tribunal Constitucional fue establecido por la Constitución boliviana de 2009. Es la autoridad final en Bolivia que adjudica la constitucionalidad de las leyes, el poder del gobierno y los tratados. No hay argumento de que la decisión del Tribunal estuvo fuera de la jurisdicción de su tema o de otra manera ultra vires. Por lo tanto, su decisión de establecer la elegibilidad del presidente Morales para la reelección fue final y vinculante. Los perpetradores del golpe no están contentos con el resultado de la decisión del tribunal. Pero los golpistas rechazaron el curso provisto por la Constitución de Bolivia para abordar su infelicidad, que sería elegir un nuevo presidente utilizando el proceso democrático establecido por la Constitución, quien podría nombrar a los miembros del Tribunal más a su gusto.

No hay argumento que el candidato de los golpistas, el neoliberal Carlos Mesa, perdió la primera ronda ante Morales. La única pregunta era el margen de la victoria de Morales. En lugar de unirse al llamado del presidente Morales para nuevas elecciones, los conspiradores ganaron la delantera en el ejército y obligaron a Morales a salir con violencia y amenazas de fuerza. Como segundo vicepresidente del Senado, Añez, la autoproclamada presidente instalado por los golpistas, no estaba en la línea constitucional de sucesión. Todos los sucesores constitucionales renunciaron junto con Morales. La restauración de la autoridad constitucional requiere la restauración de Morales a la Presidencia. Luego, la elección podría volverse a ejecutar de conformidad con la Constitución y los leyes nacional e internacional, como ya propuso Morales antes del golpe, con Morales como candidato y con observadores de elecciones internacionales más creíbles y respetables que la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) .

No hay resultados creíbles de fraude electoral: el fraude es un pretexto para el golpe

El período previo al golpe incluyó acusaciones de fraude electoral contra el presidente Morales. Principalmente, estas acusaciones se centraron en la afirmación de que Morales no pudo lograr legítimamente un margen del 10% por encima del candidato del segundo lugar, Carlos Mesa, evitando así una segunda vuelta en diciembre. Más comúnmente, una supuesta demora en la notificación de resultados se utilizó para respaldar estas acusaciones. Por supuesto, cuando se ejecutó el golpe de estado en Bolivia, Morales ya había acordado convocar nuevas elecciones, a pesar de la falta de pruebas o documentación que respalde estas acusaciones.

A pesar de la falta de evidencia de fraude electoral, la OEA emitió un comunicado un día después de las elecciones del 20 de octubre advirtiendo sobre un cambio ‘inexplicable” en la tendencia del conteo de votos. Esta declaración se produjo a pesar del hecho de que las áreas rurales en Bolivia han mostrado consistentemente resultados de informes más lentos, así como un mayor apoyo para Morales y su partido, el Movimiento Ante Socialismo (MAS). La OEA emitió un informe “preliminar” cuestionando el resultado de las elecciones del 10 de noviembre, poco antes del golpe de estado.

El Centro de Investigación Económica y Política (CEPR) presentó un análisis estadístico integral que no solo no encontró evidencia de fraude o irregularidades, sino que también indicó que la votación y el patrón de resultados reflejaban patrones muy similares de años anteriores, especialmente en términos de la demora en la presentación de informes de votos rurales.

Investigaciones adicionales del CELAG (Centro Estratégico Latinoamericano de Geopolítica) también respaldaron este análisis y señalaron la evidencia insuficiente para respaldar las afirmaciones en la declaración de la OEA.

La OEA viola su propia Carta y sirve como brazo de la política exterior de los Estados Unidos

El papel del liderazgo de la OEA en Bolivia se hace eco de sus acciones en Venezuela, Nicaragua y en otras partes de la región. En Venezuela, el oficialismo de la OEA ha sido un defensor cada vez más vociferante del cambio de régimen, y sus pronunciamientos han estado muy en línea con los mandatos de la política exterior de Estados Unidos. El Secretario General de la OEA, Luis Almagro, ha promovido en repetidas ocasiones la exclusión del gobierno venezolano internacionalmente reconocido de los organismos hemisféricos e internacionales y ha apoyado la imposición de medidas coercitivas unilaterales contra el país, a pesar de su ilegitimidad en virtud del derecho internacional y sus efectos devastadores sobre los derechos sociales y económicos de la población venezolana. Estas acciones del liderazgo de la OEA socavan la legitimidad de la organización como representante de los estados americanos colectivamente.

A pesar de la preocupación expresada por la OEA con el orden constitucional en Bolivia, no logró condenar ni criticar el golpe militar o la presidencia autodenominada de Jeanine Áñez. La OEA tiene una larga historia de anticomunismo y fue fundada en una conferencia convocada por oficiales militares estadounidenses al comienzo de la Guerra Fría en 1948. Sin embargo, incluso con esta historia, la membresía de la OEA no ha estado de acuerdo con los planes de su liderazgo y sus patrocinadores estadounidenses, lo que provocó la creación del Grupo de Lima. No obstante, en 2018, la Agencia de los Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo Internacional (USAID), que ha proporcionado millones de dólares a grupos bolivianos contra Morales a lo largo de los años, declaró que la OEA promueve los intereses políticos y económicos de los Estados Unidos en el Hemisferio Occidental al contrarrestar la influencia de países anti-EEUU como Venezuela.”

Estas acciones socavan la propia carta de la OEA, que afirma apoyar “la paz y la seguridad del continente”. La carta de la OEA declara que “Todo Estado tiene derecho a elegir, sin interferencia externa, su sistema político, económico y social y a organizarse de la manera más adecuada para él, y tiene el deber de abstenerse de intervenir en los asuntos de otro Estado.” Sin embargo, la OEA ha servido como un brazo de la política exterior de los EEUU. En la región, al mismo tiempo que los EEUU se han retirado del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la ONU y han intentado socavar a las organizaciones multilaterales de derechos humanos.

Violación de la Carta de la ONU y las Resoluciones de la ONU

La Carta de la ONU también obliga a los países miembros a “abstenerse en sus relaciones internacionales de la amenaza o el uso de la fuerza contra la integridad territorial o la independencia política de cualquier estado, o de cualquier otra manera incompatible con los propósitos de las Naciones Unidas.” Esta disposición de la Carta se amplía mediante la Resolución 2625 de la ONU, los Principios de Derecho Internacional sobre Relaciones Amistosas y Cooperación entre Estados, que deja en claro que este principio se aplica no solo a la intervención militar sino a otras formas de intervención, incluidas medidas coercitivas unilaterales como sanciones económicas. Un pilar del derecho internacional generalmente aceptado, estos principios enfatizan la necesidad de “la estricta observancia por parte de los Estados de la obligación de no intervenir en los asuntos de ningún otro Estado es una condición esencial para garantizar que las naciones vivan juntas en paz entre sí, ya que la práctica de cualquier forma de intervención no solo viola el espíritu y la letra de la Carta, sino que también conduce a la creación de situaciones que amenazan la paz y la seguridad internacionales … [y] el deber de los Estados de abstenerse en sus relaciones internacionales de los militares, política, económica o cualquier otra forma de coerción dirigida contra la independencia política o la integridad territorial de cualquier Estado.”

En Bolivia, como en Venezuela, Honduras, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador y repetidamente en toda la región, el gobierno de los EE.UU. ha incumplido reiteradamente y sigue incumpliendo sus obligaciones bajo la Carta de la ONU, la Carta de la OEA y el derecho internacional. La cooptación de la OEA para no mitiga la responsabilidad del gobierno de EE. UU. por la actual desestabilización en Bolivia, incluidas las violaciones continuas del derecho a la libertad de reunión, la libertad de asociación, la libertad de prensa y el derecho a la vida misma. También observamos la grave amenaza a los derechos económicos, sociales y culturales de los pueblos plurinacionales de Bolivia, en particular los derechos de los pueblos indígenas. Bajo el gobierno de Evo Morales, liderado por el MAS, Bolivia redujo la pobreza en un 42% y la pobreza extrema en un 60%. El fomento de un golpe militar arriesga la destrucción de más de una década de avances que han visto a Bolivia reducir su coeficiente de Gini, midiendo la desigualdad económica, en un 19%.

El golpe está liderado por grupos abiertamente fascistas, anti-indígenas e intereses oligárquicos.

La naturaleza racista y anti-indígena del golpe es evidente en las declaraciones de muchos de los líderes del golpe y las figuras públicas más reconocidas. Cuando Áñez se declaró presidenta de Bolivia a pesar de la falta de quórum en el Senado debido a la ausencia de senadores del MAS, el partido del presidente Morales, levantó una gran biblia, declarando que “La Biblia ha vuelto a el palacio,” haciéndose eco de su tuit de 2013 de que las celebraciones de año nuevo de los pueblos indígenas aymara fueron “satánicas” y declarando que “nadie puede reemplazar a Dios.” (El pueblo aymara representa el 41% de la población plurinacional de Bolivia). También se hace eco de la retórica del defensor golpista de extrema derecha Luis Fernando Camacho, anteriormente afiliado a la abiertamente fascista Unión Juvenil Cruceñista. Camacho ingresó al palacio presidencial después de la salida de Morales, sosteniendo una Biblia mientras uno de sus partidarios declaraba que “Pachamama nunca volverá al palacio. Bolivia pertenece a Cristo.”

Los aspectos anti-indígenas del golpe no se limitaron a declaraciones de destacados líderes de extrema derecha. El video fue ampliamente difundido con grupos pro golpistas en las calles de La Paz, quemando el Wiphala, la bandera cuadrada que representa a los pueblos indígenas de los Andes. Se fotografió a la policía cortando el Wiphala de los parches de la bandera en sus uniformes o bajando la bandera indígena desde el frente de las banderas estatales bolivianas. El Wiphala fue integrado por el gobierno de Morales como la doble bandera de Bolivia en 2009, junto con una nueva constitución.

En los días posteriores al golpe, se han documentado al menos 23 muertes a manos de fuerzas militares o policiales en Bolivia. Un decreto emitido por el autoproclamado presidente Áñez afirma que exime a los miembros del ejército o la policía del enjuiciamiento por crímenes cometidos durante la represión de las protestas contra el golpe. A pesar del papel que ha desempeñado el liderazgo de la OEA en Bolivia, la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, un brazo de ese organismo, expresó su profunda preocupación por este decreto y señaló que “ignora las normas internacionales de derechos humanos y alienta la represión violenta.”

El golpe de estado, como era de esperar, también implica a la oligarquía boliviana, cuyo control sobre la riqueza y los recursos continuó siendo desafiado por el gobierno del MAS y sus programas sociales. El mismo Camacho tiene una alianza de larga data con oligarcas separatistas y grandes terratenientes en el área de Santa Cruz de Bolivia. Los esfuerzos del gobierno hacia la nacionalización fueron más limitados que radicales. De hecho, muchos organizadores y movimientos sociales de izquierda e indígenas criticaron duramente al gobierno de Morales por las concesiones que hizo a los oligarcas y las corporaciones multinacionales. Sin embargo, el gobierno de Morales enfrentó una feroz oposición de figuras oligárquicas como Branko Marinkovic, un antiguo defensor de Camacho y ex presidente de la Federación de Industrias Privadas en Santa Cruz. Advirtió en 2006 que la búsqueda de una reforma agraria conduciría a una “guerra civil,” y fue acusado en 2009 de proporcionar $200.000 a los conspiradores que planearon el asesinato de Morales. Huyó a Brasil, donde permanece hoy, un firme defensor del presidente de extrema derecha Jair Bolsonaro. La oligarquía boliviana ha mantenido una estrecha alianza con corporaciones extranjeras, incluidas compañías mineras canadienses, suizas y alemanas, que se han opuesto firmemente a las restricciones sobre sus actividades por parte del gobierno de Morales y han presentado demandas en un intento por perpetuar su explotación de los recursos bolivianos. En particular, Bolivia alberga las mayores reservas de litio del mundo, un elemento necesario para el desarrollo de baterías de automóviles eléctricos. El futuro de la industria de litio de Bolivia y las personas y tierras afectadas por ella también están en juego.

Estados Unidos tiene una larga historia de desestabilizadores de los regímenes progresivos en Bolivia y en toda América Latina a través de la Escuela de las Américas

Hay una larga historia de participación estadounidense en la desestabilización y la dictadura en Bolivia. En la década de 1970, el general Hugo Banzer, un dictador militar de derecha, fue respaldado por Estados Unidos en su golpe de estado para derrocar al gobierno de izquierda de Juan José Torres, quien luego fue asesinado en la Operación Cóndor encubierta respaldada por Estados Unidos en Argentina La academia de entrenamiento militar en Fort Benning, Georgia, ahora conocida como WHINSEC y anteriormente como la Escuela de las Américas, ha capacitado a golpistas y violadores de los derechos humanos en toda la región durante décadas. Los infames manuales de capacitación utilizados en la escuela fomentaron abiertamente el uso del chantaje, la tortura y los ataques contra civiles.

Al menos seis figuras importantes en el golpe fueron capacitadas en WHINSEC/School of the Americas. El comandante del ejército boliviano Williams Kaliman, quien emitió la “sugerencia” de que Morales renunciara solo unas horas antes que él, citando un “golpe de estado cívico, militar y político,” completó una clase allí en 2003. También se desempeñó como agregado militar de Bolivia en Washington. Mientras tanto, el comandante general de policía Vladimir Yuri Calderón Mariscal, quien presuntamente encabezó una revuelta policial el 9 de noviembre, anteriormente se desempeñó como Presidente de Agregados de Policía de América Latina en los Estados Unidos de América (APALA). Esta alianza de seguridad ha sido fuertemente criticada por intentar llevar a los departamentos de policía latinoamericanos al ámbito de seguridad de las agencias de inteligencia estadounidenses.

Los líderes políticos en los Estados Unidos apoyaron abiertamente el golpe

Los audios filtrados publicados antes del golpe implican al alumno de SOA Manfred Reyes Villa, un residente de EE. UU., En un complot para derrocar al gobierno de Morales. Cuatro ex oficiales militares, todos graduados de SOA, también son escuchados en las grabaciones. Pero lo más preocupante es que las grabaciones incluyen alardes de apoyo de varios funcionarios electos y designados de los Estados Unidos, incluidos Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz y Bob Menéndez. Rubio, en particular, no ha ocultado su defensa para derrocar al gobierno boliviano, haciéndose eco de sus amenazas contra los gobiernos venezolano y cubano. También intentó intervenir e impugnar la credibilidad del proceso electoral boliviano.

Después del golpe, el presidente Donald Trump emitió una declaración “aplaudiendo … al ejército boliviano,” y declarando que el golpe militar “envió una fuerte señal a los regímenes ilegítimos en Venezuela y Nicaragua … Ahora somos uno acercarse a un hemisferio occidental completamente democrático, próspero y libre,” en un apoyo rotundo a la toma del poder por oficiales militares no elegidos.

NLG llama a la restauración del gobierno legítimo del MAS y al cumplimiento de la Constitución y las leyes bolivianas contra el golpe

El Gremio Nacional de Abogados apoya el movimiento del pueblo boliviano que marcha y lucha por deshacer el golpe y restaurar el gobierno legítimo de acuerdo con la Constitución boliviana. Se ha observado una fuerte respuesta de solidaridad en otros países de América Latina, incluidas movilizaciones masivas en Argentina, así como respuestas oficiales de México, Cuba, Nicaragua y Uruguay. Para los abogados, estudiantes de derecho, trabajadores legales y abogados de la cárcel en los Estados Unidos, es urgente que hagamos todo lo posible para detener las violaciones y violaciones de los derechos humanos en los Estados Unidos.


Featured Image: Indigenous woman marching against coup in Bolivia. Twitter/Redfish

JOB OPENING: NLG Director of Mass Defense

The NLG is hiring a Director of Mass Defense! Please see the below job description, also available as a PDF, and circulate far and wide. The deadline for all applications is November 30, 2019.


National Lawyers Guild (NLG) National Office

New York, NY 

About the National Lawyers Guild: Our mission is to use law for the people; we unite lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people by valuing human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests. This is achieved through the work of our members, and the Guild’s numerous organizational committees, caucuses, and projects, reflecting a wide spectrum of intersectional issues.

Director of Mass Defense: The Director of Mass Defense (DMD) is responsible for the coordination and implementation of all aspects of the protest support program. The position is largely an organizing role which also involves media/social media, fundraising/grant writing, and limited legal research and/or writing in collaboration with barred attorney members. The successful DMD candidate will be responsible for overseeing network-building and membership-building activities that support NLG chapters and regions, the Mass Defense Committee and other NLG committees and projects, and NLG members and trained volunteers to collaborate within their region(s) and across our national network. The DMD reports to the NLG National Office Executive Director and works closely with the MDC Steering Committee to identify and implement priorities and strategies, as well as create and maintain necessary resources.

The following list of responsibilities is limited to what time permits within a 35-hour work week

  • Coordinate with NLG members, chapters, and committees to provide national protest legal support to current left radical/progressive social movements;
  • Prioritize organization and provision of legal support for protests in locations without a NLG staffed chapter;
  • Review the political landscape to identify current social movements and needed response(s);
  • Collaborate with community-based organizing projects to develop strategy and prioritization for legal support;
  • Create, update, and distribute Mass Defense-related resources such as a legal brief bank, rapid-response protocols, training materials, Know Your Rights handbooks, a legal observer training manual, and info/data security protocols;
  • Coordinate with the MDC Steering Committee to identify and meet mass defense-related priorities and to address situations affecting mass defense organizing nationally;
  • Report to the Executive Director and other national officers as needed to address legal situations that arise that involve mass defense organizing or NLG members or trained volunteers involved in mass defense organizing;
  • Work with the Director of Communications and, when relevant to chapter-based legal support organizing, local chapter leadership to create content (e.g., articles, blog posts, social media posts, interviews) on NLG mass defense work;
  • Act as point person for and representative of the NLG in protest-related coalition organizing;
  • Participate in and help organize monthly MDC Steering Committee calls;
  • Assist with mass defense fundraising campaigns and grant reporting requirements;
  • Work with the Director of Membership to recruit non-NLG legal professionals;
  • Collaborate with staff and volunteers to organize and host the NLG annual national convention, as well as participate in annual regional conferences as availability permits;
  • Participate in weekly staff meetings and office-wide administrative projects;
  • Some travel may be required (1-3 times per year minimum).


Job experience requirements

  • 3-5 years professional experience in organizing legal support, community organizing, or similar experience providing support for social movements;
  • Excellent project-management skills for both individual and interconnected programs;
  • Ability to work collaboratively both in person and remotely, share responsibilities, and support and acknowledge colleagues’ contributions; experience with collaborative workplaces and consensus-based decision making a plus;
  • Ability to think strategically and identify mass defense-related opportunities and challenges;
  • Excellent time-management skills;
  • Ability to write clearly and concisely writing, and to deliver content on deadline;
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite and Google Apps. Willingness to be trained on basic competency of CiviCRM, our constituent relationship management platform, and WordPress, our website platform;
  • Familiarity with the social media landscape, including but not limited to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


  • Knowledgeable about or interested in learning about Constitutional and First Amendment law and organizing;
  • Understanding of state repression and political organizing in response;
  • Understanding of left radical/progessive social movements and political ideologies;
  • Experience with security needs and technology.

Work Environment
The work environment described here is representative of what an employee will encounter while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with different abilities to perform the essential functions.

  • Job largely takes place in-office, with virtual collaboration with other staff. Must be able to participate in online virtual communications including email and video conferencing used to facilitate virtual office culture and work sharing.
  • This position is full time (35 hours a week). The National Office hours are 10:30am – 5:30pm, Monday to Friday. Occasional work on evenings and weekends as needed.
  • Must be able to conduct business in English; however, fluency in languages other than English is a plus.
  • Some work at off-site locations required (i.e., annual convention, National Executive Committee meetings); the NLG aims for accessibility in any off-site location.
  • This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, and scanners. Employee is regularly required to communicate effectively via computer, via phone, and in person.

Salary and Benefits

The salary for this position is $50,000. The position is covered by a collective bargaining agreement with the union that staff are represented by, the National Organization of Legal Service Workers, UAW Local 2320. The employer pays full health benefits (medical, dental, vision). Starting benefits also include three personal days, seven fixed holidays, four floating holidays, 18 sick days, and 20 regular vacation days annually. This is subject to revision during the contract bargaining process.

The NLG is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. People of color, trans and LGBTQ people, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, formerly incarcerated people, and people who have lived in poverty are strongly encouraged to apply.

NLG Mass Defense Program: The Mass Defense Committee (MDC) is a network of lawyers, legal workers, and law students providing legal support for political activists and movements for social change. MDC members provide legal observing at demonstrations, Know Your Rights trainings, meetings with protest organizers about legal consequences, assistance in setting up temporary legal offices and jail and bail support programs, and materials for supporting activists engaged in mass protests. The MDC Steering Committee is comprised of volunteers from the MDC. Responsibilities of the Steering Committee include fulfilling agreed-upon tasks/priorities of the committee as well as project and subcommittee management. For more, visit

How To Apply

Candidates should submit a letter of interest, resume, one writing sample, and two references to Pooja Gehi at no later than November 30, 2019.

Download the PDF file .

NLG Statement in Solidarity with the People of Chile

(En Español abajo)

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) of the United States expresses its solidarity with the Chilean people and strongly condemns the brutal repression with which the government of Chilean President Piñera is responding to the people’s demands for democracy and economic justice.

We express our support for our sister organization, the Association of Labor Lawyers of Chile (AGAL), whose members are bravely standing with Chile’s unions and working class in defending the human right to strike and the rule of law.

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which condemned the “excessive” use of force to respond to the protests, 2,128 people have been arrested and 376 people have been injured so far, at least 173 of them by gunshot.

The Chilean government’s brutal response to legitimate social protest recalls the nightmare of the Pinochet dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s, which, with the support of the U.S. government, murdered, tortured, and disappeared thousands it perceived as insufficiently obedient.  The current government has killed at least 18 people and detained thousands more in a matter of days. The repression must stop. The Chilean state must immediately restore democratic freedoms and submit to the people’s just demands.

Declaración del Gremio Nacional de Abogados de EE.UU. en solidaridad con el pueblo de Chile

El Gremio Nacional de Abogados (NLG) de los Estados Unidos expresa su solidaridad con el pueblo chileno y condena enfáticamente la brutal represión con la cual el gobierno del presidente chileno Piñera está respondiendo a los reclamos del pueblo de democracia y justicia económica.

Expresamos nuestro apoyo a nuestra organización hermana, la Asociación Gremial de Abogados Laboralistas de Chile (AGAL), cuyos miembros apoyan valientemente a los sindicatos y la clase trabajadora de Chile en la defensa del derecho humano a la huelga y el estado de derecho.

Según la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, que condenó el uso “excesivo” de la fuerza para responder a las protestas, 2.128 personas han sido arrestadas y 376 han resultado heridas hasta el momento, al menos 173 de ellas por disparos.

La brutal respuesta del gobierno chileno a la protesta social legítima nos recuerda a la pesadilla de la dictadura de Pinochet en los años setenta y ochenta, que, con el apoyo del gobierno de los Estados Unidos, asesinó, torturó y desapareció a miles de personas que percibió como insuficientemente obedientes. El gobierno actual ha matado al menos a 18 personas y detenido a miles más en cuestión de días. La represión debe parar. El estado chileno debe restaurar de inmediato las libertades democráticas y someterse a las justas demandas del pueblo.


Photo: “Protestas en Chile de 2019, Santiago, Chile” by Carlos Figueroa, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.