Bolivia’s socialist President Evo Morales was forced to resign Sunday under threat from the nation’s military, police forces, and violent right-wing protestors who have burned and ransacked the homes of members of Morales’ party, assaulted supporters of the president, and kidnapped a Bolivian mayor.
Political leaders and activists around the world immediately denounced Morales’ ouster as a military coup that leaves Bolivia without a constitutionally elected government. Williams Kaliman, the chief commander of the Bolivian armed forces, pressured Morales to resign earlier Sunday.
“The coup mongers are destroying the rule of law,” Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, tweeted hours after announcing his resignation in a televised address.
Morales said he and his vice president, Álvaro García Linera, resigned because they “don’t want to see any more families attacked” under orders from right-wing former president Carlos Mesa and opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho.
“This is not a betrayal to social movements,” Morales added. “The fight continues. We are the people, and thanks to this political union, we have freed Bolivia. We leave this homeland freed.”
Morales’ resignation came following his announcement early Sunday that he would hold new elections after the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) questioned Morales’ October victory and claimed the vote was fraught with irregularities. Trump administration officials and Republican lawmakers like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) were quick to parrot the OAS.
Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), tweeted Sunday that OAS “never did find any evidence of fraud in the October 20th election, but the media repeated the allegation so many times that it became ‘true,’ in this post-truth world.”
The latest OAS “audit”, repeats a major falsehood from their previous reports, pretending that there was an “unusual” jump in Evo’s vote margin towards the end of the quick count. But the change was in fact gradual, as later-reporting areas were more pro-Evo than earlier ones: pic.twitter.com/oFiUFFAl5H
— Mark Weisbrot (@MarkWeisbrot) November 10, 2019
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was freed from prison Friday after spending more than a year behind bars on politically motivated charges, was among those who denounced the coup in Bolivia late Sunday.
“There was a coup in Bolivia and comrade Evo Morales was forced to resign,” Lula tweeted. “It is unfortunate that Latin America has an economic elite that does not know how to live with democracy and the social inclusion of the poorest.”
A chorus of political leaders in Latin America and across the globe echoed Lula.
Jeremy Corbyn, the U.K. Labour leader, said Sunday that to see Evo Morales who, along with a powerful movement, has brought so much social progress forced from office by the military is appalling.”
“I condemn this coup against the Bolivian people,” said Corbyn, “and stand with them for democracy, social justice, and independence.”
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) tweeted Sunday: “There’s a word for the president of a country being pushed out by the military. Its called a coup.”
There’s a word for the President of a country being pushed out by the military. It’s called a coup.
We must unequivocally oppose political violence in Bolivia. Bolivians deserve free and fair elections.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 11, 2019
Morales’ resignation did not bring a halt to right-wing violence, the Washington Post reported.
“Socialist officials denounced the ransacking of Morales’ home late Sunday,” according to the Post. “The former head of Bolivia’s electoral tribunal, Maria Eugenia Choque, was detained, police said.”
Amid widespread chaos and concerns for Morales’ safety, the government of Mexico said it would grant the ousted Bolivian president asylum upon request.
“In Bolivia there is an ongoing military operation, we reject it, it is similar to those tragic events that bloodied Latin America in the last century,” Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, tweeted late Sunday. “Mexico will maintain its position of respect for democracy and institutions. Coups, no.”