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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/19/19

Morales made unforced errors: Bolivia's Foreseeable Coup

By Ron Ridenour  Posted by Dave Lindorff (about the submitter)       (Page 3 of 4 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page. (View How Many People Read This)   9 comments
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According to the country's electoral system rules, in order to avoid a second round runofff in presidential elections the leading candidate must secure 51% or alternatively more than 40% with a lead of 10% over the second-place candidate.

With 83.8 per cent of the quick-count votes verified, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal's (TSE) website indicated that Morales was leading with 45.3% with Carlos Mesa (president just before Morales) of Citizen Community in second place with 38.2%. It appeared there would be a second round. TSE inexplicably shut down live transmission of the quick-count tabulation of ballots for 24 hours. Its website then had at that point counted 95% of the votes and indicated the distance between them had grown to 10.12%. Later, the TSE official figure gave Morales a lead of 10.5%. No run-off needed.

Most international observers in La Paz monitoring Bolivia's general elections praised the legitimacy and transparency of the process. Later on, some changed their minds.

MAS supporters took to the streets in celebration. The opposition rioted, torching several electoral tribunal departmental offices, and beating people.

Carlos Mesa cried fraud. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the US government repeated the claim, although neither group provided evidence of fraud. Morales invited the OAS to audit the election.

An OAS Electoral Observation Mission was sent-92 observers of 16 nationalities were deployed to observe the process in all of its stages and throughout the country.

OAS concluded that it was statistically unlikely that Morales had secured the required 10-percentage-point margin of victory needed to win without a run-off election. They offered no concrete evidence of intentional fraud but pointed out "clear manipulations" in some voting places, such as those where Morales had allegedly obtained 100% of the votes.

The Washington-based Center for Economic Policy Research, however, found that vote totals were "consistent" with those announced. Yet Solon told Democracy Now, on November 13, that there was some fraud. While the "national right-wing and imperialist US" will certainly benefit from Morales' removal, Solon didn't think it was an outright coup, at least not sponsored by the US. He called it a "popular rebellion" from many political perspectives.

"Morales should have accepted the results of the 2016 referendum. He would have left office after the third term as the best and most popular president," he said. Morales could in that case have run again after a five-year absence from the presidency.

Rampant fraud is not easy to pull off since each polling station has six electoral jurors and each must sign off on the tally sheet. 207,322 citizens were randomly selected to be jurors and trained a month before the elections. Representatives of political parties may also be present at polling stations and request to review and approve tally sheets.

Within days and hours before Morales resigned, family members of some politicians were kidnapped and held hostage until they resigned for fear of their families safety-mining minister Cesar Navarro and chamber of deputies president Victor Borda wee among them. Juan Carlos Huarachi, leader of the Bolivian Workers' Center, a powerful pro-government union, said Morales should stand down if that would help end recent violence.

On Nov. 10:,Morales announced he would hold new elections to comply with OAS doubts and opposition wishes. The opposition refused that offer.

Hours later, General Williams Kaliman Romero, the armed forces commander Morales had appointed just last December, told reporters: "We suggest the President of the State renounce his presidential mandate, allowing peace to be restored and stability maintained for the good of our Bolivia."

Hours later, Morales said, "I am resigning" adding it was his "obligation as indigenous president and president of all Bolivians to seek peace." Vice President Álvaro García Linera also resigned.

Shortly thereafter, Luis Fernando Camacho, who had become a symbol of the opposition, said, "Today we won a battle." He then entered the government palace with a Catholic priest to "return God to the burned palace". Camacho is a multi-millionaire businessman who had "spent years leading an overtly fascist separatist organization called the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista". Here are some clips that Grayzone journalists posted on the site's social media accounts":

As soon as Morales stepped down, police ordered his arrest. Vandals ransacked his house. Right-wingers happily burned the banner of Bolivia's indigenous people, showing them that the white elite intended to put them back in their place.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)

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