President Evo Morales, who appears to have secured victory in his recent reelection campaign, has been the head of a left-wing, anti-imperialist government in Bolivia: the kind of government the United States has historically looked to undermine. It’s unsurprising, then, that the Organization of American States (OAS), which sits across the street from the White House and has long been considered an arm of the US neoliberal foreign policy machine, released a statement accusing President Morales of electoral interference. Sign our petition below, telling the OAS to retract its dangerous and incorrect statement!
To: Secretary General Luis Almagro, Organization of American States
Mr. Secretary General,
Given that the vote count in Bolivia is still ongoing, it is alarming that the Organization of American States (OAS) has already issued a statement calling the results into question and declared that a second round of voting is the “best option.” In this regard, we are writing to insist that the OAS respect the will of Bolivian voters, cease its interference in Bolivia’s democratic process, and publicly retract its statement on the Bolivian elections.
In an October 21 press release, the OAS falsely claimed that Bolivian electoral authorities in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) “presented data with an inexplicable change in trend that drastically modifies the fate of the election and generates a loss of confidence in the electoral process.” If one were to read the press release without having detailed knowledge of Bolivia, one would think that the new data published by the TSE had flipped the results. What the new data showed was one candidate, incumbent President Evo Morales, widening his lead over his closest opposition rival, Carlos Mesa, by less than 2 percentage points.
That President Morales’ lead would have widened as the results of rural precincts started to arrive is no surprise to observers of Bolivian politics: Mr. Morales enjoys widespread support among campesinxs. As economist Mark Wesibrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research explained, there is nothing inexplicable going on: “This kind of change in voting results, due to later-reporting areas being politically or demographically different than earlier ones, is quite common in election returns — as anyone who has watched election returns come in on CNN in the United States knows. That is why it is wrong to draw conclusions from a change in the voting pattern without any statistical analysis or even looking closely at the data.”
The OAS followed this statement by holding an extraordinary session in which an OAS official said “the best option would be to convene a second round” of voting. We believe that the best option is to let Bolivian authorities continue to count the votes to see if a second round of voting is necessary. In fact, what the OAS is doing is the worst option: it is interfering in the domestic affairs of Bolivia by prematurely questioning the results of the vote and calling for another round of elections. Through blatantly interfering in this manner, the OAS appears to be aligning itself with opposition protesters in Bolivia, some of whom have engaged in violence and set an electoral center on fire. Even more troublesome are reports of military officials inciting the opposition to rebel using rhetoric that mirrors that of the OAS statement.
Mr. Secretary General, we appreciate that you have accepted President Evo Morales’ offer to have the OAS observe an audit of the elections. However, for a full, impartial, and accurate audit to be carried out, the attacks on electoral centers must stop; they cannot stop until your previous statement is retracted. We therefore ask the OAS to denounce the violence and any attempt at a coup and to retract its misleading previous statement.