For the past week, I have been in Bolivia. I came at the request of local activists who are panicked about the situation in their country, afraid that things are spiraling out of control. They are engaging in peaceful protests to reverse the coup that happened November 10th, but the protests have been met with tear gas and even live ammunition.
Unfortunately, mainstream media and even some progressive outlets are refusing to recognize that what happened a week ago was a coup and are not covering the coup regime’s racism and violence. Already, 24 protesters have been killed and nearly 600 have been wounded; hundreds more have been rounded up on jails, where the conditions are abysmal. People are appalled at t how racist and hateful the coup regime is. To draw more attention to this conflict we have launched a petition urgently asking the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to come here. Will you add your name?
On the same day that I arrived in Bolivia, Bachelet spoke out. "I am really concerned that the situation in Bolivia could spin out of control," she said, while also voicing concern about the widespread arrests taking place. "This situation is not going to be resolved by force and repression," she said. "All sectors have the right to make their voice heard — this is the basis for democracy." But if Bachelet really wants to be helpful, if she really wants to see the situation resolved and the people protected, why isn’t she here on the ground with me? Tell Bachelet to join me immediately. She should witness the situation with her own eyes.
I am on the streets alongside thousands of Bolivians — despite the coup regime’s violence — demanding the resignations of the coup regime and insisting on a return to democracy. However, the coup regime appears determined to hang onto power for as long as it can.
Coup leader and self-appointed interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Añez, appointed a whole new cabinet and already begun changing Bolivia’s foreign policy, despite having no such mandate. The coup regime’s interim Interior Minister issued a decree exempting the country’s police and military from criminal charges that would otherwise arise as a result of their treatment of the protesters. It is terribly scary, but I am proud to be among the crowds of indigenous people marching for their country.
A month ago, Bolivia was a stable country with a growing economy and decreasing poverty and inequality. Now, chaos and violence have gripped the country, as racism and religious discrimination are rearing their ugly heads. The indigenous Wiphala flag has been ripped off government buildings and uniforms, while the coup regime brags about the supremacy of Christianity and the Bible over the Pachamama (the Andean goddess representing mother earth) and calls sacred indigenous traditions “satanic.”
The people of Bolivia need the international community to come here to witness--and stop--the repression and slide to a police state. Please join me in telling U.N. Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet to join me here on the ground in Bolivia.
In solidarity with the Bolivian people,
Medea, and the entire CODEPINK Team:
P.S. CODEPINK has drafted a press release, written an article, held a webinar, made a video and started a petition describing why the events in Bolivia should be called a coup. Please check these materials out and listen to me live on CODEPINK radio on Thursday, November 21 at 11 am EST and for a CODEPINK Facebook Live webinar on Wednesday, November 20 at 12 pm EST. I have also been livestreaming everyday.