Two months into a new electoral process in Bolivia, former president Evo Morales asked for the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the team who audited the elections last October, to be investigated.
Since he claimed political asylum in Argentina following the military coup, Morales has not rested for even a minute.
He is fully engaged in the Movement for Socialism Party campaign, constantly answering to the national and foreign media and he is confident that, in the end, the truth will prevail.
In an exclusive conversation with Prensa Latina, the indigenous leader spoke about the electoral process, referred to the causes behind the coup, the role of the OAS and the setbacks that his country has had in recent months.
Following the report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which stated that no fraud was committed in Bolivia, Mexico submitted a complaint to OAS to clarify the deficiencies of their report. The Village Group asked the United Nations to mediate an independent investigation. Is the lie being exposed?
It was not just MIT; I have a number of documents from investigators confirming that there was no electoral fraud. There are 123 economists who say that the OAS should retract its claim and the US Congress should launch an in-depth investigation into those who carried out the electoral audit so that they can retract it and be investigated.
From the very beginning we said that there was no fraud, I don’t know if it was my mistake, I asked for OAS to do an electoral audit, vote by vote and region by region if possible. Another thing that they took in the investigation was the fact that we won with more than 80% or 90% in some places.
It is not fraud, but for OAS and the electoral auditing team it was.
They did not recognise the indigenous vote and here we go back to colonial times, not recognising any trace of the indigenous movement.
We were always with the truth and backed by honesty. Beforehand, we asked that apart from electoral overseers could there be an electoral mission, with prominent people, from the left- or right-wing, who knew how to respect the rules and the constitution.
We called on someone, as well as the Village Group, maybe the United Nations, the Carter Centre, other institutions or personalities who might really respect the Bolivian peoples’ vote.
How much longer will the OAS be meddling in the region?
With this case, the Secretary-General, Luis Almagro, and his electoral auditing team must be properly investigated and sanctioned. The OAS should keep watch over democracy, respect sovereignty of the states and be with the most humble.
My suggestion is that Almagro should be thoroughly investigated, and all his team from the electoral audit, so that this type of mistake will never be committed again in the future, failing to recognise the popular will of the people.
Recently the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, raised concerns about the prosecution of former government members. Several of your cabinet members are still unable to leave the Mexican embassy. What is the real situation?
We welcome this reaction, but it must go even further. The UN should be the greatest defender of human rights and people in the world. We hope that through the corresponding incidents that they can provide a very impartial investigation. We are not asking for them to help us, only for them to tell the truth.
Currently the persecution continues, even stronger. Two days ago, a sister was detained, Felipa Huanca, an executive of the Bartolina Sisa de La Paz Federation of Campesino Women, although thanks to joint action they freed her.
The concerning and abominable thing is that the criminals are freed and the innocent arrested. Those that escaped due to the corruption in Bolivia have a sentence and arrest warrant, when they go back to their country now, they are not detained or imprisoned.
This type of dictatorship allows new generations to reflect, now they are realising how one lives with the right-wing and in a dictatorship. It is one thing to experience the sweet parts of the change process and another thing to have experienced the Neoliberalism of yesterday.
This feels like it is not going to stop. There is a path: defeat them democratically in the elections and, with the support of the international community, institutions, organisations, personalities…
We are not asking for help but physical presence with the institutions to make them respect democracy and the vote.
If we lose, we will respect that. We know how to lose. But we do want to take care of democracy.
Despite the persecution, the Movement for Socialism (MAS) topped the most recent polls. How do you follow the process to condemn the disqualification of your candidacy and that of the former chancellor, Diego Pary? How do you see the presidential candidate, Luis Arce, bearing in mind that they don’t have all the necessary guarantees?
The US right-wing plan was death to MAS. A long time before we had candidates in the elections, we were doing well. They are right-wing polls, not Evo polls, and now they are going up. We are now up to 39%, which the media won’t say. For humanitarian reasons, I withdrew my candidature, firstly for the presidency; “if I am in the way,”
I said, “there is no problem.” They asked me to be Senator, but they wouldn’t let me, although legally and constitutionally I am authorised. I understand that a good number of the members of the Supreme Electoral Court are obeying the dictatorship.
My comrade Lucho (Arce) is our candidate and he will not be easily defeated. On the electoral calendar, until 18th April, they can disqualify him, at worst on the 15th or 16th, through an objection. They illegally disqualified me. What can happen? They can make a political decision and they can disqualify our candidate on day 18. They can eliminate the MAS candidate on any pretext.
Because of this, we are asking for participation from the international community. We have already defeated several objections, people mobilised and the population is defending Lucho’s candidacy.
Over the last few years, Bolivia had one of the most solid economies in the region. After winning the next elections, what would be the plan to regain this?
This coup was a blow to the Indian, to the indigenous peoples and social movements, and also a blow to our economic model because we showed that another Bolivia was possible, with economic growth, stability and certainty without USAID (The United States Agency for International Development,) and without the International Monetary Fund.
The United States does not want rival economic models. It is also a blow to lithium, which we were starting to industrialise. Now they tell us that big US transnational companies want to enter for the lithium in Bolivia.
The transition government is more like a transaction model. It is a dictatorship, but the advantage that we have as a political movement is that there is a lot of indignation and deception. Even the new generations said, “What would we vote for Evo again for?” and their parents explained to them that the economy was growing. Now they regret it.
How much do you think has been lost in recent times in Latin America with the return, in some cases, of Neoliberalism and the search to achieve unity in the great fatherland?
Unity is very important. Only Neoliberalism could return through division or betrayal. When there are convictions, when we support the truth, justice, equality and dignity, I am sure that our processes will be unstoppable.
We are not in the times of Unasur (Union of South American Nations), with Chavez, with Lula da Silva (Luiz Inacio), with Nestor Kirchner. Neither are we with Celac (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States).
An onslaught of empire came: instead of Unasur, Lima group; instead of Celac, Pacific Alliance, with the policies of FTAA (Free Trade Area of the America) in those times.
But what encourages us so much are the great mobilisations in Chile, Ecuador, in Colombia, and how the popular and left-wing movements are growing. If Lula were a candidate for the presidency in Brazil, he would win. (PL)
(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay