Bolivia’s Political Crisis Must be Settled at the Ballot Box

photo: Cancillería del Ecuador (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The ITUC condemns military interference in the election process in Bolivia. In a major upset to democratic process and to the state of law, the country’s left-wing president Evo Morales has been pushed to resign and has now fled the country for fear of his life.

Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, whose policies lifted nearly a fourth of the country’s population out of poverty, was forced to resign by high ranking military officials. The news comes after threats on his life and violence against ministers, parliamentarians and their families.

“No elected president should be forced out of office under military orders. That is not how democracy works. The electoral process is the solution, not intervention by military leaders. Military coups can never be the answer. The fact that Morales has had to flee the country for fear of his life, cutting short his current term, highlights the undemocratic nature of what is happening in the country,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Both the Trump administration and the Organization of American States (OAS) have been heavily criticised for issuing statements that undermined the Bolivian electoral system. The Morales government, with its pro-poor policies, has been a vocal opponent of the USA’s neoliberal policies on the international stage.

Evo Morales was first elected in 2006. In his three terms as president, he oversaw major poverty reduction, with overall poverty going from 59.9% to 34.6% in 2017 and extreme poverty more than halving in the same period. His inclusive policies saw huge budgets be dedicated to health, education and electrification, which notably resulted in illiteracy rates dropping from 13.28% in 2001 to 3.8% in 2014 (census years).

President Morales called for a fresh vote to allow the Bolivian people to make their choice. This should be respected and the ITUC calls on the international community to support it and oversee peaceful elections.

Read the statement by the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas