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LATIN AMERICA | 11-11-2019 11:13

Global governments diverge in stances on Bolivian election crisis

Mixed responses from within Argentina and across the world have emerged overnight since the resignation of Evo Morales. While some leaders have repudiated the actions of Bolivia’s armed forces, others consider it part of a process of transition.

Alberto Fernández, along with his vice president-elect Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and many other government officials within the Frente de Todos coalition, came out in support of Evo Morales on Sunday night, after he formally announced his resignation. 

Fernández, who called Morales over the weekend as the crisis escalated, considered the events to be a coup d'état and said it was a product of “coordinated action between violent citizens, personal policing and the passiveness of the military.” 

According to reporting from La Nación, the president-elect called Mauricio Macri, who did not recognise Morales' victory, and asked him to grant asylum for the Bolivian officials at the embassy in La Paz. A spokesperson from the Casa Rosada from said no formal request had been made from Morales or his peers, but that, if one was made, they would "analyse" it.

The president-elect's running-mate also called Morales' resignation a "coup."

“In Bolivia, violent protests without any kind of restriction from the police forces, burnt homes and kidnapped people while the military ‘suggested’ the indigenous and populist president step down,” Fernández de Kirchner said. 

Aligned lawmakers including Gabriela Cerruti, Leandro Santoro and Agustín Rossi took to Twitter, some even calling on sitting president Mauricio Macri to step up in defence of Bolivia’s electoral process. “The silence of governments on the right in this region shows democracy still doesn’t require respect,” wrote Rossi. 

The governments of Uruguay and Venezuela voiced support for Morales Sunday night and into Monday morning. Nicolás Maduro, president of Venezuela, said in a nationally broadcast statement via telephone that Morales had fallen victim to the same U.S.-backed plot that seeks to topple him from power and install a right-wing government in his own country. 

Fellow Latin American neighbour Peru's government, given the decisions to resign by both Morales and his vice-president Álvaro García Linera, called for for the “transition process to develop within the framework of the constitution and Bolivian laws.” 

Spain also criticised the role of Bolivia’s Police and Army. In a message from its Foreign Ministry, the government called the “intervention” marked a return to “moments in the past history of Latin America.” 

Russia condemned the protests, too, blaming a “wave of violence” from the opposition that “did not allow Evo Morales to complete his presidential mandate,” according to a statement from its Foreign Ministry. 

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro gave an interview with Brazilian news agency Globo, in which he said the word “coup” is only used when leftist politicians lose. 

“When they win, it’s entirely legitimate, but when they lose, it’s a coup,” he said. 

Bolsonaro went on to say that what happened in Bolivia isn’t a good thing for the region, especially as it concerns problems surrounding trust in elections: “This was against the left, but we don’t want it against the left or the right,” he said, adding that he instead wants people to be able to articulate their doubts through the ballot box. 

He called what happened to Morales “a sign that here in Brazil we need a safe and secure way of voting. What we have now doesn’t serve anyone, it’s what leads to this kind of problem,” he said. 

One of Bolsonaro’s most storied rivals, the former president recently released from jail, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, lamented the “coup” via Twitter. “It is unfortunate that Latin America has an elite economic class that doesn’t know how to live with the social inclusion of the poor,” he said. 

After leaders of Frente de Todos vocalised en masse their condemnation of the “coup” against the government of Morales in Bolivia, other Argentine government officials, this time within the Cambiemos party, broke the silence of the current government’s official position — relative silence against a backdrop of calls for peace. Though they did so without one unified vision. 

Senator Julio ‘Cleto’ Cobos, member of the Radical Civic Union party, was the first government official to come out and condemn the actions of Bolivia’s army that “forced” Morales to resign as president of the country, “provoking,” as Clobos understands it, “institutional breakdown.” 

“The president had already accepted and called for another round of elections. That was the way out. There is no justification for the army to then denounce the president, require him to resign and provoke an institutional breakdown in Bolivia,” he said in his Twitter account.

Cobos expressed “worry” about the Bolivian situation and considered that “an absolutely transparent electoral process was required, not one which had elements fall outside the realm of what’s normal and put into doubt the results among international spectators and generated legitimate claims of the opposition.” 

The European Union and the United Nations both called for restraint in Bolivia. “I would like to express clearly our wish that all parties in the country exercise restraint and responsibility and lead the country peacefully and quietly to new elections, credible elections that can let the people of Bolivia express their democratic will,” said EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini. 

Morales, who tweeted Sunday night that there was a warrant out for his arrest, sought refuge at the Mexican embassy in La Paz, along with 20 other government officials. According to Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, the country would offer asylum to the group “in accordance with Mexico’s tradition of asylum and non-intervention.” 

Police deny the arrest warrant mentioned by Morales exists. 

--TIMES/AGENCIES
 

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