BOSTON – Between late on the night of October 15 and the morning of October 16, days ahead of Bolivia’s general elections on 18 October, Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Jim McGovern responded to pressure from a coalition of Massachusetts activists to demand fair elections free from outside interference, in particular by the coup government, OAS, and the United States. The demands come after the elections have been postponed multiple times by the coup government, and after multiple massacres and months of persecution and violence towards indigenous people, political leaders and activists, and supporters of the MAS Party at the hands of the self-appointed administration of Jeanine Áñez after the ousting of President Evo Morales last November.
In the wake of these – and other – actions of repression and intimidation, Senator Markey took to his twitter account on Friday morning, writing to say that “The Áñez administration must respect the electoral process, freedom of the press, and ensure no one interferes with or attempts to intimidate voters. International elections observers and human rights organizations must be able to participate unimpeded, and the Bolivian government should make all efforts to ensure a transparent electoral process. The OAS, too, must be transparent in any conclusions it makes.”
Congress McGovern similarly wrote that “@Presidencia_Bol must guarantee free & fair elections & pledge to respect the results. Must welcome media & observers, say NO to violence & police or military intervention. … Sunday’s elections offer an opportunity to resist autocratic temptations, allow everyone to participate freely, and restore #democracy in #Bolivia. We’ll be watching.” The Congressman has a long history of standing in solidarity with Latin America and was among the first to denounce the coup in November 2019 under public pressure.
Markey and McGovern’s responses come after weeks of correspondence with activists from the Bolivia Solidarity Committee, the Latin America Solidarity Committee, The Resistance Center, Massachusetts Peace Action, Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation, Code Pink of Western Massachusetts, and dozens of constituents across the state.
Feras Sleiman, policy advisor to Senator Warren, wrote in a private email to the group that ‘Bolivians deserve a real chance to determine their own leaders through a democratic process free from military intervention, racism, and undue foreign influence. Furthermore, the Senator believes that the Bolivian people should determine the future of their country in free and fair elections – no one else – and the United States should support a government that works for all Bolivians’. However, despite further emails and phone calls, the Senator’s office did not respond to requests to make the Senator’s statement public. The Senator’s office also refused to condemn the violence at the hands of the Áñez government this fall, announcing after weeks of public pressure in the fall that ‘Bolivia’s interim leadership must limit itself to preparing for an early, legitimate election.’ However, the Senator refused to demand accountability for those responsible for the ongoing violence.Print