Labour group slams US backed coup d’etat against Bolivia’s Evo Morales

GEBRAK – November 14, 2019
2018 GEBRAK May Day rally in Jakarta (Gebrak)
2018 GEBRAK May Day rally in Jakarta (Gebrak)

The Labour Movement With the People (GEBRAK) strongly condemns the coup d’etat in Bolivia against the government of Evo Morales. GEBRAK, an alliance of trade union, farmer, university and high school student organisations and other social movements believe that the overthrow of the Morales government is a coup d’etat and goes against the principles of democracy and the United Nations Charter.

GEBRAK believes that Evo Morales along with his party was elected democratically through an election in October 2019. Morales won the presidential election with a convincing 47 percent of the vote. This vote count meant that there was no need to hold a second round because he received between 40-50 percent of the vote. The political party led by Morales, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), also won the majority of legislative seats with a convincing win of 67 out of 130 seats in parliament and 21 out of 36 seats in the Senate.

Efforts to overthrow the president through rebellion by the military and police, protests and violence, and opposition attempts to delegitimise the elections with assistance from the United States through the Organisation of American States (OAS), are actions which conflict with the values of democracy.

President Morales was forced to resign despite having won the election, after pressure from the police and military along with protest actions ending in violence against government supporters. The violence even ended with the persecution of pro-government politicians through abductions and the torching of private residences.

Senate President Adriana Salvatierra was unable to pursue his constitutional duty to become the interim president because of acts of violence by the opposition and police. Senator Jeanine Anez meanwhile was unilaterally appointed as interim president without due process. This is because MAS politicians, who hold more than 50 percent of parliamentary and senate seats, were unable to attend the meeting because of security problems.

These incidents provide a picture of how violence was used to destroy the institutions and process of democracy. Because the group which had the support of the majority of the Bolivian people was prevented from even running the government.

The coup d’etat conflicts with Articles 1 and 2 of the United Nations Charter which states that the UN’s goal is to develop relationships between nations based on respect for the principle of self-determination and states that the UN “is based on the principles of equal sovereignty between all nations”.

The overthrow of the Morales government tarnishes the claim that the people in different parts of the world are entitled to self-determination, including through elections.

We see the overthrow of Morales as part of an imperialist plot and intervention against an independent country. Morales represented the labour movement and Bolivian indiginious communities against economic neo-liberalism which promotes the free market. Morales prioritised the interests of the ordinary people rather than the economic interests of investors.

After being elected in 2006, Morales immediately nationalised the oil and gas industry in the interests of the people. This move goes against the neo-liberal agenda which promotes management by private companies for the sake of profit.

Under Morales’ leadership, the Gross Domestic Product grew by as much as 327 percent from an initial USD 9,459 in 2005 to USD 40,500 in 2019. Moreover, this economic growth was accompanied by an even distribution of wealth with extreme poverty declining drastically from 32.1 percent in 2015 to 11.8 percent in 2017. Wages also increasing five-fold over the 13 years of his government from Bs 440 (Rp 902,000) to Bs 2060 (Rp 4.2 million) while inflation remained under control at between 0.29 percent to 2.7 percent.

We see that peaceful efforts are needed to prevent an escalation of the conflict and resolve the problem democratically. Morales has even been prepared to hold fresh elections as a sign of good faith in preventing an escalation of the conflict with the opposition.

In responding to this situation, GEBRAK threfore:

1. Condemns the coup d’etat against the Evo Morales government in Bolivia.

2. Calls on all social movements to condemn the coup against the Morales government.

3. Calls on all social movements to act in solidarity with the struggle of the Bolivian people to uphold democracy and social justice.

4. Calls for a democratic and peaceful resolution in Bolivia to the conflict with the opposition.

5. Condemns the interference of the United States in Bolivia and other Latin American countries in general.

6. Urges the Indonesian government not to recognise the interim government of Jeanine Anez and the government of the coup d’etat.

Jakarta – November 14, 2019

GEBRAK is an alliance of several social movement organisations including:

1. The Indonesian Trade Union Congress Alliance (KASBI)

2. The Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI)

3. The National Trade Union Confederation (KSN)

4. The National Labour Movement Centre (SGBN)

5. The Media and Creative Industries Trade Union for Democracy (Sindikasi)

6. The Indonesian Dock Workers Federation (FPPI)

7. The Johnson Trade Union (SP JOHNSON)

8. The Banking Trade Union Communication Network (Jarkom SP Perbankan)

9. Indonesian Youth Action (AKMI)

10. The Indonesian Patriotic Youth Movement (GPPI)

12. The Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta)

13. The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)

16. The Political Alternative Committee (KPA)

18. The Indonesian Student League for Democracy National Committee (LMND-DN)

19. The Progressive Students School (SEMPRO)

20. United People’s Struggle (KPR)

21. Free Women (Perempuan Mahardika)

22. The Jentera Student Executive Council (BEM Jentera)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Gerakan Rakyat di Indonesia Kecam Kudeta Bolivia”.]