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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Canada silent as Bolivia's fate hangs in the balance

You would think that out of shame Trudeau, Freeland and the Canadian government would have retracted their support of Bolivia's coup regime and the now debunked OAS report that led to it. Needless to say they have not.

September 15, International Day of Democracy, is one of those symbolic dates that now frequent the calendar, some more serious or interesting than others. This particular instance was first proclaimed by the United Nations in 2007 and provides an excellent opportunity for various liberals internationally to pontificate about a system they claim to believe in when it suits their interests.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a case in point. Trudeau used this year's opportunity to issue a statement that, among other things, said:

Canada also recognizes democracy's place at the heart of our international system, and the need to strengthen democratic institutions around the world to promote peace and stability. That is why we are committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to help create a more equitable, prosperous, and secure world for future generations. We are investing to promote and protect democracy as well as media and press freedoms worldwide by supporting electoral processes, reinforcing democratic practices, and strengthening civic engagement. Canada stands with people around the world protesting peacefully, including recently in Belarus, Hong Kong, Venezuela, and Lebanon, as they seek to advance democratic principles.

This statement is so profoundly hypocritical that it would be funny were it not so serious.

In 2019, before Covid emerged and forced them to stop, there were also weeks of mass protests being met with extreme state violence in countries with governments Canada "likes" such as Chile, Haiti and France. Not a peep from the Canadian regime.

Most egregiously, Canada -- as is true in this farcical press release -- has remained entirely silent about the violence and total illegitimacy of the coup regime in Bolivia which it has supported.

In November, 2019, the democratically elected government of Evo Morales was overthrown in a military coup. The pretense for this coup was that the presidential elections that had been held in October had been rigged. If you need a timeline or to understand what happened we covered the developments on The Left Chapter as they unfolded.

This pretense was greatly aided by the Organization of American States (OAS) when they released a report claiming election irregularities that has since been widely debunked.

Even the New York Times was forced to admit that a "close look at Bolivian election data suggests an initial analysis by the O.A.S. that raised questions of vote-rigging — and helped force out a president — was flawed."

Mark Weisbrot in The Guardian (September 18) notes that the term "flawed" is an understatement:

The OAS allegations were indeed the main political foundation of the coup, and they continued for months. In Bolivia, the electoral authorities report a preliminary vote count, which is unofficial and does not determine the result, while the votes are being counted. When 84% of the votes were counted in this preliminary tally, Morales had 45.7% of the vote, and was leading the second-placed candidate by 7.9 percentage points. The reporting in this unofficial, non-binding tally was then interrupted for 23 hours, and when it picked up again, Morales’ lead had increased to 10.2 points. By the end of the official count, it was 10.5. According to Bolivia’s election rules, a candidate with more than 40% of the vote and at least a 10-point lead wins in the first round, without a runoff.
The opposition claimed that there was fraud and took to the streets. The OAS Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) issued a press statement the day after the election expressing “deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results after the closing of the polls”. But it provided no evidence to support these fraud allegations – because there wasn’t any.
This has since been established repeatedly by a slew of expert statistical studies. But the truth was quite plain and easy to see from data available immediately following the election. And indeed the Center for Economic and Policy Research, where I am co-director, used that data to disprove the OAS’s initial allegations the next day; and followed up with a number of statistical analyses and papers in the ensuing months, including a refutation of its final Audit report.
There was no inexplicable change in trend. All that happened was that areas reporting later were more pro-Morales than the ones that reported earlier, for various geographical and demographic reasons. That is why Morales’ lead increased when the last 16% of votes came in, just as it had been increasing throughout the preliminary count. This is a fairly common dynamic that can be seen in elections all over the world.

It has become entirely clear that the coup, and the bogus, far right administration of Jeanine Anez that flowed out of it, was based on completely false premises.

After promises of new elections the Trudeau government accepted the new regime as legitimate despite its use of tremendous violence to suppress any resistance to the coup by the people.

Bolivia's Ombudsman published...a report which demonstrates that the de facto government of Jeanine Áñez committed crimes against humanity in the aftermath of the October 20, 2019 coup.
The report points out that ten months after the coup, political opponents still suffer persecution, humans rights are violated, and criminals enjoy immunity under the prerogatives of Decree 4078.
Regarding the people detained in El Alto on November 11, 2019, during a demonstration in support of former president Evo Morales, the report explains that the Police presented them as perpetrators without carrying the due legal process and violating their right to presumption of innocence.
The investigation details that several assassinations and torture were committed under instructions from the coup government. Furthermore, the execution of 20 people in Sacaba and Senkata on the outskirts of the capital La Paz is considered a massacre.

The Canadian government said nothing to condemn these actions at the time or since.

Nor has it reversed its initial support of the OAS report. Back in November Chrystia Freeland, the Minister of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying:

The results of the OAS mission audit demonstrate serious failings in the conduct and accounting of the October 20, 2019, vote. It is clear that the will of the Bolivian people and the democratic process were not respected...
...Canada commends the invaluable work of the OAS audit mission in ensuring a fair and transparent process, which we supported financially and through our expertise.
Canada stands with Bolivia and the democratic will of its people.

Given that this has now been exposed as untrue you would think Freeland and the Canadian government would have retracted it and demanded the resignation of the illegitimate regime. Needless to say they have not.

The Canadian government, Trudeau and Freeland also said nothing when tens of thousands of Bolivians took to the streets in August and erected barricades to protest the cancellation of elections that were to be held in early September. After several days of mass mobilizations and general strikes the coup regime was forced to set a new date for elections which are to be held on October 18.

If they are allowed to be run freely and fairly there is little doubt that the candidate of Morales' party, the Movement for Socialism (MAS), Luis Arce will win.

Anez herself has so little support she has withdrawn from the race in hopes of consolidating the vote on the right.

During all of this, again, Canada has said nothing as Bolivia's fate hangs in the balance.

In the end, the Trudeau government is only interested in "democracy" when the results align with the interests of capital and western imperialism. (See: Canadian hypocrisy and double standards in South and Central America on full display).

From Venezuela, to Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, so many other countries -- and now Bolivia -- there is nothing new about this.

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