Bolivia - 6th Sept Elections, COVID-19, Coup regime bad behaviour

Sunday, 26 July 2020 - 9:15am to 9:30am

The main topic of this show is the upcoming elections in Bolivia. This show was produced to meet a deadline after which the elections in Bolivia were, once again, postponed. The episode has been amended slightly to reflect the change.
You can read more here.

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Good morning and you are listening to Alternative News produced by the Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament brought to you by 3CR.

I'm Zachary Doney and you can listen to Alternative News  every Sunday at 9:15amon 855AM, 3cr digital and 3cr.org.aufor all news related to international issues, peace, imperialism, disarmament and domestic issues. 

This week’s focus will be on the current political situation in Bolivia. It’s now been about 8 months since the 2019 coup, and the Bolivian people are still without a fair and democratic election.

But first, some general news from the past week.

Domestic issues:
COVID-19 in Victoria is reaching high daily cases of up to 500 per day. Last weekend we saw the virus breach Victoria’s prisons, of which 6 are now in “lockdown”. The recent prison outbreak has brought back discussions around Victoria’s overcrowded prisons and getting low-risk and Indigenous prisoners out before another death in custody.
Daniel Andrews’ government has introduced a $300 financial hardship payment for those who need to self-isolate after taking a COVID-19 test. This is separate to the $1500 hardship payment for those who test positive for COVID-19.
Campaigns to change the minimum age for juvenile prisons from 10 to 14 years old have amplified over the week in response to The Council of Attorneys-General meeting tomorrow [Monday 27th] to review the law.
Outrage has sparked among unionists after an ABCC commissioner was flown with “special permission” from Melbourne to Brisbane to investigate CFMEU members for a rally held 8 months ago, risking a COVID-19 spread from Melbourne to Brisbane.
JobKeeper and JobSeeker are both to be reduced by a minimum of $300 starting in October.

International:
Australian warships encountered China’s navy in the South China Sea after travelling through the region to train with other imperialists, namely Japan and America. We ask: why are our warships so far away from our domestic waters?
Tensions between the US and China rose after the US ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas. 
The Black Lives Matter movement continues in the US after unions organised a Strike for Black lives on the 20th of July. Also this week Trump deployed unidentifiable military personnel to Portland, Oregon to act as secret police and kidnap Black Lives Matter organisers and protestors.
President of Brazil, Bolsonaro, yet again tests positive for COVID-19.
Russian officials claim to have a COVID-19 vaccine ready and possibly will get the green light for productions in August. A week ago the UK accused Russia of hacking their own COVID-19 vaccine research.
Apple and Google maps have removed Palestine from their maps, with only Israel marked.


Analysis: Bolivia

This episode has been amended to reflect some breaking news. The September election, much talked about in this episode have been postponed by Bolivia's Supreme Electoral Tribunal until the 18th of October. This move, ostensibly about the safety of the people during the pandemic, will only hurt the poor and marginalised members of Bolivian society. The coup-regimes' current response to the pandemic is to punish the Chapare and Cochabamba regions and try to destroy all social gains made by the 14 years of Movement Towards Socialism. Every day that the coup-regime continues is another day the poor suffer and lose ground. Elections in Bolivia must happen as soon as possible. We denounce the move to further postpone elections.

Here at Alternative News we have done a few shows about the Bolivian coup last year that ousted democratically elected Evo Morales of the Movement towards Socialism party. You can listen to these shows at 3cr.org.au/alternativenews.

Bolivia has been under the leadership of interim President Jeanine Áñez since the coup last year. You might remember that she promised swift and democratic elections as soon as stability was brought back to Bolivia after the coup she helped lead.

Another major player of the coup, as you may have remembered from our previous shows, is Carlos Mesa. Both Mesa and Áñez represent the white, bourgeois elite in the east. Mesa’s political career is a direct result of US imperialism as the political party he was involved with received millions in donations from the US since Evo Morales was first voted in in the 2000s.

Current situation:

Now the interim government of Bolivia has been shifting their foreign alliances from China, Russia, and other non-aligned countries to the US, the European Union and Israel. This includes asking Israel’s help to fight “terrorism” in Bolivia and pledging allegiance to the IMF.

The Anez government has also cracked down on public dissent and left organisations. According to Latin-American news outlet, Telesur, at least 50 community radio stations have been shut down, as well as at least 67 journalists imprisoned, threatened, or accused of committing crimes of sedition and terrorism since the Anez took office.

Since then it has been complaining about 'leftist' influence. The thousands of people who took to the streets after Moralez was forced to resign and the continuing resistance of the thousands of members of Six Federations of Tropical Cochabamba and the workers represented by the Central Obrera Boliviana can correctly be assigned the political category of 'leftist'. This 'leftist influence' is really the resistance  of the people and should be supported.

COVID-19:

Bolivia currently has about 65,000 COVID-19 cases with about 1,700 new cases each day. The interim government is trying to blame the pandemic crisis on the previous socialist government for apparently “not doing anything from healthcare”. This, however, is just another right-wing lie spread by the government. The coup regime has wound back many social programmes since November including Unified Health System (Sistema Unico de Salud). As well the Bono Juancito Pinto, Bono Juana Azurduy and Renta Dignidad cash transfer schemes, have been eviscerated. This is in contrast to a 700% increase in healthcare spending during the previous MTS administration.

But what is the interim government doing except for expelled hundreds of Cuban doctors and medical personnel, winding back co-operation with China and Russia and cutting social programmes which help the poor? Well, they are currently on to their third health minister. The health system is failing under the increased load the coronavirus pandemic has produced. 20 of 34 hospitals had closed at the end of June according to Bolivia’s Health Workers Union.

The poorest regions have been the hardest hit. These regions have high support for Morales and Movement towards Socialism. In Cochabamba, the K'ara K'ara region was the site of protests against state abandonment and hunger in May. In June, three MAS were arrested for involvement in these protests, allegedly for terrorism and health-related crimes. Locals in K’ara K’ara were also denied water to help combat the pandemic after the area had their water cut off by authorities.

The interim government is using the pandemic as an opportunity to postpone elections it promised last year to bring to Bolivia. These elections, however, are not looking to be democratic.

Elections:

The twice-postponed election in Bolivia is currently expected to go ahead on the 6th of September. Almost one year since the election last year.

To the current leaders’ dismay, Movement towards Socialism candidate Luis Arce currently dominates in the polls at 42%. The beneficiaries of last years' coup trail in votes: Carlos Mesa at 27%, Jeanine Anez at 13% and Luis Fernando Camacho at 9%.

However, there are currently talks of a right-wing coalition before the elections in order to defeat Movement towards Socialism at the polls. The political teams of Mesa and Anez have met to discuss an alliance. We at Alternative News are unsure how this will pan out in reality, but we predict that the distrust of Anez government and the popular support for Movement Towards Socialism will be tough hurdles for a right-wing coalition to surpass.

It is then no surprise that this week Anez, and the ruling alliance Juntos, is formally attempting to ban Movement towards Socialism from participating in elections. According to Kawsachun News, a left political news source from Bolivia, electoral authorities could be imprisoned if they don't ban the Movement towards Socialism from participating in the elections. 

One of the leaders of Bolivia's 2019 coup, Fernando Camacho, has asked the Organisation of American States to intervene to stop the elections from taking place on September 6th. Organisation of American States was the organisation that falsely accused Morales of rigging the elections and for justifying the 2019 coup. Now, it seems they might be back for round two in suppressing Movement towards Socialism. 

The conclusions drawn by OAS have been shown to be naive and false by researchers at MIT and researchers at the Centre For Economic and Policy Research. There you go, two bone fide Western sources for all you sceptics out there. 

*kissing noise* love ya.

The interim government is justifying this political move by accusing Movement towards Socialism candidate Luis Arce of breaking electoral laws by mentioning an opinion poll before election campaigning has begun. The “opinion poll” mentioned was Luis Arce telling a reporter that he was generally favoured.

Evo Morales spoke out against the current attack on Movement towards Socialism by pointing out the double standard since  “Juntos‘ vice-presidential candidate, Samuel Doria Medina, [also] commented on and published opinion polls twice, but they all remained silent.” 

Argentina's Interior Minister has also stood up for the undemocratic attacks against Movement towards Socialism and said in a tweet:
"Bolivia's de facto government is attempting to postpone the elections and ban the main political force. This is inadmissible for those of us who have a deep commitment to democracy and human rights."

To sum up this section:
Prior to Evo’s presidency and Movement for Socialism as the ruling party, Bolivia was likened to an apartheid state of the white and mestizo elite in the east, and the poor Indigenous campesino majority in the centre and west.
The coup-regime and its allies are targeting members of Movement Towards Socialism  and their supporters with fabricated criminal charges. The goal is to remove the social base of MTS and it's political representation. This cannot be done at the polls because Movement Towards Socialism is popular with a majority of the people. 55% of the people are poor and Indigenous. These people benefitted from the 14 years of MTS economic policies which were designed by the current candidate, Luis Arce.


Conclusion:
The current political situation is up in the air since the coup leaders are doing all in their power to repress political dissent, destroy the socialist opposition, silence left leaning media outlets, and manipulate the electoral process. The irony and double standards reek as the interim president, that the US helped gain power due to “undemocratic  elections” in 2019, is behaving undemocratically. The situation is textbook fascism.

Who is to benefit from the current situation? The imperialists that the interim government has aligned itself with, namely the US, the EU and Israel. These foreign countries that had their hands in the 2019 coup, are now able to exploit Bolivia’s lithium resource for electric cars and batteries (here’s looking at you Elon Musk….).

Down with the coup regime. Down with the destabilising activities of US imperialism. Power to the people of Bolivia. Good luck to Movement Towards Socialism and good luck to Luis Arce in the upcoming elections.

Outro

You were listening to Alternative News presented by the Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament every sunday at 9:15am on 3CR. Listen on 855am, 3cr digital or at 3cr.org.au.

Next up we have Concrete gang!!
 

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