The Progressive International statement on the prosecution of Bolivia’s coup leadership.
The victims of Bolivia’s coup regime demand justice – and the Progressive International joins their call.
The Progressive International recognises the events of November 2019 for what they were: a coup d’état against a democratically elected government, fuelled by false accusations of fraud by the Organization of American States and its allies across the region.
Now, following peaceful and democratic elections in October 2020, the people of Bolivia are petitioning their new government to hold the coup regime accountable for the massacres, repression, and human rights abuses that accompanied the rule of interim president Jeanine Áñez.
These crimes include but are not limited to:
- Massacres at Sacaba and Senkata facilitated by a presidential decree granting the military immunity from criminal prosecution for actions done to ‘preserve public order’.
- Beatings and other abuse of arrestees and prisoners.
- Teargassing of protesters, and of a nearby children’s school.
- Imposing decrees, like Supreme Decree 4200 and Decree 4231 that criminalised dissent and severely curtailed press freedom.
- Threatening, assaulting, and arresting journalists, and accusing some of ‘sedition’.
- Arresting state officials and students for social media posts critical of the coup administration.
- Using racist hate speech that encourages violence against minorities, as when Áñez spoke of wanting to prevent ‘the savages’ from returning to power, and that under her rule the government would ‘at last’ be free of paganism.
- Facilitating violent attacks on political opponents, stripping them of their basic rights, and forcing many into exile from the country.
- Suspending democratic institutions repeatedly to grant greater powers to the interim government that followed the coup in November 2019.
The evidence for these crimes points to direct involvement of those at the very top of the coup government, including Áñez herself.
For this reason, the Progressive International supports efforts to hold Áñez and her allies accountable for the role that they played in the execution of these crimes while respecting the rights to due process granted by Bolivian law.
Restoring democracy does not mean forgetting the past. Efforts to hold Bolivia’s coup regime are, on the contrary, critical to efforts to build a democratic Bolivia: a warning against future efforts to override the popular will, and a step toward reconciliation for the victims who suffered along the way.
The Progressive International calls on the international community – and all organisations that defend human rights – to support efforts to hold accountable the perpetrators of the above crimes, as to ensure full respect for their due process rights.
This statement was originally published by Progressive International and has been edited for style.
Alborada is a member of the Progressive International wire service.