Professors in La Paz Call on International Academics to Prioritize Peace, Reconciliation in Bolivia

Communiqué by CIDES-UMSA to the international academic community that is actively following political events in Bolivia.

The research professors of the Graduate Center of Development Sciences at the University of San Andres (CIDES-UMSA), manifest our outrage at the simplified versions of ongoing political events in Bolivia that are being promoted by colleagues and academic institutions outside of the country.

Following from the affirmation that in Bolivia there was a coup d’etat, these interpretations have reached conclusions that lead to an erasure of the diversity of subjects who have mobilized over the past weeks, whose legitimate demands are made in a context of democratic aspirations that derive from the growing uncertainty that was generated around the results of the October 20, 2019 elections.

In this context, mobilization, and especially youth mobilization, has been the result of an extended period of mistrust of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), the ruling party, which systematically took advantage of the de-institutionalization of the country though the abuse of power and the privileging of the interests of their party and group interests.

The OAS report on the national elections, which showed serious irregularities, didn’t create this situation, rather it confirmed it. Today, this series of events is turning into a deep and dangerous crisis of the state.

In the context of the mobilizations for the respect of the vote, this crisis was proceeded by the decision of Evo Morales to call on peasants within the MAS to cut off the cities and block the arrival supplies required for their daily existence. This was a measure designed to shut down the protests, all the while ignoring that Bolivia has an expansive, interactive, urban-rural flux. 

Since then, with the exception of an important proportion of the population of El Alto and other medium sized cities which maintain a genuine sense of ethnic affinity with the ex-President, a deep-seated distancing has been produced, in particular between urban populations and the MAS government.

This rupture has been deepened in the department of Cochabamba, where the coca growing region of the Chapare is located. The Chapare is the political stronghold of the MAS, and it is from there that the most tragic events of collective sacrifice of the campesino movement in favor of the return of Evo Morales to power are being produced.

In sum, the crisis of the state that Bolivia is undergoing today is a result of the decision of Evo Morales to give up on his duty to govern all Bolivians. This was confirmed when he left Bolivia for exile, and worsened when he used the tools of the state for repression, not only while he was president, but also currently, as he has an apparatus of violence that was built up over his mandate and which, since he resigned, has been converted into an irregular structure for the systematic intimidation of popular and middle class neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods have also begun to demonstrate an inclination towards self-defense organizations, which could also end up having dramatic consequences in terms of civil confrontation in Bolivia.

The Bolivian people are currently living through a clear absence of the state, and a fragile process of the reconstruction of democratic institutionality, which will allow for the full exercise of their self-determination, the recuperation of the characteristics of diversity and complementarity, and the overcoming of the caudillista and clientalist forms of power which, as we have seen, favor an end to the crisis built on violence and confrontation between citizens, the most impacted of whom tend to be subaltern groups.

We call on the academic community that is accompanying political processes in Bolivia to prioritize calls for peace in the country and the total respect of fundamental, political and civil rights and constitutional guarantees, assuming our shared interest lies in overcoming the current moment of crisis, seeking reconciliation and avoiding all forms of censorship, repression and political persecution–come from where they may–in the spirit of preserving, strengthening and deepening not only our democracy, but also our existence as an organized society.

La Paz, Bolivia, November 18, 2019.

Translated by Toward Freedom. Find the original here.