Bolivia: Prioritize rights in wake of Morales resignation

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Organization of American States Should Continue Playing Leadership Role

(New York) – The Organization of American States (OAS) members meeting about the situation in Bolivia on November 12, 2019, should send a strong message to Bolivian authorities to ensure full respect for people’s basic human rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned on November 10, 2019, in response to a request from the national military chief, Gen. Williams Kaliman, after massive protests and an OAS report detailing a “clear manipulation” of the voting system during the October 20, 2019, presidential election. On October 24, Morales announced he had won the elections, self-proclaiming himself president of Bolivia for a fourth term. On November 11, Morales traveled to Mexico, after the government granted him asylum.

“In light of the ongoing political and social crisis in Bolivia, the OAS should continue playing a leadership role,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Its member states should take all necessary steps to help find a negotiated solution that will reestablish the rule of law and protect fundamental rights, including to protest peacefully and to vote in transparent, competitive, and fair elections.”

Morales resigned after weeks of civil unrest and violent clashes. Since his resignation, there has been more violence, including looting, arson, and violent attacks.

Since the elections, at least three people have died, with hundreds more injured and hundreds arrested. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern about allegations of excessive use of force, stating that the police charged the protesters and used teargas “in a way that could violate the basic principles of the use of force.” Several news outlets were attacked or threatened and at least four had to temporarily cease broadcasting.

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