The presidential candidate of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), Luis Arce Catacora, stated on Sunday that the decree to open the door for a $ 327 million credit from the International Monetary Fund (IMF ) shows that the Government is lying to the Bolivian people.

 

 

“They have lied to us again because the government authorities said that they wanted to use the money to help fight coronavirus, but when you analyze the Supreme Decree, it is evident that this isn’t true, because the loan from the IMF will go to pay off the fiscal deficit and that of the balance of payments, ”said Arce in an interview with Radio San Gabriel.

 

 

Arce says this is proof of his earlier warnings about the conditions of the IMF loan. In particular the requirement to reduce the fiscal deficit to subsequently make the exchange rate more flexible, which in turn would lead to devaluations of the national currency after the quarantine.

 

 

“When one observes the spirit of this decree, it precisely points out that most of these new resources will be destined to pay off the balance of payments and the fiscal deficit; and the smallest part would go, supposedly, to the subject of health and the fight against the coronavirus. That is to say, they have lied to us ”, he remarked.

 

 

Furthermore, Arce points out that the regime did not forward all the documents relating to the loan to the Legislative Assembly, “because they were trying to hide details and lie to the people."

 

 

"If this loan is approved, there will be a currency devaluation and public spending cuts, at a time when the country needs to have an injection of resources through public investment to reactivate and rebuild the Bolivian economy”.

 

 

In his opinion, the effects of the IMF loan are "nefarious" because Bolivian economic policy would be "mortgaged" for a loan of 327 million dollars.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
Today in an interview, Interior Minister, Arturo Murillo, said that Radio Kawsachun Coca (RKC) "should be shut down," accusing the outlet of inciting terrorism and sedition. As RKC's English language service, Kawsachun News is also under threat. 
 
 
During an interview with Radio Fides, Bolivia’s notoriously authoritarian Interior Minister, Arturo Murillo, blamed RKC for recent attacks on antennas in the town of Yapacani in Santa Cruz, where some local residents brought down what they thought was a 5G tower, following months of fake news on social media in regards to supposed health effects of such installations. 
 
 
He claims, without evidence, that Evo Morales and the MAS are behind such attacks and that "the channel they use for this is Kawsachun Coca and the community radio stations (...). These radios, like RKC, promote violence, terrorism, and sedition; these radio stations should be closed. Normally, its the (union) leaders who speak, but the main person responsible, Evo Morales, also speaks there."
 
 
These accusations are utterly false. There is not a single example of RKC promoting attacks on supposed '5G' antennas. In fact, the station dedicated a special edition of our two hour evening radio show 'Llajtaj Parlaynin,' to dispelling myths about 5G, discussing the fake news regarding the spread of COVID-19 through the antenna. The same program discussed 5G technology as a triumph of Chinese development which Bolivia was on course to adopt, until the coup when the new regime broke off cooperation with Huawei to serve US interests. 
 
 
This is the latest attack against freedom of the press in Bolivia, in particular against Kawsachun Coca and Kawsachun News, the largest outlet reporting on the abuses of the coup regime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) has welcomed the announcement, by Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which recommends September 6th as the new date for the general elections that were supposed to be held on May 3rd. Once ratified by the legislature, it will become official. The date is the result of a political agreement between the different electoral fronts. However, pro-coup parties have made clear that they’re not happy with the date and want to delay even further. 

 

 

Though the Jeanine Añez’s ‘Juntos’ party signed up to the Tribunal’s agreement, they’ve made their dissatisfaction known unofficially. The regime’s Interior Minister Arturo Murillo, one of the most senior figures of the electoral alliance, retweeted right-wing journalist, Humberto Vacaflor, who angrily declared after the announcement: 

WHO DEFINED THE ELECTION DATE?

• The first consultation was with the fugitive coca grower [Evo], on Saturday.

• The other political leaders were consulted later.

• Without a new date, 200,000 young people who turned 18 since October won’t be able to vote”

 

 

Far-right coup leader Fernando Camacho and his CREEMOS electoral alliance are also unhappy with the date and have formally rejected the Tribunal’s ruling, saying; “30 compatriots died yesterday [From Covid19] and the Electoral Tribunal and the old parties are talking about elections. The CREEMOS position: fight for the life and health of the people, elections when the pandemic is really controlled and when the machinery with which the MAS cheated us is dismantled”. Camacho is polling in 4th place with 7.1% of the vote. 

 

 

While some pro-coup groups have expressed their dissatisfaction, the MAS is backing the new date. The party’s Communications Secretary, Gualberto Arispe, told Kawsachun News today that “everyone who’s been calling for elections is a bit calmer now. This is what we wanted….the people are worried that if there aren’t elections then the government will continue stealing the state’s resources, the electoral authorities have listened to the demands of the Bolivian people.” 

 

 

There have been numerous protests by social movements across the country to demand democratic elections, while the regime has used Covid19 as an excuse to further delay elections and continue governing unelected. The most recent official poll, release before the lockdown and before the recent corruption scandals involving regime officials, place Añez in third place, and the MAS with a double-digit lead over any other rivals. 

A letter by the United Nations relaying concerns about Bolivia’s worsening human rights crisis since the coup has been made public. The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights sent the letter to the Jeanine Añez regime in which they express concern about a possible pattern of political persecution against prominent figures from the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). They include detailed information on 11 specific cases, to support the claims. 

 

 

The letter was sent on the 14th of February, and it informed Añez that the letter would be made public 60 days later. They ask the regime to provide more information on the 11 cases mentioned, because they believe that the information they’ve received thus far “is reliable enough to indicate that there is a matter that warrants immediate attention”.

 

 

These are the 11 cases;

 

Wilma Alanoca Mamani was Minister of Culture under Evo Morales who has been granted political asylum by Mexico and is currently inside their embassy in La Paz. The regime has issued an arrest warrant, accusing her of making a ‘Molotov cocktail factory’ when violent far-right protests were shaking La Paz before the coup. The UN relays her claims that she had no knowledge of such a thing and that workers at the Ministry were intimidated into providing a testimony that linked her to the case. The letter also reveals other ways in which she was being harassed, including one incident in which a group of people were gathering in her neighborhood with the intention of burning down her house. 

 

 

César Luis Dockweiler Suárez was the director of the Teleferico cable car system in La Paz, and is known to be pro-MAS. He has an arrest warrant for terrorism and sedition and is now exiled in Austria (where he has dual-citizenship). The UN says they have information that Teleferico employees were arrested and forced to give testimony against him in exchange for lighter charges. The letter adds that the information they’ve received says that Dockweiler is being targeted so as to stop him from standing as a candidate for the MAS in any upcoming elections. He had been touted as a possible candidate for Mayor of La Paz, due to the popularity of the Teleferico system.

 

 

Gustavo Torrico Landa is a high-profile MAS lawmaker who is currently under house arrest, accused of inciting violence during the pre-coup social conflicts. The UN label his arrest as ‘irregular’ and states that pro-coup newspaper ‘El Diario’ twisted his words when they published a headline that read “Gustavo Torrico Threatens Young [Protesters] With Death’. 

 

 

Patricia Hermosa Gutiérrez & Wilfredo Chávez The UN addresses these cases together because they were both Evo Morales’ lawyers. Patricia Hermosa is currently in jail for terrorism and other charges, due to calls she supposedly had with Morales. The UN relay how she wasn’t presented with an arrest warrant when she was detained, they also question why she was given preventive detention when she was pregnant and not a flight risk. In the case of Wilfredo Chavez, he hasn’t been arrested, but Evo Morales warned that a detention order existed, something the regime labeled as fake news. However, the UN says that Wilfredo Chavez has shown them information that such an order did in fact exist. 

 

 

Carlos Gustavo Romero Bonifaz is the former Interior Minister under Evo Morales. He’s currently in prison. He didn’t have any arrest warrants until January when fascist mobs surrounded his residence, blocking the entry of food and water. He was hospitalized during that time and was arrested upon release, for a corruption case. The UN says that the information they received shows no evidence linking him to the case he’s currently jailed for.  

 

 

María Eugenia Choque Quispe was the President of the electoral court that organized the 2019 elections, which the OAS suggested were fraudulent in a now-debunked report. She’s currently in jail. The UN echoes their own organ, The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (Maria Choque is indigenous) who have formally stated that she hasn’t received guarantees for the exercise for her basic human rights and dignity. The UN also questions whether she should have been given preventive detention.

 

 

César Navarro Miranda & Pedro Damián Dorado López These cases have been taken together because they’re both former ministers under Evo Morales who suffered the same fate. Both were granted asylum by Mexico and had taken refuge at the embassy in La Paz. The regime eventually allowed them to go to Mexico where they are now exiles. The UN notes the manner in which a fascist mob attacked them as they were heading to the airport, also noting that they were illegally arrested by the police upon their arrive to the airport despite the Interior Ministry granting them safe passage to fly to Mexico. 

 

 

Orestes Sotomayor is a former government worker who was arrested and jailed for posting ‘seditious’ messages online including “socialist indoctrination in favor of the government, of the current President, Nicolás Maduro, of the country of Venezuela.” The UN says that the government hasn’t provided sufficient evidence that he was behind the ‘seditious’ posts of the Facebook pages targeted by the regime. They also question the lack of due process in his arrest.

 

 

Rocío Molina Travesí This case is included not as an example of persecution by the state, but because of a failure of the authorities to investigate a harassment complaint. Molina is a MAS city councilor in Cochabamba, who in February 2020 was the victim of harassment, and received numerous death threats, for reporting cases of corruption involving the right-wing mayor of Cochabamba Jose Maria Leyes. The UN questions why the authorities have still not investigated her complaint.

 

 

The special rapporteur concludes the letter by expressing their concern that the above cases show a pattern of political persecution, by the regime, against prominent figures of the MAS. They also express concern about how this has affected the principle of the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. No response from the regime has been made publicly available so far. 

 

 

Evo Morales has condemned the ‘unlimited hypocrisy’ of the OAS and it’s chief Luis Almagro for not speaking out on the extra-judicial killing of George Floyd by the US government’s security forces. 

 

 

Morales commented on twitter: “OAS General Secretary Luis Almagro has remained complicity silent on the horrific murder of George Floyd. If a crime like this had been committed in a country that does not obey the designs of Washington, we would not stop listening to their complaints. Unlimited hypocrisy.”

 

 

The OAS and Luis Almagro are outspoken in their criticism of Latin America’s anti-imperialist governments. In particular in regards to Venezuela, where Luis Almagro has been personally involved in attempts led by Washington to promote a coup against the elected government and to install self-declared lawmaker Juan Guaido.   

 

 

In Bolivia under the government of Evo Moraes, the OAS released a now-discredited report suggesting that there had been electoral fraud, a trigger for the military coup that brought the unelected Añez regime to power. The report was followed by bellicose declarations from Almagro that the ‘real coup’ had been carried out by Evo Morales when he ‘stole’ the October election. However, the conclusions of the report have since been proven to be false, following a statistical analysis from electoral data experts at MIT. 

 

 

It has been a week since George Floyd, an African-American man, was killed by white police officer Dereck Chauvin, following allegations that Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill. The killing has been followed by an outpouring of social protest across numerous cities, by those outraged at racist violence from US security forces. At the time of writing, neither the OAS nor Luis Almagro have spoken publicly about the crisis in the member state.

 

Investigative news show ‘Detras de la Verdad’ has revealed corruption in the Bolivian regime’s purchase of tear gas used to repress anti-coup protests in November. The Añez government paid an inflated price after going through a private company linked to regime officials. 

 

 

On the 25th of November 2019, 15 days after the coup, the government contacted a Brazilian company called ‘Condor S.A.’ about the purchase of ‘non-lethal’ weapons. 24 hours later, on November 26th, Arturo Murillo’s Interior Ministry changed its mind and sends a new letter to the company, informing them that the purchase will go through a US-based intermediary company “Bravo Tactical Solutions LLC”. The letter is signed by Sergio Zamora Bascope - General Director of Administrative Affairs at the Interior Ministry.

 

 

Using Supreme Decree 4116, introduced after the coup to make the purchase of military equipment easier, Minister of Defense, Luis Fernando López Julio signed a contract for a 'direct purchase' of tear gas, with Bryan Samuel Berkman, representative of the company 'Bravo Tactical Solutions LLC' for $ us. 5,649,137.64 (Bs. 39,317,998.00).

 

 

Bolivia paid Bs. 270 ($ us. 38.80) per unit for the 37/38 mm long-range projectiles, they also placed an order for 50,000 units at Bs. 250 ($ us. 35.92) per unit, for the triple-action projectiles. 

 

 

Detras de la Verdad was able to access documents from Condor S.A. that shows that the government of Venezuela also purchased the same product from the same company. However, Venezuela paid 13.55 Euros (Bs. 108) per unit for the long-range 37/38 mm projectile and 14.55 Euros (Bs. 116) per unit for the triple action projectile 37/38 mm. Therefore, the Bolivian government paid more than double what Venezuela did, for the same product. 

 

 

Where did the extra money go? A senior figure in Bravo Tactical Solutions LLC is Luis Berkman, father of Bryan Samuel Berkman, and known associate of Rodrigo Mendez Mendizabal who works under Arturo Murillo at the Ministry of Defense. Rodrigo Mendez is known to be one of Murillo’s confidants and has appeared at official acts in the presidential palace and one campaign videos of ‘Juntos’, Añez’s electoral front.

 

A recent article in the pro-coup newspaper Pagina Siete has recognized that the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) has ‘reunified’ following relative tensions between its lawmakers and the rest of the party. The new sense of unity within the MAS comes just as the other pro-coup candidates have started attacking Jeanine Añez to an unprecedented degree. 

 

 

Bolivia’s right are split between seven different candidates, and the MAS has not had a single formal split since the coup. Nevertheless, there have been ongoing tensions between the leadership within Congress, who had taken a more conciliatory approach to the new regime, and the rest of the party who wanted more robust opposition. 

 

 

President of the Senate Eva Copa and other leading figures such as Efrain Chambi, Sergio Choque, and others have been left off the MAS candidates list for the next elections, after being accused of collaborating with the regime. 

 

 

However, the worsening political repression of the unelected Añez regime has served to weld together the different forces within the MAS.

 

 

“Maybe there were differences between people, but not on a structural level. Right now there is unity, there is a strength between the countryside and the cities, and between political authorities and the unions. I think the persecution and abuses of the government strengthen us” said Jacinto Herrera, secretary of the national campesino confederation CSTUCB, one of the social movements affiliated to the MAS.

 

 

This unity is on display in the newly combative tone taken by Eva Copa and others, who have been steadfast in their demand for democratic elections. Threats by the Añez regime against the legislature have also caused a rupture between Copa and the executive. Where once Eva Copa would deferentially refer to the regime as a ‘transitional government’, she’s now openly questioning the label and stating clearly how the government is in violation of the constitutional justification that Añez has been wielding since the coup.

 

 

One cause for this conflict, between the executive and the formerly conciliatory lawmakers within the MAS, is that the lawmakers know they’re working to secure elections in line with Bolivia’s constitutional norms, something the state is currently violating. 

 

 

"Congress has been taking steps that might be controversial or debatable, but which are within the framework of legality, and probably the sense of wear and tear within the current government, and their erratic handling of the [political] crisis has strengthened the legislative organ" says legal researcher Leonardo Tamburini. 

 

 

Splits within the right

 

 

When the coup first seized power from the elected government of Evo Morales, there was a degree of unity between the different factions of the right. Coup leaders such as Fernando Camacho appeared alongside Añez on the presidential balcony when she declared herself head of state. Other leading figures such as ex-president Jorge Quiroga were given senior roles within government. 

 

 

However, Quiroga and others were then purged from the state apparatus and Añez embarked on a collision course with some of the right-wing forces that brought her to power. 

 

 

The pro-coup right is currently split between seven different candidates as each battle the other for the spoils of state power. 

 

 

That battle has become increasingly aggressive, especially after corruption in the purchase of Covid19 ventilators was exposed, followed by the arrest of a judge involved in the case. Quiroga struck an unusually harsh tone in response saying “I’ve seen lots of abuses in my life, but the arrest of the judge in the respirators case is beyond any limits”. Interior Minister Arturo Murillo has also recognized the shift, commenting on May 26th that “Now it’s everyone against her, the question is why? Camacho, Mesa and Tuto go on the ‘offensive’ against Añez”

 

 

No easy answers

 

 

Throughout the post-coup period, the MAS has been leading the polls and now they’re in an even stronger position internally. That doesn’t mean that the regime’s days are numbered. Using Covid19 as an excuse, the government has ramped up repression and suspended the possibility of elections indefinitely. 

 

 

They claim that an election risks spreading the virus, even though Añez has now partially lifted lockdown measures. Starting Monday, there’s free movement between 5 am-6 pm, allowing for a return to work and religious services, but cultural and political events remain banned under the state’s partial measures. The government has no intention of heading into an election that every poll shows them losing, if they can maintain the backing of the military and police then they can continue to rule by force alone.

 
 
As anger grows against corruption and the mismanagement of the public health, Bolivia's regime has repeatedly shared false information in a desperate attempt to shift blame onto the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS).
 
 
The country’s Director of Migration Marcel Rivas (who hit headlines after leaving Bolivian migrants stranded abroad) took to twitter to blame the MAS for the spike in Covid19 cases in the department of Beni. He claimed that pro-MAS protesters were blocking the entry of medical supplies, to support the accusation he attached a photo of said protest. However, the photo is from a protest demanding roadworks. Two years ago. When public figures began to condemn him, his bizarre response was to quote tweet them all with the same reply; “The masistas have a lot to explain about the systematic attack on the health of Bolivians. Impunity is over, all they have is terror”.
 
 
Disinformation campaigns have also been waged through more official channels, as a means of explaining away an ongoing corruption scandal in which the state purchased faulty ventilators at an inflated price. The Minister for Transparency accused MAS lawmaker Eva Copa of visiting the cells of the Ministry of Health officials who’d been detained, suggesting that the MAS is in someway orchestrated the whole case to make the government look bad. When Eva Copa threatened legal action the Minister retracted the allegation and confessed that no such visit had been recorded. 
 
 
Once the allegations against Eva Copa had been debunked, a new theory emerged. The police now claim that former MAS Health Minister Gabriela Montaño has been in touch over WhatsApp with one of those who have been detained. Again to suggest that this was organized by the MAS to damage the government’s credibility. Montaño has denied any such links, and the police haven’t published the details of the conversation they supposedly have access to. 
 



The regime is trying to deflect attention from the corruption scandals engulfing them. In the absence of adequate explanations they¡ve resorted to sharing demonstrably false stories, and while the state misinforms the public, the Interior Ministry’s ‘cyber patrol’ has led to some MAS supporters being jailed for spreading ‘disinformation’ while criticizing the government online.

Following the coup, Bolivia’s Jeanine Añez claimed to be a ‘transitional’ president’. However, she’s now hoping to cling on to power long term.  It’s why she declared her presidential candidacy after initially claiming to have no such aspirations. Her Vice-presidential candidate is infamous oligarch Samuel Doria Medina, owner of Bolivia’s Burger King and Subway franchise, and 3 times failed presidential candidate. A look at his background, and the interests he represents, gives an insight into how Añez is hoping to radicalize the neoliberal counter-revolution if she’s able to win the elections.

 

Doria Medina was a government minister during the neoliberal period in the 90s and is now the leader of Unidad Nacional, the second-largest party in Bolivia’s legislature. When he was in government he proclaimed,  “I’ll privatize one state company every week”, and his privatizing zeal has remained throughout his political career. At a recent rally with Añez he declared, “No more state companies!”. An interesting issue to focus on, considering it sunk his 2014 presidential election campaign when he called for 50% of Bolivia’s oil and gas company YPFB to be privatized. Studies at the time showed that Bolivia would have lost $2.3 billion in revenue in just one year had foreign companies taken control of half of Bolivia’s most important natural resource. He came second in that election, but with a dismal 24% to Evo’s 61%. Although it was an improvement on his presidential campaign of 2009 (5%), and 2005 (7%).

 

Despite so many electoral flops, he’s refused to leave public life, and Bolivians are hearing about him and his business dealings once again. Any campaign with Doria Medina inevitably becomes dominated by details of his corrupt past, and the way in which he represents the coming together of the state and elite business interests.

 

He’s long been the country’s largest cement magnate, and as Minister for Economic Planning between 1991-1993 he introduced the ‘Law of Privatization 1330’. This enabled firesale sell-offs throughout the 90s, including of the El Puente and FANCESA cement plants that he himself purchased at rock-bottom prices and incorporated into SOBOCE, the cement company he had owned since 1987. The company was valued at around $1 million when he took ownership in 1987, but by the time he sold up in 2014 he had a monopoly on the cement industry and his 51% share had ballooned to $300 million, thanks to measures he himself implemented as a Minister. 

 

Though he’s sold his shares in cement, his other business interests include the Burger King and Subway franchises, along with numerous luxury hotels. None of his hotels have been mobilized to help the government’s Covid19 efforts, leaving local authorities spending over a million dollars to rent hotels in which to isolate Covid19 patients. He has pledged to sell all shares in his businesses were he to be in government, because in his own words “I don’t want to have conflicts of interest”, which begs the question of why such conflicts of interest are acceptable while he’s the leader of the second-largest party in Bolivia’s legislature. 

 

What lies in store for Bolivia under Samuel? 

 

Samuel Doria Medina was actually opposed to Añez’s candidacy initially. However, he quickly made peace with her once he got the call. It’s clear that Doria Medina’s inclusion on the electoral ticket will ensure that foreign multinationals can buy up what the regime doesn’t want to privatize until after the elections. Añez has already stated that he’ll shape economic policy in their next government, saying “Samuel has a clear vision to correct what is wrong in our economy...on economic issues we can rest easy, because if I don't know how to handle it, Samuel does.”

 

His ‘clear vision’ includes selling off Bolivia’s lithium, as he did when he tweeted Elon Musk inviting him to establish a battery factory in Bolivia - something Bolivia was beginning to do under the state company YLB. He’s been silent on the issue of natural gas and oil, but as voters know, his 2014 proposal was to privatize 50% of it. He’s also come out to defend landlords: when MAS lawmakers called for rent suspensions during the pandemic, which has left millions without an income, he condemned the move as ‘populist’. 

 

With such a character as her VP candidate, Añez has struggled to make much headway in the polls, languishing in third place behind MAS candidate Luis Arce, and centrist neoliberal Carlos Mesa. Indeed, Doria Medina may not even get his chance to shine, as Añez is using Covid19 as an excuse to suspend elections indefinitely, and rule by force with the backing of the US embassy. Nevertheless, if she’s forced to face a public vote, she’ll go into the campaign with Bolivia’s most notorious privatizer as her running mate. The last time he was in government he took advantage to expand his cement empire. Which of his personal business interests will be served this time?

 

Bolivia’s self-declared president, Jeanine Añez, has emitted a 'supreme decree' that imposes criminal charges on those who 'spread doubt among the population'. As well as anyone who 'disseminates false information of any kind, whether in written, print or artistic form'.

The regime hasn’t outlined what constitutes 'false information' nor what "spreading doubt" means.

This latest attack on free speech is in addition to other measures brought in after the coup. The 'cyber patrols' carried out by the Interior Ministry, continue to monitor what government critics say online.

Mauricio Jara is among those targeted for expressing political opinions online. He's been jailed in Santa Cruz for creating pro-MAS WhatsApp groups with names such as “Arce Presidente” and 'In Defense of Lithium'

Others include the hosts of left-wing radio show and website ‘La Resistencia’, for whom arrest warrants were issued for charges of ‘sedition’, after they criticized the current regime. The hosts of the show have been granted asylum in Argentina.

Despite concerns about freedom of expression, Bolivia's Minister for Science and Technology, Christian Tejada, stated his support for the decree, calling it necessary because 'we are the victims of attacks by the Communist Narco Guerrilla that seeks to destabilize the Government'.

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