Thousands of Colombians Demonstrate Amid Duque's Militarization

President Ivan Duque ordered the deployment of 4,000 additional police on the streets, aerial surveillance of protests and the closure of international borders.

As a response to the nationwide strike that thousands of Colombians are carrying out on Thursday, President Ivan Duque increased the number of troops patrolling in urban areas, which generated concern at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

RELATED: Colombia Scandal: Diplomats Evidence Plot Against Venezuela

"The Office notes with concern the issuance of several decrees and instructives which could allow mayors and governors to declare curfews and request military support for public order control," the UNCHR representative in Colombia Alberto Brunori said.

Since Monday, citizens have also expressed their surprise and anxiety over the presence of soldiers armed with combat weapons in Bogota, the capital of the country.

The government argued that the military presence in the streets does not imply a militarization of the country but "a support" to the Police's everyday tasks. This reasoning, however, has been criticized.

"States must limit and condition the use of Military Forces to control internal disturbances as much as possible, since military training, equipment, and perspectives are not adequate to guarantee the protection and control of civilians," Brunori explained.

Since Tuesday human rights defenders have been denounced that the Police raided homes of social leaders in Bogotá, Medellín, and Cali.

So far, according to UNCHR data, 27 raids have been carried out in Bogotá, five in Cali and four in Medellín to homes of activists, offices of social organizations and alternative media facilities.

Alleging the need to avoid possible excesses, the Duque administration also launched other security measures such as the closure of international borders, deployment of 4,000 additional police on the streets and aerial surveillance of protests.

Colombia's main organizations of workers, farmers, and students reject Duque’s neoliberal policy package, which seeks to eliminate the state-based pension fund, increase the retirement age and hire young people with salaries below the minimum wage.

Progressive parties and organizations also require the right-wing government to demonstrate a greater commitment to the implementation of the Peace Agreement and more protection to the lives of social leaders, who have been victims of selective killings executed by "unidentified" paramilitary groups.​​​​​

Since the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2016, at least 777 social leaders and 137 former guerrilla fighters have been killed in Colombia, according to the Institute for Development and Peace (Indepaz)​​​​​​.


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Evo Morales condemns dictatorship at news conference in Mexico City

Mexico City, November 21 (RHC)-- At a press conference held in Mexico City, Bolivia's President-in-exile Evo Morales on Wednesday analyzed the latest consequences of the coup d'etat that allowed opposition senator Jeanine Añez to proclaim herself as interim president.

The Movement to Socialism (MAS) leader began by highlighting that the victims of the repression carried out by the Police and the Army have increased over the last week.  "After the coup, they have killed about 30 people.  This massacre is part of genocide in our beloved Bolivia," Morales said and stressed: "They are killing my brothers and sisters."

Morales then presented a video in which the number of people killed, in different places and different dates, was detailed.  Bolivia's president-in-exile also warned that right-wing groups are trying to hide information about their fascist violence by stealing corpses and manipulating autopsies.

Morales recalled that during his administration, no one was shot dead until the day of his resignation; however, "now, we've seen how helicopters fire at people who are defending democracy."

Meanwhile, Bolivia's military-coup government was posting messages stating that "our military avoided a great tragedy and prevented thousands of El Alto people from dying."​​​​​​​  This paradoxical interpretation of what happened in Senkata on Tuesday, however, is part of a broader political strategy against Evo Morales and his supporters.

The Añez administration on Wednesday announced that it will file an international complaint against Evo Morales for "crimes against humanity."  Besides being blamed for organizing road blockades to prevent food from reaching several cities, the Indigenous leader is being accused of an alleged "possible" bomb attack at the Senkata refinery.  All these ​​​​​​​"destabilizing actions" would have been planned by Morales from Mexico and using his phone.​​​​​​​

In a new effort to halt chaos in the Andean country, the Socialist senator Efrain Chambi on Wednesday presented "the Exceptional and Transitional Bill for National and Subnational Elections," which was referred to the Constitution Commission for its analysis.

This happened shortly after the self-proclaimed president Añez threatened again to call elections through a decree, which would constitute a new rupture of the Bolivian constitution and laws.  On the calling for new elections, Morales said that "everything for peace" is admissible, although he also recalled that he won in the first round; therefore he invited the international community to conduct a new audit of the electoral results.

Regarding accusations that he would be fostering terrorism, the MAS leader said he did not know the details of the legal actions against him, which the Añez administration is or will be fostering.

Nevertheless, after recalling the experience of the Bolivian popular struggle in the 1980s and 1990s, Morales pointed out that such misleading practices "are typical of dictatorships."

Bolivia’s president-in exile ended his press conference in Mexico City asking the international community not to support the coup d'etat, that is, not be behave like the Organization of American States (OAS).

“International organizations should support the most humble and poor people,” Morales said and stressed that “we will democratically recover political power, as usual.”

Edited by Ed Newman
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Evo Morales says OAS is a tool of the U.S. empire

Bolivia's President Evo Morales denounced Wednesday the Organization of American States for being at the service of the United States and contributing to his country's political crisis.

"The OAS is not at the service of the Latin American peoples and even less of its social movements.  It is at the service of the U.S. empire," Morales said from Mexico City, where he is currently residing as a political refugee after being forced to resign on Sunday.

Meanwhile, due to massive demonstrations that have paralyzed La Paz, the Bolivian Parliament could not meet to formally process the resignation of Evo Morales, who is still the country's president.

Right-wing opposition politicians, however, summoned themselves to a meeting in the former Mining Bank at the Murillo Square, where only people who support the coup were allowed to enter.

In an absolutely notorious and public way, the Police gathered around the private building to prevent the entry of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) Senator and First President of the Senate Adriana Salvatierra, who under the Constitution is next in presidential succession line after Morales and ousted Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera.

On Wednesday, Salvatierra said she is willing to install the parliamentary session and assume the presidency of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
Thousands of Bolivians are demonstrating in rejection of the coup against President Morales, which was orchestrated by opposition leaders Luis Fernando Camacho and Carlos Mesa.  "We are not afraid!  We are not afraid!” the Bolivian farmers and workers shouted as Air Force planes flew menacingly over their massive demonstration in downtown La Paz.

To prevent further violations of the Bolivian constitution, progressive social movements have been demanding that the Legislature not be installed in session to consummate the coup d'etat.  Parliament suspended the session Tuesday as there was no quorum, but Senator Jeanine Añez, proclaimed herself as "Interim President."

Edited by Ed Newman
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Mexico Condemns Coup in Bolivia, Slams OAS Over Inaction

The Mexican foreign minister will demand an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States which he accused to remain silent after the "military pronouncement and police operations".

The Mexican government said Monday it recognizes Evo Morales as t5he "legitimate" president of Bolivia, denouncing that his resignation was due to a "coup" carried out by the army, which it described as a serious setback for the region.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard also said the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador would not recognize a military government in the Andean country.

"What happened yesterday (in Bolivia) we consider a coup ... It is a coup because the army requested the resignation of the president and that violates the constitutional order of that country," said Ebrard at the morning press conference of Lopez Obrador.

"The position that Mexico has defined today is to claim, demand respect for constitutional order and democracy in Bolivia," added the foreign minister who will demand an emergency meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) he accused to remain silent after the "military pronouncement and police operations."

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Bolivian President Evo Morales Declares First Round Victory

With 98.42% of votes counted, Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales has announced his victory, without the need for a second round, as he has surpassed the 10% threshold needed to win. 

President Evo Morales announced Thursday morning that he has won the presidency for another term without a need for a second round in Bolivia’s general elections as a live official count by the electoral authorities showed him surpassing the 10 percent over the 10 percent threshold needed for a first-round victory, with 98.42 percent of the votes counted. 

RELATED: Evo Morales Warns Coup Attempt Underway in Bolivia

Though the President states that 1.58 percent of votes are left to be counted, he said that the margin of victory cannot be reversed because the only remaining votes are in rural areas that back him. Morales also invited international observers to audit the results. 

Morales railed against the right-wing opposition who have so far refused to recognize the results that point to there being no second round.

Morales’ victory became apparent late in the counting process due to the fact that votes from rural Indigenous areas tend to be the last to be counted and have traditionally been in favor of Evo Morales. 

"Disregarding the vote of the poorest, of the Indigenous, is a form of racism," said the president at a press conference Thursday morning, in which he declared victory. 

Morales went on to lament the tense opposition discourse during the campaign. "We must recognize that such a level of lies and hatred, created by the opposition and some other groups, is unheard of.”

Bolivia’s opposition has so far not responded to the victory. Up until last night, opposition candidate Carlos Mesa said he did not recognize results and distrusts the electoral authorities. Likewise, the U.S. state department warned of "serious consequences" against Bolivia, citing supposed "irregularities" in preliminary projections, which are different to the live vote count which no observers have raised issues with. 

Morales reiterated his invitation for international bodies, including the Organization of the American States (OAS) to audit the full results. “We have passed from a colonial state to a plurinational state thanks to the Bolivian people. We are in a moment of political liberation. We recovered democracy in 1983 and today we are living through Bolivia’s best moments.”

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Bolivia Gov't Invites OAS to Audit Final Electoral Count

The request came hours after The OAS raised concerns after an official preliminary count of votes gave Morales a 10-point lead over rival Carlos Mesa.

The government of Bolivia invited Tuesday the Organization of American States (OAS) to carry out an audit of the final count after the preliminary results of Sunday's election were showing a victory in the first round of President Evo Morales.

RELATED: International Observers Assert Legitimacy of Bolivia’s Election

Foreign Minister Diego Pary said his government would accept the final result of the elections and that he invited the OAS, who acted as an official observer in the elections, in the United States, among other countries, to "accompany" the final count that is currently in process and shows Morales winner, although with the possibility of having to face a runoff. 

The request came hours after The OAS raised concerns after an official preliminary count of votes gave Morales a 10-point lead over rival Carlos Mesa.

However, a number of international observers that are in La Paz monitoring Bolivia’s general elections praised the legitimacy and transparency of the process which comes in contrast to proclamations by opposition leaders who have already made declarations questioning the results. 

“The vote count is open to all who want to see it… we could see the noting down of each of the votes from each ballot paper,” Rixi Moncada who is the president of the electoral court in Honduras, said. 

Monday night saw right-wing protesters have launched numerous violent attacks across Bolivia as preliminary results indicated that leftist President Evo Morales is on course for a first-round victory.

Attacks included the burning down of vote counting centers and assaulting Indigenous supporters of Morales. In response, social movements have called for a state of emergency, and a mobilization of workers in the streets to defend the vote. 

In reaction to the protests and violence, CONALCAM, a coalition of Indigenous groups and workers unions that are affiliated to Morales’ ‘Movement Towards Socialism’ held a press conference where they declared a state of emergency, calling for mobilizations in the streets to defend democracy.

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International Observers Assert Legitimacy of Bolivia’s Election

“Everything has taken place with total normality and regularity.”

 A number of international observers that are in La Paz monitoring Bolivia’s general elections have praised the legitimacy and transparency of the process which comes in contrast to proclamations by U.S.-backed opposition leaders who have already made declarations questioning the results. 

RELATED: Bolivian Social Movements Mobilize To Defend Vote Against Opposition Violence

One of the leading observers, Rixi Moncada, who is the president of the electoral court in Honduras, praised the level of independent monitoring that took place. “The vote count is open to all who want to see it… we could see the noting down of each of the votes from each ballot paper.”

Another observer, Manu Pineda, a Spanish lawmaker in the European Parliament, also spoke to media praising the legitimacy of Bolivia’s electoral process. “In Spain ballots are counted and assigned very quickly, however in Bolivia, each ballot paper is held and shown to all, so there cannot be any manipulation, the vote is then recorded publicly on a board for all to see. The count takes a very long time, but we can see that it’s a positive thing because it stops any possibility of fraud.”

“Everything has taken place with total normality and regularity,” Sandra Perreira, another EU lawmaker, from Portugal, commented. However, many are concerned that the opposition will refuse to recognize the legal results if Evo Morales comes out on top.

Already opposition candidate Carlos Mesa has said he does not recognize the preliminary results published by the electoral authorities after they indicated that Morales was heading for a first-round victory. This is despite the fact that Mesa initially endorsed the results when they temporarily showed him having a slightly larger share of the vote, before being updated after votes from rural areas had arrived to be counted. 

Mesa called for street mobilizations that ended in violence at vote-counting stations, with some opposition protesters burning ballots and the buildings where counting was taking place. 

The Organization of the American States (OAS) and the U.S. government have already issued statements expressing "concerns" over the legitimacy of the result, citing a technical issue that led to preliminary results being frozen temporarily, despite the fact that the live vote monitor has not suffered any such issues. One of those making such declarations was infamous war hawk Senator Marco Rubio, who has been very vocal about intervention efforts in Venezuela and Cuba. 

In the face of attempts to delegitimize the election results, Indigenous groups and workers unions have called a "state of emergency" to defend the public vote from opposition violence.  

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The Empire is obsessed with Venezuela

U.S. spy aircrafts are constantly flying over Venezuela as the prelude of a military invasion that may unleash. This is not a strong possibility just yet as everything depends on the number of casualties foreseen by the invading forces, caused essentially by the local army defending its homeland soil. Simultaneously, local opposition —already weakened— is crying out for an open U.S. marines’ invasion, sheltered by the TIAR (Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance), which has no legal or moral reasons to be invoked.

The TIAR was created in 1947 in times of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Empire tried to use it as a mean to destroy the Cuban Revolution. But such goal was never achieved, especially after the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961.

Nonetheless, it remained in full force as one of the Empire resources to be invoked against any rebel nation in the continent under the guise of military assistance in case of foreign aggression; but Argentina invoked TIAR in 1982 to defend its country from British colonialists who were occupying the Malvinas. But the U.S., supported by Pinochet’s Chile back then, did not help Buenos Aires and served its European ally.

Hence, Peru, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, and Venezuela left TIAR one by one.

In the collusion against Venezuela, the OAS (Organization of American States) served as the official headquarters for the reemergence of TIAR, backed by 12 member states that echoed the U.S. and Colombia’s assertion on the alleged exodus of four million Venezuelans, but concealing that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had just confirmed that in 2018 the number of refugees increased in 341,800, including Venezuelans.

We should add the likely staging of an incident to justify a military intervention. In this regard, two members of the Colombian paramilitary group Los Rastrojos were arrested. This group has contacted Juan Guaido, fabricated president supported by Trump.

Besides, there have been recent developments in various threatening fronts. On one hand, there is a marked aggression against Venezuelans’ living standards by means of blockade and international sanctions. On the other hand, chances to find peaceful solutions to the conflict are hindered while every initiative intended to favor dialogue between the government and the political opposition is attacked by the media.

The Bolivarian Government is under a ferocious attack by an international media campaign of propaganda — kicked off in December 2018—, which is followed to the letter by all allied nations to the U.S. aiming at preparing destabilization operations against Venezuela, and recalls the connivance of the so-called objective-committed press covering the aggressions on Afghanistan and Iraq.

The target of such campaign was to convince Venezuelans of a hopeless future for them in their homeland. At the same time, it tried to convince the public opinion of the “illegitimacy” of President Nicolas Maduro.

The news article released by Russian media Sputnik entitled “El momento ha llegado: el plan Unitas Lis sería el golpe final contra Venezuela,” details the political and military conditions that the U.S. has foreseen as “the road map to topple Chavism.” All are operational. And TIAR is part of what they have called “the political front.”

The American political and military strategists know that, in January 2020, Guaido’s time in Venezuela’s National Assembly expires, although other opposition leaders will try to follow his steps.

Therefore, Venezuelans must expect a severe escalation of the U.S. pressure against them to the point of violence. In this context, the Chairman of the National Constituent Assembly, Diosado Cabello, predicts the invasion of U.S. marines in Venezuela, “but the problem lies —for them— on how are they going to leave.”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz/CubaSi Translation Staff

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