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The Bolivian Coup

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Evo Morales made a lot of mistakes in his last year in power in Bolivia, especially seeking to rewrite the Constitution to keep himself in power. But the coup that overthrew him was based upon the law that he had committed electoral fraud. Since the Bolivian right, a band of racists that deeply resent the fact that indigenous people could rule their nation, couldn’t win at the polls, they simply told lies and overthrew the Morales government, all with the approval of Washington. But to be clear, Morales did not engage in electoral fraud. He won the election.

As Bolivia gears up for a do-over election on May 3, the country remains in unrest following the Nov. 10 military-backed coup against incumbent President Evo Morales.

A quick recap: Morales claimed victory in October’s election, but the opposition protested about what it called electoral fraud. A Nov. 10 report from the Organization of American States (OAS) noted election irregularities, which “leads the technical audit team to question the integrity of the results of the election on October 20.” Police then joined the protests and Morales sought asylum in Mexico.

The military-installed government charged Morales with sedition and terrorism. A European Union monitoring report noted that some 40 former electoral officials have been arrested and face criminal charges of sedition and subversion, and 35 people have died in the post-electoral conflict. The highest-polling presidential candidate, a member of Morales’s Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS-IPSP) party, has received a summons from prosecutors for undisclosed crimes, a move some analysts suspect was aimed to keep him off the ballot.

The media has largely reported the allegations of fraud as fact. And many commentators have justified the coup as a response to electoral fraud by MAS-IPSP. However, as specialists in election integrity, we find that the statistical evidence does not support the claim of fraud in Bolivia’s October election.

Of course, it was the OAS that pushed this lie to justify its preferred outcome. But the research shows that these claims were simply false. And while there is another election coming up, the chances that the Bolivian right are going to give up power is very low and they are no doubt ensuring that they will “win” that election using a lot more fraud than Morales ever did.

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