21 Nov 2019
What’s Happening in Bolivia?
(ANS – Cochabamba – November 19) – The Salesian province in Bolivia is grateful for the solidarity and support expressed by all in relation to the assault, looting, and destruction of Ichilo Radio and Television Broadcast Station, located in Yapacaní, Santa Cruz Province, and for the earlier firing of tear gas at the Don Bosco school in La Paz while students were in the courtyard. Let us make clear to our sister communities in South America and in the world that what has happened in Bolivia is the fruit of a complex social and political process that has resulted in the resignation of the former president Evo Morales and in the appointment of a legitimately constituted transitional government.
From what we can observe, there was nothing like a coup d’etat, but rather the clear popular resistance to a new affront by the former governing party against the Constitution of the State. Some related passages are that Mr. Morales did not respect the result of the constitutional referendum of February 21, 2016 – in which the polls expressed that he should not resume his candidacy for other elections – and claiming a “human right,” he ignored those results and presented himself in the October 20 elections this year.
To this, one must add the forest fires of more than 1,000,000 hectares in Chiquitanía, which among their causes have a government decree that favors the practice of the “chaqueo,” i.e., using fires to provide more agricultural land for people close to Mr. Morales’s political allies and for commercial interests. And finally, the electoral fraud in favor of Morales, denounced by the Organization of American States after reviews of carried out by a group of OAS experts.
The majority of Bolivian citizens have sought a peaceful solution to the conflict during this period, and this has materialized in the mutiny of police officers who have refused to repress protesting civilians. The army also suggested that the former president cease his duties, and he decided to resign to give way to a constitutional succession, now headed by Dr. Jeanine Añez.
The Bolivian bishops, in their statement of November 10, say: “What is happening in Bolivia is not a coup d’etat. We say it before the Bolivian citizens and in front of the whole international community.”
In this context, much too summarily, we ask the Salesian communities of the Americas and the world not to fall into misinformation or into the assumption of the loss of legality and democracy in Bolivia. We still live in difficult times because of Mr. Morales’s squadrons who do not accept the resignation of their leader and ask him to return to the government, which is completely unachievable after all the corruption and manipulation of the powers of the State in which we have been submerged, now coming to light.
All our Salesian works continue to accompany the people in this difficult moment, offering their educational-evangelizing service to the extent that circumstances permit. We thank the whole Salesian Family of the world for prayer and closeness. And we continue to ask God for a quick, peaceful, and just solution to these conflicts.