OAS Permanent Council Addresses Electoral Crisis in Bolivia

Pro-democracy protesters assembled at the headquarters of the Organization of American States demanding a second-round in the presidential elections in Bolivia, Washington, D.C., October 24, 2019.

Remarks by Ambassador Carlos Trujillo
Permanent Representative of the United States to the OAS
at the Special Meeting of the Permanent Council to receive the Foreign Minister of Bolivia, Diego Pary Rodriguez

October 24, 2019

Madame Chair, Ministers Pary and Arce, my fellow Permanent Representatives to the Organization of American States, ladies and gentlemen…

The United States takes the floor to underscore our support for the findings of the OAS electoral observation mission to the Bolivian elections held on October 20.

Before entering into the facts of the case, the United States firmly rejects any affirmation that the OAS Mission is an “intervention” in Bolivia’s internal affairs, as we heard some delegations assert yesterday, by reminding them that the OAS mission was invited by the Morales government to observe these elections and to present its findings to this Council.

The OAS mission, as we heard yesterday, found serious irregularities throughout the entire electoral process, most notably an inexplicable and highly suspect suspension of the Transmission of Preliminary Election Results (TREP) for nearly 24 hours.

Before the TREP was suspended the results indicated the need for a second round of elections. After the TREP was reactivated, almost 24 hours later, lo and behold no second round is needed and Evo Morales is firmly ahead in the vote count!

Suddenly, the Morales government does not like what the OAS Mission found: widespread irregularities, likely vote tally manipulation, lack of transparency, a general sense of distrust among the Bolivian electorate of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and the necessity for a second round of elections.

Madame Chair, my fellow Permanent Representatives, perhaps Ministers Pary and Arce have to defend the indefensible, but this Council does not.
We commend the OAS electoral observation mission for its diligence and impartiality and we stand with the people of Bolivia to ensure that their sovereign will is respected.

This Council should as well.

Finally, I’d like to read the following joint statement by Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and the United States:

United States, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia Respond to Anomalies
in Bolivia’s Presidential Election

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and the United States believe that the Bolivian people have the right to choose their leaders in free and fair elections. This right is enshrined in the Inter-American Democratic Charter and in the Bolivian constitution. We are therefore deeply concerned over the anomalies in the vote counting process of Bolivia’s October 20 election.

We urge Bolivian electoral authorities to work with the Organization of American States Electoral Observation Mission to guarantee a transparent and credible vote-counting process. In the event that the EOM is unable to verify the results of the first round, then we call on the Government of Bolivia to restore credibility to its electoral system by proceeding to hold a second round of elections with the top-two vote winners that is free, fair, transparent and credible.

Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and the United States, along with the community of democracies worldwide, will only recognize results that actually reflect the will of the Bolivian people.

In the interim, we call for calm and continued respect for the rule of law. The world is watching Bolivia’s institutions and leaders to ensure that the voice and will of the Bolivian people are honored.

Thank you.