Montreal, December 5, 2019 OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESS We Bolivian residents abroad have been deeply disturbed by press releases circulating in the media lately. These have been at the very minimum inaccurate in reflecting the actual facts that recently took place in our native land, namely, the overwhelming evidence of electoral fraud and widespread peaceful citizen protest that ensued, resulting in the resignation of former President Evo Morales on November 10, 2019 and the establishment of a transition government headed by President Jeanine Añez. We believe that these information discrepancies may be the result of limited access to data at the source or biased accounts of the facts. This aforementioned press coverage alluded to a coup without taking into account the context leading to the current situation. None of us, the authors of the current letter, are affiliated with any political party, nor do we intend to speak on behalf of every Bolivian. We are representatives of a broad segment spanning across Bolivian society since we belong to a wide range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, we uphold different spiritual beliefs, and respond to a diverse range of political inclinations. Nevertheless, amongst our core values, we all concur on the notion of democracy since it is not a subjective opinion. We maintain that what happened was not a coup but a people defending its right to democracy. We don’t state this lightly as we try to depict through the facts below. Background Evo Morales took office on January 22, 2006 after an electoral process following the deposition of former neoliberal President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. He played a key role in the forced resignation of Sánchez de Lozada and became an outstanding leading figure in the historic restoration of a significant societal segment that had been neglected up until then. A contributor to his initial electoral success was a “punishment vote” cast by a large part of the middle class against the traditional parties, allowing him to form a government with an overwhelming majority parliament, paving the way to letting him dismantle the very institutions of the former Republic of Bolivia. Few imagined that almost fourteen years later they would be marching in the streets, waving Bolivian flags in defense of the rule of law and democracy, exposing themselves to violent mobs and living in terror, or residing abroad as immigrants in pursuit of better opportunity nonexistent for them in their homeland; all for having elected a party and a leader who had ultimately betrayed their good faith as voters. The Movimiento al Socialismo’s (MAS) near 14-year-long government proved to be inefficient and corrupt.1 The resources of all Bolivians were wasted on incompetent efforts that could have multiplied and generated social and economic lasting benefits for all Bolivians across the board. The system became a mix of squander, plunder, and systematic destruction of critical infrastructure sector companies (oil, gas, electricity, telecommunications, rail, air transportation, mining, etc.) nationalized one after another as "social gifts" to workers. There were a series of power games, 1 https://www.transparency.org/files/content/corruptionqas/346_Overview_of_corruption_in_Bolivia.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2I3uuSz VFD9K PxoJBFakcAFOGDz0nwsO2r8ulSZLHBiXttSzHGnLttttzSruY abuse of authority, allegations of government complicity with international drug cartels,2 hindrances to press freedom (“ley mordaza”, i.e. gag law, aggressive commercial takeover of certain media outlets and commercial advertising contracts quid pro quo for their silence).3 In addition, the country’s economic engines were stalled and the private sector was systematically “choked”. Government employees were forcibly involved in partisan practices, i.e. required to attend demonstrations and events of political nature, while dissenting citizens and institutions were penalized in subtle and not so subtle ways. All of this was concealed through a series of populist reforms to obtain the support of the party’s base, i.e. the most humble sector of the working class to which they sold the story of a government driving a “process of change”(proceso de cambio). Division and hatred were promoted by exacerbating feelings of racial, regional, and class divide among Bolivians.4 Instead of focusing on comprehensive social and economic development policies and strategic planning, Evo Morales spent significant part of his time misusing public funds recklessly in luxurious and exorbitant delusions: a 7 million US dollar museum in his honor located in a small remote town in the vast Altiplano (Andean highlands), a new Government building ("Casa del Pueblo" ) worth 34 million dollars, in which two floors were destined solely as housing space for the President, featuring a gym, a hot tub, bedrooms and luxurious environments, a helipad for the presidential helicopter to connect with his also newly acquired 38 million dollar presidential private jet. None of this fit the modest socialist discourse. Evo Morales actively used this aircraft for regular World Cup appearances as a soccer aficionado. He did so several times throughout his tenure, i.e. attending tournaments in which Bolivia was not even a participant. He also made it a point to frequently attend face-to-face bilateral meetings with close allies, i.e. heads of states known for their poor record in respecting civil liberties and for their visible tendencies towards totalitarianism, e.g. Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, China, and Russia. His airplane, labeled by Morales as “a functional tool”, also allowed him to criss-cross the country to personally deliver soccer stadiums featuring synthetic turf. All in remote rural areas where, undoubtedly, the need for 2 https://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/opinion/pablo-hiriart/excesos-con-evo?fbclid=IwAR1a3JuW4FQ8bTb5R9zzJ48Qv_oowLEEDInR ZmejVMJqaKiRFeE7CZxVx_s 3 https://www.libertaddigital.com/mundo/luto-en-los-medios-bolivianos-por-la-ley-mordaza-de-morales-1276404036/ https://tuffiare.wordpress.com/2010/10/ 12 / statement-of-the-anp-2 / amp / 4 https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/video/marco-pumari-indigena-bolivia-evo-morales-renuncia-intv-conclu/ improvements in education, health care infrastructure, and essential public works was a greater priority. The combination of populism, social fragmentation and inflamed class struggle is the Achilles heel of democracy. In all fairness, there were some salient aspects of Evo Morales’s government throughout his time in Office, namely, the political and economical inclusion of representatives of a societal segment that had been marginalized thus far, the enactment of a historic bill dubbed the “Law against racism and all forms of discrimination” in a country where endemic racism was common practice, an attempt to eradicate illiteracy (neither a sustainable nor a verifiable campaign but a step in the right direction nonetheless), social housing, hospitals, and a certain amount of public works. In the aftermath, however, four times more sport venues than public health facilities were built.5 The Government’s propaganda machine spent 770 US million on magnifying the reach of their public investment.6 The sad truth is that it turned out being a missed opportunity with rather limited impact considering the macroeconomic miracle that benefited Evo Morales’s government during his first two presidential terms, i.e. a multiple times price increase of Bolivia’s exports of raw materials to international markets. This tailwind could have helped many Bolivians without distinction. Universal healthcare and quality public education could have become a reality; industrial development, commerce, or tourism could have been prominent items of the national agenda. In short, sustainable development could have been within the realm of possibility. One of the darkest episodes of MAS's government track record is the ecological tragedy of the Bolivian Amazon, Pantanal, and Chiquitania that made international headlines. In July 2019, Evo Morales issued decree #3973 authorizing land clearing by “controlled burning” in protected areas without first consulting the indigenous peoples living in the affected regions, as required by law.7 When the fires became uncontrollable, Morales not only declined international help but refused to declare a state of emergency, belittled the damage, and stated that the situation was under control. This caused discomfort in the population, citizens organized help independently and pressured Morales to accept assistance. He eventually conceded when it was too late. These fires lasted more than two months, consumed more than 4 million hectares, endangered many indigenous communities, killed more than 2.3 million wild animals, and even took the lives of seven volunteer firefighters.8 Morales never ordered an end to the burning and while many put their lives in danger fighting the fires, Chapare coca growers continued to light new ones. In the first days of October, Paraguay requested compensation for the damage caused to its territory by fires originated in Bolivia;9 many Bolivian indigenous communities have denounced Morales to the United Nations 5 https://www.paginasiete.bo/economia/2017/6/20/evo-cumple-impulso-veces-canchas-obras-salud-141762.html?fbclid=IwA R0EWlTjABaZEx7y-Z9UT2QLkNWZoN3fK1gLucV-vjVippbxx 6 https://www.radiofides.com/es/2019/01/16/el-gobierno-gasto-775-millones-de-dolares-en-publicidad-entre-2 014-y-2018/?fbclid = IwAR3i3IdiY5G112A_ynTMaZr5KeSaM_W8g0oDdth1lQB6kjmy1HQ XY 7 https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/amazon-fires-bolsonaro-bolivia-wildfires-rainforest-a9080786.html?fbcli d=IwAR2OT4PZuN7jMjoEiuO_e2cR88i9LxvKDiuktyBswA1zbDxUptmak 8 https://www.lostiempos.com/actualidad/pais/20191001/heroes-que-murieron-incendios-bolivia https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/video/bolivia-incendios-fauna-afectada-animales-perspectivas-buenos -aires-cnnee / https://eldeber.com.bo/149854_incendios-matan-a-unos-23-millones-de-animales-en-bolivia-segun-una-experta 9 https://www.eldiario.net/movil/?n=28&a=2019&m=10&d=03 (UN) for his recent actions and other violations of their rights that were committed throughout his several years of government.10 Last but not least, financially, although the GDP grew an average of 5.2% year-over-year during almost fourteen years of Morales’s government, it came at the expense of a foreign debt rise from 3.2 billion to 10.5 billion US dollars. Evo Morales left office with roughly three times higher foreign debt than the one he had inherited.11 The following is an account and timeline of the journey followed by Evo Morales and his party MAS in an attempt to perpetuate themselves in power through the “re-foundation” of the Bolivian State, repeated assaults to the separation of powers and finally the appropriation of the Electoral institutions: former National Electoral Court (CNE - Corte Nacional Electoral) and Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE - Tribunal Supremo Electoral); in a nutshell, a subtle and slow progression to a totalitarian state: - Towards the end of Evo Morales’s first term (2006-2009), under the legislative Government’s initiative, a Constituent Assembly was formed and a new Political Constitution adopted. The Republic of Bolivia ceased to exist to give rise to the newly declared Plurinational State of Bolivia. The new Constitution contained reelection provisions authorizing a single reelection instance for the president in office.12 - During the second term of President Morales (2010-2014), in April 2013, the TSE ruled that his first term did not count against the reelection limit of this newly adopted Constitution, since the State had been “re-founded” enabling him to run for a new term.13 - His third term (2015-2020), which began in January 2015, was slated to end in year 2020. His party proposed, however, enabling Evo Morales candidacy for a fourth term in 2019 under the principle that this was the “will of the people”. A decision was made to call a referendum on a Constitutional amendment enhancing reelection limits for both president and vice president offices. Evo Morales promised that he would listen and respect the “voice of the people” expressed by the outcome of this referendum. The latter was held on February 21, 2016. The “No” option, i.e. a refusal to allow the Constitutional amendment for an additional candidacy of the president and vice president, obtained 51.3% of the votes. Ignoring the will of the majority, MAS presented in 2017 an “abstract appeal of ‘unconstitutionality’ against the constitutional limits to executive mandates” to the Plurinational Constitutional Court (TCP - Tribunal Constitucional Plurinacional). In November of that year, TCP authorized Evo Morales to seek reelection as president without 10 https://hrf.org/press_posts/bolivia-hrf-condemns-president-morales-role-in-forest-fires/ https://www.lostiempos.com/actualidad/pais/20191008/indigenas-denuncian-evo- un-forest-fire-extractivism-no-consultation https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/15/bolivia-approves-highway-in-amazon-biodiversity-hotspot-as-big-a-jamaica 11 https://www.bcb.gob.bo/webdocs/informes_deudaexterna/Informe_Semestral_2019_28082019.pdf 12 http://sea.gob.bo/digesto/CompendioNormativo/01.pdf 13 https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-49926169 limits as otherwise it would violate his "Human Rights".14 N.B.: indefinite reelection is not a human right.15 October 20, 2019 national election, electoral fraud and fallout General elections were held on October 20. Evo Morales ran as a presidential candidate for the fourth consecutive time despite serious concerns over the legality of his candidacy. Voting results were broadcast live by the election commission, through a quick count system and an official results one. The quick count was suspended for no valid reason when the voting trend indicated that there would be a second round,16 anticipated to widely favor the opposition. The counting systems were not restored until the next day, when a dramatic trend change, qualified as “inexplicable” in the terms of the Organization of American States (OAS) observers, signaled a first round electoral victory for Evo Morales. The red flags around this result were overwhelming and abundant. Multiple subsequent audits, both national and international, revealed a fraud-ridden election casting a huge shadow on the whole electoral and balloting processes. The following observations arose: · Inconsistent checks and balances · Total number of votes exceeding the cast ballots total · Forgery of Electoral records (ballot counts transferred from opposition candidates to Morales) · Unsigned electoral records · Dead people registered to vote · Improper use of public funds on the electoral campaign The UN and the European Union (EU) joined the OAS recommendation to proceed to the second round. The consulting firm “Ethical Hacking”, hired by the TSE itself to perform an internal audit of the electoral process, concluded that the elections were flawed and presented grounds for nullity.17 Most of society was outraged by the fraud.18 It was perceived by the population as an insult to their intelligence, a disgrace to the memory of their deceased loved ones and an existential threat to their right to democracy. The main opposition candidate, Carlos Mesa, as well as some other candidates, presidents of Civic Committees, former Bolivian presidents, mayors, and heads of political parties called for a peaceful mobilization and declared an indefinite strike. From that moment, Evo Morales already suggested 14 https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-42159445 https://hrf.org/press_posts/bolivia-hrf-urges-iahcr-to-stop-evo-morales-authoritarian-power-grabs/ 15 https://hrf.org/press_posts/hrf-pide-a-la-cidh-promover-aplicacion-de-la-clausula-democratica-a-bolivia/ 16 https://www.lostiempos.com/actualidad/pais/20191031/empresa-dice-que-choque-ordeno-frenar-trep-tendencia-del-voto https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRx_StfyNY0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW_qHQoWjwA&feature=youtu.be 17 https://www.infobae.com/america/america-latina/2019/11/08/la-auditoria-oficial-califico-como-viciadas-de-nulidad-a-las- elections-bolivianas-y-carlos- table-demanio-new-elections / 18 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA-u4HxzHZw that the citizen protest was part of a coup.19 Given the increasing unrest, Morales ridiculed the citizens' movements by stating “dos, tres personas, amarrando pititas [...]soy capaz de hacer taller seminario, como se hace marcha a ellos, para que aprendan” [two, three people, tying up strings [...] I am willing to give a workshop/seminar on how a protest march is done, so that they learn]. 20 (“Pitita” is the diminutive of pita, word used in Bolivia for rope, string, or twine). On October 27, Evo Morales issued a televised open threat to the population : “ciudades dejen de perjudicar con paros, si quieren paro, no hay problema, los vamos a acompañar con cerco a las ciudades para hacernos respetar, a ver si aguantan” [cities, stop being a nuisance with your strikes. If you do want a strike, that’s all right, we are going to siege the cities to make you respect us. Will see if you last].21 This strategy, previously applied by Morales during his union leader years crippled food and even water supply to cities (until the end of November some cities were still facing a shortage of gasoline, LPG, and food supplies due to blockades by MAS supporters).22 Unlike the peaceful citizen protests that allowed the passage of ambulances, food and other emergency services. During the following days, MAS summoned hit forces to discourage the protests. These groups, in some cases armed with dynamite, knives, sticks, and firearms, assaulted the protesters resulting in three deaths, two in Santa Cruz (48 and 60 years old) from gunshot wounds and the third one in Cochabamba (20 years old) after suffering a brain death caused by blunt trauma.23 There is evidence that the protesters sent to support Morales did receive payments. In addition to visual records (videos and photos caught on cell phones), the senator of the then ruling party, Ciro Zabala, admitted that they paid a “stipend”.24 The Government also called for demonstrations, made up largely of government employees coerced to march. Several representatives of the press were attacked by MAS supporters during the pro-Morales protests.25 Civic leaders of eight out of the nine departments of Bolivia, led by Luis Fernando Camacho and Marco Pumari, radicalized their positions and called for the resignation of Evo Morales.26 Massive civic rallies gathering hundreds of thousands were held in Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, La Paz and Potosí, bringing together millions of Bolivians united for the cause of defending democracy. Despite 19 https://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2019/10/23/evo-ratifica-que-gano-las-elecciones-denu ncia-golpe-de-estado-235265.html https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-50152905 20 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHoHCrZXy4Y 21 https://lta.reuters.com/articulo/elecciones-bolivia-idLTAKBN1X50FQ-OUSLT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmbI5ReHa2M 22 https://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2019/11/8/comunarios-cierran-valvulas-de-una-represa-de-agua-en -cochabamba-236764.html http://eju.tv/2019 / 11 / blockers-in-senkata-tried-to-kidnap-an-ambulance-trying-to-help-injured /? Fbclid = IwAR1Yd0177IpMN4YfkQC1oiJ4Eyfpr2Ks0O1-R2DIEF1F2eAIxufXpSWde-A 23 https://www.lostiempos.com/actualidad/pais/20191022/waldo-albarracin-se-recupera-agresion-paz https://elpotosi.net/nacional/20191101_la-mujer-senalada-como-autora-intelectual-de -the-deaths-in-montero-is-deputy-elected-by-the-mas.html https://urgente.bo/noticia/limbert-guzm%C3%A1n-el-joven-que-so%C3% B1aba-with-being-civil-engineer 24 https://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2019/11/8/senador-del-mas-confirma-pagos-236755.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg_64SgJaKA 25 http://www.anp-bolivia.com/?fbclid=IwAR2g00dZw0xU1r2zVcVo1ud8AE7hJ-oogZtaYAwZ3yxtin5vt9T00G7bYxI 26 https://noticiasporelmundo.com/cabildo-nacional-da-a-evo-morales-48-horas-para-renuncia the opposition of MAS violent mobs that took the entry points of La Paz, Camacho and Pumari took a symbolic resignation letter to Evo Morales demanding him to sign it.. To this request joined other groups formerly supporters of MAS such as miners, coca growers and indigenous people from several provinces. For example, the Qhara Qhara Nation that in addition to asking for the resignation of Evo Morales also demanded that he stop sending indigenous people as cannon fodder to support his interests and that he stop sowing hatred between the countryside and the city, “[...] que deje de enviar indígenas como carne de cañón para respaldar sus intereses y que deje de sembrar odio entre el campo y la ciudad”.27 During this period of citizen insecurity, the National Police played a role mainly aimed at containing violence with a slight bias towards the Government. Some regional commanders refused to repress their people.28 Finally, on November 8, twenty policemen decided to support the protests against fraud and mutinied, receiving recognition from the population and leading the way for the first police units to rebel.29 The rest of the National Police gradually joined the mutiny in the following hours. Snipers and groups mobilized by the government continued with acts of extreme violence and attacked caravans of buses with miners and university students on their way to La Paz. Four miners were shot and women were molested.30 On the morning of November 10, although Evo Morales tried to prevent it, according to his own statements,31 the OAS published the preliminary report of its audit that confirmed important irregularities in the electoral process and recommended the appointment of a new electoral tribunal to call new elections. Only then, Morales “candidly announced” new elections, but when he was asked if he would run again he dismissed the question. His answer or lack thereof of turned out being unacceptable at this point, for the people whose trust he had already lost. In light of all this, the biggest workers union - Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), until then an iron ally of the then ruling party, also called for the resignation of Evo Morales.32 Facing a country on the brink of anarchy and the dilemma between supporting the citizen cause and raising arms against its people, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, General Williams 27 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBRWiD3IIe4 https://www.panamericana.bo/articulo/politica/cocaleros-yungas-llegan-paz-suman-medidas-presion-defensa-democracia/20191029 133109001531.html http://m.eldia.com.bo/articulo.php?articulo=Naci%C3%B3n-Qhara-Qhara-a-Evo:--Deja-de-enviar-ind%C3%ADgenas-como-carne- de-ca% C3% B1% C3% B3n-for-your-interests- & id = 1 & article_id = 290830 28 http://boliviaprensa.com/index.php/politica/item/11057-destituyen-al-comandante-de-la-polic%C3%ADa-de-potos%C3%AD- by-command-order- general 29 ttps: //www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/09/bolivian-police-mutiny-in-opposition-to-evo-morales? fbclid = IwAR2Ei69Mx1 _9zKCFEeNh_tsd2VW1q53mkAs7InqkJRwcD6c62yzG8pYeFO 30 https://www.eldiario.es/politica/disparos-caravana-Evo-Morales-Bolivia_0_962054159.html https://www.noticiasfides.com/nacional/seguridad/emboscada-y-ataque-criminal-a-mineros-potosinos -sup-two-wounded-bullet-402309 31 http://www.oas.org/documents/spa/press/Informe-Auditoria-Bolivia-2019.pdf https://www.france24.com/es/20191110-oea-recomienda-repetir-elecciones-bolivia 32 https://mundo.sputniknews.com/politica/201911101089265577-evo-morales-pierde-aliado-clave-central-obrera-boliviana- asks-your-resignation / https://www.notimerica.com/politica/noticia-bolivia-sindicato-boliviano-cob-afin-evo-morales-pide-renuncia- president-20191110194144.html Kaliman, suggested Evo Morales resign in order to pacify the country,33 adhering to Bolivian Military law - article 20 - which states “Analizar las situaciones conflictivas internas y externas, para sugerir ante quien corresponda las soluciones apropiadas” [analyze internal and external conflictual situations, to suggest appropriate solutions to whom may concern].34 Shortly thereafter, Evo Morales, Álvaro García Linera and other MAS representatives including the President of the Senate, Adriana Salvatierra, and the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Victor Borda, resigned their positions leaving the state headless, an unprecedented situation. After Morales' resignation and the police mutiny, MAS groups violently attacked the cities of El Alto, La Paz and Cochabamba. Rural groups that mobilized to these cities helped city residents to defend themselves. Among the acts of violence, public transport buses and other facilities of the city of La Paz were burnt. The cost of these damages exceeds 91 million bolivianos (13 million US dollars).35 There were also attacks on private property, including commercial venues, factories, and homes. The residence of Waldo Albarracín, the rector of La Paz’s main public university (UMSA - Universidad Mayor de San Andrés) and president of the National Committee for the Defense of Democracy,36 was burnt. The residences of the representative of the Unified Confederation of Rural Workers of Bolivia (CSUTCB - Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia ), Nelson Condori, 37 as well as the one of journalist Casimira Lema, suffered the same fate in the hands of mobs linked to MAS.38 Several media organizations were affected during this period of power vacuum and were forced to suspend activities in order to protect the safety of their journalists.39 On November 11, Evo Morales, alluding to the fact that his life was in danger, took political asylum in Mexico. Given the resignation and subsequent absence of the president, vice-president, and the heads of both Chambers of Congress, the second vice-president of the Chamber of Senators, Jeanine Añez, assumed the Presidency of Bolivia on November 12 according to constitutional succession. From Mexico, Evo Morales made a series of statements regarding the political situation in Bolivia, in breach of 1939’s Montevideo Treaty on “Asylum and Political Refuge (article 5)”.40 There is evidence that he continues to incite violence from his exile, through his most radical bases, and he is currently charged by the Bolivian Prosecutor's Office with sedition and terrorism. 33 https://youtu.be/0SA7g47-mVI 34 https://www.lexivox.org/norms/BO-L-1405.html 35 https://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2019/11/15/los-ataques-la-ciudad-maravilla-dejan-perdidas-que-superan-los-bs-91- million-237453.html 36 https://twitter.com/w_albarracin/status/1193728915489087488?lang=en http://www.redbolivision.tv.bo/actualidad/saquean-y-queman-casa-de-waldo-albarracin-88192 37 https://elchacoinforma.com/queman-la-casa-de-condori-el-poncho-rojo-que-reprocho-a-morales-por-el-fraude-electoral/ 38 https://www.noticiasfides.com/nacional/politica/una-turba-quema-la-casa-de-la-periodista-lema-y-pagina-siete-suspende-su- edicion-impresa-402327 39 https://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/333231-canal-tv-universitario-amenazas-evo-morales?fbclid=IwAR0zTFKCutWT3fsUP7cR Y0DRbzXO_hT893g-craprOhPeTPjsJFsbJT28LA 40 https://www.acnur.org/fileadmin/Documentos/BDL/2002/0608.pdf?file=fileadmin/Documentos/BDL/2002/0608 Conclusion Facing the threat of a dictatorship disguised as a democracy seeking to perpetuate its power through electoral fraud, the Bolivian people united. The fear of sharing the fate of other countries subjected to totalitarian regimes, such as Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela, galvanized members of all sectors of society around a cause without regional, class, or ethnic distinction. It was a citizen protest, not a coup. The constitutional succession was respected in light of the resignations and absence of the former authorities.41 Some argue an intervention by the Armed Forces to support the coup narrative. In fact, the Armed Forces refused to intervene during the twenty-one-day civic protest. Neither the Police nor the Armed Forces barged in, threatened the safety of any politician, or seized power. The National Police explained their act of mutiny stating: “fiel a su compromiso con el pueblo boliviano[...]la Policía boliviana no delibera ni participa en política partidaria, la Policía es del pueblo y para el pueblo, la Policía se adhiere a los pedidos de nuestra población quien expresa de manera democrática su pedido de renuncia del señor presidente Evo Morales Ayma. Al Gobierno entrante se le advierte que la institución verde olivo fue, es y será la vanguardia de la población en general [...]” [faithful to its commitment to the Bolivian people [...] the Bolivian Police does not deliberate nor participate in partisan politics. The Police is of the people and for the people; the Police adheres to the request of our fellow citizens who are democratically expressing their request for the resignation of President Evo Morales Ayma. We would like to warn the upcoming Government that our “olive-green” (i.e. Bolivia National Police’s colours) institution was, is, and will be the vanguard of the people [...]].42 The Armed Forces found themselves at a crossroads. Faced with the mutiny of the Bolivian police and the growing violence in the pro-MAS demonstrations, and pressured by the Executive Power to intervene against peaceful demonstrators, the Military decided to issue a communiqué where they took the side of the people. 41 https://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2019/11/10/mesa-no-le-regalemos-evo-la-excusa-de-que- fue-derrocado-por-un-golpe-de-estado-237029.html l 42 https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10162942263625647&id=504845646&sfnsn=scwspmo&d=n&vh=i This citizen protest resulted in something extraordinary that seemed impossible for a nation like Bolivia that had always been fragmented and polarized: unity in diversity; a sense of unity that transcends internal borders. Bolivians finally acknowledge each other simply as Bolivians without any regard to origin, class, creed, occupation, or any other label that separates us. All united by our right to democracy. We hope that this letter will lead to a better understanding of the perspective of the Bolivians who fought together for transparent elections and that a more objective reality is reflected in the international press, as we believe in the right of the public to an accurate account of the facts. Sincerely, Bolivians in Montreal - United for Peace and Democracy, members of the International Network of Bolivians Abroad (RIBE) N.B.: Since we tried to provide a wide variety of sources that support the information presented, some references are available only in Spanish. Please do not hesitate to request assistance in translation if deemed necessary.