The Andes
castillo

Peru: populist president prevails amid polarization

Proclaiming that “change is coming,” Pedro Castillo, a left-populist former school teacher, was sworn in as Peru’s new president on the bicentennial of the country’s independence. He pledged to redraft the constitution, raise taxes on mines, and form a “Binational Cabinet” with neighboring left-led Bolivia. But Castillo assumes office amid a profound political crisis and growing polarization—as well as the highest COVID-19 death rate in the world. His far-right opponent Keiko Fujimori, who challenged his victory with baseless claims of voter-fraud, has a formidable bloc in Congress and promises to obstruct his agenda. (Photo: Diario Uno)

Planet Watch
ecocide

Legal experts present definition of ecocide to ICC

After six months of deliberation, a panel of 12 independent legal experts from across the globe unveiled a working definition of “ecocide” that they hope will be adopted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The panel was organized by the Stop Ecocide Foundation, an NGO whose stated focus is facilitating the adoption of ecocide by the ICC in order to “protect future life on Earth.” The panel recommends adding section “(e) the crime of Ecocide” to Article 5(1) of the Rome Statute, with the following definition: “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment.” (Photo: Stefan Müller via Wikimedia Commons)

The Andes
sillazo

Bolivia: Evo Morales warns of new coup

Former Bolivian president Evo Morales, back in his country from exile in Argentina after October’s elections returned his Movement to Socialism (MAS) to power, warned of the ongoing danger of a new coup d’etat and asked his followers to debate how to best defend new President Luis Arce and the “process of change.” The comments came at a meeting of the MAS in Chapare region, Morales’ traditional heartland of support. Recalling his own ouster in November 2019, Morales said: “The issue of the coup is still compelling; it is an ideological, programmatic struggle; it is a cultural, social, communal and, of course, an electoral struggle.” Invoking divided loyalties in the military, he added: “I am also convinced that in the Armed Forces there are not only those who respect and admire the MAS, but there are also anti-imperialist soldiers.” However, he added that “they are not many,” and others have “submitted to the North American empire.” (Photo: Los Tiempos de Cochabamba via Twitter)

The Amazon
santacruz

Protests break out in Bolivia’s Oriente

In Bolivia’s eastern lowlands, known as Oriente, the regionally powerful right-wing social networks have responded rapidly to the victory of socialist candidate Luis Arce in the presidential elections. Thousands filled the streets of the region’s principal city, Santa Cruz, waving Bolivian flags, honking car horns and chanting “¡Anulación, Anulación, Anulación!”However, the protesters’ accusation of “fraud” was explicitly rejected by Manuel González, head of the OAS mission in Bolivia. He said in a statement: “The people voted freely and the result was clear and overwhelming, which gives great legitimacy to the incoming government, the Bolivian institutions, and the electoral process.” (Photo: Nuevo Sur Bolivia)

The Andes
Luis Arce

Bolivia: back to ‘socialism,’ or meet the new boss?

Luis Arce, candidate of the party of ousted president Evo Morales, has seemingly swept to victory in Bolivia’s presidential elections. While the official count is technically still pending, results place him with more than 50% of the vote—well above the second-place center-right contender Carlos Mesa and with far more than the required majority to avoid a runoff. This represents a significant recoup of losses for the Movement Toward Socialism-Political Instrument for the Peoples’ Sovereignty (MAS-IPSP), which Morales nominally still leads from exile in Argentina. As news of the victory broke, supporters gathered outside Arce’s campaign office to chant “The pollera will be respected!”—a reference to the traditional skirt that has become a symbol of the MAS-IPSP indigenous base. But when Arce assumes the presidency, he will be taking over a country debilitated by deep recession. “We will have to have austerity measures. There’s no other option if we don’t have enough income to cover our current expenditures,” Arce admitted to reporters. (Image via Carwil without Borders)

The Andes
Oruro

Bolivia: street confrontations in prelude to elections

Tensions are escalating in Bolivia ahead of the first post-coup elections, which after numerous postponements are now slated for this month. In one incident, a youth meeting of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) in the Manufacturing Complex of the working-class city of El Alto was attacked with tear-gas bombs by unknown assailants, causing an exodus from the cavernous space. Days earlier, MAS supporters in the mining hub of Oruro hurled stones at a vehicle caravan of the right-wing Creemos (We Believe) coalition, forcing it to retreat from their barrio, known as the Mining Helmet for the strength of organized labor there. The protesters shouted “Out, out, out! Oruro must be respected!” (Photo: Bolivia Prensa)

The Andes
Mauricio Jara

Rights group sees ‘political persecution’ in Bolivia

Human Rights Watch released a report asserting that Bolivia’s interim government, led by President Jeanine Añez, uses the judiciary to attack former President Evo Morales, his supporters, and former members of his administration. The report claims Añez’s government “has publicly pressured prosecutors and judges to act to further its interests, leading to criminal investigations of more than 100 people linked to Morales government and Morales supporters for sedition and/or terrorism.” The report states that these investigations “appear to be politically motivated.” Among those charged is Morales himself, who was accused of terrorism after he fled the country last November. (Photo: Guider Arancibia via HRW)

The Andes
Mamani

US court rules against Bolivian ex-prez in rights case

The US Court of Appeals of the Eleventh Circuit in Miami vacated a lower court judgment that had exonerated former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and his defense minister Carlos Sánchez Berzaín of responsibility for the killing of protesters during the 2003 “Gas War.” The pair fled to exile in the United States after repression failed to put down the protests. In 2018, surviving relatives of eight killed in the repression brought suit against the two exiled leaders in a US district court under the Torture Victims Protection Act. The case, Mamani et. al v. Sánchez de Lozada, marked the first time a former head of state was brought to trial for human rights violations in a US court. The jury found the two liable under the TVPA and awarded plaintiffs $10 million in damages. But in an unusual move, Judge James I. Cohn set aside the jury verdict and entered its own judgment, holding the defendants not liable based on insufficient evidence. The Eleventh Circuit has now reversed Cohn’s ruling, and remanded the case to the district court. The lower court is instructed to weigh whether the jury verdict should be reinstated or if a new trial should be held. (Photo of plaintiffs Eloy and Etelvina Mamani, center, and legal team via Harvard Law Today)

The Andes
Bolivia protest

Mass protests paralyze Bolivia

Protesters have launched blockades across main roads through Bolivia over the past days, effectively cutting of La Paz and other cities, to oppose the government’s postponement of new presidential elections. The blockades have raised fears of food and gasoline shortages, with throngs of La Paz residents lining up outside markets and petrol stations. Chancellor Karen Longaric portrayed the protests as being masterminded from exile by ousted president Evo Morales, saying “Ex-president Morales and groups aligned with the Movement Toward Socialism have initiated violent and inhuman acts.” (Photo: Página Siete)

The Andes
COB cabildo

Bolivia: general strike to protest postponed elections

A thousands-strong march through the Bolivian highland city of El Alto was followed by a cabildo, or mass meeting, in which unions and popular organizations agreed to immediately begin an “indefinite” general strike, demanding that new elections be held on schedule. The country’s first elections since the ouster of president Evo Morales last year were slated for Sept. 6, but the government of interim president Jeanine Añez has postponed them to Oct. 18, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The cabildo was called by the Bolivian Workers Central (COB), the country’s main trade union bloc, and included representation from campesino organizations and El Alto’s powerful alliance of working-class neighborhood organizations. COB leader Juan Carlos Huarachi affirmed: “If we join together as miners, campesinos, the middle class and El Alto, we can be dynamite.” (Photo: ERBOL via Opinión)

The Amazon
TIPNIS

Bolivia: IACHR to hear TIPNIS case

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) formally agreed to hear a complaint filed by 64 indigenous communities in Bolivia’s eastern rainforest, accusing the Bolivian state of violating their territorial rights under the administration of ousted president Evo Morales. The complaint charges that Bolivian authorities undertook to build a highway through the Isiboro-Sécure National Park & Indigenous Territory (TIPNIS) without consulting or obtaining the consent of indigenous inhabitants. It also alleges that the government illegally used force to break up the cross-country “VIII Indigenous March” that was called to protest the road construction in 2011. (Photo via Bolivia Diary)

The Andes
Paradita

Politicians exploit COVID-19 in Peru, Bolivia

Peru’s right-wing opposition leader Keiko Fujimori, who had been jailed while corruption charges are pending against her, was released from pre-trial detention, ostensibly on fears she could be exposed to the coronavirus. Of course there has been no general discharge from Peru’s dangerously overcrowded prisons, and anti-corruption prosecutors are protesting her release as “illegitimate.” Ironically, Fujimori’s release comes just as the Peruvian government issued a decree authorizing mining operations to resume in the country. Bolivia has likewise ordered operations to resume at the country’s mines—while interim president Jeanine Añez, who came to power after Evo Morales was ousted last year, has invoked the pandemic to indefinitely postpone new elections. (Photo: Diaro Uno)