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Analysis

MIT study refutes OAS claim of Bolivia election fraud

The U.S. ruling political establishment, its puppets in the Organization of American States and the corporate media, all have blood in their hands in Bolivia.

Their now debunked false allegations of fraud and irregularities of the 2019 Bolivian presidential election served as a pretext to support the coup of democratically elected socialist president Evo Morales, replacing him with a brutal right-wing government responsible for widespread terror and massacres of Indigenous people in Bolivia.

What many around the world already knew and suspected to be true has now been confirmed by a study from two researchers at the reputable Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Researchers John Curiel and Jack R. Williams of MIT’s Election Data and Science Lab concluded in their study published in the Washington Post that there was no fraud in the 2019 Bolivian presidential elections.

The study focused on the allegations made by the OAS in an audit which claimed that the spike in voting trends in favor of President Morales, following a 24-hour pause in the live count of votes, was “statistically unlikely” and evidence that Bolivian officials engaged in fraud.

Morales, who needed at least a 10 percent margin lead from the next candidate and more than 40 percent of the vote to avoid a second runoff election, met this threshold and justly won the election after the remaining votes were counted and reported. Bolivian officials explained the delay was due to the fact that the votes were coming from the remote and hard to get to mountainous regions of the country, populated mostly by Bolivia’s Indigenous people, who are the biggest supporters of Evo Morales and his MAS (Movement towards Socialism) party.

The researchers refuted the OAS claims of fraud and determined that Morales “very likely” obtained the 10 percentage points he needed to win the election and avoid a runoff, they stated.

“There is not any statistical evidence of fraud that we can find — the trends in the preliminary count, the lack of any big jump in support for Morales after the halt, and the size of Morales’ margin all appear legitimate. All in all, the OAS’ statistical analysis and conclusions would appear deeply flawed.”

The findings of this study are important because the OAS’s false report acted as a catalyst. It paved the way for the right-wing coup of Jeanine Anez which forced Morales to resign after pressure from the army and the police, following weeks of widespread violent protest from right-wing mobs and threats against Morales, his family and supporters.

Morales was forced to flee to Mexico, and charged with sedition and terrorism by the coup government.

In response, the OAS said it firmly stood by its finding and labelled the MIT study “unscientific.” This was after MIT researchers contacted the OAS for a response regarding the findings of the study, but none was given.

More than three months have passed since the coup. The country’s masses of workers, poor, and Indigenous, have been the victims of violence and instability as the de-facto government has wasted no time in rolling back the historic social gains of the MAS administration.

To highlight some of the achievements of the MAS government, under Evo, GDP grew by 400 percent and Bolivia went from having a rate of economic development of 2.8 percent before he was elected in 2008 to 5% in 2019.

Illiteracy was reduced from 22.7% to 2.5%, minimum wage was increased by 1000%, and Infant mortality was cut in half since taking office.
The goal of the coup was to restore the absolute authority of the Bolivian elites who rule as clients of the United States. They despise the country’s Indigenous majority, they want to eviscerate the rights of the working class, and reverse the historic gains of the Evo administration.

Except for a few notable voices, the entire Washington political establishment and the mainstream corporate media rushed to accept the allegations by the OAS of fraud as a fact and legitimized the coup as a “popular” uprising against fraudulent elections.

The shocking but not surprising findings of this study make clear the role that the OAS played as nothing more than a watchdog for U.S. imperialism in the region and partners in crime of the Latin American ruling elite. While the coup plotters and their sponsors in Washington rest assured, knowing these revelations alone are not going to bring back Evo who is now in exile in Argentina, it is important for progressives throughout the world to fight back against the repeated false narratives and attacks by these forces to delegitimize progressive movements and governments throughout the world.

The U.S. ruling political establishment has no moral authority where to stand to challenge and allege fraud on any international election. It would be hypocritical for the U.S. to do so, not only because of the lies and false accusations revealed by this study, but also because major fraud and irregularities plague its own electoral system.

Just last month, millions of people in the U.S. and around the world witnessed the first major contest in the election of the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, the Iowa Caucus.

The Iowa Caucus was a complete debacle that challenged the legitimacy of the Democratic National Committee, the body responsible for the Democratic presidential primary elections and caucuses.

A series of irregularities and delays raised suspicions for many of foul play and fraud. The results partially released days later after the vote had taken place, DNC chair Tom Perez calling for a vote recount via twitter three days later only when it was clear that Bernie Sanders had slightly won the Caucus, and the revelations that the newly developed app that caused the delay was designed by Shadow, Inc., a five-month old company operated by people with close ties to the Hillary Clinton campaign and that of Pete Butigieg.

Now while many voters, candidates, and even a few mainstream media outlets were very skeptical of the results of the Iowa Caucus, the Iowa Caucuses disaster, was not given the same treatment the 2019 Bolivian presidential elections received.

It took less than 24 hours for the final results in Bolivia to be updated because the votes had to be collected from these remote mountainous regions with limited road access and transportation. In the other hand, the final results for the Iowa caucus took three days to be released, with no logical explanation as to what went wrong, looming investigations into the app used for the reporting, and amidst a suspicious electorate alleging fraud and foul play in the process. Yet the events in Iowa did not receive the same level of scrutiny as that in Bolivia.

The aftermath of Iowa, unlike the case in Bolivia, did not result in the interference of international bodies like the OAS calling for an audit of the electoral process. No countries made statements casting doubt on the outcome and calling for the protection of “democracy,” no body of international observers descended into Iowa to ensure voter’s rights were protected. Worst yet, no Democratic candidate was forced to withdraw from the race nor forced out of the country or charged with any crimes.

In light of the events in Iowa and further reports of irregularities and massive widespread voter suppression in the ensuing Democratic primaries and caucuses, perhaps the DNC should consider hosting Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE) as observers to ensure fair and free elections, since they have been given the approval of various international bodies and regarded even by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter as the “best in the world.”

Back in Bolivia, new elections will be held in May. The Anez coup government has pulled all the stops to prevent an impending MAS victory. She has tried to impede the entry of dozens of MAS members into the country by threatening them with arrest, detaining several of them, not to mention disqualifying a possible Morales candidacy.

Despite these obvious violations of the basic democratic principles of failing to guarantee a free and fair election, the OAS, the “protectors” of democracy in the region have turned a blind eye in Bolivia.

The revelations of the study cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the OAS as they are set to monitor the Bolivian elections in May.
Williams, one of researchers, expressed his concerns about the neutrality of the organization, writing, “The OAS’s report has basic methodological and statistical errors that make it difficult to see the OAS as an impartial election observer.” They also criticized the OAS for labeling the 2019 elections as fraud so quickly, only a day after the elections.

In response to the study, Evo Morales responded via Twitter while in exile in Argentina, saying the OAS owed Bolivia and the world an explanation.

In spite of Anez’s undemocratic measures for the upcoming election, it appears her attempts to sabotage the elections have been unsuccessful since the latest polls show Luis Arce, the MAS candidate for president, leading the polls by an almost 15 point margin from the next competitor, right-wing candidate Carlos Mesa. Anez is polling third.

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