Bolivia: global education union leaders firmly condemn the coup d’état

published 22 November 2019 updated 18 December 2019

Education International’s Executive Board has condemned the situation in Bolivia, stating that it “firmly and unanimously condemns on behalf of its 32 million members the coup d'état that took place last 11 November”.

Gathered at the 55thEducation International (EI) Executive Board meeting held from 18-21 November in Brussels, Belgium, leaders of the education trade union movement clearly reasserted that theirglobal trade union federation“promotes, defends and fights for democracy”, as stated in the Resolution “Quality Public Education and Trade Unions Are the Cornerstones of Democracy”, unanimously adopted at the 8thEI World Congress held in Bangkok, Thailand, in July 2019.

The Executive Boardadded that “disruptions to the will of the people, as in the case of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, are an assault on the life, development and freedom of peoples and nations. This holds all the more true when such events are prompted by movements that express themselves in a xenophobic and racist manner that not only disrupts the democratic order, but also precludes compliance with legitimately established constitutional processes.”

They also highlight and deeply deplore that authoritarian and totalitarian actions are being increasingly encouraged and promoted around the world, and that they enjoy either the direct approval of governments and international bodies or the ambiguous, complicit silence of governments who choose to ignore the will of the people.

The EI Executive Board therefore calls on its member organisations to speak out and show solidarity with the freedom of peoples, to demand that their own legitimately elected governments speak out in favour of the free exercise of democracy, and to plan and promote actions in defence of democracy, sovereignty and independence.

A regional outcry against this attack against democracy

The Regional Committee of Education InternationalLatin Americahad already denounced and condemned the coup in Bolivia, which forced the resignation of the Constitutional President Evo Morales Ayma and his Vice President Álvaro García Linera.

Latin American education trade unionists stated: “We reject the acts of violence and the racist, fundamentalist and misogynist expressions that have occurred in recent days in Bolivia and advocate respect for the physical integrity of Evo Morales, his supporters, indigenous peoples and leaders of social movements.”

They vehemently denounced the actions of police and military forces, “accomplices of the fundamentalist, racist and extreme right-wing coup sectors”. Law enforcement officials are responsible for forcing the resignation of the legitimate President of Bolivia Evo Morales, they insisted.They called for the prompt restoration of the constitutional order and the cessation of violence, and rejected any type of interference of foreign political or economic interests in Bolivia.

Higher education unions in the EI Latin American region also spoke against the coup and “criminal prosecution unleashed by the sectors that have subverted the constitutional order in Bolivia”.

They expressed their solidarity with the Bolivian people, President Evo Morales Ayma, as well as the leadership and active members of the civil society movement, “victims of the brutal aggression executed by armed gangs serving a racist oligarchy taking revenge against those who dared to challenge their historical privileges to build a democratic state.”

To them, this assault on Bolivian democracy represents an attack on all the peoples of Latin America and “it is part of the reactionary offensive against democratic-popular governments that in this century have tried in various ways to lead towards equality and social justice”.

In Argentina, the Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina and the Federación Nacional de Docentes Universitarios, both affiliated to EI, expressed solidarity with the Bolivian people and support for democracy by marching on 11 November to the Bolivian diplomatic headquarters in Buenos Aires.

“We are facing a new coup d’état, in this case perpetrated through the violent action of armed fascist groups opposing the great advances made in the governments of Evo Morales,” highlighted Hugo Yasky, President of the Regional Committee of Education International Latin America.

He considered it to be “no accident” that the coup happened just a few days before newly elected Argentine President Fernández took office, at the same time that the Chilean people stand up and continue protesting against the increased cost of living, privatisation and inequality prevalent in this country, and when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was released from prison in Brazil.