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False OAS data resulted in U.S.-led coup against Evo Morales in 2019 Bolivia election

Supporters of Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales clash with riot police during a protest against the interim government in La Paz on November 15, 2019. (Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

By Eoin Higgins

More than seven months after claims of fraudulent elections sparked an undemocratic coup that led to the ouster of Bolivian President Evo Morales, the New York Times late Sunday reported on new research showing the U.S.-led Organization of American States used flawed data and analysis to support its widely cited contention the voting was rigged.

“It was clear from the start, but now even the Times is admitting: That what happened in Bolivia was nothing short of a coup by the U.S. and its OAS puppet, deposing one of the most successful democratically elected leaders in modern Latin American history,” tweeted journalist Glenn Greenwald in response to the Times reporting.

As Common Dreams reported in November, U.S. officials cited the OAS report on the election as a justification for backing the coup that deposed Morales, the left-wing Indigenous former president.

Despite reporting from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) casting doubt on those claims within 24 hours of the OAS making them, the Times only covered the problems with the U.S.-dominated organization’s analysis after a study from three independent researchers found the same results.

Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales

The Times reported Monday: “The authors of the new study said they were unable to replicate the O.A.S.’s findings using its likely techniques. They said a sudden change in the trend appeared only when they excluded results from the manually processed, late-reporting polling booths. This suggests that the organization used an incorrect data set to reach its conclusion, the researchers said. The difference is significant: the 1,500 excluded late-reporting booths account for the bulk of the final votes that the O.A.S. statistical analysis claims are suspicious.”

In a statement, CEPR research associate Jake Johnston said that the OAS “continued to repeat its false assertions for many months with little to no pushback or accountability” despite his organization’s finding to the contrary.

“For those paying close attention to the 2019 election, there was never any doubt that the OAS’ claims of fraud were bogus,” said Johnston.

Since the coup, the human rights situation in the Latin American country has gone from bad to worse as the government of far-right interim president Jeanine Áñez has rolled back reforms put in place by Morales, opened the country’s resources to private exploitation, and delayed scheduled elections under the pretext of public health due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The OAS bears responsibility for the significant deterioration of the human rights situation in Bolivia since Morales’ ouster,” said CEPR co-director Mark Weisbrot.

Weisbrot warned that if the OAS and its leadership is “allowed to get away with such politically driven falsification of their electoral observation results again, this threatens not only Bolivian democracy but the democracy of any country where the OAS may be involved in elections in the future.”

Credit: Common Dreams

26 thoughts on “False OAS data resulted in U.S.-led coup against Evo Morales in 2019 Bolivia election

  1. To suggest there is a delay in elections because of a PRETEXT of public health due to the coronavirus outbreak leads us to believe that the author does not know that there is a WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC and that he is living in his own little bubble. Governments all over the world are postponing their elections to KEEP PEOPLE SAFE.

    This entire article is misleading and false. This article is politically driven and the misinformation is so blatant.

    There were many Bolivian voters that voted for Morales in the early years. They then in later years found out that he was a drug kingpin and not as squeaky clean as he portrayed himself. The voters discovered that he was very corrupt and these same voters did not vote for him on this last election.

    They discovered that the drug money was used to help Cuba and Venezuela. With information being more available on the internet they witnessed the devastation Venezuela was going through with their drug leader and did not want that to happen to Bolivia.

    The Bolivians were saying that the coca that Morales allowed the farmers to grow were not the ones good for tea and medicine because the leaves were too hard for that and that these hard leaves were being used for making cocaine.

    The military knew exactly what Morales was up to and that is why they insisted that he step down. It was not the US that created the coup. Morales was forcing the military to ship cocaine even though some in the military didn’t want to. Once the protesting started it was easier for the military, that disagreed with the drug transporting, to go into action and get Morales to step down. The next day Morales people that were managing the election were criminally charged and taken to jail because there was sufficient evidence of voter fraud which proves that the fraud was not bogus.

    Last we heard is that Morales is in Argentina and since Argentina borders Bolivia he is close to his drug crew that were in his drug circle giving him easy access to remain the drug lord.

    Morales shut down La Paz because the young generation there understood clearly what he stood for (running drugs) and did not want that for their country. They clearly demonstrated that with their peaceful street protests. When Morales stepped down the Morales people were not so peaceful. They were very destructive (for example breaking windows in the buses).

    Morales warned them that he would retaliate by shutting down La Paz and that is exactly what the Morales supporters did. The airplanes had to fuel up in Cochabamba because there was no fuel in La Paz. With La Paz shut down (no fuel, no food, no buses, no trucks, etc) there were family members from other cities literally shipping chicken, beef, food to La Paz by the airlines. The lineup at the airport with people shipping the food in white styrofoam was longer that the lineup for people checking their luggage in at the airport.

    Human rights issues falls squarely on Morales shoulders and to suggest otherwise is false. The drug runners need Morales to get back in as the leader because now the shipping of cocaine has slowed down.

    Suggesting that “deposing one of the most successful democratically elected leaders in modern Latin American history” is not even true especially since the the voter website with the quick count stopped being updated for 24 hours, prompting electoral observers to express their concern. When the quick count was finally updated on Monday evening, Mr Morales had a lead of 10.12 percentage points. The change was “drastic and hard to explain”.

    1. If Glenn Greenwald, Mark Weisbrot and the NYT all agree about the facts surrounding the election reports, I’m just a teensy bit more inclined to go with their take on it than Esmeralda’s tiresome mantra of every-Latin-leader-is-a-commie-fascist-pinko-drug-running-kingpin.

        1. Accusations derived from chatter on social media that run counter to three diverse and far more reliable/trusted news sources don’t change reality either.

          And the name-calling? If the shoe fits…

            1. I’m skeptical of everything I read. The NYT is certainly no exception. However, the reference — which you conveniently overlooked — is the comparable reliability of the NYT versus social media chatter.

              Furthermore, the story in question amounts to a mea culpa on the part of the paper — a consideration which should give it a little more credibility.


      1. What the heck does the news in USA or any other country for that matter know about what is happening on the ground in Bolivia. It would be much better to listen to the Bolivians in BOLIVIA rather than the politically motivated opinionators sitting in their grand offices, in some other country, in front of a computer digging up misinformation from the the internet.. The oh so twisted unreliable fake news on the internet

        The ones to listen to are the PEOPLE of Bolivia; the ones on the street, the ones in the buses and public transportation, the ones at the restaurants and cafes, the ones in the stores, the ones that work at the hotels. Their take on whats is happening in their one country is far more reliable.

        1. So I suppose that you have called or personally interviewed a representative sample (a thousand or more randomly surveyed across the country, appropriately balanced demographically) and polled them with objective, unbiased questions? And all of them served official vote tallying functions?

          C’mon Esmeralda. This is your stock response for every country and every situation– listen to the people! Where? On your Facebook page?

          Gimme a break, Esmeralda.

          You can’t possibly have talked to all these thousands of people in Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ukraine, USA, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Syria (and I’m sure there are a few more that I’m omitting — you can fill them in for me) and everywhere else you have claimed to have spoken with a representative sample of the citizens.

          I think I’ll stick with Greenwald (in Brazil), Weisbrot (who has extensive experience in Latin America) and the NYT, thank you very much.

          1. I still stand by…. listen to the people of their own country rather than the internet surfing chair warmers from the countries that are politically motivated US haters.

            For example…Ask anyone of those Venezuelans roaming around South America what is going on in Venezuela.. They will HONESTLY tell you that Venezuela has no medicine or food on the shelves.

            Ride anyone one of the transit routes on the La Paz cable car transit system and chat with the locals; they will tell you exactly their thoughts on Morales and his cocaine empire. Like I said…the people of Bolivia do not want to see another Venezuela like Maduro and his narco terrorism and cocaine trafficking.

            1. I would hardly characterize Greenwald, Weisbrot or the NYT as “internet surfing chair warmers from the countries that are politically motivated US haters.” I can only imagine how you would describe Sy Hersh.

              As for the unanimity of popular opinion you claim exists against Morales, isn’t it “incredible” how a guy so corrupt, narcissistic, sociopathic and focused only on how much wealth and power he could accumulate at the the expense of others could have garnered 47% of the vote and outpolled his closest competitor by 11%, especially since anyone and everyone who rides the La Paz transit system knows all about him and hates him so much?

              But then — now that I think about it — a few years ago in a different OAS member state, a guy with just those very same personality traits managed to win an election with even less of a plurality but this guy — unlike Morales who soundly trounced his closest competitor — this dude actually received 3 million votes *less* than his opponent. “Incredible,” isn’t it?

              Ride any of the Metro routes in DC or walk through Lafayette Park and “chat with the locals; they will tell you exactly their thoughts” on that guy too.

    2. Esmeralda I feel empathy for you and other Ecuadorians who still believe the so called C Virus pandemic and are living lives sequestered from reality. If you study the real statistics on this so called pandemic you will see that is not severe enough compared to other flu seasons to be called a pandemic. Where were the curfews, etc for the Swine or Sars infections which were also severe. Unfortunately, you and many others through out the world have been duped. This pandemic is nothing more than an exercise to see how people would react and see how easily they could be controlled. Time to wake up and smell the roses.

      1. We just saw in Brazil what happens when people (a president, in this case) without knowledge of the numbers and in denial of reality compare COVID to the flu. They simply stop making the numbers public because those figures became too “real” as you put it.

        1. What are the real numbers? Can we get real numbers from Brazil? Why not look at the numbers from the rest of the world. Even the WHO has backed off the so called pandemic.

          1. To tell people that “”the WHO has backed off the so called pandemic”” is ludicrous and FALSE

          2. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Monday the pandemic was “worsening” globally, noting that countries on Sunday reported the biggest-ever one-day total: more than 136,000 cases. Among those, nearly 75% of the cases were from 10 countries in the Americas and South Asia.

        2. and Castiglia says he is a doctor … hope he ‘was’ a doctor and no longer sees patients with his words of wisdom (?)

          1. Doctor of WHAT?
            A real doctor that sees patients suffering with breathing, suffering from the Covid-19 complications and / or dying would NOT be suggesting “Is not severe enough compared to other flu seasons to be called a pandemic” when IN FACT the W.H.O. is calling it a pandemic and there is plenty of evidence from other countries that the hospitals and mortuaries are overburdened .

            It does not sound like this DOCTOR swore the Hippocratic Oath that requires new physicians to swear, by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards.

            1. he used to put his name with MD after … especially when he made medical claims. ‘ken’ says he found the castiglia name on some list of doctors.

  2. For a more balanced view, it helps to read the entire NYT article at
    As for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, I remember a very tendentious (and flawed) article by Mr Weisbrot published by CHL a few months ago about Ecuador´s debt situation. Mr Greenwald´s (indeed a very respected journalist) conclusion is surprising because nothing in the NYT article really supports his interpretation.
    What the article correctly states is that Morales should never have run in the first place given the fraudulent actions he took to put himself on the ballot.

    1. With exception duly (and respectfully) noted to your assessment of Greenwald’s conclusion vis-à-vis the NYT retraction, all I will say is that — as is frequently the case — different people see the same issue in different light.

      My biggest objection to the way this has unfolded is that I am a firm believer in anti-intervention on the part of the United States. We have a long, storied and sordid history of horrific subterfuge in the sovereign affairs of other countries, particularly in Latin America. This imbroglio has all the hallmarks of the usual counterproductive meddling by Uncle Sam.

      Mr. Morales is no saint. And without any doubt, neither is Mrs. Áñez.

      Michael McFaul probably summarized the issue best with his concluding remark in this tweet:

      I called Morales departure excellent, in line with OAS criticism of election. But then deleted the tweet after not wanting to come to judgement about the causes of his departure. Getting out of this Bolivia debate now; there’s no space for rational discourse in it.

      1. Just curious? Does HALLMARK also means that there is an ASSUMPTION or a GUESS of “counterproductive meddling by Uncle Sam.“. Coming from the anti US establishment that spends hours and hours turning every stone possible to dig up dirt, I would venture to rationally GUESS that this statement is extremely biased and frankly made up (invented in order to deceive)

        1. Whenever there is major political turmoil or societal upheaval that threatens any leader of a foreign government not already in the US orbit, yes, you’d have to be a fool *not* to assume Uncle Sam’s fingerprints will be easily found close by.

          And no, Esmeralda, “digging up” such truth doesn’t require any effort at all. What *does* require herculean effort is constantly re-inventing ways to distort the truth or to just totally ignore it.

          You write that you “would venture to rationally GUESS that this statement is extremely biased and frankly made up (invented in order to deceive).

          I’ve got a challenge for you, Esmeralda. Read Stephen Kinzer’s book Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq [at ], or

          watch this video of his presentation of the book on C-SPAN’s BookTV (about 83 minutes) at [ ], or

          for a shorter version (about 39 minutes), watch his Chicago Book Review presentation at []

          I challenge you to do that and then to repeat your insulting remark accusing me of bias, lying, and asserting that I must devote hours and hours trying to dig up dirt.

          It’s not difficult at all to see dirt when you finally realize that the US is literally buried under a mountain of it. The hard part is finding a way to dig out from under it all.

          1. Only ANTI US people would be the ones “fool” enough to blame and believe EVERY problem in the world on the U.S.

            1. Pretty lame, Esmeralda, even for your standards. Can you cite *one* instance in which I have *ever* suggested that the US is to blame for every problem in the world?

              Of course you can’t and you know for a fact that I do not believe that.

              Only a “fool” (in your words) would make such an obviously erroneous and intentionally hyperbolic generalization.

              I’ll be happy to lend Kinzer’s book to you any time, Esmeralda.

              Prefer videos, audios, or transcripts of same? Try these:

              Democracy Now interview, Part One:

              Democracy Now interview, Part Two:

              I’ll be waiting patiently for your review and refutation of Kinzer’s scholarly and extensively documented work.

              Do I hear crickets?

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