By Claudia Drdul
On Nov. 10 the internet exploded with news reports on Bolivia’s supposedly fraudulent 2019 presidential elections, all with little evidence or context to their claims.
Most reports by major newspapers in the U.S. cite the Organization of American States (OAS) as their source for these accusations, even though the OAS was developed in 1948 to “serve as a bulwark against the spread of communism” as described by the Council on Foreign Relations.
According to the GS/OAS semiannual financial summary report, in the first semester of 2019, the U.S. contributed $25,140,253 to the OAS member state fund. Which is three times as much as the next highest country’s contribution.
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs released an open letter to the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, on May 21, 2016 which read “you direct a level of criticism at Venezuela that is inordinate given that states like Honduras, Mexico and Colombia, that incidentally are firm U.S. allies, come under far less scrutiny for their massive violations of human rights.”
The Council added, “Furthermore, the OAS has made no vigorous objection to the violations of the rights of thousands of undocumented persons, including children fleeing the violence in Central America, who have been deported from the United States without adequate legal representation.”
In article 1 of the OAS Charter, it states that the organization will serve “defend their (member countries) sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.” The claim that this organization is pro-sovereignty and independence of other countries is laughable at best.
Comparing the OAS Preliminary reports on the U.S. 2016 presidential election to the preliminary reports from Bolivia’s 2019 elections are like comparing apples to oranges.
First off, the OAS performed a full audit on the Oct. 20 Bolivian elections, something it had not done for Brazil’s highly contested 2018 presidential elections or the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
The Preliminary Electoral Observation Missions (EOM) report of the 2016 U.S. election noted that observations were only performed in 12 states as some state laws do not allow international observers. Isn’t the allowance of international observers a healthy measure of transparency and non-partisanship within an election process?The EOM report found that there were “sporadic technical malfunctions with electoral equipment such as scanners, or as in the case of Colorado, with the Statewide Colorado Registration and Election (SCORE) system, which collapsed for about 20 minutes.”
The main proponent of the Bolivian election fraud argument was the “interruption” of election data transfer which occurred at 7:40 p.m., however, when Colorado’s SCORE system collapsed, no such claim of fraud was proposed by the OAS. This shows a clear bias in OAS audits.
The U.S. and organizations funded by the U.S. should not view themselves as the policer of the world and should absolutely not base analyses of other countries’ political systems off of their own processes which lack demoratic values.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), released a statistical analysis report on Nov. 8 stating that they found “no evidence that irregularities or fraud affected the official result which gave President Evo Morales a first-round victory.” CEPR receives 80% of its funding from organizational grants, and the rest of the funds are from individual donors, making it far less likely to be swayed by partisan interests.
The OAS regurgitates U.S. State Department talking points and has aligned itself with the interests of a country which seeks to intervene in the sovereignty of Latin American nations. When there is ample evidence which concludes no election fraud in Bolivia, and the evidence that concludes there is, is tainted by partisan politics, the public deserves a full investigation into all elections.