“They said that the beasts and savages would never return to Bolivia, as they killed our brothers, persecuted and detained us and burned our houses and radio stations. But we have returned, peacefully, to recover our democratic patria [homeland] armed only with the conscience of the people.”
So proclaimed former Bolivian leader Evo Morales on the day his comrade Luis Arce was sworn in as the country’s president, having won a landslide election victory in October. Morales himself returned to Bolivia on Monday – nearly one year after he was forced to flee the country in the face of a far-right coup d’état backed by the Trump administration.
Gathered in La Paz for Arce’s inauguration, left-wing leaders from eleven Latin American and European countries used the historic occasion to issue a declaration warning of the growing threat internationally of extreme-right violence and the harnessing of the pandemic for anti-democratic ends. Tribune publishes here a translation of the La Paz Declaration.
– Eoghan Gilmartin
La Paz Declaration – In Defence of Democracy
The Covid-19 pandemic currently striking humanity has exposed major weaknesses in our existing forms of social organisation.
These include the fragility of our health systems and public services, the erosion of social protections as a result of years of neoliberalism; the social, economic and ecological unsustainability of the dominant modes of extraction, which are designed for the exclusive benefit of business; as well as the intensely worrying dangers that democratic systems face across the world.
Today, democracy is under threat – and one need simply analyse the political events of recent months in Bolivia, the host country of this declaration, to verify that the main threat to democracy and social peace in the twenty-first century is the threat of extreme-right coup d’états.
The extreme-right is gaining ground globally as it spreads lies and systematically smears its adversaries for political ends. In appealing for persecutions and political violence in different countries, it is promoting instability and anti-democratic ways of accessing power.
Such anti-democratic activity is empowered where major media conglomerates are placed in the service of such forces – using their immense influence to manipulate and manage our democracies in defence of their political and economic interests.
Gathered in La Paz on the occasion of the inauguration of Luis Arce as president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, a country that has become an international reference because of its citizens’ response to a coup, the signatories of this declaration – which includes government leaders, former presidents and progressive leaders from our respective countries in Latin America and Europe – affirm our historical commitment to work together in the defence of democracy, peace, human rights and social justice in the face of the threat posed by extreme-right actions and coup-plotting.
La Paz, November 2020
Bolivia: Evo Morales (former president) and Luis Arce (president-elect)
Argentina: Alberto Fernández (current president)
Spain: José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (former president) and Pablo Iglesias (current vice-president)
Brazil: Dilma Rousseff (former president)
Ecuador: Rafael Correa (former president) and Andrés Arauz (presidential candidate)
Greece: Alexis Tsipras (former president)
Chile: Daniel Jadue (candidate for the presidency)
Colombia: Gustavo Petro (candidate for the presidency)
Peru: Verónica Mendoza (candidate for the presidency)
France: Jean-Luc Mélenchon (leader of La France Insoumise)
Portugal: Catarina Martins (leader of Bloco de Esquerda)