With US President Joe Biden and more than 100 other world leaders watching on, Alberto Fernández on Friday criticised the 2019 “coup” that removed Bolivian leader Evo Morales from government and slammed those in the international community who supported the indigenous leader’s exit from office.
Participating in Biden’s high-profile videoconference summit on democracy, timed to coincide with International Human Rights Day, Argentina’s leader used his speech at the event to address Latin America’s recent political history and criticise, among others, the Organisation of American States for “endorsing the coup” that led to Jeanine Áñez Chávez taking charge as interim president.
The criticism also extends implicitly to the United States government, which backed Áñez’s claim to power under former US president Donald Trump.
"We have lived through a difficult time [of late]. I am talking about Bolivia, our dear sister republic that suffered a coup endorsed by a large part of the international community and by the OAS" in 2019, said Fernández, who celebrated that the nation has since been “able to recover democracy” and remove Áñez’s “illegitimate” government.
“I would like to highlight this, the reality of Bolivia on this day when democracy is calling us together, because perhaps Bolivia today is a good example of the importance of democracy," he said.
Notably, the Bolivian government was not invited to participate in the summit by the White House. A number of other nations were also shunned including Russia, China and, from Latin America, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Bolivia has experienced a period of strong social upheaval after the October 2019 elections, in which then-president Evo Morales declared himself the winner amid accusations of fraud.
Morales, who eventually resigned after losing the support of the ArmedForces, first took refuge first in Mexico and then in Argentina.
The indigenous leader, who ruled Bolivia from January 2006 to November 2019, had hoped to remain in power until 2025.
Addressing the wider region, the Peronist leader said Latin America is going through "a unique process, in which many countries on the continent are changing their governments and democratic processes are being consolidated."
He also warned that extremist parties and figures could “weaken” the strength of institutions, a threat which he said “must be confronted with all seriousness” because “democracy is the best mechanism that exists for the people to be governed by those who they believe to be their best representatives.”
The Frente de Todos leader declared that democracy could not be “imposed” or “exported” and that dialogue “in an environment of coexistence” was the only way forward, stressing the importance of non-interventionism in national processes.
In his speech, which was pre-recorded, Fernández also thanked Biden for inviting him to participate in the summit and highlighted Argentina’s recent appointment to chair the United Nations Human Rights Council.