Last month, Morales won in the first round of the presidential election. However, the opposition, led by Carlos Mesa, accused him of electoral fraud and refused to recognise the vote results. The Organisation of American States (OAS) then published a preliminary report that found irregularities in the 20 October voting.
Amid everything, people were taking to the streets to protest Morales' victory and demand his resignation. They were soon joined by the armed forces and police. This all culminated in Morales stepping down on Sunday and leaving for Mexico earlier on Tuesday after being granted political asylum.
"This was a military coup, nothing less. The difference from other Latin American coups, for example, of September 1973 against [then-Chilean President] Salvador Allende, is that the army 'advised' Morales to resign, and Morales saw the writing on the wall. As a true patriot, Morales did not want to see bloodshed in his country and correctly decided that defending the constitution against a mutiny by the army would cost many lives and may lead to civil war. It was wise of him to go into exile, from where he can continue defending the values and the policies that got him elected three times", de Zayas stated.
Commenting on the OAS' report, the former UN official said that such irregularities were not unprecedented for the region and beyond, adding that even if a full recount confirmed the details in the report, the best option would be a new election.
"There may indeed have been irregularities in the Bolivian vote, and a full recount probably would have confirmed that Evo Morales did indeed have a ten percent margin over Mesa. If not, the solution would have been to hold a new election, as Morales agreed to do", the official said.
At the same time, de Zayas pointed out that although similar discrepancies had been observed by the OAS during the election that placed Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez in power for his second term in 2018, Washington supported his administration, a development that was lacking when it came to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Morales.
"US Presidents — not the American people — have been practising imperialism and neo-colonialism in Latin America for two centuries now. As [former US State Secretary] Rex Tillerson, [incumbent State Secretary] Mike Pompeo, [former National Security Adviser] John Bolton and others have candidly admitted, Latin America is good for the US business, and, surely, the US oil and gas industry, the mining industry and others are very keen in having pliable Latin American governments that will give lucrative deals to US companies", he stressed.
US President Donald Trump stated on Monday that Morales' resignation was a "significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere," a view that stands in contrast with the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement that "a wave of violence unleashed by the opposition has not allowed Morales to complete his presidential mandate".
De Zayas added that Morales' resignation created a scenario in which it was unclear who may take his place as a constitutionally valid successor, with the possibility of further electoral irregularities remaining a concern.
"If the coup leaders in the military decide to appoint a 'president' without calling for elections, this would mean disenfranchising the millions and millions of Bolivians who have consistently supported and voted for Evo Morales. There is nothing more undemocratic than a coup. And this is yet another Latin American right-wing coup", the former official concluded.
Morales had been president of Bolivia since 2006, during which time he established himself as the country's first indigenous leader and a beacon of the global left. His stepping down and subsequent departure for Mexico has been viewed by several countries, including Venezuela, Cuba, and Mexico as a military coup.
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