Statement by Ambassador Luz Elena Baños Rivas,
Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS
In the special meeting of the Permanent Council on the situation in Bolivia
Washington, D.C., November 12, 2019
Thank you very much, Madam President,
Mexico appreciates the convening of this special meeting, which my government urgently requested. The situation that summons us today is extremely complex and requires our most serious and objective analysis.
Mexico expresses its serious concern regarding the severe breach of the constitutional order in Bolivia, a member State of this Organization where a coup d’état has occurred, which Mexico strongly condemns.
The OAS member States have a high responsibility to support Bolivia in these moments of deep crisis, and we must do so in an objective, responsible and respectful manner of the country’s sovereignty and self-determination, without temptations of intervention. The dark and painful days where the armed forces deposed and supported governments must be left behind.
My Government expresses its deep consternation at recent events in Bolivia. Following the disclosure of the preliminary report of the Organization's recent audit exercise of the electoral process in Bolivia, the then President Evo Morales proposed the holding of new elections. After that, Bolivia’s army called for the resignation of the president, who decided to resign in order to prevent the violence of a destructive civil war. We believe that the pressures that Evo Morales received from the armed and security forces of the country configure elements of a coup d’état scenario, which Mexico categorically rejects.
Mexico claims and demands respect for the constitutional order and democracy in Bolivia. Let me recall that, according to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the constitutional subordination of all State institutions to the legally constituted civil authority and respect for the rule of law of all entities and sectors of society, are fundamental for democracy.
Former President Morales resigned in order to pacify his country and put an end to the violence that had been increasing in recent days, violence that unfortunately has not stopped. An undoubtedly difficult decision for a president who worked decisively to bring social justice to his country, especially in favor of the most vulnerable people, of indigenous people like him, and achieved significant economic growth, above the rest of the region, an undeniable fact.
Mexico respects that decision and we hope that it will put a halt to the confrontation and violence, and that the effective right of the Bolivian people to peace and the exercise of their democracy is guaranteed.
We reiterate in this forum the rejection of violence. Greater damage and possible loss of human lives should be avoided.
The brotherly people of Bolivia, after long hours of uncertainty and unrest, is now facing a complex political transition. Mexico hopes that this transition, above all things, will occur in a peaceful, democratic manner and with full respect for the law and the constitutional order.
Mexico deplores the attacks against diplomatic representations, in this case, in Bolivia. We emphatically underline the inviolability of these missions, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and remind the authorities of their obligation to protect the premises of said missions against any intrusion or damage, preventing their work from being disturbed or violating their dignity. This obligation is based on reciprocity and minimum trust between States, as it is the basis for the friendly construction of relations between the countries of the hemisphere and the world.
As our Foreign Minister announced, Mexico, in accordance with its tradition of asylum and non-intervention, has received a group of people from the executive and legislative bodies of Bolivia in its diplomatic representation in La Paz. Similarly, my government sovereignly decided to grant political asylum to former President Evo Morales, whose life and security were at risk due to the manifestations of violence against him. A few hours ago, and after a very eventful journey, the former President arrived in Mexico, in the company of former Vice President Álvaro García Linera and former Health Minister Gabriela Montaño.
In making this decision, we have proceeded primarily for humanitarian reasons, in accordance with international law and our own constitutional framework, as provided by our internal regulations and our international commitments. We act in keeping with our proud tradition of diplomatic support and protection to victims of political persecution in the world. From Garibaldi, Martí and Haya de la Torre, to Rigoberta Menchú, Gabriel García Márquez and Hortencia Bussi, widow of Salvador Allende, and her daughters, Isabel and Beatriz; the institution of diplomatic asylum is a leading and endearing figure in Mexican diplomatic history that today reaffirms itself for humanitarian and protection reasons for Bolivians. In this tradition, my country has received thousands of persecuted politicians of various nationalities: Spaniards – including hundreds of children –, Germans, Czechs, Argentines, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Panamanians, Paraguayans, Colombians, Hondurans, Brazilians, Chileans, Uruguayans, Peruvians and Bolivians, among many others, including, recently, people of Venezuelan nationality - from the opposition - and Ecuadorian.
Thousands of them established their residence in Mexico until the end of their days, adopting it as their second homeland. Their presence has nurtured us, enriched our multiculturalism and our institutions, particularly the academic and scientific research, it has made us stronger with their convictions and their extensive social and scientific knowledge and with their outstanding creative and artistic talent. In short, their presence has brought us fraternally closer to the reality and culture of their countries and their personal trajectories, and we feel very fortunate about that.
International law is solid regarding the granting of diplomatic asylum, which is a prerogative that is the responsibility of the State which grants asylum. Aware as we are that this involves the life and well-being of many families, Mexico reaffirms that along with that prerogative we also have an inescapable obligation based on our history: grant protection to those who request it because they feel threatened, as it is establishes by the Inter-American Convention on Diplomatic Asylum and the Montevideo Convention on Political Asylum.
Allow me here to call, from this forum, to avoid the persecution and violence, and to enforce the International and Inter-American Conventions to protect the integrity and life of people. Mexico reiterates that human life must take precedence over political situations.
We want to state our firm commitment to democracy. Mexico is grateful for the trust placed at the time in our Government to accompany Bolivia, along with other nations, in assessing its democratic process. Therefore, Mexico underlines the self-determination of the Bolivian people to elect their next government, while calling upon the membership and the Organization to conduct their actions wisely, with due respect to the constitutional framework and based on the principles of non-intervention and self-determination of peoples.
In accordance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, democracy is essential for the social, political and economic development of the peoples of the Americas. The effective exercise of representative democracy is the basis of the rule of law and constitutional regimes of the OAS Member States. Therefore, Mexico reiterates that the priority at this time is to respect the will of the Bolivian people, which must be expressed and exercised through constitutional and peaceful channels.
We wish to remember that Bolivia, in full exercise of its sovereignty, has relied on the OAS. Therefore, Mexico requests that this be considered as a minimum baseline for any opinion issued by this Permanent Council on the Bolivian situation.
In that sense, let me remind the membership that the rules that regulate our mutual behavior are a cornerstone for political dialogue between member states. Without this condition, the region will face greater challenges to maintain political dialogue and respect for international law as basic elements of relations between States.
I cannot fail to express our surprise about the fact that, in the face of the serious events that precipitated on Sunday, November 10th, and that undoubtedly constitute a violation of the constitutional order that plunges Bolivia in uncertainty, the OAS General Secretariat only issued a brief statement on Monday.
The Secretary General, who displays a constant media activity has also remained surprisingly silent, with the exception of the brief statement of November 11th, in the face of the overflow of violence and danger of the lives of many people, without being disturbed too much, at least publicly, to urgently protect democracy and human rights. We ask ourselves, what are his priorities, what are his concerns, what are his responsibilities and urgencies?
It seems to us that, in the face of events of such magnitude, the statements of this Organization should be much more timely and forceful - as indeed they are when they refer to other situations, for example, in the case of the October 21st statement, which set a defining precedent in the elections of October 20th- and focused on the preservation of peace and legality. I also reiterate what we have already indicated on previous occasions, in the sense that the public statements of the General Secretariat do not represent the position of the Member States, although they are important.
Allow me at the same time to recognize the statement issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights yesterday, almost the only voice of the organization.
Mexico expresses its confidence in the sovereignty of the Bolivian people to establish a government that is consistent with its constitutional framework. We strongly call to cease all forms of violence and recover dialogue between the Bolivian brothers.
We hope for the political dialogue to be strengthened in Bolivia, opening the way for a comprehensive, transparent and constructive transition. One that seeks to reconcile and not to divide, to recognize and preserve the social advances achieved in this beloved country to strengthen an inclusive democracy and also a sustainable democracy, based on the achievements made by the most unprotected sectors.
Thank you very much, Madam President.