AFL-CIO President Trumka and other union leaders condemn Bolivian coup
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

WASHINGTON—AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has come out against the military coup that ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales earlier this week.

Trumka tweeted that the nation’s largest labor federation is joining national and international labor organizations “in condemning the military interference in Bolivia’s election process. Morales reduced widespread poverty and fought for the inclusion of the indigenous majority. Bolivians must be able to vote peacefully and freely in new elections,” Trumka said.

His condemnation was joined by one from National Nurses United, the United States’ largest nurses’ union.

“We are alarmed by scenes of military intervention in the governance of Bolivia, arrests and violence against the supporters of former President Morales and racial attacks against the indigenous people of Bolivia as seen by millions across social media,” declared NNU President Deborah Burger, RN.

International unions were even stronger in their condemnations of the military coup.

Brazilian nurses’ union President Shirley Diaz Morales noted Evo Morales (no relation) agreed to new elections and to a peace agreement, but the military deposed him anyway. “We in Latin America cannot tolerate that every time any leader stands up against social injustice they face a coup,” she said.

Read People’s World coverage of the coup in Bolivia:

Bolivia coup against Morales opens opportunity for multinational mining companies

Morales exiled in Mexico; Bolivian army unleashes violence on the people

NNU also demanded the return of Bolivian democracy and a fair re-run election, including the right of Morales to return home and participate. A military revolt, preceded by street protests and allegations of vote fraud in the recent election, forced the resignation of Morales, known for reducing poverty, empowering indigenous peoples, and progressive social and economic policies.

Most other top Bolivian officials were forced to resign, too, and faced attacks or threats, NNU said. The remaining “rump” members of the Bolivian Congress elected a conservative senator, Jeanine Áñez, from among Morales’ foes as temporary president. Deputies from Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party (MAS), who hold the majority in the parliament, did not agree to or approve Áñez’s assumption of the top office.

The International Trade Union Confederation said the Trump administration and the Organization of American States share responsibility for “issuing statements that undermined” the Bolivian election. It noted Morales has long opposed U.S. neoliberal foreign policies, which benefit multinational corporations. People across the Latin American and Caribbean region have long considered the OAS a frequent tool of U.S. administrations.

“No elected president should be forced out of office under military orders. That is not how democracy works,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “The electoral process is the solution, not intervention by military leaders. Military coups can never be the answer. The fact Morales had to flee the country for fear of his life, cutting short his current term, highlights the undemocratic nature of what is happening.”


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.