Things That Matter

A US-Backed Opposition Leader Has Declared Herself President Of Bolivia Amid Outrage At Her Comments About Indigenous Bolivians

Bolivia is unrest. Following the ultimate expulsion of former President Evo Morales, after allegations of election fraud swept the nation, and Morales’ eventual flee to Mexico, conservative opposition leader Jeanine Añez declared herself interim president. Following her announcement clashes and protests from both supporters and detractors filled the streets. 

The country has been struggling to find a successor to Morales who was forced to step down after a marginal win in Bolivia’s presidential election triggered a recount. Morales shut down the recount and declared himself the victor, but after an Organization of American States reported there were irregularities and possible fraud, he resigned. 

Jeanine Añez declares herself the president of Bolivia.

Añez claimed the position of Senate leader which would put her next in line for the presidency and make her interim president. The move came after the three people ahead of her quit.

However, at the time she did not have a quorum (the legal minimum necessary to make it official) present due to a boycott by Morales’ Movement for Socialism party. Although it is unofficial, she stood on the balcony of the presidential palace wearing a presidential sash and holding a copy of the Bible — which had been banned from the building by the Morales administration. 

“My commitment is to return democracy and tranquility to the country. They can never again steal our vote,” Añez said after declaring herself president. 

Añez quickly got to work appointing cabinet members and leaders of the armed forces. She insisted in her first address that her role is strictly “provisional.”

“This is a transitional government,” Añez told CNN. “Obviously, as soon as we can, we will call general elections so the Bolivian people can have a president elected by us in a democratic manner.”

Protests break out in protest of Añez’s declaration.

Protests broke out in La Paz, Bolivia’s main city, to oppose Añez’s presidency. The demonstrators were confronted by riot police who used tear gas while they retaliated with smoking containers and rocks. Morales, who is Bolivia’s first indigenous president, insisted those who opposed Añez were his supporters and a part of anti-colonial struggle. 

“We energetically condemn the coup d’etat in Bolivia, perpetrated by the army and oligarchs opposed to the government of our brother President Evo Morales,” said Rigoberta Menchu, an indigenous rights activist said. 

Although Morales did benefit indigenous folks by reducing poverty rates, he rewrote Bolivia’s laws to run for a second term and then did so a third time claiming his first term did not count. He would reign for 14 years the longest in Bolivia’s presidential history. Many felt he was becoming increasingly authoritarian despite some wins for indigenous peoples. 

Indigenous folks have a right to concerned about an Añez presidency.

“This coup d’etat that has triggered the death of my Bolivian brothers is a political and economic plot that came from the US,” Morales said.

Although Morales may not have been best for Bolivia, detractors of Añez have valid concerns as well. The conservative is married to the leader of a “Colombian conservative party with historic ties to paramilitary groups,” according to The Nation. 

“The potential return of a conservative government after Morales’ 14-year rule has brought with it a resurgence of a virulent strain of anti-indigenous hatred with deep roots in Bolivia, reminiscent of the country’s ‘gas wars,'” the publication notes. “The toppling of Morales’s government threatens a potential return to anti-indigenous violence.”

The United States and Bolivian officials recognize Añez.

The United States extended its support to the new government as did Bolivia’s military and courts.

“We will guarantee the security of the constitutional government,” Army General Orellana Centellas said in support of Añez. 

According to the New York Times, Añez’s presidency was backed by Bolivia’s Constitutional Court. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement. 

“The United States applauds Bolivian Senator Jeanine Anez for stepping up as Interim President of State to lead her nation through this democratic transition, under the constitution of Bolivia and in accordance with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” Pompeo said. 

“We look forward to working with the Organization of American States, Bolivia’s civilian constitutional institutions, and the Bolivian people as they prepare to hold free, fair elections as soon as possible. We call on all parties to protect democracy during the coming weeks and to refrain from violent acts against fellow citizens and their property.

 Whether Añez can garner support from political allies is unclear. Bolivians, on the other hand, have engaged in violent protests to defend their addled democracy, without their support any future candidate will have to face their ire.

AOC Has A D.O.G And It’s Making Its Rounds About Capitol Hill

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AOC Has A D.O.G And It’s Making Its Rounds About Capitol Hill

Just when we thought Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) couldn’t shake up the D.C. scene more than she already has, it turns out the congresswoman has a new trick up her sleeve.

Earlier this year in January, news surfaced that the congresswoman had adopted a French bulldog by the name of Deco. In a post to her Instagram page, the progressive Democrat welcomed the pup into the world with a post writing “Hey boo boo! Hi, welcome to our family.”

Now it turns out, AOC’s new pup is meant for the community, so you might have a chance to hang with him if you’re in his side of the hood

View image on Twitter

Responding to a question on Twitter about whether she intended to bring the dog to work, AOC said Deco is meant to be a dog about town.

“The goal is to train him to be a community pup,” she shared in a post that featured him taking a nap in her lap. “Ideally we want to work to the point where he can enjoy town halls, be an Amtrak pup, come to the office, etc. But first, naps.”

According to People.com, AOC’s new Frenchie had been nameless for a few weeks and the congresswoman eagerly collected name suggestions from her followers on twitter.

“He doesn’t have a name yet!,” Ocasio wrote in an Instagram in January. “We are thinking something Star Trek-related or Bronx/Queens/NYC/social good related.”

Ultimately Ocasio-Cortez did pick a name from suggested from her community.

“As we took [the dog] for a walk…a neighbor suggested we name him after an artist,” AOC explained in an Instagram story. Ultimately the congresswoman and her boyfriend Riley decided to not go for an artist’s name but one inspired by the early 20th-century art deco movement. “We loved the idea, and decided to name him after one of Riley & I’s favorite design styles: Art Deco — which also is inspired by themes of optimism & social and technological progress, and is a fixture in iconic NYC architecture,” she later explained said.

Turns out, AOC’s new French is rocketing to stardom just like his mother.

Earlier this week, Representative Ayanna Pressley (D–Mass.) shared a photo of herself hanging out with Deco for the very first time and used it as a chance to hype up AOC.

“Making the Capitol better one puppy snuggle at a time: @AOC & Deco,” Pressley tweeted in a post

Rep. Veronica Escobar Delivers Spanish State Of The Union Response Touching On Healthcare And Gun Reform

Things That Matter

Rep. Veronica Escobar Delivers Spanish State Of The Union Response Touching On Healthcare And Gun Reform

PBS News Hour / YouTube

President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address on Feb. 4. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up her copy of the speech and conservative radio personalist Rush Limbaugh being awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor. There were also several responses to the SOTU, including Representative Veronica Escobar, who delivered her rebuttal in Spanish.

President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union on Tuesday night.

Fact-checkers have combed through the speech and determined the lies and misleading information peppered throughout. The speech, according to NowThis, contained one lie every 2.5 minutes. The SOTU made the news for multiple reasons, but most notably, people have been talking about Nancy Pelosi tearing up a copy of President Trump’s speech.

Democrats have taken their time responding to Trump on social media.

Senator Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor on Feb. 5 to address one inaccuracy he found in President Trump’s SOTU. The New York senator called out Trump on his claims of the growing economy is his own. While the Trump administration has seen economic growth, charts and trends show the positive nature of the economy to be residual effects of Obama’s policies that wrangled in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

One response to President Trump’s SOTU was from Rep. Veronica Escobar.

Rep. Escobar, who represented Texas’s 16th congressional district, delivered a SOTU response in Spanish to include more people in the conversation. There are 32 million Latinos who are eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election. A large number of Latino voters are concentrated in California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Rep. Escobar used the beginning of her speech to address the need for accessible and affordable healthcare.

Credit: @vgescobar / Twitter

Rep. Escobar delivered her SOTU response from the El Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, a clinic that serves her community in El Paso. The representative used the setting to address the attack on health clinics by the Trump administration. Rep. Escobar highlighted the Republicans claiming that they are fighting to protect Americans’ healthcare but their actions say otherwise. In the House of Representatives, 183 Republicans voted to block legislation that protected coverage from healthcare providers for pre-existing conditions.

Even people who do not support the Affordable Care Act have found some common ground with the representative.

Credit: @jcrowder55 / Twitter

“Democrats are fighting back. In the first year of our House Majority, Democrats passed sweeping legislation to dramatically reduce the price of prescription drugs, shore up protections for people with pre-existing conditions and crack down on shoddy short-term health insurance plans – what we call ‘junk plans,’” Escobar said in her response.

“In contrast to the Republicans, we know that health care is a right for all, not a privilege for the few.”

The representative also spoke about the tragic El Paso shooting that rocked the Latino community.

Credit: @JessEscoATX / Twitter

Rep. Escobar used the moment to address the contentious debate on gun control raging between the two parties.

“On August 3rd of last year, El Paso suffered from the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in American history,” Rep. Escobar said during her speech. “A domestic terrorist confessed to driving over 10 hours to target Mexicans and immigrants. Just before he began his killing spree, he posted his views online and used hateful language like the very words used by President Trump to describe immigrants and Latinos.”

“That day, the killer took 22 innocent lives, injured dozens, and broke all of our hearts.”

“Incidents of gun violence take place in our schools, places of worship and neighborhoods every single day.”

“Democrats understand that this is a matter of life and death. As one of our first actions, our Majority passed legislation that would strengthen background checks and save lives, which is supported by an overwhelming majority of the public.”

Latinos were appreciative to hear a response to the SOTU address in their native language.

Credit: @sffcorgi / Twitter

A study by Latino Decisions found that the use of Spanish-language ads increases voter turnout. In markets with Spanish-language ads, the number of Latinos who turned out to vote increased from 49.8 percent to 60.2 percent. The study also showed that 68 percent of people relied on Spanish-language news or ads on a daily and weekly basis.

READ: Who Is Rep. Veronica Escobar? The Congresswoman Representing El Paso, Texas And Fighting For Her Community