Bolivia: Researcher who denounced electoral fraud at risk
Edgar Villegas via Twitter
On 24 October 2019, systems engineer and analyst Edgar Villegas denounced irregularities in Bolivia’s general elections of 20 October on public TV. His study, carried out with other academics, pointed to large discrepancies between the preliminary count and the final electoral results that gave victory to incumbent president Evo Morales. Following the TV interview, Edgar Villegas, his family, and Mónica Ximena Galarza Lorca, the journalist who interviewed him, were intimidated. These incidents happened in a wider context of repression by the authorities in response to social protests following the election results.
During the interview on TVU (University Television), Edgar Villegas made public data that pointed to irregularities in the counting of the electoral results of the presidential election of 20 October. Following the interview, Mónica Ximena Galarza received hundreds of messages on her cell phone from unknown numbers, some threatening to act against her. Edgar Villegas, his family, and Mónica Ximena Galarza told Amnesty International that, upon leaving the television studio, a series of both taxis and dark vehicles with tinted windows followed them. Edgar Villegas told Amnesty International that during recent days his friends have received phone calls from his cell phone number, even though his telephone has been off since the interview. Strange vehicles and people have been spotted outside their homes at various times. On 25 October, the website of University Television (TVU) went down for several hours without any explanation. According to the television station, an alternative website for their channel appeared during this time.
Please send a tweet, email or letter to the Minister of Government.
- Start with Dear Minister and a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.
- Share your concern about the multiple incidents of intimidation experienced by analyst Edgar Villegas, his family and journalist Mónica Ximena Galarza Lorca following the TVU interview of 24 October.
- Urge him to guarantee the safety of Edgar Villegas, Mónica Ximena Galarza Lorca, and their families.
Minister of Government, Sr. Carlos Romero
Av. Arce esq. Belisario Salinas N° 2409
La Paz, Bolivia
Phone: 011 591 2 244 0466 or 011 591 2 212 0002
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Twitter: @MindeGobierno or @CarlosGuRomero
Claudia Maria Alexis Rocabado Mrden
Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Bolivia
130 Albert Street, Suite 416
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Fax: 613 236 8237
Via website: https://bolivianembassy.ca/embajada/contacto/
Edgar Villegas' study, published on television on 24 October, used public information to demonstrate large discrepancies between the preliminary count and final count of electoral results of the 20 October presidential election in Bolivia which determined electoral victory for the incumbent, President Evo Morales.
Following the presidential elections, thousands of people have protested in response to what they consider an electoral fraud. The authorities of Bolivia in many cases have reacted in a repressive manner to these protests, and Amnesty International has expressed concern in this regard. See www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/10/bolivia-autoridades-deben-respetar-derecho-protesta-pacifica/.
Edgar Villegas is a recognized systems engineer and analyst who graduated with a Bachelor of Systems Engineering at the Catholic Bolivarian University “San Pablo” in 2007. Since then he has participated in a series of national and international teams in relation to public information and transparency. Edgar Villegas carried out similar work in 2016 during which he used public information to denounce electoral fraud. In response, he received intimidation and hostile messages. However, he told Amnesty International that this current response to his work has a higher intensity than he experienced in 2016.
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