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Bolivia and its post-Evo Morales crossroads

Back in 1952, Bolivia underwent a popular revolution led by the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario–MNR (Nationalist Revolutionary Movement)–headed by Víctor Paz Estenssoro, Hernán Siles Zuazo, and mining leader Juan Lechin–after which the tin mines were nationalized. In 1985, under the government of Siles Zuazo, the country underwent hyperinflation caused by inorganic emission, facilitating the election of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who brought in Jeffrey Sachs to apply a severe monetary adjustment to lower inflation.


The idea of President Sánchez de Lozada of exporting gas to the United States produced protests that forced him to step down and Vice-president Carlos Mesa took his chair, who also later resigned before finishing his term. In this scenario, Evo Morales was elected in December of 2005, and rapidly nationalized hydrocarbons.


Read more: Social movements have transformed reality (in Spanish).
 

In 2008, President Morales expelled the Ambassador of the United States and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that funded micro-businesses, accusing them of political participation and up to now, this representation is only a commercial office.


Evo achieved support from multiple social organizations, indigenous groups, peasants and miners, and energy, and phone worker organizations and for summoning a Constituent Assembly which provided representation to ethnic minorities.  The Constitution was written with support from Spanish lawmakers and included an ample acknowledgment of social rights, the right to land ownership, and the protection of the environment, and the country changed its name to the Plurinational State of Bolivia.


Morales and his MAS political party have demonstrated a clear power will, maintaining unity despite the internal differences and for 15 years overcame their opponents, although he has been accused of using legal means to nullify the opposition, the same practice that is now being used against them. Being set up for reelection despite losing a consultative referendum on his reelection possibilities, triggered a demand for respect for the results of the consultation.


Morales insisted on his reelection possibility based on the opinion of the Constitutional Court saying that “a fundamental right was the right to elect and being elected.”  In the presidential elections of 2019, several independent analysts discovered that voting information had been transferred to non-official platforms, constituting a possibility for fraud. This claim was supported by the Organization of American States (OAS) in charge of auditing the results and endorsed by the European Union, which elicited a series of uncontrollable protests. With this scenario, the military suggested Morales abandon his post, to what he deemed as a coup d'état.


In an unexpected reaction, youngsters organized using social media citizen platforms, but Morales scoffed at them saying that nobody could teach him how to block roads as, during his political campaigns, the cocaine growers used them frequently. And although he proclaimed that the ruling class and city dwellers opposed him and that he had the support of social organizations and labor unions, the demonstrations summoned by digital media with an emphasis on environmental issues, claims of corruption, and respect for the popular vote, led the confrontation to other scenarios.


After resigning to the Presidency, that of Álvaro García Linera to the Vice-Presidency, the President of the Senate also resigned (a MAS militant) producing a void in power with calls for insurrection, the President of the House of Representatives, Jeanine Áñez Chávez took over the interim presidency, who was later accused of not keeping the neutrality to guarantee the electoral proceedings and instead decided to participate as a candidate.

The report from the internal government over human rights claimed that “irregular MAS groups killed 31 people during the post-electoral crisis of 2019”. On her part, the President of the Senate, Eva Copa, a member of the same party, claimed that the preliminary report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) revealed the violation of fundamental rights and that there had effectively been a massacre in Sacaba and Senkata 1.


Luis Arce, the MAS presidential candidate is now facing a legal process for management of the Indigenous Fund–established with 5% of the oil funds to promote the development of indigenous peoples through productive projects and irrigation plans–and he is also being accused of creating phantom projects to provide millions in funds to personal bank accounts of labor leaders and social organization leaders. His accusers calculate that the amount of funds “diverted” is of US $180 million, but the audit to trace these funds is just beginning.
 

The last poll of the Jubileo Foundation projects 42.9 % for MAS, 34.2 % for Carlos Mesa –of the Comunidad Ciudadana Party (CC)–and 17.8 % for civic leader Luis Fernando Camacho. Therefore there could be a second round.


Morales was disqualified from being a candidate to the Senate invoking the rule stating that the candidate should reside in the district the person aspired to represent during the previous year to the elections. This rule has been in place for a quarter of a century and Morales has been living in Mexico and Argentina for over a year where he carries out intense political activity, not proper for a political asylum.
 

Read more: Electoral dictatorship (in Spanish)?
 

The Office of the Attorney General of Bolivia requested the judge a hearing against Morales, which if he does not show up will be declared in rebellion and will have a preventive detention order based on “very serious” crimes, terrorism, and funding of terrorism.
 

The accusation is based on a video with the supposed voice of Morales encouraging cities blockages in Bolivia, and that organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) have considered enough proof for the seriousness of the crime.
 

This is just one of the demands placed by Áñez’s transitory executive branch against Morales, which has been in Argentina since December past, where he requested a safe harbor. The Office of the Attorney General issued an arrest warrant for some of these accusations for the former president to appear in these processes against him in Bolivia, but his lawyers claim that there are no constitutional guarantees for his return and inclusively claim his life would be in danger. However, Evo says that if MAS wins the elections of October 18th, he would be in Bolivia the next day.
 

At least 19% of the voters are still indecisive and the vote is compulsory in Bolivia; he/she that does not vote will be fined and for 90 days will be banned from performing banking activities including paying for public utilities. The polls have not measured foreign votes (3% of the electoral roll), particularly in Argentina where there is a considerable number of the Bolivian community, mostly loyal to MAS. For the Senate elections, the polls show that MAS would achieve the majority (20%) in face of 12% of the CC and 4% of Creemos, but it would not achieve two fourths.

 


1 https://www.la-razon.com/nacional/2020/09/20/jose-miguel-vivanco-el-gobierno-de-anez-ha-violado-la-separacion-de-poderes/

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