How is the situation in Bolivia


Update: on Sunday morning Evo Morales said he would call for new elections.


From 21 October in Bolivia a part of the population protests against the re-election of President Evo Morales, accused of having committed fraud to obtain a fourth term. In the last few days, hundreds of policemen mutinied in various cities across the country, giving up tackling anti-government protesters after three people died and hundreds were injured in clashes between protesters and police. The protesters took control of a state-owned television and radio network on Saturday and stopped broadcasting. Morales denies the accusation of fraud, which has not yet been demonstrated and considered by many instrumentalists, and refuses to resign, as requested by his challenger in the elections, the former president Carlos Mesa.

The party of Morales, the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), asked its supporters to intervene to defend the president in La Paz after Saturday some of the policemen in charge of guarding the presidential palace had also left their seats and gone up on the roof of a police station a few meters from the government headquarters. On Friday many policemen had participated in the protests, for example in La Paz and Sucre, although it is not clear to what extent. Some of them, speaking to local newspapers and TV stations, have said that Morales should resign that will prevent him from turning Bolivia into a dictatorship. Morales, for his part, considers the attempt made by Mesa to be a coup attempt.

Meanwhile, the Organization of American States (OAS), which brings together the countries of North and South America, is carrying out a check on the votes and next week the results of its analysis should be published. Mesa, however, criticized this initiative because her party was not involved in the controls. He asked Parliament to pass an emergency law to call new elections. The international community has remained cautious for now in taking sides in the crisis: initially, the European Union had requested the organization of a second round of elections, as well as the United States, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, the latter countries with right-wing governments and hostile to South American socialist leaders like Morales.

Morales had officially won 47.07% of the vote, compared to 36.51% for Mesa. To win in the first round Morales needed more than 50 percent of the votes or 10 percent advantage over his opponents, a goal that was met. Tens of thousands of Bolivians, however, had begun to protest disputing the results, considered suspicious by many because of some oddities in the dissemination of data. The results of a preliminary counting of votes – different from the official one, and organized to give greater transparency to the process – gave the two closest candidates within ten points. But then the Supreme Electoral Court had stopped updating the results for a day, and when it had resumed the gap between Morales and Mesa it had widened just above the ten points, detachment then confirmed by the official count.

Cops charged with guarding the presidential palace in La Paz, on the roof of a nearby police station after their mutiny, November 9, 2019 (AP Photo / Juan Karita)

Morales is a former coca collector and was the first Bolivian of Indian origin to be elected president. He has been in power for fourteen years, when he won the elections for the first time: under his leadership, Bolivia has gone through a period of great development in which it increased GDP and poverty was drastically reduced, with great benefits especially for most families poor who saw inequalities diminish markedly.

Even today he is a very popular leader, but his long stay in power has started to give him criticisms and accusations of authoritarianism on the part of the opposition, which complain about few television spaces and poor independence of the judiciary. In February 2016, Morales slightly lost a referendum to confirm a further change to the Constitution that would have allowed him to stand as a candidate also in 2019. The following year, however, the Supreme Court of the country annulled the result of the referendum, arguing that the limit to the number of mandates was a violation of political rights, in a highly disputed sentence.

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