BOLIVIA: WHEN IS “ENOUGH” ENOUGH?


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In Bolivia, ranked by the World Bank Group as one of South America’s poorest nations, with substantial income inequality despite economic improvements under its current President, Evo Morales, the citizens have joined the growing wave of street protests.

The trigger that ignited anger among thousands of Bolivians was alleged vote-rigging in the recent presidential election.

After the first round of the election on 20 October, it appeared the incumbent, Morales, who has been the Bolivia’s longest presidential office holder, was just short of the required 10 percent margin of victory to avoid a runoff election.

An ensuing 23-hour blackout of the counting procedure took place, followed by Morales declaring he did have the necessary margin of victory, which immediately ignited the mass protest.

Supporting the demonstrations, political opponent, Carlos Mesa, released a video claiming a “shameful and crude alteration of the result of our vote.” 

As riots and protests escalated, President Morales declared a state of emergency.  He sent out riot police who fired tear gas into crowds, leading to further clashes between police and angry protesters. 

Morales issued the statement: “I want to denounce before the Bolivian people and the world that there’s a coup d’état in the making.” 

Over the next few days, violence escalated as the protest spread to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia’s second largest city. 

Last Thursday, the European Union and the Organization of American States (OAS) questioned the vote count and called for a runoff vote to restore trust in the results.  

The Trump administration issued a statement directly accusing the Bolivian government of shutting down the election “so that they could steal the election.”

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: It should be noted that the EU, OAS, and Trump administration also questioned the Venezuelan vote count despite international observers finding it a fair and free election. 

Further, the United States has a long and gruesome track record of murder and economic plunder south of its borders throughout most of its history… remember “Remember the Maine”?

As for the EU and OAS, they follow Washington’s lead. 

The political situation in Bolivia has been especially complex since the beginning of this new century. The incumbent, Evo Morales, took office in 2006 as a socialist reformer, fierce critic of U.S. interventionist policies in Latin America, and the first indigenous leader in the country’s history. 

TRENDPOST: The Bolivia election crisis is yet another example of power hungry leaders. 

As noted above, Carlos Mesa, the former president, oversaw a deadly crackdown on mass protests between 2002 and 2005. The Bolivian people booted him out of office. 

Mesa has close ties the U.S. government, who prefers his style over the socialist leanings of current President Evo Morales.   

President Morales is credited with initiating many popular and successful socialist programs since taking office in 2006.  When 51 percent of Bolivian voters, however, rejected his proposal to reform the constitution to end existing term limits, he brought the issues to the Bolivian Supreme Court, who rescinded legal limits barring elected authorities from seeking re-election indefinitely.

Following the court’s decision, protesters across the country took to the streets accusing Morales of an authoritarian power play.

His opponent in the current political turmoil, Carlos Mesa, is a former president who led an extended military crackdown between 2002 and 2005 against mass protests then led by Morales.  Mesa is member of the U.S.-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue and has the backing of the U.S. government.

Over the past few years, President Morales and his party, Movement for Socialism (MAS), are being blamed for worsening economic and health conditions. 

Workers at the largest mine in Bolivia went on strike for three weeks last month.  And, last July, Bolivian doctors struck in protest of deteriorating hospital conditions and lack of resources to deal with the spread of an arena virus disease caused by rodent infestation.

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