Deadly political crisis in Bolivia


The resignation of the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has led the country to a popular outcry. The nomination of Anez as President ad interim has not soothed the situation, but, on the contrary, caused a political crisis that is reflected by the huge amount of people that are now claiming their rights on the streets.

So far, the protests have taken the lives of at least 23 people. This number is expected to grow since neither the repression of the Bolivian Police and Army nor the mass outcry seem to have an end. The UN rights chief claimed that the excessive use of force by the police could lead unrest out of control. In fact, the “cocaleros”, farmers supporting Morales, are crossing the country to reach La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. They are setting a two-day deadline for the interim President Anez to resign. If she does not do it, they will bring the country to chaos.

On the other hand, the government keeps encouraging repression and has passed a decree that exempts soldiers from their criminal liability. The mass has responded with the slogan “Somos aqui guerra civil!”, claiming their readiness to fight against who has delegitimated their President.  Indeed, Evo Morales during his 3 terms, covering 13 years and 9 months, has represented that part of the society, being the first Indigenous President of the Country. He emerged as the leader of the coca growers union and won the 2005 elections with a radical programme aimed at tackling social divisions and inequalities, blending left-wing ideas with Bolivian indigenous roots.

Hence, after years of right-wing parties leading the country, the MAS party led by Morales won the elections with a large majority. From 2006 he has completely changed the political identity of the country. Nationalized the oil and gas industries of the country, using those funds to invest in social reforms and anti-poverty programmes. Several public investments were addressed at education, aimed at reducing the high illiteracy rate. As a result, during his 3 terms, the percentage of Bolivians living in extreme poverty decreased from 35% to 15% while the literacy rate increased. Moreover, life expectancy shifted from 56 to 71 years. Other successes have been achieved in the economic field. Following the exploitation of the national mineral resources, the countries’ GDP boomed and, according to the IMF, its growth rate is the highest of South America. Nowadays, only Mexico and the United States have a lower unemployment rate. All these data can help understand how much progress has been made by Bolivia during Morales’ period.

However, if now Bolivia is stuck in such a crisis, is also because of Morales’ obstinacy. Indeed, according to the Bolivian Constitution, he couldn’t run in the last election, because one is not allowed to run for more than two presidential terms. Therefore in 2016, a referendum was held, in which the citizens were called to vote for a constitutional amendment to legitimate his candidature. Although, the result was disappointing for Morales, stating that he couldn’t take part in the next elections. Nonetheless, the Bolivian Constitutional court ruled that his non-participation would have been a violation of individual rights. Then, even though he was able to win the elections, the Organization of American States declared electoral fraud.

This triggered the protests that have headed to the current situation. The international community didn’t intervene in this matter that by many experts is defined as a coup d’état. The use of violence by the army has been so relevant that Evo Morales had to flee to Mexico, where he is hosted right now. Besides Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba have expressed their support to Morales, confirming the historically friendly relations among the countries. While Russia, that in the latest years had been a Bolivian economic ally, has surprisingly recognized the legitimacy of Jeanine Anez as President ad interim. Therefore, no superpower is willing to intervene. But surely if elections take place, within 90 days from the resignation as provided by law, the MAS party will participate, and we will see if they can confirm the high consensus of the latest years. Indeed, even if Morales’ consensus has decreased, the opposition has not represented a strong alternative yet.




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