Week 13: Coup in Bolivia?



This week I am looking at two different opinion sources about the political changes happening in Bolivia at the moment. President Evo Morales, who had been in power for the last 14 years, resigned presidency. There were many factors that led to this, but let’s look at the context first.

Morales was always considered to be a pretty popular president. Being the first indigenous president in Bolívia, he led in a left-wing government model and was able to achieve economic growth as well as lessen the poverty for the masses in Bolívia. Perceptions started to change drastically in the last election, when Morales was running against Carlos Mesa. “On Oct 20, the “fast count” of the national vote went smoothly until 84% of all the votes had been counted — at which point it became clear that Mr Morales was not going to have a big enough lead over Mr Mesa. So suddenly the counting stopped, and did not resume for 24 hours. It then showed Mr Morales with a 10.1% lead over Mr Mesa, so no second round was needed. All hail Mr Morales’s fourth term!” (Bangkok post). This was seen by many people as a sign of blatant election fraud and many protests started emerging all over Bolívia.

What the supporters of Morales had to say was this: “Morales tried to defuse the situation by inviting the OAS to audit the election results. The OAS determined there were serious problems, but said Morales may have won. The OAS, the headquarters of which are in Washington, nevertheless recommended fresh elections which Morales had accepted. But with the rapidly deteriorating violent situation on the ground, police defecting to the opposition, workers forced out of the state broadcaster, and the Chief of the Armed Forces recommending Morales resign, the President and his top leadership resigned their positions, and Morales subsequently flew to Mexico.” (IOL news) They basically were saying that Morales was willing to re-do the election counting all over, but he was forced to resign in an anti-democratic way because of right-wing paramilitary violent protests (which were possibly/likely subsidized by the United States).

The military also started pressuring Morales to give up leadership of the country, who finally decided to oblige in order to “keep the peace in Bolívia”. Supporters of Morales think of this as a coup because they consider it un-democratic to have the military pressure a president out of office, and they fear about the future possibility of another military dictatorship.


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