ColombiaOne.comWorldProtests in Bolivia over Disqualification of Former President Evo Morales

Protests in Bolivia over Disqualification of Former President Evo Morales

-

Protests Bolivia
Protests in Bolivia over disqualification of former president Evo Morales from running for office – Credit: Ruperto Miller / Public Domain

Protests are ongoing in Bolivia following the disqualification of former President Evo Morales’ candidacy for the 2025 elections. The conflict between Morales and the current President, Luis Arce, highlights a significant split between the once-allied members within the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party.

Supporters of former President Morales have blockaded roads in protest against the extension of magistrates’ terms, who were responsible for his disqualification a month ago. This move by the judiciary reverses a 2017 decision by the same court, which had designated reelection as a “human right.” Polls to elect judges to the country’s main courts were scheduled for December 2023. However, the process of shortlisting candidates has stalled in parliament.

Supporters of former President Morales have blockaded roads in protest against the extension of magistrates’ terms, who were responsible for his disqualification a month ago. This move by the judiciary reverses a 2017 decision by the same court, which had designated reelection as a “human right.” Polls to elect judges to the country’s main courts were scheduled for December 2023. However, the process of shortlisting candidates has stalled in parliament.

A crisis originating in 2019

The crisis began nearly five years ago when Evo Morales, Bolivia’s president from 2006 to 2019, sought reelection. In October of that year, Morales was declared the winner, securing 47% of the vote against his right-wing opponent, Carlos Mesa, who received 36.5%. Following the announcement, the opposition accused Morales of electoral fraud, sparking a series of violent protests. The Organization of American States later identified forgeries and errors in the electoral process.

Morales consented to hold new elections. However, on November 10, the military called for his resignation, compelling him to step down to prevent civil unrest. Despite this, opposition factions, along with the police and military, pursued government members and MAS party affiliates, engaging in kidnappings, assaults, and threats against deputies and officials. Subsequently, three days later, Senator Jeanine Añez declared herself interim president in a parliament session lacking MAS party deputies, who were barred from entry by the police. Morales then sought exile.

After 11 months under an interim government, elections were conducted in October 2020, with Evo Morales not on the ballot. The Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party nominated Luis Arce as its candidate, who secured a significant victory, garnering over 55% of the vote and reclaiming the presidency for MAS.

Rupture within MAS

With the recovery of power by MAS, former president Evo Morales returned to the country. However, the concord between the two allies, Morales and Luis Arce, only lasted a year. The new president’s autonomy from Morales, whose minister of economy he had been for more than a decade, strengthened the differences within the party.

The fight over Carlos Eduardo del Castillo, a young minister whom Morales had asked Arce to dismiss, became the first public confrontation between the two. The deputies close to the former president allied with the opposition in Congress, voting for the dismissal of Arce’s minister. This was considered by the president as a betrayal. In a maneuver described by some as unconstitutional, Arce dismissed his minister in June last year, only to reappoint him two days later.

These differences within MAS have caused the ruling party to lose the comfortable majority it had in parliament, hindering the government’s legislative action.

The confrontation between the two factions of the party in Bolivia is seen in various arenas. For example, it is evident in the struggle for control of workers’ unions that are part of MAS, such as peasant associations. Nine months from now, in October, followers of the two factions will come head to head in the party congress to define the presidential candidacy for 2025.

Protests Bolivia
The rift between Evo Morales and Luis Arce seems irreconcilable – Credit: Xavier Granja / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Goverment Bolivia / CC BY 2.0

Protests and violence will continue

The ongoing conflict is most intensely observed in the urban areas, where coca growers aligned with Evo Morales, along with other supporters, vow to persist in their protests and economic blockade. Concurrently, President Arce is endeavoring to restore order by deploying security forces against individuals affiliated with his political party, who are supporters of the former president.

Yesterday, carriers blocked the capital La Paz, while bus drivers parked their vehicles across the main roads of the city, making mobility impossible.

The personal confrontation between the two pro-government politicians seems far from being solved. For now, Evo Morales has been legally removed from the presidential race, since the decision of the justice system is unappealable.

His supporters appear unwilling to accept the decision easily and vow to keep pressuring the government through street protests.


See all the latest news from Colombia and the world at ColombiaOne.com. Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow Colombia One on Google News, Facebook, Instagram, and subscribe here to our newsletter.

THE LATEST IN YOUR INBOX!