Análisis FAES Bolivia in the face of the uncertainty of a political transition

13/11/2019

Mateo Rosales is a lawyer and political consultant 


Bolivia is experiencing one of its most uncertain episodes in the last decade. The Bolivian people began their mobilizations on October 21, one day after the general elections, due to the interruption of the system of Transmission of Preliminary Electoral Results, better known as TREP. On the same day, October 20, the aforementioned system proposed almost 84% of the electoral minutes count, a ballot between the illegal candidate Evo Morales and the opposition candidate for the coalition Comunidad Ciudadana, Carlos Mesa, as there were less than 10 points of difference between both candidates.

However, when the results transmission system was restarted almost twenty-four hour later, the ballot was discarded. Five days later, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, responsible for contracting the TREP and the official count, declared Evo Morales the winner in the first round.

That was the reason for a series of peaceful protests throughout Bolivia. For its part, given the serious evidence of opacity in the general elections, and the forcefulness of the citizen mobilization, the then Bolivian government asked the Organization of American States for an audit to determine whether or not there was fraud in the election process. In this regard, the OAS, in its report of November 10, stated: “In the elements reviewed, irregularities were found, ranging from very serious to indicative. This leads the audit team to question the integrity of the results of the October 20 election (...) the audit team cannot validate the victory in the first round (...) any future process must have new electoral authorities to be able to carry out reliable elections”.

The social environment in Bolivia began to shake up. On the one hand, the mobilization and paralysis of daily activity by the citizens who demanded the resignation of Evo Morales, became more and more forceful as the former president threatened the population with "closing the cities and cutting off water supplies and the arrival of food" if the protests continued, and on the other hand, the militias or armed clash groups related to the government of the Movement towards Socialism that generated uncertainty and fear in the population and that, at the time, overtook the National Police itself. The violence, at all times exerted by MAS-related shock groups, caused the death of five citizens, three of them from gunshot wounds.

At the same time, the Bolivian Army acted in accordance with its procedures within the framework of the Constitution, which attributes to them, in article 234, the obligation to preserve and guarantee the security and stability of the State. The military high command, in its declaration of November 11, stated "the Armed Forces carry out joint operations with the Bolivian Police to avoid blood and mourning for the Bolivian family, using proportional force against the acts of vandal groups that cause terror in the population".

Bearing in mind these antecedents, it is worth mentioning that the basis of the citizen demand regarding the resignation of Evo Morales is based on the tiredness of the Bolivian population with the authoritarianism exercised by the Morales government with greater intensity in recent years, the repeated violations of legality and constitutional order in the country, whose highest point came with the illegal re-postulation of Morales to the presidency of the State, and the demonstration of the gigantic electoral fraud that, among other things, evidenced the serious deterioration of the institutional system that exists today in Bolivia.

It is important to point out that in this scenario there is no coup d’état as several governments aligned with the ‘socialism of the 21st century’ pretend to demonstrate. Three elements determine the opposite: the Bolivian population demonstrated peacefully but forcefully; the Armed Forces and the National Police acted according to their role prescribed in the Constitution to safeguard the security and internal stability of the country. Finally, the constitutional succession, established in Article 169 of the Bolivian Constitution, became effective after the Constitutional Court, through a communiqué endorsed the succession in the Presidency of the Bolivian State, allowing the vice-president of the Senate, Jeanine Añez, to assume the position of acting president.

In Bolivia, a stage of political transition is opening that should include all sectors of organized civil society and political parties with the objective of promoting a new proposal for a country that is in harmony with the ideas of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, issues that have been completely absent from the political scene for the last fourteen years.

The president-in-Office must call elections within ninety days. New actors and demands have burst onto the national political scene. A prolonged process of destabilization in Bolivia, led by groups related to Morales, is not ruled out. On the future of stability and democracy in Bolivia, the doors are still wide open.

Translation by Blanca Domínguez

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