During the 11 months in which the former Bolivian president Evo Morales was forced to resign and flee the country, the right wing interim government has completely failed to get the masses on its side. It has also had to deal with certain controversies by undoing Morales’s policies as well as the novel Corona virus. The failure of the interim right wing government in Bolivia has helped the leftists to retake power in the country.
Now, a year later, Bolivians will finally head to the polls again on Sunday to elect a new president in what will be the second general election in Latin America since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region. The stakes are high—the election may determine not only Bolivia’s democratic future, but also the fate of left wing movements in South America and beyond.
In November 2019, Bolivia’s three-terms serving president and a left-wing leader; Evo Morales was forced and threatened by police and military to flee to Mexico from Bolivia. These threats had come just two weeks after he won the presidential elections of October 2019 which would have made him president for the fourth term.
An unelected interim right-wing coup regime was installed in his place which was led by the interim president Jeanine Anez. Anez was involved in ordering a military massacre of dozens of Morales’s supporters and granted immunity to the soldiers who killed all those indigenous people. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had endorsed the right-wing coup by citing that it had discredited the fraud in elections of October 2019.
Evo Morales’ Mas party and other critics of the right-wing interim government of Ms Áñez have accused it of using the pandemic to try to hold on to power. Anez administration has focused more on trying to persecute political companions, especially the exiled Mr. Morales and his Mas party and his indigenous supporters alongside.
The right wing party had postponed elections twice this year but Bolivians went to polls on Sunday 18th October 2020. Although no official or formal results have been declared by the authorities yet, but the exit polls from reliable firms are showing a lead for Luis Arce, the presidential candidate from MAS or the Movement Toward Socialism. He had also served as the finance minister for Evo Morales.
To win the first round of elections in Bolivia, a candidate requires more than 50 percent of votes or 40 percent with at least 10 percent points over the second-place candidate. The exit polls have shown that Arce has a little over 50 percent votes lead over Jeanine Anez and a roughly 20 points percent lead over the centrist former president Carlos Mesa. With almost 40 percent votes already being counted, Arce has over 45 percent votes and Mesa has just a little over 35% vote count.
This has expressed the anti-right wing sentiments of the Bolivian people quite apparently. They have overthrown the idea of forced governments on them. Even though this coup was US-supported, it is difficult to remember the last time when a US-supported military coup failed like this in the Latin America. After his forced exile to Mexico, Evo Morales had blamed US for giving green signals to the right wing coup leaders as well as the Bolivian military and police. He also linked this coup with the Western anger over his decision to sell off some of the country’s valuable Lithium supply to China instead of the West.
Spending 12 years and three presidential terms in Bolivia, Morales himself was not free of criticism and mistakes. His staunch supporters had grown alert at the increasing reliance of Morales on autocratic tactics in order to maintain his regime over Bolivia. Despite a constitutional limit of two-terms for a president, his supporters had become critical of him surpassing the constitutional limit and serving for the third time as president.
But all these criticisms did not prevent him from being re-elected by the Bolivian public in 2019. And for those whole believe in democracy and had been accusing Morales of authoritarian attributes, this was enough of a proof that Bolivians believe in democracy and that Morales had been serving purely out of the public’s mandate.
No matter how much critiques he got, it is unfair to say that Morales served for more than a decade being a complete failure or an autocrat because his regime had been quite successful for Bolivia. after decades of political instability in the country, he brought in a stable and thriving democracy, led the economy so well that even the western institutions praised him and provided special resources to the long-oppressed local minorities and farmers. All these qualities of Morales were completely destroyed purposely when he was forced to flee from Bolivia after his victory in 2019 elections.
It would be dimly viewed by US President Donald Trump’s administration and its allies in Latin America; Mr. Morales has been a fierce and a lifelong critic of US imperialism, even though he was credited with applying pragmatic economic policies during his nearly 14 years in office.
According to the contorted US opinion, it was not an overthrowing of a democratic mandate but instead it was a victory for democracy which was under threat from so many years. But the elections on Sunday successfully exposed the hatred in Bolivian people against dictatorship and the support for democratic values. Anyone who staunchly supports the idea of democracy should be cheering up the Bolivians for their bravery and standing up against the forced government which was lodged up on them by the US-supported coup.
Tension and expectation ahead of the vote have been building up for months and international organizations, including the Catholic Church, the European Union and the United Nations; have called on all sides to avoid confrontation. The confrontation can result in the extreme circumstances given the political history of Bolivia. There are also many reports of incidents and hybrid confrontations during election campaigns. The UN has already registered 46 incidents of violence during the campaign.
The author is doing M. Phil in Public Policy and Governance. He is working as a freelancer. Previously worked with HubPages and Washington Post.