Bolivia is facing a political crisis following Evo Morales’ resignation on Sunday. The United States has backed the self-declared interim leader Jeanine Anez in Morales’ place, and Morales has expressed his adamant displeasure. Speaking on Wednesday from his refuge in Mexico where he has been given political asylum, Morales announced he was ready “to return to pacify” the country he has had to leave behind. Bolivians are at odds in their response to events and will undoubtedly continue to be so until the situation stabilizes.
Morales was Bolivia’s longest-serving president at nearly 14 years in leadership and is the country’s first indigenous president. In the past, he received abundant support from Bolivians for bettering the country’s economy and giving indigenous peoples more recognition. However, this all changed in the wake of Bolivia’s presidential election in October. What happened?
Morales did the unacceptable. He made the controversial decision to run for a fourth consecutive term in office despite previously established presidential term limits. He then contributed to the falsification of election results, which, when they came to light, led to weeks of unrest and protests across the country. Demonstrators accused Morales of undermining Bolivia’s democracy, while his loyalists, also taking to the streets, showed their unwavering support for the leader. When the international election monitor, Organization of American States, delivered a report that suggested that the election results had been tampered with so that Morales would win, he and his government was forced to dissolve. Morales’ flame, however, has certainly not been burnt out.
Morales has accused Anez of taking part in a coup that has falsely claimed that he had taken a part in the fraud. He has also condemned the United States for supporting her role as the interim president. In a tweet on Thursday, the former Bolivian leader claimed that the United States’ actions were part of a “political and economic conspiracy” plot against the country. He has urged the United Nations to intervene on his behalf.
Meanwhile, Anez holds the position as interim president despite the continuing dicey political situation. She was the highest-ranking politician in succession after Morales and his other top officials stepped down. Her new position has been contested by Morales’ supporters who have marched in Bolivia’s capital. Morales’ party still holds the majority in parliament and refuses to confirm her position, leading to claims that she had no authority because her role was never formalized. Despite this, Anez has declared the role constitutionally hers, and has said she plans on calling elections “in the shortest possible time.” She is required to do so within the next 90 days.
How has the international community responded? The United States has shown support. President Trump said the development in the Latin America country sent “a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.” Other countries, specifically other left-wing governments in the region like Nicaragua and Venezuela, however, have come to Morales’ defence. There seems to be apprehension on all sides on how the situation in Bolivia will play out, and what it will mean for the region.
Bolivia is in need of political stability. In order for this to happen, a new election needs to take place that is fair and uncorrupted. Bolivians need to feel like their votes count, their voices are heard, and that their government works. And it needs to happen quickly. The longer the situation is drawn out, the more volatile the situation is likely to become.
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