Bolivia’s return to democracy

Just a year after Evo Morales was forced into exile after he won Bolivia’s presidential election and was replaced by a US-backed puppet, his party and its candidate Luis Arce who served as his economy minister, has won an overwhelming victory in the election, gaining over 50% of the vote and thus winning outright, negating the need for a run-off.

A quick count suggests socialist candidate Luis Arce of the Mas party is set to win Bolivia’s presidential election in the first round.

The second-placed candidate, Carlos Mesa, has conceded defeat and called Mr Arce’s 20-percentage-point lead in the quick-count “unassailable”.

Sunday’s vote was a re-run of the 2019 election, in which incumbent Evo Morales was declared the winner.

The 2019 vote was followed by mass protests triggered by allegations that Mr Morales’s victory had been rigged.

Following calls from the chiefs of the police and the army for him to resign, Mr Morales went into exile and Senator Jeanine Áñez was sworn in as interim president.

Ms Áñez said a re-run of the election would be held as soon as it was feasible, but amid the coronavirus pandemic the vote was postponed twice before it was finally held on Sunday.

Glenn Greenwald gives us the background to this story

IN NOVEMBER 2019, Bolivia’s three-term President Evo Morales was forced under threat of police and military violence to flee to Mexico, just weeks after he was declared the winner of the October presidential election that would have sent him to his fourth term. Installed in his place was an unelected right-wing coup regime, led by self-declared “interim President” Jeanine Áñez, who promptly presided over a military massacre that killed dozens of Morales’s Indigenous supporters and then granted immunity to all the soldiers involved. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the time cheered the coup by citing subsequently debunked claims of election fraud by the Organization of American States, or OAS, and urging “a truly democratic process representative of the people’s will.”

But after the Áñez regime twice postponed scheduled elections this year, Bolivians went to the polls on Sunday. They delivered a resounding victory to presidential candidate Luis Arce, Morales’s former finance minister and the candidate from his Movement Toward Socialism, or MAS, Party. Although official results are still being counted, exit polls from reputable firms show Arce with a blowout victory — over 50 percent against a centrist former president and a far-right coup leader — and Áñez herself conceded that MAS has won: “We do not yet have an official count, but from the data we have, Mr. Arce and [MAS Vice Presidential candidate] Mr. Choquehuanca have won the election. I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind.”

It is difficult to remember the last time a U.S.-approved military coup in Latin America failed so spectacularly. Even with the U.S.-dominated OAS’s instantly dubious claims of electoral fraud, nobody disputed that Morales received more votes in last October’s election than all other candidates (the only question raised by the OAS was whether his margin of victory was sufficient to win on the first round and avoid a run-off).

But thanks to Sunday’s stunning rebuke in Bolivia, the standard tactics failed. Ever since Morales’s election victory almost exactly one year ago today, Bolivians never stopped marching, protesting, risking their liberty and their lives — even in the middle of a pandemic — to demand their rights of democracy and self-governance. Leading up to the election, the coup regime and right-wing factions in the military were menacingly vowing — in response to polls universally showing MAS likely to win — that they would do anything to prevent the return to power of Morales’s party.

At least as of now, though, it looks as though the margin of victory delivered to MAS by the Bolivian people was so stunning, so decisive, that there are few options left for the retrograde forces — in Bolivia, Washington, and Brussels — which tried to destroy the country’s democracy. Anyone who believes in the fundamentals of democracy, regardless of ideology, should be cheering the Bolivians who sacrificed so much to restore their right of self-rule and hoping that the stability and prosperity they enjoyed under Morales expands even further under his first democratically elected successor.

We can expect the US to now begin to destabilize Bolivia because if there is one thing that the US government hates, it is having left-wing governments in the Americas that work to the benefit of the poor and marginalized and not the oligarchs.


  1. jrkrideau says

    I blame the pandemic. It distracted Pompeo, the CIA and other 3-letter agencies that they did not support the “interim” gov’t enough.

  2. Who Cares says

    @Marcus Ranum(#2):
    That is different, I mean that is not the US doing it which is due to the US being the one indispensable nation is always good and by definition trying to harm the one indispensable nation by meddling in the elections is good.

    To the rest of the world (and an unknown amount of the US population) it is a do as we say not as we do situation. And roid rage symptoms if you do not do as ordered.

  3. Tired South American says

    Most of us in South America know that the success of Evo Morales was fueled through drug money, blood money. It’s one of those open secrets which you can’t say out loud because, hey, at least he’s on our side. He is also OK with “regulated” child labor. What a swell guy. Let me be clear: left wing, right wing, down here everyone sucks, and the USA is only partially to blame. In fact, I’m convinced that your country is the main force which keeps SA’s left wing governments afloat, as its pathological villainy is a perfectly credible scapegoat for the failures of our politicians: “The US ate my homework!” they will yell and, if you turn around, sure enough you’ll find the US chewing something.

  4. bmiller says

    Tired South American-Isn’t that true of almost ANY political leader, especially in Latin America? Insight Crime is running a multipart series on how closely El Salvador’s “independent” President is tied to MS-13 and other criminal elements. Because the latter have major power (and wealth).

  5. KG says

    Tired South American,

    Odd that Bolivians don’t seem to agree with you. And the line that “It’s one of those open secrets which you can’t say out loud” isn’t terribly convincing.

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