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On June 10, Bolivia witnessed again protests against the fourth re-election of President Evo Morales
Leer en español: ‘Bolivia dice NO’ a la reelección de Evo Morales
'Bolivia says NO'. That is the slogan of the protests last Monday, June 10, in which thousands of citizens occupied the streets of the main cities of the country to demand that Morales is not allowed to re-launch for the presidency.
Since December 2018, Bolivians have taken to the streets on several occasions to protest against the candidacy of Evo Morales, who has been president since 2006. It was at the end of 2018 that Morales assured that he would launch once more and that from that moment he was going to begin his presidential campaign. Immediately, thousands of opponents took to the streets in what ended with several injured and even one dead person. Since then, several have been the occasions in which they have manifested again in the streets.
Opposition presidential candidates participated in the protests and assured that, following the Constitution, Evo Morales should not have the opportunity to launch again as a candidate.
On this occasion, the petition goes beyond fighting against the current president, as they are demanding the resignation of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). This demand arises because citizens consider that it is not a competent authority to ensure that the next elections are democratic. According to opposition candidate Carlos Mesa, the TSE "is totally taken over by the government and that is a response to the articulations that the government makes in favor of its interests," he told CNN.
In response to the demonstrations, the government said it was an opposition boycott to dismiss and destabilize Evo Morales and his government. This, since according to the ruling party, what is necessary to submit the application was in order and legal.
Meanwhile, different organizations have said that they will continue to be heard in the coming days and that they may call a national strike.
Why is Evo Morales still running for the presidency?
The laws of this country allow only a consecutive reelection, so, in theory, Evo Morales would be, from his previous mandate, unable to continue running. Despite this, Morales launched a second re-election (and third term) in 2014, which was approved by a "Constitutional ruling that indicated that Bolivia was re-founded with the new Magna Carta that the same president put into effect in 2009", according to the Deutsche Welle.
After this decision, Evo Morales, declaring himself qualified to re-election, held a referendum in 2016 in which he asked the citizens if they supported his re-election. Despite winning the 'No', which would have prevented his candidacy, the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) presented a petition to modify some articles of the Constitution and the Electoral Law to allow more than one re-election.
According to Telesur, "in 2017, a ruling by the Plurinational Constitutional Court (TCP) authorized the reinstatement of Morales, based on Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights." This decision, although criticized by the opposition, was accepted by organizations such as the UN. That being the case, Evo Morales could be reelected indefinitely on the grounds that it is a human right.
The final decision, which gave Evo Morales the green light to run again as a candidate for the 2020-2025 presidential term, was given by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). This is the reason why the citizens have come out to protest against this court, since the decision is already given and it would not be fruitful to go out and protest against the nomination itself. Bearing this in mind, Bolivians do not consider that the TSE is apt to ensure democracy in the elections that will take place in October 2019.
For his part, Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), which is highly committed to democracy and has been critical of dictatorial regimes such as Nicaragua, has assured that it would go against democracy not to allow Morales launch his candidacy. Almagro affirmed that the position of the OAS is to support the decision that Morales can make a campaign again and that, in other occasions, the same strategy has been used to invoke re-election as a human right.
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Despite the fact that Almagro repeatedly stated that it is not an endorsement of the candidacy, since the function of the OAS in these cases is to advocate for democracy and not to support any candidate, the statement annoyed the opposition. The former president and opposition leader, Jorge 'Tuto' Quiroga, said that support for the candidacy meant "a pact for re-election," in which Almagro would be seeking votes for his own re-election.
In statements to CNN, Quiroga said that this support has been a disappointment because Almagro had previously said that "it is not possible, by judicial decision, to annul the general will expressed in the referendum, that the Human Rights Convention does not give the right to perpetual re-election, that being a tyrant is not a human right protected by the OAS (...) said that nullifying the limit of mandates and ignoring the popular will was to damage democracy and establish a dictatorship."
LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez
Translated from "‘Bolivia dice NO’ a la reelección de Evo Morales"