Was there corruption in the Bolivian elections?

The OAS delivered the report on the elections of October 20, which states that the electoral authority was biased.

Former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales.

Former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales. / Photo: Reuters

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: ¿Hubo corrupción en las elecciones bolivianas?

The report, requested before the OAS months ago, investigated during 2019 the conduct and management of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE, in Spanish). The investigation was even more necessary and pressured after the confusing results of the elections of last October 20.

As a result of the investigation that lasted months, the Organization of American States published a report containing more than 200 complaints made by citizens and “documents signed by officials of the electoral body,” among other files that served to conclude the audit. Before the results were published, the organization had determined that there were "irregularities" in the process, but they would have to wait for a final report.



October 20

That day, Evo Morales was one of the presidential candidates and, if he won, he would go for his fourth term, despite the fact that some time ago, the result of a referendum prevented him from launching again. From there, discontent was already plagued in opposition.

That discontent increased even more when the votes cast him as a winner. According to the electoral model of Bolivia, to win in the first round you must have 50 percent of the votes or 40 percent, only if you have a 10 percent difference with the next candidate. 45 percent of Morales versus 38 percent of Carlos Mesa still did not yield a definitive result and for now, there would be a second round.

Read also: The radical turn in foreign policy of Bolivia

The result took a surprising turn after the TSE stopped publishing the latest scrutiny. The Bolivians did not know how the voting had ended, but Evo Morales declared himself the winner. 24 hours later, the electoral authority confirmed what Morales had proclaimed on his Twitter account.

The lack of clarity left thousands of citizens dissatisfied with the results, asking for a recount and a second round. In addition, the environment managed to stoke the disagreement of the Bolivians against the referendum they had voted for and prevented Evo from launching again and, arguing this, asked for his resignation.

Fraud or not?

Just this controversy occurred, Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, announced that the organization would perform a role of oversight to ensure that the TSE had acted according to law.

The organization asked the electoral authority to clarify the reason why the transmission was interrupted when Morales was not yet a winner and had taken 24 hours to deliver the full results.



With the publication of the report, Almagro said that “the Bolivian people and their government needed certainty regarding their electoral process and for that they requested the support of the Organization. Neither they nor the rest of the OAS Member States deserved another response than the exceptional and professional work of the audit mission reflected in this report".

In the month and a half that has elapsed since the elections, the Bolivian people took to the streets to ask for a second round and / or the resignation of Evo Morales, just as the president's followers took to the streets to advocate for him. All this, including criticism before the OAS, as Morales' opponents assured that the audit would benefit the president and needed a decisive and rapid decision.

However, the result of the report showed that the TSE acted in a partial manner and that there was a "malicious manipulation" that makes it "impossible to validate the results originally issued by the Bolivian electoral authorities."

This bias, says the report, goes against what the court should comply with, as these are to ensure the legality and integrality of the process, but “allowed the flow of information to be diverted to external servers, destroying confidence in the electoral process". After having declared himself a winner, Morales was cornered until he decided that there would be elections again, and that the TSE would change its officials to ensure that legality. However, it was too late and hours after that determination, Morales resigned from the post securing a coup.

Read also: Crisis in Bolivia: Evo Morales announces new elections

The OAS requested new elections because “the manipulations and irregularities indicated do not allow for certainty about the margin of victory of the candidate Evo Morales over the candidate Carlos Mesa. On the contrary, based on the overwhelming evidence found, what can be affirmed is that there have been a series of malicious operations aimed at altering the will expressed at the polls”.

Currently, Jeanine Áñez, an opponent, proclaimed herself interim president of the country after Evo's resignation. Áñez has worked hand in hand with Luis Almagro to consolidate a democracy based on upcoming elections.