Until last week, Evo Morales was the longest standing Latin American political leader in recent decades. Now, due to pressure from Bolivia’s armed forces and the police, he has been forced to resign, and to flee to Mexico where he is currently taking refuge. Interim president Jeanine Áñez, Christian opposition politician who has expressed a desire to reform the Bolivian political system, has replaced him.
Protests for and against Bolivia’s ex-president Evo Morales erupted after the declaration of the Supreme Court on the 26th of October, when they announced that Morales was the winner of the latest presidential elections and therefore there was no need to hold a second round. Reports of electoral fraud from the Organisation of American States (OEA) later indicated that there were “serious irregularities” throughout.
Morales, who would be completing his fourth term in office as the first indigenous president of Latin America, became a transnational symbol of the indigenous fight against neoliberalism, racism and extractivism in the region.
During his time in office, Morales integrated indigenous and peasant sectors of the population into the political sphere, and he successfully resisted the US policy of eradication of coca crops defending its traditional and medicinal use by Bolivia’s indigenous communities.
However, he ended un opening the doors to the extractivism and also weakened the mechanisms that guarantee democracy in the country in order to extend his presidential mandate. He challenged the Constitution of Bolivia to allow him to run for a third term, when it had been laid out that the maximum term length was two. He then asked for an ammendmentto allos a forth mandate in a referendum, which he lost. Nevertheless, he carried on his candidacy in the recent elections, that ended up so badly for him.
For these reasons, many social sectors of Bolivia have come together in celebration of the resignation of Morales, meanwhile others take to the streets to defend him. What is worth knowing about new president, Jeanine Añez, and what could happen during the next elections in Bolivia?
Who is Jeanine Áñez?
Jeanine Áñez, the new interim president of Bolivia, replaces Morales in a context of division and polarisation. Those who believe Morales’ resignation was a coup d’etat think that Bolivia’s conservatives have forced out an indigenous leader in order to impose a more right-wing, neoliberal agenda in the country.
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