Bolivia. The much-debated road construction through the Indian Reserve and Isiboro Sécure National Park was a hot political topic this year as well. In August, a referendum was held in several of the villages affected by the road construction, and it revealed extensive support for the project. At the same time, villages in the southern part of the area announced that a resistance movement against the building was underway, and roadblocks and barbed wire were being threatened to prevent construction workers from arriving.
The dispute over the road highlighted a widening gap between the government of President Evo Morale and the grass roots. The president was heavily employed by critics for double standards in environmental issues and also for disappointing election promises to workers. At the same time as the protest movement against the road construction in Isiboro Sécure was stepped up in May, the trade union organization COB (Central Obrera Boliviana) announced a three-day general strike in May in protest of the level of the government’s proposal to raise minimum wages, and both medical personnel and transport workers carried out protests. Peasants also heard discontent that the promised land reform had stopped during the previous year.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for Bolivia. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
In October, after two years of preliminary work, the province of Pando issued its statutes on autonomy and submitted them to the so-called multinational court for approval. Pando thus became the first of Bolivia’s nine provinces to comply with the provisions of the 2009 multinational constitution.
Controversies surrounding the Morales government
Morales, however, was not uncontroversial; there was internal resistance in parts of the population against the government, and conflicts between Bolivia and the United States. Conflicts arose with some of the indigenous organizations in the country when Evo Morales announced in 2011 that he would build a freeway through a protected indigenous park and residential area (TIPNIS).
In 2016, a new conflict arose when Evo Morales suffered a stiff defeat in a referendum to remove restrictions on re-election of politicians. Just before the poll, journalist Carlos Valverde released a story to the media that Evo Morales had a son with businesswoman Gabriela Zapata, who was also accused of enriching contacts with the government. The government characterized the story as a plot, and after the referendum, Valverde had to admit that the son does not exist.
The country’s Constitutional Court then intervened and abolished the restrictions on re-election, which was seen by many Bolivians as an expression of the government’s pressure on the judiciary, showing disrespect for the will of the people.
The 2019 election and coup
The October 2019 election was therefore marked by the controversy surrounding Evo Morales’s re-election for a fourth presidential term, and accusations from the opposition that electoral fraud was planned.
On Election Day, October 20, unrest intensified after the Election Commission temporarily halted the publication of the results of a non-binding “quick count” (TREP), which serves as a kind of Election Day poll. When the counting resumed, the numbers showed a scarce victory for Evo Morales, so he barely avoided a second round of elections. Morales then declared himself the winner of the election. Opposition candidate Carlos Mesa, however, claimed it had been cheating, and the Organization of American States(OAS), which had a large team of election observers in the country, pointed to irregularities and cases of manipulation of the results, and recommended new elections. After extensive street demonstrations, police turned to the president, and the military asked Evo Morales to resign, under a poorly concealed threat to force him off. After a while escaping his homeland, Morales’s exile arrived in Mexico, where President Andrés Manuel López Obrador granted him political asylum. In early December, Morales traveled to Argentina to establish himself there.
Not only the electoral process, but also the criticism against it has been the subject of controversy. The OAS has made two reports to show that the election did not hold up. But the authorities of Mexico and Argentina, among others, have questioned the role and conclusions of the OAS, claiming that Evo Morales won the election legitimately and democratically.
When Morales left the country, the opposition leader of the Senate, Jeanine Áñez, took over as acting head of state, which was followed by a period of intense turmoil. Many people were killed during demonstrations against the regime that took power, including eight young workers in a massacre in El Alto on November 19. Members of Evo Morales’ party have been subjected to persecution and have called for the authorities to guarantee their safety.
Bolivia’s relationship with other countries (2006-2009)
Evo Morales came to power as part of a wider left-wing in Latin America in the 2000s, helping to curb US ambitions in the region, which had included a trade agreement for the region (FTAA).
Although Morales’ policies were in stark contrast to previous Bolivian governments, which had a more friendly attitude to the superpower in the north, the confrontation with the United States was at a lower level than that of Bolivia’s ally Venezuela. This is despite the fact that Evo Morales challenged the United States in international forums, by breaking their war on drugs and rather making their own arrangements to control production, and by distancing themselves from the US-dominated World Bank policy.
Jeanine Áñez has focused more on the United States and right-wing governments in the region, such as Brazil under Jair Bolsonaro, and faces opposition from the other wing in what may be called a regional conflict. For example, there is open conflict between Bolivia and Mexico’s president, left-wing populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and the president of neighboring Argentina, center-left-oriented Alberto Fernández, who invited Evo Morales and not Jeanine Áñez to his inauguration on December 10, 2019.
According to countryaah, the population of Bolivia in 2012 was 10,869,619, ranking number 80 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.580% yearly, and the population density was 10.0339 people per km2.