Bolivia Crisis 2019 Explained

In an election plagued with irregularities that seeded public distrust in the electoral process and fears that democracy was falling to autocracy, chaos reigns king across Bolivia… with perhaps some outside help. 

Evo Morales, is the first indigenous president in a country that is majority indigenous, has overseen an economic transformation since his first term, and has overall done a fair job lifting thousands out of poverty and introducing social programs across Bolivia. Morales was initially barred from running for a fourth term by constitutional term limits. Opposition and party allies alike strongly advised Morales to avoid seeking the fourth term and allow alternative candidates to run for the sake of peace and progress. He instead pushed a referendum to abolish term limits, which was decisively voted against.  Despite the results of the referendum and calls for him to gracefully step aside Morales chose to run with approval from the Supreme court which some allege he stacked in his favor prior to the referendum.

The election was carried out on October 20 and is divided into two counts the TREP and the official count. To win the first count, candidates need to obtain at least 50% of the vote, or 40% and win by 10% points over the second highest candidate. The TREP is a quick count so that on election night, some results are released quickly to media and add confidence in the legitimacy of the election. Amid the results of the first count, Carlos Mesa, the main challenger to Morales began to falsely and publicly claim he had already advanced to the 2nd round, based on incomplete TREP results. Whether he did this deliberately to instigate post election chaos or delegitimize the process is currently unknown. When the TREP count reached 83% of the vote counted, the electoral authority held a press conference reporting the results, Morales 46% and Mesa 38%, a difference of 8% percentage points indicating a 2nd round for an official count could be started. The electoral authorities stopped the quick count and declared the election could proceed to the 2nd round, the official count, prior to the election they had publicly pledged to move to the 2nd round when more than 80% of the quick count had taken place, so stopping the TREP was not a surprise or unexpected.

Despite the TREP quick count not being a determining factor in choosing the presidential winner, the U.S. led Organization of American States (OAS), inexplicably condemned the electoral authority prior to a proper audit of the vote and demanded the TREP to be restarted. The OAS which observes elections has been recommending and implementing these types of ‘Quick Count’ and ‘Official Count’ systems across South America.  However it has proven not to be a reliable nor neutral instrument in the past, often pushing U.S. interests and overturning elections in favor of Right Wing governments willing to exploit natural resources to U.S., Canada linked corporations. As was the case in the 2010 Haiti election which was overturned in favor of a U.S. friendly leader who has ransacked the country ever since, leading to an explosion of anti corruption and pro democracy protests in 2019.

Under pressure from the U.S. led OAS the electoral authority restarted the TREP vote, which was legally shut off according to official procedure, when the vote resumed 96% of the votes had been counted, and Morales had jumped to a lead of 47% to Mesa’s 37%, giving Evo Morales a clear victory over his opponent in the TREP vote. However it must be noted, and world wide media absolutely missed or failed to mention, whether deliberately or maliciously… the TREP quick count does not determine the presidential winner, the official count does. But by then it was too late, candidate Mesa and world wide media outlets quickly echoed electoral fraud leading to nationwide civil unrest and mutiny. For nearly 20 days before President Evo Morales announced his resignation, as a result of a military coup d’etat and targeted violence against government ministers and their families, thousands of elements of civil society from differing backgrounds and political ideologies organized across Bolivia to decry what they viewed as electoral fraud. Police nationwide retreated to their headquarters in every major city often joining electoral fraud protests while wielding firearms and occasionally burning indigeinous iconography and flags. Ministers and other government officials began to hand in their resignations due to threats against their lives, families, and homes from mobs and unknown assailants. Left wing and Right wing mobs have taken to the streets to attack each other and blame one another for unverified extreme acts of violence and murder, which foreign and domestic commentators online quickly distribute to satisfy their own political narratives.

Amid the turmoil and risk of civil war in order to obtain stability in Bolivia, President Evo Morales requested the OAS to audit the election, which investigators found to have irregularities; upon the official confirmation of possible fraud Evo Morales then proceeded to call for a redo of the election with brand new electoral authorities and outside observers, but no mention of his resignation. Hours later the military forced Morales to step down in a coup d’etat which western media cynically rephrased as ‘asked to step down’ despite the reasonable and appropriate call for a new election by the newly deposed Morales.

Evo Morales and other government officials have now fled to Mexico the last bastion of the Latin American Left, a luxury Morales supporters cannot afford, the National Assembly must now set up an interim government and call an election within 90 days. Meanwhile the country slowly burns from within; a fire built up under decades of right wing resentment, government disregard for the constitution, a binary left vs right civil society, and foreign manipulation in the international not so secret resource war between China, the five eyes, and the EU for Bolivia’s vast Lithium reserves. Lost in the OAS unleashed insanity, the TREP didn’t even matter and the official count, the real election, had yet to take place.

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