Fueled by Protests Over Possible Election Fraud Bolivian President Steps Down
The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has resigned. The decision comes after the president faced backlash over the highly disputed election of October 20th, 2019. The Organization of American States conducted an audit of the electoral process and discovered “clear manipulation of the voting system.”
Morales had recognized that Bolivians were unhappy with the possible discrepancies and called for a new election. He’d been vying for a fourth term, and as NPR reports, “…he had not secured the votes necessary to outright win, and instead would go into a runoff election against former president Carlos Mesa, his closest rival. But an unexpected gap in the reporting of results — followed by Morales narrowly securing the necessary votes to avoid that runoff election — led critics to accuse Morales of tampering with the results and thrust the country into turmoil.”
Evo Morales is the first Indigenous president of Bolivia, and had held office for 14 years. While experts have noted that he was far from a dictator—the country made great strides in social gains and economic growth during his tenure—the dispute calls into question the fairness of Bolivia’s electoral process.
The Bolivian military has reportedly not lashed out at its citizenry having declared themselves in mutiny, and placed pressure on Morales to resign. He made his resignation official yesterday, during a press conference and his would-be successors followed.
Still, the protests have exposed a great division within the land-locked South American country and turned deadly. Many right-wing protesters and opposition activists are referring to Morales as a dictator and declaring the country “finally free.” Others have even taken to the streets and are using the disgraced president’s heritage as a way to justify brutally attacking Indigenous women in traditional garb mocking them for their cultural beliefs. There have even been reports of arson against the properties of the president’s family.
Morales had previously denounced the dissenters as part of a civic coup organized by his rival and right-wing ex-president, Carlos Mesa. Evo had shown a willingness to participate in the audit, and hold new elections even as tensions remained sky high. Those actions, once seen as a potential bright spot for the country, have been brushed aside as their future now seems uncertain.