Things That Matter

Bolivia’s President Wants To Be Reelected For A Fourth Time But He Could Send His Country Into A Political Crisis

Bolivia’s president Evo Morales is again envuelto en controversia after his attempts to be reelected once again.Juan Evo Morales Ayma is one of the most disputed figures in recent Latin American history. The indigenous activist and politician became president after leading his party, Movement for Socialism, to victory in the polls. He first attempted to win the presidency in 2002 and came in second after a very tight race. He is part of the wave of socialist and populist politics that defined South American politics in the mid 2000s, and which also included statesmen such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa (for an alternative reading of the socialist revolution in South America, watch Oliver Stone’s controversial documentary South of the Border). 

His allies see him as a true liberator of the continent, a noble opponent of the neoliberal policies that have produced millions of poor in the region. His opponents think of him as a dictator with a thirst for power. Truth is, he has subverted Bolivian politics by adopting a socialist agenda and often pushing back corporations and foreign influence, particularly from the United States. 

Morales has served as President of Bolivia since 2006: 13 years and counting.

Credit: Instagram. @fmpinilla

So how is it even possible for someone to remain in power for so long? Morales was first elected for the 2006-2009 period. In 2008 he organized a recall referendum (meaning that the electorate could decide whether to keep him or dump him), which he won. Shortly after he established a new constitution through which Bolivia became a plurinational state, meaning that indigenous nations within the borders were recognized. This reshaping of the political backbone of Bolivia led to his reelection in 2009 and then for a third term in 2014. So yes, 13 years and counting! 

So the opposition is obviously very unhappy about the prospects of a fourth Morales term, especially after a referendum that he lost.

Credit: Instagram. @fmpinilla

Morales organized a referendum asking Bolivians whether he should run again or not. A constitutional reform needed to be in place for him to do so.  He lost, but he is nevertheless on the ticket and seems to be headed to a victory in the October elections. The opposition sees this as an attempt to undermine democracy. They see Morales as a king who will do anything to keep his throne and crown. As BBC reported back on July 3, 2019: “Although the 2016 referendum results rejected the constitutional reform needed to allow Morales to seek office again, subsequent court rulings determined that not allowing him to run would violate his political rights, and electoral authorities accepted his new re-election bid”. 

Political pundits have taken their gloves off.

Credit: Twitter. @CarlosAMontaner

Personalities such as writer and journalist Carlos A. Montaner have criticized not only Morales, but also the Organization of American States (OEA), which has supported the Bolivian President in his bid for a fourth term. The OEA had previously been critical of regimes in Cuba and Venezuela. 

Protests during Morales’ mandate have been constant and increasingly violent.

Credit: Instagram. @apnews

Before becoming president, Evo Morales was famous for his combative activism. He was the leader of cocaleros or coca producers, and played an active role in the 1999 Cochabamba Water War, in which indigenous populations fought against the privatization of water. During his presidency he has encountered the same kind of combativeness, but he is now on the other side. This photo, for example, was taken at a protest against budget cuts in services for people with disabilities. His bid for a third reelection could escalate into a full-blown political crisis. 

Western powers don’t see him con muy buenos ojos, as he is an advocate of leftist politics and aligns with Putin’s Russia.

Credit: Instagram. @infonodal

Evo Morales is perceived in Western countries, including the United States, as a populist who manipulates his people into following him, and as a threat to global markets. He has aligned himself with the remains of the Soviet Bloc, meaning he has tight connections in Moscow and Havana. Just this year, Morales expressed his interest in buying Russian military equipment, as reported by Sputnik News Service: “There is a great interest in purchasing Russian military equipment, including aviation equipment, and in services. A [joint] commission is operating, and we hope that technology transfer will bring good results”. 

In the meantime, Morales is in full election mode.

Credit: Instagram. @evomoralesayma

His opposition is echando el grito al cielo, but Morales continues his seemingly swift ride to reelection. In his social media he has been sharing images of events such as this caravan in the iconic site of Cochabamba, an icon of indigenous struggle. Love him or hate him, no one can deny he is a masterful politician. 

And of course the photo-op “putting out fires” in the Bolivian Amazonia.

Credit: Instagram. @evomoralesayma

This image is kind of poetic. Yes, Bolivia should do its part in fighting the fires in the Amazon rainforest, but Morales seems to be ignoring the political fires that threaten to undermine democracy in the country. In the meantime, he has criticized the aid promised by the G7 (the group of the most powerful countries in the world). As reported by AFP, Morales said in an interview with Radio Panamericana: “I welcome that small, small, tiny contribution of $20 million from the G7 — that is not help, it is part of a shared co-responsibility, as all peoples have the obligation to preserve the ecosystem”. This anti-establishment rhetoric is exactly what might get him another electoral win. 

In fact, he “temporarily interrupted” his reelection campaign to oversee the environmental crisis.

Credit: Twitter. @chamberohoy

With the election looming and the opposition getting combative, how come Morales interrupted his campaign? This is a smart political move: he acts presidential to get voters to think mejor malo por conocido que bueno por conocer. 

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Donald Trump Refused To Condemn His White Supremacists Pals And In fact, Told Them To ‘Stand By’

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Donald Trump Refused To Condemn His White Supremacists Pals And In fact, Told Them To ‘Stand By’

Spencer Platt / Getty

Last night’s first presidential debate of the 2020 election gave us about as much optimism and assurance of safety as his past four years in office. Particularly because when it came to the moments when our current president was given a chance by moderator Chris Wallace to condemn white supremacists and “militia” groups while also demanding that they stand down as opposed to inciting violence, he refused.

Even if you’ve yet to watch Tuesday night’s debates, you’ve undoubtedly heard that throughout the night Donald Trump acted like a child who had never once been taught by a teacher to wait his turn to speak. Or, to simply answer a question. Shockingly, Trump stuck to this approach in one of the most critical aspects of the debates that could have gained him followers or at least assuaged Americans and their fears about his leadership and morality.

When it came to the moment when he was asked to condemn white nationalists and militia groups Trump pussyfooted around then gave a pretty damning response.

During last night’s debate when asked to denounce those groups, Trump gave non-committal answers.

When asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace asked if he was willing and ready to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and tell them to stand down during the current and ongoing demonstrations taking place across the country, Trump told one group to “stand back and stand by.”

What’s more, he asserted that violence at the protests was not being instigated by conservatives.

“Sure,” Trump responded. “I’m willing to [tell them to stand down] but I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”

“Say it. Do it. Say it,” Biden urged Trump in response to his non commital answers.

“Who would you like me to condemn?” Trump shot back, turning his attention to Wallace. “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

The Proud Boys are a far-right men-only organization that has been spotted at multiple 2020 Trump campaign rallies wearing black and yellow polo shirt uniforms.

The group promotes and often engages in political violence.

This is why Trump’s non-committal responses like “Sure” to requests from Wallace and Biden to condemn these groups are worrisome. Even more so why, when pressed by Wallace and Biden who pointed out repeatedly that “sure” is not the same as actually doing so was so troubling as well. Moreover, it’s important to note that Trump’s response to “I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing” is another “all lives matter” kind of way to denouncing white supremacist groups.

Of course this is not the first time the president has defended the actions of white supremacists.

In August, Trump refused to condemn the actions of his supporters in Portland, Oregon, and Wisconsin who used pepper spray to attack demonstrators. In the past, Trump has also defended Kyle Rittenhouse, a shooter who attempted homicide in Kenosha, Wisconsin at a BLM protest, saying that he had been “very violently attacked.”

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Pretty Damning: Trump Paid $750 in Federal Income Tax — He Even Wrote-Off That Sad Comb Over

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Pretty Damning: Trump Paid $750 in Federal Income Tax — He Even Wrote-Off That Sad Comb Over

BILL PUGLIANO / GETTY

After four long years, we finally know why Trump didn’t want to release his tax returns: abominably, he thought his terrible haircuts and adult age children were worthy of write-offs. Oh yeah… and the year he was elected he only paid $750.00.

Long before his 2016 presidential election bid, Trump dodged calls to reveal his tax returns. At the time of his bid, however, he refused to take part in a 40-year tradition carried out by presidential nominees to release tax returns to the public. During his initial run, Trump falsely claimed that he was unable to release his returns publicly while they were under audit, and throughout his presidency, he has avoided sharing them despite grand jury subpoenas. Fortunately, thanks to a piece published by The New York Times, they’re finally getting a chance to see the light of day.

On Sunday, The New York Times published the first of several reports examining Trump’s tax information.

In 2016, Trump became the first president since 1976 to not release his tax records. The decision promptly roused dismay and questions about whether the records carried “undisclosed conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions.”

According to NYT’s latest exposé, Trump (a man who has long boasted about his wealth and has also claimed a net worth of billions of which he has also declared to be self-acquired) paid a mere total of $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

While the Times report did not cover 2018 and 2019 tax filings, the newspaper looked into 18 years of Trump’s tax returns. They also looked into his business dealings as far back as 2000 and found that in 10 of those years, the president of the United States failed to pay any income taxes “largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.”

The Times also revealed that Trump “racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes” despite millions in income and property. In a statement for the piece, Alan Garten an attorney for the Trump Organization claimed to the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts, appear to be inaccurate.” NoteL the Times underlined that Garten appeared to be “conflating income taxes with other federal taxes.”

According to the article, beginning in 2010, Trump had been given a $72.9 million tax refund from the IRS.

The Times article explains in detail how Trump has managed to handle his business and categorize his wealth. The paper found that most often, Trump claimed his expenses as deductions from his tax bill chalking them up to business expenses. These include nearly $70,000 in hairstyling costs for his time on NBC’s “The Apprentice” over $300,000 for landscaping of the Mar-a-Lago Club and $95,000 written off for hair and makeup done for his daughter Ivanka. That’s right, the president wrote off his own adult children.

Addressing the report, the Times noted that they would not include the actual tax documents in its coverage to avoid outing its sources.

“We are publishing this report because we believe citizens should understand as much as possible about their leaders and representatives — their priorities, their experiences and also their finances,” Times editor Dean Baquet wrote in an editor’s note. “Every president since the mid-1970s has made his tax information public. The tradition ensures that an official with the power to shake markets and change policy does not seek to benefit financially from his actions.”

In response to the reports, Trump called the story “fake news” during a White House press conference on Sunday.

Speaking about the piece, Trump bemoaned that the IRS “does not treat me well.” “It’s totally fake news. Made-up, fake,” he continued. “We went through the same stories, people you could’ve asked me the same questions four years ago. I had to litigate this and talk about it. Totally fake news… Actually, I paid tax, and you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns — it’s under audit,” Trump went onto explain. “They’ve been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well. … They don’t treat me well; they treat me very badly. You have people in the IRS, they treat me very, very badly…But they’re under audit. And when they’re not, I would be proud to show you, but that’s just fake news.”

It’s important to note that even an audit could not prevent Trump from releasing his tax records to the public.

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