Things That Matter

Evo Morales Enjoys Triumphant Return To Bolivia After A Year In Exile, But What’s Next For The Socialist Leader?

After spending more than a year in exile, Evo Morales, the former leader of Bolivia, has returned to a Bolivia that is more polarized than ever before. The former president can thank the victory of his left-wing MÁS party for being able to return the country he left last November.

As he returned to the country, he was greeted with a homecoming tour as his supporters hail him for the economic and social progress made during his 14 years in power. But his detractors, of which there are many, aren’t exactly celebrating his return.

Many accuse him of leading the country towards authoritarianism and spreading corruption. In fact, Morales was only forced into exile after trying to secure an unprecedented fourth term as president, which had been rejected in a 2016 referendum where voters decided he should not have that right.

Bolivia’s former leader – Evo Morales – has returned after living a year in exile.

Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first Indigenous president, returned to Bolivia from Argentina one day after Luis Arce, his protégée, was sworn in as the nation’s new president. Arce is now leading Morales’ leftist political party – Movement Towards Socialism (MÁS).

While Arce had been leading in the polls, he surprised many observers by winning outright in the first round. Morales welcomed the news by immediately returning to Bolivia.

It was just over a year ago that Morales was forced into exile after leading the country for almost 14 years. Many were angry that he ran for re-election in 2019 despite a majority voting against dropping presidential term limits from the constitution.

He subsequently lost the support of the chief of the army, who urged him to resign as mass protests over allegations of vote rigging swept across the country.The protests continued for weeks – and combined with pressure from the army and the police – led to Morales’s resignation and his move into exile first in Mexico and then in Argentina.

Morales enjoyed a homecoming tour on his return to Bolivia from exile in Argentina.

Waving the Whipala, the checkered colorful Indigenous flag and chanting, “Evo, Evo,” thousands of supporters welcomed the return of Morales. After crossing the border from Argentina, Morales began a 600-mile homecoming tour backed by a massive motorcade.

“In the past year I’ve never felt abandoned,” he told the crowd, referring to his year in exile. In fact, it was almost a year to the day since he had fled the same city.

The Bolivian leader continues to maintain that the United States had a hand in provoking the “coup d’état” that forced him from power.

Though not all Bolivians are excited about the former president’s return.

As crowds cheered and welcomed the former resident, many Bolivians believe that his return risks derailing the new president’s stated intention to reunite the country after a year of rule by a right-wing interim government.

Morales has repeatedly said that he will not engage in politics, but many remain skeptical. He remains as the head of the MÁS party and many say it would be difficult to imagine a world in which Morales avoids meddling in political matters.

Though his supporters would certainly like to see him get involved.

“Here are his people, he knows how to listen to the Indigenous people,” said Elizabeth Arcaide, a 43-year-old woman who wiped away tears during a rally in Orinoca, where hundreds turned out at a local football field under a scorching sun to welcome home the “son of the people.”

Though it remains to be seen what role Morales could play in the future of Bolivia.

Long a polarizing figure in Bolivian politics, Morales’ future in the country remains to be seen. Arce, often referred to by his nickname Lucho, has insisted that Morales will have no role in his new government.

For his part, Morales has said that he would only be working on organizing with labor unions and to help spread socialist ideas as an advocate.

“I will share my experience in the union struggles, because the fight continues,” he told supporters on Monday. “As long as capitalism exists, the people’s fight will continue, I’m convinced of this.”

But experts said Morales, who remains the head of the MAS and continues to command strong loyalty among his core of supporters in rural areas and Indigenous groups, is likely to continue to loom large not only over the party he founded, but on the politics of the country as a whole.

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TikTok Suspended A Mexican Politician For Celebrating The Pass Of A Marijuana Bill By Toking

Fierce

TikTok Suspended A Mexican Politician For Celebrating The Pass Of A Marijuana Bill By Toking

Wolfgang Kaehler / Getty

TikTok but don’t toke.

Nayeli Salvatori, a Mexican congresswoman who is a representative for the 10th district of the state of Puebla, recently got into hot water with TikTok after she posted a video of herself smoking marijuana. The politician, who is also a member of the Social Encounter Party, uploaded her video with the song “Light my Fire” by The Doors and added text to her video which read, “ya es legal” (it is legal) and “Felicidades” (congratulations). She uploaded the video to celebrate Mexico’s Senate vote to decriminalize marijuana. 

TikTok disabled Salvatori’s account citing a violation of its guidelines.

The TikTok’s community guideline that was violated was one that prohibits users from sharing ‘content that displays drugs, drug consumption, or encourages others to make, use, or trade drugs or other controlled substances.’

After her account was suspended for violating TikTok’s community guidelines, Salvatori went to Twitter to upload the video from TikTok. The video remains there and is now being used to discuss the controversy. 

“It’s been more than a year that the theme of legalization of cannabis has been in talks in Congress, of course, it is a celebration!!! It’s obvious that it will be approved!!! Relax, smoke didn’t come out of the pipe because it didn’t have anything, but I love when my tweets are under fire!” read the tweet which was posted in Spanish. 

Salvatori has since shared her new TikTok account with users online, while she waits to be given access to her old one.

Last Thursday, Mexico’s Senate approved the measure with a vote of 82 to 18 to pave the way to legalize recreational marijuana use.

The bill is not officially law yet, as it originated in the Senate and must go to vote to the House of Representatives. If approved with changes it will go back to the Senate and become official if voted in favor of. 

The bill was opposed by some senators who were worried about children and teenage consumption, but the bill does include that individuals must be over 18 to consume marijuana. 

The measure would allow an individual of legal age to possess up to 28 grams of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home. If there are two people who consume marijuana in the same residence, then they will be allowed to grow up to 8 plants in their home. 

With this new law, drug cartels behind much of the violence in Mexico could be stripped of their control over the marijuana market. 

The lower house is expected to vote on the measure before December 15.

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As World Leaders Rush To Congratulate Joe Biden, One Latin American Leader Is Waiting ‘Out Of Respect’ For Trump

Things That Matter

As World Leaders Rush To Congratulate Joe Biden, One Latin American Leader Is Waiting ‘Out Of Respect’ For Trump

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. As millions of Americans took to the streets to celebrate the long awaited results, leaders around the world rushed to congratulate the President-Elect.

However, two of the United States’ closest allies (even before the Trump presidency) were conspicuously missing from the list of well wishers: the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, the region’s most populous nations and home to its two largest economies.

Although few were surprised by Brazilian President Jaír Bolsonaro not jumping on the Biden bandwagon. As the so-called “Trump of the Tropics,” Bolsonaro is an unabashed Trumper and has publicly backed President Trump’s reelection and recently took spoke out against Biden’s suggestions about climate change and how to help the Amazon rainforest.

Other global holdouts who had not congratulated Biden included the leaders of Russia and China. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a Trump confidant, sent formal congratulations to Biden on Twitter more than 12 hours after U.S. networks called the race.

Mexico’s president says he won’t congratulate Biden until Trump’s election lawsuits are resolved.

Even though every major network has projected Joe Biden as the next President of the United States, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) hasn’t congratulated the President-Elect on his victory.

Yes, it’s true that AMLO (a left-wing populist) has developed a close relationship with Donald Trump despite the ideological chasm between the two men. And despite Trump’s frequent Mexico-bashing, AMLO has basically followed Trump’s every whim and demand. But it seemed obvious that AMLO would quickly reach out to the next president of a country that is so economically and politically important to the interests of Mexico.

The U.S. is the lifeblood of the Mexican economy, accounting for 80% of foreign trade and tens of billions of dollars annually in remittances from Mexicans residing in the United States.

Instead, AMLO has decided to wait. “We don’t want to be imprudent,” the Mexican president told reporters Saturday, speaking more than seven hours after U.S. news outlets had called the election, a projection that immediately sparked a global tide of solidarity for Biden. “I want to wait until the electoral process is finished.”

AMLO insisted he was waiting out of an abundance of respect for Donald Trump.

Credit: Jabin Botsford / Getty Images

Although AMLO insisted that he has excellent relationships with both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, he added that his decision did not amount for an endorsement of either. However, he did take the time to fawn over his current U.S. counterpart.

“President Trump has been very respectful of us, and we have achieved some important accords,” López Obrador said. “And we are thankful to him because he has not interfered.”

AMLO’s failure to reach out to the new President-Elect is seen as a major diplomatic error.

In Mexico, the ambiguous message from AMLO immediately triggered a media firestorm from critics charging that the Mexican president had essentially sided with Trump.

“This was a very serious mistake by López Obrador,” said Jorge G. Castañeda, a former Mexican foreign minister, who noted that presidential aspirants worldwide welcome foreign affirmations as legitimacy-conferring markers. “The standard on these matters, and this is a long-standing issue in diplomacy, is pretty much this: You should do what everyone else does.”

Columnists and journalists were even harsher in their assessment, with many calling it a tacit endorsement of Trump’s questionable legal tactics and assertions of electoral fraud.

“The president of Mexico now owns Donald Trump’s hallucinatory observations about the presidential election,” tweeted columnist Pascal Beltrán del Río. “The relationship with Biden was already going to be difficult; now more so.”

And the fallout was not just on this side of the border. Even Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-TX), who leads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, went on Twitter to denounce AMLO’s mistake as a “stunning diplomatic failure at a time when the incoming Biden Administration is looking to usher in a new era of friendship and cooperation with Mexico.”

Although not everyone was surprised by AMLO’s decision – since he shares so many similarities to Donald Trump.

Credit: Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Although the president’s decision to hold off on congratulation Biden sparked fury from many, it came as little surprise to some. Much like Trump, AMLO cherishes loyalty above all else and often views politics in a similar me-vs-them prism.

The Mexican president has also long projected himself as a victim of electoral fraud that prevented him from being able to take the Mexican presidency earlier – dating to two failed runs at the presidency before he finally triumphed in 2018.

Like Trump, AMLO is not one to concede defeat. Nor does he forget perceived slights. Following his narrow loss in the 2006 presidential race, he mounted a protracted protest campaign alleging fraud that sent tens of thousands of supporters into the streets and shut down much of the capital for weeks.

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