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Now That Evo Morales Is In Mexico, Here Is What Bolivia’s Interim President Has Planned

The past few months have been a political and social turmoil in Bolivia. The South American nation has seen power shift from the leftist Evo Morales, who was reelected but then was forced to resigned due to electoral irregularities, to a self-proclaimed female president, Jeanine Áñez, who has made it clear that her political compass moves to the right. She even proclaimed that the Bible was back after the ousted Evo left for Mexico. The separation of Church and State that has permeated Bolivian politics during the Evo Morales 13-year administration was factually erased when Jeanine Áñez took power. 

Violence has escalated since Evo Morales went into exile in Mexico.

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Bolivia has experiences gruelling scenes since Evo left, as security forces, many of which have stated an ultra-conservative and anti-indigenous stance, have cracked down on protestors. As Postmedia Breaking News reports, this week saw heartbreaking events that have resulted in deaths and the further segregation of pro-Morales indigenous communities: “Supporters of ousted Bolivian leader Evo Morales marched into the capital La Paz on Thursday carrying coffins of people killed in clashes with the military and police, drawing attention to the human cost of the crisis gripping the South American nation.”

This scene reminds us of other places where state forces use fatal force against protestors, such as the Palestinian territories. International bodies are alarmed at the escalation of violence. As CE Noticias Financieras reports, José Miguel Vivanco, Director for the Americas at Human Rights Watch, has stated: “We are deeply concerned about the measures taken by the Bolivian authorities, which seem to prioritize the brutal repression of opponents and critics and give the military a blank check to commit abuses, rather than focusing on restoring the rule of law in the country.”

All eyes are on Jeanine Áñez, the now president who has said that indigenous costumes are “satanic” and do not belong in the capital city of La Paz. 

Jeanine Áñez has now sent a project to Congress to hold elections, but so has MAS, Morales’ party.

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In the past month, 32 people have died after Morales’ departure has triggered social unrest and deep divisions in an already polarized nation. To curb violence, Congress, also known as The Plurinational Legislative Assembly,  is considering two projects: one of the provisional government of Jeanine Añez and another from Movement to Socialism (MAS), Morales’ political party. The chairman of the commission expressed the urgency of holding elections as soon as possible, as the bloodshed could intensify As CE Noticias Financieras reports, he said that the confrontational political climate in the country is intensifying, and that they have to solve “this demand for elections in the shortest possible time, with a new electoral court with reliable men and women”. The sitting and self-proclaimed president has been vocal in the need for elections, blaming the crisis on the alleged fraud committed by Morales: “This bill can be perfected and serve as a basis for consensus. The electoral fraud caused the convulsion that the country is experiencing”.  

But would Morales run for the presidency again? Unlikely.

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The big elephant in the room is of course whether Morales can run again. As CE Noticias Financieras reports, “Senators and deputies should agree on election dates and decide whether Morales can stand for election”. The MAS, however, has hinted that they would choose someone else to run for president. As the Associated Press reported: “While some Morales supporters want him to return from exile and he has described himself as “president-elect,” some leading lawmakers in his party are taking a more nuanced position”. 

However, Evo Morales could return and play a different political role.

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The now ex-president Evo Morales has been a fierce critic of State repression during his stay in Mexico, and has said that he is more than willing to return to Bolivia. But Bolivia is now basically split between pro and anti-Evo groups, so under this climate of polarization his return could trigger more violence.

However, indigenous voices are being shut down and they need a line of political defense. As Matthew Peter Casey wrote in The Conversation in relation of the worries many original owners of the land now known as Bolivia have in regards to their place in today’s sociopolitical climate : “Many say they fear repression from the military under the interim government. They worry that the political violence that has gripped Bolivia since its Oct. 20 election will turn into a racialized, religious violence targeting indigenous people”. This polarization is also taking religious connotations, as Catholic hegemony is being sought in government, while indigenous groups seek to preserve their customs and beliefs.

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