On March 13, the former Acting President of Bolivia Jeanine Áñez was arrested along with the former Ministers of Energy and of Justice, Rodrigo Guzman and Alvaro Cornejo. In total, five members of the cabinet of Áñez and a number of others, including the former commander-in-chief of the Bolivian Armed Forces, were charged with organizing the coup in November 2019. How far could an act of political revenge by the Bolivian “left” go? What news is Bolivia on today?
Back in October, Jeanine Áñez (Spanish – Jeanine Áñez Chávez) ruled the country, and on March 13 she was detained at her relatives’ house in Trinidad. On the day of the arrest, the police found the politician in a drawer under the bed. The Bolivian court has arrested the former Acting President of the country for four months. Áñez declares on her Twitter account: “They send me 4 months in detention to await trial for a “coup” that never happened. From here I call on Bolivia to have faith and hope. One day, together, we will build a better Bolivia”. Today, the former head of state is charged with terrorism, conspiracy and sedition.
In turn, the Minister of Justice and Institutional Transparency Ivan Lima (Spanish – Iván Manolo Lima Magne) said on March 14 that the accusations against Jeanine Áñez did not refer to the period of her presidency, but to the time when she served as Second Vice-Speaker of the Senate (Upper House of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly). By the way, it was this post, the fifth in the line of succession after the head of state that allowed Áñez to come to power in November 2019 after other pretenders for the post of Acting President of Bolivia.
Returning to the events preceding the political crisis, it is worth recalling that in October 2019, the General Election took place (October 20, 2019), at which the candidate from the then ruling party “Movement to Socialism” (Spanish – Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS ) was Evo Morales (Spanish – Juan Evo Morales Ayma), who decided to run in fact for the fourth consecutive term. Morales’ participation in the electoral process became a reason for the dissatisfaction of the population, because in the 2016 referendum, the majority of Bolivian citizens (51.3%) decided not to agree with the amendments that would allow the then head of state to be re-elected for a fourth term. Then the Bolivians voted for adherence to the Constitution, which the president himself proposed during his first term in 2009. At first Evo Morales accepted defeat and promised to abide by the results of the referendum, but later changed his mind, and by the decision of the Plurinational Constitutional Court of Bolivia of 2018, Morales was allowed to be re-elected again.
In the 2019 General Election, it was important for Evo Morales to get 10% more votes in the first round than his closest political opponent, the representative of the “Civil Community” Party (Spanish – Comunidad Ciudadana, CC), and now the already non-partisan Carlos Mesa (Spanish – Carlos Diego Mesa Gisbert). According to the Political Constitution of Bolivia, a 10% gap in the first round guarantees a candidate’s victory in the electoral process. After checking 100% of the ballots, the country’s Supreme Electoral Court published data, according to which Evo Morales won 47.08% of the vote, and Carlos Mesa came in second with 36.51%. It was here that doubts crept in among the opponents of Morales that administrative resources and falsifications could have been used for the final advantage of 10.57%.
In this regard, mass protests began in Bolivia, many military and people from the middle class sided with the “right”, and Morales himself had to leave the country and head to Mexico, and then to Argentina, where he spent a year until the moment when his party candidate, economist and former Minister of Economy and Public Finance Luis Arce Catacora (Spanish – Luis Alberto Arce Catacora), won the General Election on October 18, 2020 with 55.1% of the vote.
Despite their triumphant return, the year of political turbulence will be remembered by the leaders of Morales’ party for a long time. After coming to power in November 2019, Jeanine Áñez and her supporters began to fight against Morales and his former subordinates, the latter was even charged with terrorism. Nevertheless, in the end, Áñez failed to prepare the ground for the victory over the “Movement to Socialism”. Having returned to power today, the current government does not want to show generosity to the vanquished, although what political “fruits” can this bring?
First, no one in Bolivia today believes in the judiciary and its justice. After the political chaos in November 2019, cases were ready to be stamped on the supporters of the “Movement to Socialism” party, but now it is happening in the opposite direction. Thus, the judicial body itself can be accused of direct participation in events that the adherents of “left” views equate with a coup d’etat. Secondly, the whole plan was outlined as a large-scale process, in which it was supposed to involve the influential people of the country. However, the latter could not be used: currently in Bolivia, the pacification after the October 2020 electoral process is very unstable, and protests could flare up again with lightning speed.
Summing up, it is worth noting that the party of Morales itself, which in recent years has been the main leitmotif of the Bolivian “left”, is also experiencing its own internal crisis. Today the “leftists” accuse Morales of not reckoning with his comrades-in-arms. For example, Eva Copa (Spanish – Mónica Eva Copa Murga), who did a lot to ensure that the “Movement to Socialism” party generally remained in the political “cage” in this difficult year for the country, lost the support of the party in the Subnational Election in El Alto on March 7, 2020, as she decided to stay and fight after the change of government. Although, in the end, she moved forward from another bloc of the “left” – “Jallalla” and still won.