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Electoral campaign during international quarantine: Part 3

Iuliia Vashchenko  Ph.D. en Ciencias Políticas, La Paz, Bolivia
Iuliia Vashchenko,
PhD in Political Science,
La Paz, Bolivia

On March 26, the interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Áñez, issued a decree to tighten universal quarantine measures throughout the country. Due to the fact that some groups of people did not comply with a number of accepted rules and violated public order, the Bolivian government introduced stricter measures and restrictions on March 26, and also extended the quarantine until April 15. However, despite the circumstances, Bolivia continues to actively prepare for the General Elections, which will now be postponed. This time, the “LACRUS” project will complete introducing you to the protagonists of the election race.

One of the most controversial candidates for this electoral process is a doctor, evangelical pastor, political scientist, university professor, and South Korean-Bolivian politician, Chi Hyun Chung. Chi Hyun Chung was born in Kwangju (South Korea) March 7, 1970, grew up in a family with evangelical views. In 1982, the Korean Presbyterian Church sent the Chi Hyun Chung family as evangelical missionaries to Bolivia.

During his professional career, Chi Hyun Chung served as director of the “UCEBOL” clinic in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and also became the founder of 70 Presbyterian churches in Bolivia. Chi Hyun Chung is currently the chairman of the Presbyterian Church of Bolivia.

Chi Hyun Chung‘s candidacy for the presidency of the “Christian Democratic Party” (Spanish – Partido Demócrata Cristiano) appeared in the 2019 electoral campaign after former Bolivian President Jaime Paz Zamora refused from participating in the elections. Subsequently, on 15 August 2019, Chi Hyun Chung was introduced as a candidate for the presidency of the “Christian Democratic Party”, and during his campaign he sharply criticized Evo Morales (Spanish – Juan Evo Morales Ayma), noting in his statements that for 13 years Morales distanced the Bolivian people from traditional family values, and also accused him of large-scale forest fires in the Amazon region.

On January 29, 2020, Chi Hyun Chung was again declared the presidential candidate this time from the “Front for Victory” political party (Spanish – Frente para la Victoria, FPV) in the upcoming elections. The “Christian Democratic Party”, from which Chi Hyun Chung was nominated in October 2019, became part of the political bloc “Believe” (Spanish – Creemos), which supports the candidacy of Luis Fernando Camacho (Spanish – Luis Fernando Camacho Vaca) as part of the current electoral campaign.

The political party “Front for Victory” is committed to promoting the ideas of evangelical Baptist Christians, and to prosecuting and criminalizing members of the LGBT community. According to Chi Hyun Chung, he is striving to create a “South American Israel” in Bolivia, which will “prosper thanks to God’s blessing”. In case of victory in the elections, the candidate proposes to impose a restriction on the presence of minors on the streets after 9.30 p.m., as well as consider crimes related to violence against women from the point of view that many of them were provoked by the women themselves, and many men are not guilty of a number of cases.

One of the new faces in the political palette of Bolivia is the candidate from the “Bolivian National Action Party” (Spanish – Partido Acción Nacional Boliviano, PAN-Bol) – Feliciano Mamani (Spanish – Feliciano Mamani Ninavia). The current leader of the mining cooperatives of Bolivia was born in a small town of the Potosi Department on February 21, 1976, and grew up in a simple mining family. On October 8, 2018, at the XXV Congress of the National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia (Spanish – Federación Nacional de Cooperativas Mineras de Bolivia, Fencomin), Mamani was elected as chairman.

On January 26, 2020, Feliciano Mamani was declared as the candidate for the post of head of state from the “Bolivian National Action Party” in the upcoming elections. As part of the last electoral process in October 2019, the “Bolivian National Action Party” nominated Ruth Nina (Spanish – Ruth Yolanda Nina), who this time joined the tandem as a candidate for the position of vice president.

The “Bolivian National Action Party” advocates for the promotion and protection of the interests of people employed in the mining sector, as well as support for mining syndicates. In addition, the party notes that it does not belong to either the left or the right political orientation, but represents the “popular movement” of the working class. Feliciano Mamani emphasizes that his candidacy symbolizes the representation of the “impoverished classes” faced with social injustice.

The least popular among the candidates for the presidency of Bolivia is an engineer, entrepreneur – Fernando Gainza (Spanish – Fernando Gainza Bianchi). Fernando Gainza was born in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, engineer by education. At the moment, Gainza is a major entrepreneur and owner of the “BIEEX INTERNATIONAL TRADING S.R.L.” enterprise engaged in the production and processing of wood.

On February 18, 2020, Fernando Gainza was declared the last presidential candidate of the political party “Nationalist Democratic Action” (Spanish – Acción Democrática Nacionalista) in the upcoming elections. Gainza notes that he identifies himself with liberal views in the economy and conservatism in the political sphere. He emphasizes that he seeks freedom in all areas: economics, the press, gender equality, etc. According to him, “the freest people are the most prosperous nations, and the most controlled peoples are those that suffer from poverty, hunger and corruption”. The candidate believes that “socialism is a utopia: the only thing that it does is keep the people in ignorance and ultimately dominate”.

According to the latest data released by the “Ciesmori” consulting company on March 15, 3.8% of respondents support Chi Hyun Chung’s candidacy from the “Christian Democratic Party”. For the leader of mining cooperatives, Feliciano Mamani, is now ready to vote – 1.9%. And for the candidate from the political party “Nationalist Democratic Action” Fernando Gainza so far, only 0.2% of respondents are ready to cast their votes. However, a number of political analysts believe that the difficult conditions of strict quarantine in Bolivia and the subsequent economic and social crisis can significantly change the balance of power in the election race. Whether the party “Movement to Socialism” (Spanish – Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS) will be able to take revenge or “right-wing” forces will remain at the helm of power will be shown in the very near future. However, it is very obvious that the General Elections in Bolivia today remains one of the most discussed topics in the region.

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