BOLIVIA. La Paz. The highly debated presidential election was canceled for a second time this past week, giving rise to protests in the wake of the controversial decision made by the electoral court. The president of the electoral court, Salvador Romero, was personally appointed by the current interim president Jeanine Añez, which has drawn criticism from civilians and politicians alike for a conflict of interests. The current administration scheduled the original election to take place this past May but canceled it because of COVID-19 concerns. The second election was set for 6 Sept. and was also nullified due to the virus.
A growing concern for the fate of democracy. The government of Jeanine Añez came to power last October after the presidential election results were overturned and a revolution was ignited by the discovery of fraud in the voting process. The former president, Evo Morales, resigned from office after a protracted conflict with the Bolivian people and Jeanine Añez came to power under the law of succession. This means she wasn´t an elected president. Since then a growing number of protests have spread throughout the country and people have taken to social media to voice their concerns that Añez is now using the coronavirus as a pretext to stay in power.
Political opponents share their two cents. An anonymous source within the Comunidad Ciudadana political party, whose presidential candidate Carlos Mesa is a front runner in the election polls, shared their sentiments on the September cancellation with Transcontinental Times. “The current president was caught up in several scandals during the quarantine and she´s afraid of what will happen when she´s no longer in power. The parliament wants to take her to court on charges of corruption.”
Protesters have no intention of backing down. In the square of 25 de Mayo in Sucre, the historic capital of the nation, a group of women from the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party stand outside the doors of Liberty House in protest. This was the famous location where Bolivians signed their declaration of independence from Spain. In the spirit of that historic moment, the protesters have gathered to denounce Añez and demand the election take place in September.
Teresa Lopez spoke to Transcontinental Times from the protest line about corruption within the current administration. “So many international donations were given to the president to help our country during the quarantine and we saw almost none of it. Where did the rest of the money go?”
Another MAS party supporter, Patricia Serrudo, traveled 30 kilometers to Sucre to protest the most recent election cancelation. She said, “We feel like prisoners in our own country. Nobody chose this president and now she´s obsessed with keeping the power.”
Chants from the crowd unanimously declared the canceled elections a “coup” against Bolivia´s democracy.
A tentative date of 18 Oct. has been established for the new election, but more protests have already been organized for Tuesday, 28 July across the entire country to demand the September election be reinstated by the electoral court.
Live coverage of the protest in Sucre can be viewed here.