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Bolivia (1): right wing threatens the recovery of democracy

After a full year of racist and repressive horror perpetrated by a de facto government resulting from a coup, the people of Bolivia went to the polls on October 18, 2020 and stunned their own country and the world by giving Evo Morales’ MAS-IPSP party candidate, Luis Arce, a landslide.


Photo from Public Reading Rooms

Francisco Domínguez*


The coup d’état that installed a racist regime led by Jeanine Añez, was engineered by OAS secretary General, Luis Almagro, carried out by fascists in November 2019, and of course, supported by the US.

The specifics of the landslide reveal the size of the defeat of the de facto extreme right wing regime: the MAS-IPSP won the presidency with a 55% of the votes cast, against 28% of right-wing Carlos Mesa, and 14% of extreme right-wing Luis Camacho. This was a much improved performance compared to the election in November 2019 when their candidate, Evo Morales won with 48% against right wing Carlos Mesa’s 36%.

Not only that, the MAS-IPSP won in 6 out of the country’s 9 departments (with 68% in La Paz; 65% in Cochabamba; 62% in Oruro; 57% in Potosí; 49% in Chuquisaca; and 46% in Pando), with the right wing winning in 2 (with 50% in Tarija, and 39% in Beni) and the extreme right wing being victorious only in Santa Cruz (by 45% with the MS-IPSP getting 36%).

The 6 departments where Arce was victorious contain nearly 7 million of Bolivia’s total population of 11 million.

It gets better: MAS-IPSP candidates obtained 75 out of the 130 seats of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, and 21 out of 36 in the Senate.

The MAS-IPSP presidential candidate also won in 314 municipalities, the extreme right in 21, and the right wing in 18.

This was a very robust electoral victory indeed, all the more impressive given that it took place against the background of a year of systematic political and judicial persecution against the MAS-IPSP, its leaders and cadre (Morales himself was charged with terrorism that forced him to flee the country), including brutal repression against the social movements associated with it; the illegal imprisonment, harassment and exile of its leaderships and the spirited use of lawfare.

All in a context of well-organised and very well-funded racist violence unleashed specially against indigenous women, by fascist paramilitary groups, the police, and the armed forces who perpetrated massacres against social movements defending their rights and fighting for democracy.

To top it all, the mainstream media nationally and internationally was at best seeking to whitewash, and at worst supporting, the golpistas and Añez’ regime’s brutal violation of human rights.

Añez’ economic policies, in line with extreme right wing ideology and that of its foreign mentors, deliberately aimed at both demolishing what had been achieved for the nation in the 14 years of Evo Morales’ administration and brutally reversing all the social policies that had benefited the people.

Not a small undertaking given the rather amazing progress and transformation that Bolivia and its people had undergone in that short period of time.

Below we list some of the most important achievements of the MAS-IPSP government during the 2006-2019 period:

  • Bolivia’s GDP went from US$9,574 bn in 2005 to US$40,000 bn in 2013 (an increase of over 400%), that is, an annual average of 4,6%, the highest in the region, thus from 2006
  • Bolivia had a fiscal surplus in 2006 for the first time in its history; and by 2018 it had US$8,946 million in international reserves
  • Extreme poverty was reduced from 38% in 2006 to 16% in 2018 (a historic low)
  • Infant mortality declined by 56%
  • Social bonuses (the elders, primary and secondary school pupils, pregnant women) benefited 5,5 million people (more than 50% of the population)
  • Domestic savings in the period 2006-2018 increased from US$4,361 million to US$27,123 million
  • External debt went down from 61% of GDP in 2004 to 23% in 2018
  • Number of health centres went from 2,870 to 3902, and 49 new hospitals were built that were well equipped by the state with the latest medical technology (public health is free of charge)
  • With the collaboration of Cuban doctors, Operation Miracle conducted over 3 million ophthalmological visits and 742,000 surgeries leading to many Bolivians having their eye sight restored (Añez expelled the Cuban doctors) – the budget for health went from 2,5 million Bolivianos (national currency) in 2005 to 18, 805 million in 2018
  • Illiteracy, with the use of Cuba’s Yo Si Puedo method, was eradicated by 2014.
  • Between 2014-18 the nine-lines metro-cable in La Paz (completed in 2014), had transported 174 million passengers
  • Drinking water by 2020 reaches 9,7 million people out of total population of 11 million
  • The end of the latifundia system led to the redistribution of about 1 million hectares of land to peasants and peasant families
  • In 2005 only 18% of the parliamentarians were women, by 2018 they have increased to 51%
  • Under decades of neoliberalism only 1,098 km of motorways were built but between 2006-18 new 4,796 km were added to existing motorways
  • All of the above was financed by the renationalization of the energy industry (Bolivia is rich mainly in gas but also has oil; and it is extraordinarily rich in minerals, especially lithium)
  • Bolivia placed in space the Tupac Katari satellite and renationalised ENTEL (telecommunications company) granting Internet access to millions of Bolivians free of charge, as a fundamental right
  • With a world historic decision, 36 indigenous nations were recognised special cultural and ancestral land rights, for the first time in 500 years that are enshrined in the new Constitution of the Plurinational State
  • No wonder, in 2018 the World Human Development Report, classified Bolivia for the first time a “high human development country”
  • The MAS-IPSP under Morales affirmed national sovereignty by eliminating foreign (US) interference with the expulsion of the DEA, USAID, CIA and even the US ambassador
  • And much, much, more.

The Añez regime adopted policies that sought to wreck all these advances, something she nearly achieved in less than one year.

*Original source: Public Reading Rooms – (Next week:Bolivia (2): After the repression comes Arce_


(Photos: Pixabay)

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