Bolivian Coup Leader Drops Out of Elections, but MAS Still Faces Tough Fight

A supporter of former President Evo Morales holds a Wiphala flag in front of soldiers blocking a street in downtown La Paz, Bolivia, Nov. 15, 2019.| Natacha Pisarenko / AP

Bolivia’s right wing quasi dictator Jeanine Añez has withdrawn her candidacy for president in the upcoming Bolivian elections after being projected to place fourth with 10.6% of the votes in a recent poll

Añez said in her announcement that she was withdrawing “to ensure there is a winner who defends democracy”, which is ironic given she was installed as ‘interim president’ in a bloody military coup following Evo Morales’ victory in last year’s election. This coup saw 35 people dead, 40 elected officials arrested and President Evo Morales forced into exile in Mexico.

Meanwhile, MAS (Movimento al Socialismo) candidate Luice Arce has a chance to win in the first round of voting with a projected 40.3% vote share. Under Bolivian electoral law, in the event that no candidate obtains more than 50% of the vote, the front runner can still win outright in the first round if they have a 10% or higher lead over their nearest challenger. As Arce’s nearest opponent, former President Carlos Mesa, is polling at 26% this news could be worrisome for MAS.

The November coup, instigated by the US-led Organisation of American States last year, has led to dire consequences for the people of Bolivia. According to a CELAG poll from July, Añez’s ‘leadership’ during the COVID-19 pandemic has left only 8.5% of the population feeling as though the pandemic and its economic implications hasn’t impacted them. Furthermore, 40% of respondents reported a complete loss of income. This mismanagement in addition to the privatisation of Bolivia’s abundant natural resources, slashing of Morales-initiated social programmes and the strengthening of ties with the US has been a complete success for Bolivian and international capitalists.

Although public opinion appears to be on the side of MAS, US intervention and manipulation in the October election is almost certain. Indigenous communities, trade unionists and MAS activists face harsh reprisals no matter the outcome of this election, with the police’s involvement in the last bout of violent protests inspiring little confidence in a peaceful resolution to this coup.

Morales spoke on Añez’s withdrawal, saying: 

“Añez and her government are in freefall. On 18 October, we will recover democracy and defeat the crisis.”

It remains unclear how this will all turn out, though we must hope Morales’ words are proven correct come the election.

James Morgan

James Morgan is an editor for the Workers’ Star and member of the Central Committee for the CP Aotearoa. In his spare time he acts and was a part of the National Shakespeare School Production in 2018.