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Morales Out: President of Bolivia steps down in wake of election scandal; protests ensue.

On Oct. 20, Bolivia’s capital city of La Paz became engulfed by protests after the election tribunal stopped electronically reporting the running count of the recent election when it looked like the election was going to be a runoff.  24 hours after the pause, they released that the incumbent President Evo Morales was able to pull out a razor thin victory without the need of a runoff election. The protesters called the election illegitimate, and accused Morales of election fraud.

Morales would have been unable to run again for his fourth term. But after a failed attempt at a referendum to remove term limits, Morales was able to have the Bolivian Supreme Court rule that it would be a violation of his human rights to impose term limits on him thus allowing him to run for election again.

The people of Bolivia took to the streets in droves to protest the election results. The protests escalated quickly. Eventually, it came to a point where the military strongly suggested to Morales that he should resign from office, which he did and was followed by the Vice President of Bolivia.

The interim President, Jeanine Añez, is a right wing politician who was the president of the Senate. She has said that her goal as president is to oversee a new set of elections monitored by outside observers: “My mission, as the constitution states, is to call for clean and transparent elections with all the qualified political actors as soon as possible,” Añez said in a televised address. “I will not accept any other path forward.”

Nations such as Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico have called the ousting of Morales a coup because of the military interference that led Morales to step down. These governments are all either leftist or socialist governments and have all been allies with the Morales regime. The new interim President Añez has cut diplomatic ties with Venezuela and Cuba as well as expelling 725 Cubans, mainly medical personnel.

The Mexican government has offered asylum to Morales and his Vice President, as Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico decided to grant asylum “for humanitarian reasons, and given the urgent situation faced in Bolivia.” The offer was accepted and Morales is now in Mexico. The change of regime has not stopped the protests. Morales was the first indigenous president of Bolivia, and he still has strong support amongst the indigenous people of Bolivia.

The recent wave of pro-Morales protests has shaken Bolivia. Twenty people have required medical attention and eight lay dead, which Morales has called a “massacre.” Some of the protesters have said “The people are crying, we want him to come back.” Others have chanted “Civil war, now!” Many of Morales’s supporters have promised to make the nation ungovernable until he returns by placing roadblocks to prevent food from reaching the administrative capital of La Paz to starve it out. This was quickly ended by the use of military force.

The supporters of Morales are primarily indigenous people and farmers, and his party has control over two-thirds of the house. This means that even with Morales gone, his party still holds political power.

Morales does plan on returning, saying, “It pains me to leave the country for political reasons but…I will be back soon with more force and energy.”

Sources: The Guardian, SkyNews, WSJ

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