During the last days, in the city of La Paz you can see long lines of cars at gas stations, waiting to fill the fuel tanks. Also in markets and supermarkets, citizens are seen covered with packages, with which they foresee face roadblocks that don’t exist, because all the roads in Bolivia are clear.
But several authorities of the government of Jeanine Áñez released the rumor that the bases of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) will not accept defeat in the elections of this October 18, defeat that —they are convinced— will inflict the candidate Carlos Mesa, from the Citizen Community (CC), to Luis Arce.
The hours leading up to the general elections pass with tension and anxiety. In recent days, several officials of the national government called to vote for Mesa, all for prevent MAS from returning to power. Añez, who had run as a candidate last January, had to withdraw in mid-September, given the evidence that she does not have support greater than 15%.
With its figure weakened, the MAS drafts a complaint for crimes against humanity against Áñez and his cabinet, which it would present when they leave the Casa Grande del Pueblo. They will be charged for the massacre of 37 people last November, when she – until then a senator – the government assumed, after the coup against then-President Evo Morales, today exiled in Argentina.
According to the latest polls, published by Ciesmori on October 11, Luis Arce Catacora, from MAS, would get 42.2% of the votes. Mesa would get 33.1%. But in the campaign houses of the Morales party they hope to achieve more than 50% this Sunday 18. His confidence is based on the fact that these surveys never take into account rural areas, where support for the ousted Aymara leader is still majority.
But if it does not exceed 50%, or take 10 points away from Mesa, then there will be a second round on November 29. In the elections that will begin in a few hours, the MAS has the benefit that there are four other candidates that serve to disperse the vote in rejection of Morales.
📎📸 We spoke with Bolivian exiles in Spain about how the Bolivian community in the world is preparing to take part in the decisive elections on October 18
– Sputnik Mundo (@SputnikMundo) October 15, 2020
That would not happen in a ballot, where the vote of the united opposition parties could surpass the MAS by up to one percentage point, as happened in the February 21, 2016 referendum, which denied a new re-nomination of Morales to the presidency. The then president did not obey this result and also presented himself to the elections of October 20, 2019. Three weeks later, he was expelled from the country.
Memories of social violence, the murders in the streets, the lack of food and fuel are still fresh in the memory of the Bolivian people. That is why they are preparing for whatever is to come, after the results are announced on election Sunday night.
“This is the paraphernalia of the most atypical elections that are going to take place since the restoration of democracy in 1982. They are atypical because they are presided over by a government of questioned legitimacy,” Jorge “Coco” Cuba, an experienced journalist, told Sputnik. He was director of the Bolivian Information Agency (ABI) between 2008 and 2018.
Every day, the Minister of Government, Arturo Murillo, holds a press conference in which he dedicates himself to attacking or threatening to put certain people or social groups in jail. In these weeks, he dedicated himself to warning the MAS that if they do not accept the result, they will deal with the Police and the Armed Forces. He also announced that he will expel from the country (or imprison) the international observers invited by Morales’ party “who cause problems.” And he called them “leftists.”
For Cuba, the minister’s threats will not materialize in deaths, as happened in November 2019, during the Sacaba massacres, in Cochabamba, and Senkata, in El Alto, where 20 people were killed, apparently by the Army and the Police.
“At this moment, I am sure that Minister Murillo is not in a position to carry one more life, because his government is just in the center of the international community’s sights,” said the journalist.
“I see that in Bolivia there is a crisis that still maintains Mr. Evo Morales as the main political actor in the country. Although he is in Buenos Aires (Argentina), he has not ceased to be the axis and motor of national politics. I think that even if the MAS comes first or second in these elections, it will still be in power, “he commented.
Incident with the veedores
On the night of October 16, the arrival of three Argentine deputies, invited as observers by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, gave rise to one of the most grotesque moments of the Áñez government. Regardless of all legality, the Police detained Leonardo Grosso, Guillermo Snopek, Paula Penacca and Federico Fagioli, from the Frente de Todos, despite the fact that they had already done the corresponding immigration procedures to enter the country.
After lengthy discussions, they decided to expel Fagioli from Bolivia, whom they accused of having been tried for crimes against humanity, which was false. Without understanding the actions of the uniformed men, there were pulling and pulling in the parking lot of the El Alto airport. Even the police beat Luca Di María, official of the Argentine Embassy. Finally they were allowed to go to their hotel to follow their schedule in Bolivia.
The day before, from his Twitter account (@ArturoMurilloS), the Minister of Government had already warned that a situation of this type could occur. “Our elections will be a democratic party, the more observers there are, the better for everyone. We warn agitators and people who seek to generate violence, they are not welcome. We put them on a plane or behind bars. Behave, we know who you are and where you are.” , published the authority.
Our elections will be a democratic party, the more observers there are, the better for everyone.
We warn agitators and people who seek to generate violence, they are not welcome. We put them on a plane or behind bars.
Behave, we know who you are and where you are.
– Arturo Murillo (@ArturoMurilloS) October 15, 2020
Through the same route, messages of support also arrived for the group of deputies who did not have the best welcome. “I express my solidarity to the Argentine deputy Federico Fagioli, who was invited by the Legislative Assembly to participate as an observer in the general elections. There are just a few days before Bolivia returns to the path of democracy,” tweeted senator @EvaCopa_Bol.
Murillo, in a press conference, said that they wanted to expel Fagioli because I would have lied in Migration when they asked him if he had ever been to Bolivia, since he had come in November 2019, after the coup against Morales.
“He said in Migration that he had not entered Bolivia. Twice he lied and that is a crime. In any part of the world it is a crime,” said the minister. For this reason, they informed him that “he was not welcome to Bolivia and that he should please return to his country,” Murillo added.
But he finally reflected and backed off. “Due to the importance of the elections and so that they are not tarnished by any act, we have acceded to the request of the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (Salvador Romero). The OAS (Organization of American States) also called us and told us that Let’s avoid problems. The OAS called us from Washington, so we said: ‘Okay, let him enter the country,’ “he said.
The fear of shortages
The Rodríguez market, in the La Paz neighborhood of San Pedro, is developed by ten steep and cobbled streets, where the landladies offer their products, vegetables, fruits, cereals, cheeses, lamb meat, fish, cleaning products and everything that is may need to lock himself at home, before the possible electoral apocalypse announced for Sunday the 18th at night.
“Yes, young man, I have come to supply myself for my whole family. Look if the masistas want to make Senkata fly again and we run out of gas or anything to eat,” said Mrs. Vanesa, who preferred not to give her last name. .
The Bolivian Fiscal Oil Fields (YPFB) tried to contain this campaign of fear. The National Vice President of Operations of this state company, Javier Velarde, said in an interview with the government channel Bolivia TV that the supply of gas cylinders is assured.
🇧🇴 It will be a year shortly since Jeanine Añez took power. What does he leave behind during his tenure?
– Sputnik Mundo (@SputnikMundo) October 8, 2020
He also commented that in recent days the demand for fuel increased in several cities. He said that in Cochabamba 700,000 liters are distributed every day, but in the last week they distributed 1.3 million liters per day. Santa Cruz de la Sierra, meanwhile, went from consuming 1.7 million liters per day to 2.5 million.
A day to recover democracy
This Sunday, October 18, 7,332,925 Bolivians and Bolivians are authorized to vote in Bolivia and 30 other countries, such as Argentina, Spain, Brazil and the United States. They will have to elect a president, vice president, 36 senators and 130 deputies.
Voting will be done in 5,425 schools across the country, which will be guarded by 39,000 police officers.
While this is a democratic duel between Mesa and Arce, there are three other competitors who refuse to withdraw, despite their slim chances of even getting legislators. They are the businessman from Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho, with a 10.7% intention to vote; Chi Hyung Chung, with 2.4%; and Feliciano Mamani, with 0.4%.
According to the journalist Cuba, there is a paradox in the elections. “Neither Mesa nor Arce are owners of their votes. They vote for Arce for Evo. And they vote for Mesa so that Evo does not return. If it were not for Evo, the two by themselves would not pull anyone,” he illustrated.
“I have the impression that the electorate is going to restore Evo Morales,” Cuba considered. “I do not believe in a second round. But if there were to be one and the anti-new vote was imposed, a crisis of proportions would break out in Bolivia. Evo’s power in the streets and on the highways is very vigorous and unsurpassed. “