BY TANIA APAZA
Once again, Bolivian President Evo Morales is being urged by his supporters to run for president for another term.
Across major cities this past week — Cochabamba, La Paz and Santa Cruz — thousands of people came out onto the streets to show their support for Evo and his party, Movimiento Al Socialismo, or MAS, with signs saying “Evo 2020-2025.”
There was already a referendum last year to decide whether there should be a change to the constitution that would allow Evo to run for another presidential term. Unfortunately, the NO vote won by only a few percentage points.
The only reason the YES vote lost was due to dirty games played by the political elites of the right-wing opposition and mainstream media outlets during the referendum campaign. Samuel Doria Medina, a key opposition leader, carried out a character assassination, getting an ex-partner of Evo, Gabriela Zapata, to claim that they had a child together.
He even went as far as hiring a child to play the role. Evo was also falsely accused of favoring her in contracts in more than $500 million while she worked for the Chinese company, CAMC Engineering.
In order to undermine the image of Vice President Álvaro García Linera, it was revealed that he never completed his degree in mathematics. This had an effect on the population as Álvaro’s academic intelligence is something that he is praised for. Revealing that he is not actually “licenciado” — a licensed graduate — was a direct attack on his perceived capability to serve his position.
There was also a fire at the town hall of El Alto, the sister city of La Paz, on the closing night of the referendum campaign. Mayor Soledad Chapetón, a member of an opposition party, quickly blamed the fire on MAS supporters.
All of these combined incidents led to a very narrow loss for the YES vote. However, just over a year and a half later, the people of Bolivia, after being unfairly manipulated by the opposition and its powerful media networks, are flooding the streets in support of Evo being re-elected.
Of course, there are even some people who support MAS and Evo but are hesitant to back his re-election. I would argue that this hesitation comes from misguided conceptions of what democracy is. The concept of democracy has become synonymous with the circus of voting every few years, regardless of the quality of the candidates we can vote for.
Furthermore, right-wing, neoliberal parties made up of parasitic European elites are allowed to take part in this circus, often making use of dirty tactics, like the ones mentioned above. In fact, former Bolivian dictator Hugo Banzer, someone who was responsible for the creation of concentration camps and the torture and disappearance of hundreds of Bolivians, was allowed to be re-elected. Is that democracy?
Tuto Quiroga, someone who took part in the unfair economic deals that sparked the Cochabamba Water War and Gas War, is still allowed to take part in politics. Surely, people who have committed such grave crimes against a population should not be permitted to take part in the politics of that country again? But, based on a Western idea of democracy, it’s fine.
There are other concerns of caudillismo, that progress in Bolivia depends far too much on Evo himself, which is a fair argument. As a supporter of MAS, I also worry at times that if Evo wasn’t in the picture, people may lose support for the party, become confused and vote for the opposition, who would very quickly undo all the progress carried out in Bolivia under Evo.
However, Venezuela is direct proof that this is not something that has to happen. Even after former President Hugo Chávez’s death, despite the fierce economic war the U.S. is waging on the Venezuelan people, President Nicolás Maduro still has majority support from the people, with the recent regional elections showing this. As for the other arguments against Evo being allowed to run for president again, such as claims that he hasn’t done anything good for Bolivia, it’s pretty easy to see that they are entirely untrue.
Of course, it’s natural to be worried that if an opposition party got in power, they could use this constitutional change to their own advantage. This is why letting Evo get re-elected should not be the only change to the system. There should also be the barring of parasitical political parties, as history has shown that they only have their greedy interests at heart.
Evo’s re-election would strengthen the process of change in Bolivia and this scares the hell out of the political elites. Something which scares the political elites can only be something good for the masses of Bolivia.
With our support, MAS could not only lead the people towards socialism, but eventually towards communism, when the white-mestizo settler-capitalists will have no power at all. When they will have no opportunity to manipulate our people through politics and media and no ability to live off of the backs of the Brown and Black people of Bolivia.
Vamos por MAS! Jallalla Evo!