Bolivian elections to proceed —despite “conspiracy”?

After threatening another popular uprising if stalled presidential elections were not allowed to proceed, Bolivian indigenous and populist leader Evo Morales hailed a deal to allow the race to proceed in December. The crisis, which had once again paralyzed Bolivia’s government, seems averted for the moment, as the House of Deputies resumed work Nov. 8. Legislators are expected to ratify a date of Dec. 18 for the hotly-contested elections. (Prensa Latina, Nov. 8)

Acting President Eduardo Rodríguez moved to end the dispute Nov. 2 by issuing a decree redistributing congressional seats. In a September decision, Bolivia’s Constitutional Court ruled that seats must be reallocated to reflect the country’s 2001 census. However, members of congress from the different provinces were unable to agree on how the redistricting should proceed, prompting the National Electoral Court Oct. 28 to indefinitely postpone the elections then scheduled for Dec. 4. Both leading presidential candidates criticized the ruling by the Electoral Court, with Morales warning the “people could rise up against the court.” His rival, Jorge Quiroga, urged Congress to move on the dispute, saying Bolivia’s fragile democracy was at risk. Under the new decree, the wealthy province of Santa Cruz, where political leaders have threatened to secede from Bolivia, will gain three seats in the 130-member House of Deputies, and the province of Cochabamba will gain one. The province of La Paz along with the poorer provinces of Potosi and Oruro will lose seats. (AP, Nov. 2; KeralaNext, Oct. 28)

Morales of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) accused traditional politicians, business interests and foreign interests of conspiring to destabilize the country. Without naming names, Morales told reporters that neoliberal politicians, entrepreneurs and “an embassy” decided it was better not to have an election because MAS was leading the polls.

Morales also condemned what he called “media terrorism” in the distortion of his warning that the impatience of the people with these manipulations could lead to an insurrection; this was not a call for “armed insurrection” as some media has claimed, he said.

MAS vice presidential candidate, Alvaro Garcia Linera, added that the conspirators were trying to create a power vacuum, as transitional President Eduardo Rodriguez had said he would resign if elections were not held on the date scheduled. (Prensa Latina, Nov. 1)

Morales was a leading light, along with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, at the recent protests against the Summit of the Americas in Argentina.

See our last report and our last post on Bolivia.