The Amazon
santacruz

Protests break out in Bolivia’s Oriente

In Bolivia’s eastern lowlands, known as Oriente, the regionally powerful right-wing social networks have responded rapidly to the victory of socialist candidate Luis Arce in the presidential elections. Thousands filled the streets of the region’s principal city, Santa Cruz, waving Bolivian flags, honking car horns and chanting “¬°Anulaci√≥n, Anulaci√≥n, Anulaci√≥n!”However, the protesters’¬†accusation¬†of “fraud” was explicitly rejected by Manuel Gonz√°lez, head of the OAS mission in Bolivia. He said in a statement: “The people voted freely and the result was clear and overwhelming, which gives great legitimacy to the incoming government, the Bolivian institutions, and the electoral process.” (Photo: Nuevo Sur Bolivia)

The Andes
Luis Arce

Bolivia: back to ‘socialism,’ or meet the new boss?

Luis Arce, candidate of the party of ousted president Evo Morales, has seemingly swept to victory in Bolivia’s¬†presidential elections. While the official count is technically still pending, results place him with more than 50% of the vote‚ÄĒwell above the second-place center-right contender Carlos Mesa and with far more than the required majority to avoid a runoff. This represents a significant recoup of losses for the Movement Toward Socialism-Political Instrument for the Peoples’ Sovereignty (MAS-IPSP), which Morales nominally still leads from exile in Argentina. As news of the victory broke, supporters gathered outside Arce’s campaign office to chant “The pollera will be respected!”‚ÄĒa reference to the traditional skirt that has become a symbol of the MAS-IPSP indigenous base. But¬†when Arce assumes the presidency, he will be taking over a country debilitated by deep recession. “We will have to have austerity measures. There’s no other option if we don’t have enough income to cover our current expenditures,” Arce admitted to reporters.¬†(Image via Carwil without Borders)

The Andes
Oruro

Bolivia: street confrontations in prelude to elections

Tensions are escalating in Bolivia ahead of the first post-coup elections, which after numerous postponements are now slated for this month. In one incident, a¬†youth meeting of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) in the Manufacturing Complex of the working-class city of El Alto was attacked with tear-gas bombs by unknown assailants, causing an exodus from the cavernous space. Days earlier, MAS supporters in the mining hub of Oruro hurled stones at a vehicle caravan of the right-wing Creemos (We Believe) coalition, forcing it to retreat from their barrio, known as the Mining Helmet for the strength of organized labor there. The protesters shouted “Out, out, out! Oruro must be respected!”¬†(Photo:¬†Bolivia Prensa)

The Andes
Bolivia protest

Mass protests paralyze Bolivia

Protesters have launched blockades across main roads through Bolivia over the past days, effectively cutting of La Paz and other cities, to oppose the government’s postponement of new presidential elections. The blockades have raised fears of food and gasoline shortages, with throngs of La Paz residents lining up outside markets and petrol stations. Chancellor Karen Longaric portrayed the protests as being masterminded from exile by ousted president Evo Morales, saying “Ex-president Morales and groups aligned¬†with the Movement Toward Socialism have initiated violent and inhuman acts.” (Photo: P√°gina Siete)

The Andes
riberalta-marcha

Protesters demand food across Bolivia

Ten days into a national “quarantine” declared in Bolivia, protesters are taking to the streets to demand food in working-class districts of cities across the country‚ÄĒin defiance of lockdown orders. Residents are calling for either flexibility in the lockdown, which has paralyzed the economy, or food distribution in their barrios. The interim government of Jeanine √Ā√Īez has pledged one-time payments of $60 for elders, the disabled, pregnant women and others with special needs. Her supporters on social media are portraying the protests as fomented by the ousted Movement Toward Socialism (MAS). (Photo via Los Tiempos, Cochabamba)

The Andes
FELCC

‘Anti-terrorist’ militarization in Bolivia

The new Bolivian regime’s Government Minister Arturo Murillo has announced creation of a special “Anti-Terrorist Group” (GAT), drawn from elite units of the National Police force, to “completely disarticulate all the terrorist cells” operating in the country. Murillo made the announcement at a¬†meeting of the National Police Special Anti-Crime Struggle Force (FELCC) in Santa Cruz, where he charged that recent political violence in the country had been instrumented by foreign “terrorist” operatives financed by Venezuela as part of a plan to “destabilize” the countries of South America. He later told reporters¬†that he would seek Israeli security aid for the new anti-terrorist unit. (Photo:¬†La Raz√≥n)

The Andes
Rafael Quispe

Bolivia: signs of de-escalation following dialogue

Bolivia’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly passed an “Exceptional & Transitional Regime Law” that annus last month’s contested elections and calls for new elections to be held within 120 days‚ÄĒwithout Evo Morales as a candidate. The pact follows talks mediated by the Catholic Church and the European Union between the new government of interim¬†president Jeanine A√Īez and leaders of the ousted Morales’ party, the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), which continues to hold a majority in both houses of the Assembly.¬†As a part of the talks, Morales supporters in the countryside have agreed to dismantle their roadblocks. Rafael Quispe, a traditional Ayamara leader, was also appointed to head Bolivia’s indigenous development agency. (Photo of Rafael Quispe being sworn in via¬†El Pais, Tarija)

The Andes
Sacaba

Massacre of indigenous protesters in Bolivia

Several are reported dead after National Police and army troops opened fire on indigenous demonstrators marching on the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. A march demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Evo Morales¬†started that morning from the town of Sacaba, gateway to the Chapare region where Morales began his career as a campesino leader in the 1990s and still the heartland of his support base. When security forces attempted to block their way over a bridge, a clash ensued. The Defensor√≠a del Pueblo, Bolivia’s official human rights office, confirmed the death of five, with 29 more injured, but local media put the death toll at nine. Some 200 were also detained. The National Police claimed on Twitter that the protesters attacked troops with “improvised firearms.” No casualties among the security forces were reported. (Image: Alba TV via Twitter)

The Andes
Evo Morales

Bolivia: Evo Morales resigns amid ‘civic coup’

Following a statement fom the OAS calling for last month’s disputed elections in Bolivia to be “annulled,”¬†Evo Morales flew from La Paz to the provincial city Chimor√© in his traditional heartland of Cochabamba department, where he issued a televised statement announcing his resignation. The statement decried the “civic coup” that had been launched against him, noting more than two weeks of increasingly violent protests. He later tweeted from¬†Chimor√©¬†that his home in Cochabamba had been attacked by a mob of opponents, and that he had been informed that arrest orders have¬†been issued against him. Leaders of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal have already been arrested.¬†(Photo: Unitel.tv)

The Andes
Bolivia protest

Bolivia: protests as Evo victory contested

Riot police have clashed with protesters in cities across Bolivia as the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced a clear win for incumbent President Evo Morales 24 hours after the elections, obviating the need for a second round with conservative challenger Carlos Mesa. The announced victory followed a sudden halt in the counting, before which Morales had been falling just short of the percentage needed to avoid the first run-off in his nearly 14 years in power. Crowds set fire to the TSE offices in Sucre and Potosi, and protesters torched ballots in Tarija. Street clashes erupted between Morales and Mesa supporters in La Paz and Santa Cruz. Mesa is charging fraud, saying, “We are confident that the citizenry will not accept these completely distorted results.” (Photo: Opini√≥nBolivia via Twitter)

The Amazon
Chiquitano

Forest devastation sparks protest in Bolivia

Hundreds of thousands marched in Bolivia’s eastern lowland city of Santa Cruz, calling for President Evo Morales to be “punished” at the polls in the upcoming elections. Although the march was called by the city’s Comit√© C√≠vico, a voice of the right-wing opposition, a key issue was the devastation of the country’s eastern forests in the wildfires that have swept across the Amazon Basin over the past months. Comit√© C√≠vico leaders accused Morales of failing to respond adequately to the fires. Last month, the Comit√© held a mass assembly in Santa Cruz, where they declared a state of “national disaster” over the fires. (Photo: InfoBae)

The Amazon

Amazon forest fires spread to Bolivia

President Evo Morales announced that Bolivia has contracted a Boeing 747 “Supertanker” to help extinguish huge forest fires in the Amazon have that have spread over the border from Brazil. He¬†has also mobilized army helicopters to evacuate affected communites deep in the rainforest.¬†Although Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has been openly encouraging the destruction¬†of the Amazon, dropping barriers to the clearing of forest by agribusiness and resource interests, he is now floating the baseless conspiracy theory that the fires were set by NGOs that oppose his government in an effort to discredit him. Indigenous and environmental groups in Bolivia, however, accuse the supposedly left-wing Evo Morales of more quietly instating similar policies.¬†(Image:¬†Planet Labs Inc via Mongabay)