Bolivia. The bloody clashes between striking police and military in La Paz in February, when 17 people died and more than 20 injured, became the start of a politically very troubled year. In September, a battle erupted, culminating in the resignation of President Gonzálo Sánchez de Lozada in October.
According to Countryaah.com, Bolivia Independence Day is August 6. The plans to export natural gas to the United States and demands that the government’s promises be fulfilled led, beginning September 15, to extensive protests. Under the leadership of Congressman and farmer union leader Felipe Quispe, roads around La Paz. Ten days later, Evo Morales, leader of MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) and spokesman for the country’s cook farmers joined the protests, and the central trade union COB (Central Obrera Boliviana) announced a general strike strengthened by roadblocks. Although the government promised to consult grassroots organizations and the people in a referendum before exporting any natural gas, tension in and around La Paz increased, especially in the suburb of El Alto, where a majority of the population is Native American.
The original requirements were replaced by a new requirement that COB had already made in February: the resignation of President Sánchez. The crisis escalated gradually and during clashes with police during major demonstrations on October 12 and 13, some thirty people were killed. Even Vice President Carlos Mesa protested against the police’s methods of violence, and several of the Sánchez government’s coalition partners urged the president to meet the protesters’ demands. Following mediation efforts by Brazilian President Lula da Silva and Argentina’s President Néstor Kirchner, Sánchez finally decided to resign on October 17. He was replaced by Vice President Mesa.
Quispe and Morales continued to press Mesa on the issues of gas exports, hydrocarbon law reforms and privatizations carried out since 1995. When Mesa’s government became as “unpolitical” as possible, with the members not representing their respective parties, the opposition gave him three “honeymoons” for to solve the controversial issues.
Ex-President Morales is accused of abuse
Former President Evo Morales is accused of having sex with minors, which is classified as rape. When the Ministry of Justice presents the second such accusation in a short time, it concerns a now 19-year-old woman who stated that she was 15 years old when she had a relationship with Morales and 16 when she gave birth to their daughter. Four days earlier, photographs of the now 60-year-old Morales were presented with a girl who is said to have been 14 years old when the photos were taken. She must have accompanied him on trips. Morales, who was president from 2006 to 2019, is in exile in Argentina after the controversial election at the end of last year. He has also been accused of terrorism and rebellion by those who took power after him.
Election dates are cemented, roadblocks are lifted
The trade union COB is canceling the campaign with blocked roads around the country, which has been going on for eleven days. The announcement comes the day after a law has been passed that puts a stop to further postponing the election date. According to COB leader Carlos Huarachi, the conflict will be paused until October 18, when the election will be held. However, other protest organizers, such as Aymara leader Felipe Quispe, say roadblocks remain, and he is demanding the resignation of interim president Jeanine Áñez. Parliament adopted the law preventing new delays following mediation by the UN, the EU and the Catholic Church. According to the authorities, 142 roadblocks have led to serious problems, including for the transport of oxygen to hospitals where covid-19 patients are cared for. In Bolivia, 3,800 deaths from the disease have now been recorded, and 96,000 people have been confirmed infected.
Protests against postponed elections
The government is deploying police and military to clear roadblocks that have been set up in protest against the election being postponed (see 23 July 2020). The roadblocks in six of the nine ministries have made it difficult to transport within the country and, according to the organizers, constitute an “indefinite national strike”. The organizers are a number of groups that support the socialist party MAS. Critics claim that the reason for the postponement of the election is that MAS candidate Luis Arce leads in the opinion polls, ahead of the center candidate Carlos Mesa and the conservative interim president Jeanine Áñez.
The school is closed for the rest of the year
The government decides to close the school for the rest of the school year, which runs until the beginning of December. The reason is that many children do not have access to the internet and cannot follow the distance education that has been conducted during the corona pandemic. According to official figures, 40 percent of Bolivians have access to the Internet, and in rural areas the figure is only 3 percent. Despite the closure, which includes 2 million children, all will be “moved up” to the next class.