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The future of Bolivia hangs in the balance

Miriam Amancay Colque, a Bartolina Sisa Resistance spokeswoman, reports on the political background of Bolivia's general election

WHEN Jeanine Anez came to power in Nov 2019 with the infamous coup endorsed by the US, the Organisation of American States and its interventionist role, the national and regional ultra-right oligarchy, the church, etc her only task was to call for new elections. 

However, her intentions were to stay in power at all costs, and Covid-19 was the perfect excuse to postpone the elections three times. 

Her priorities were to break relations with Cuba and Venezuela and to drive Cuban doctors out of the country. 

Immediately, she restarted diplomatic relations with Israel, the US, opened the doors to USAid, etc. 

In March, when the pandemic reached the country, they bought £8.22 million of weapons for the military, police and paramilitary groups, abandoning the health emergency. Corruption, nepotism, political persecution and human-rights violations were on their agenda. 

During the quarantine, repression against people who were without food or medical attention was rampant. Our dead were in the streets and in their houses, abandoned while the coup plotters raided the state coffers and became rich at the expense of the hunger and pain of our people.

In August, the Bolivian people, who have courageously taken part in countless historical struggles, mobilised again led by the COB union federation, the Unity Pact and all social movements in repudiation of another postponement of elections scheduled for September 6 and to demand healthcare, education and jobs. 

They took to the streets with the only weapons of struggle ordinary people have: marches, blockades held with great discipline and organisational skills of the miners, workers, indigenous, native, peasants unions, students, professionals, neighbourhood councils and more. 

Thus, the final date of elections endorsed by law was achieved for tomorrow, October 18.

Five candidates remain in the contest after Anez, Tuto Quiroga and Magda Baya withdrew their candidacies. 

Luis Arce Catacora of MAS-IPSP (Movement Towards Socialism); the ultra-rightist oligarch and main author of the 2019 coup Luis Fernando Camacho; Carlos Mesa of Comunidad Ciudadana (Citizens’ Community); Ruth Nina of Accion Nacional (National Action), and Chi Hyun Chung of Frente para la Victoria (Front for Victory). 

But the massive blue tides of the MAS campaign at the national level have shown that Arce has the majority support of the Bolivian people, and all the polls, including the opposition ones, put him ahead and predict that he will be the outright winner. 

Arce is a former economy minister of Evo Morales and the author of a successful economic model applied in Bolivia. 

David Choquehuanca, the MAS candidate for the vice-presidency, is an antrophologist and a highly representative Aymara leader. 

The coup regime will try to derail the victory of the people's party. Part of their strategies are Arturo Murillo's trip to the US with precise instructions to apply fraud and bring Mesa to power, provide to the military, police and paramilitaries with weapons and in the event of the MAS victory, convulse the country and declare a state of siege. 

Their paramilitary groups, experts in attacking and beating up indigenous women and children, are mobilised with impunity.

The right-wing block is crumbling and in their desperation they are doing everything to prevent the MAS from returning to power. Even paramilitary groups are showing their support for Mesa.

Salvador Romero, who is in charge of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE),  in the past worked with USAid, an entity linked to the CIA. Cables disclosed by Wikileaks show that he used to give weekly reports to US Ambassador Philip Goldbert who was expelled by Morales for conspiring against his government.  

Romero was very vocal against Evo Morales and  has also had a close involvement in the fraud and coup against former president Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. He is also close friends with Mesa.

As an affront to the Bolivian people, the OAS has sent the same delegation of observers that in 2019 argued the existence of fraud which led to the violent coup and the killing of indigenous people in Sacaba, Senkata and Pedregal.

The Secretary General of OAS, Luis Almagro, throughout all this time has given his full support to the dictatorial regime, in addition to the meetings he had with Camacho and  Murillo.

They intended to outlaw MAS, the majority and representative party in the whole country. They have mobilised paramilitary groups creating terrorist attacks in front of the prosecutor’s office and the courts and physically attacking members of the MAS party.
They have attacked and intimidated Prosecutor Juan Lanchipa in Sucre demanding his resignation, wanting to take over the institutions, damaging and setting fire around them.

It is well known that there are USaid operatives within the TSE who could well change the electoral data, and suspicion grows.

The military and police who participated in the 2019 coup and were decorated by Anez, now have the task of transporting the electoral ballots. 

More than 51,000 Bolivian migrants abroad have been purged from the electoral rolls. In Argentina, the TSE has changed information many times creating confusion and the diplomatic representations are totally incapable of assisting the Bolivian community, despite earning thousands of dollars in salaries.

There will be no voting in Panama due to COVID 19 restrictions. In Chile, voting will take place only in Santiago and not in Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Calama and Copiapo. 

In Mendoza, Argentina, the province with the second most Bolivian voters, Mauricio Macri's PRO bloc of the Chamber of Deputies have tried to stop the Bolivian voting. By legal means and protests the voting will now be restored.

The TSE will only report count by polling place, before it was done by table. However, Arce reported that the MAS-IPSP has its own counting system and the results of all the tables nationwide will be made known with accuracy. The final results would probably be known by next week as they have to wait for the rural vote.

The outcome of these elections will have profound geopolitical implications at national and regional level, it will not be a simple election. Let us remember that Bolivia has the world’s biggest reserves of Lithium and that imperialism needs to exploit it. 

In the last few hours, we learned that Mesa entered into an agreement with the Trump administration to establish a military base in Uyuni where our Lithium is located, in exchange for  support to retain the presidency, which we are sure he will only achieve through a monumental fraud. Those who financed his campaign are businessmen from the US such as Juan Carlos Lopez. 

This military base would become a Strategic Operations Center of Alta Montana that would be the nucleus of formation and training for multinational forces from Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, becoming the second most important Military Fortress in South America after Colombia.

At risk is the fate of the Bolivian people that 14 years ago decided to write their own history with a new constitution and gave birth to the plurinational state of Bolivia. For the first time, the inclusion of more than 36 indigenous peoples who previously lived as foreigners in their own land, were given their rights.

In those 14 years, extreme poverty was reduced, schools, health, sports and road infrastructure were increased and wealth was redistributed to the great majority. New modern, profitable state industries were created which in less than a year are now being embezzled by this ruthless and incompetent regime.

On  October 14, the massive closing rally of the MAS campaign took place in the glorious town of El Alto, the historic site of the siege led by Bartolina Sisa and Tupac Katari against the Spanish colonialists and a bastion of the fight against neo-liberalism. There the people reaffirmed the long-awaited desire that Bolivians must be able to choose their own destiny, to govern themselves.  

Arce said: “We are going to recover democracy, political, economic and social stability in Bolivia. We will give opportunities to young people who are our moral reserve, we will guarantee employment, universal insurance, we will industrialise Lithium, non-devaluation, etc.”

Anez and Murillo have already declared that they are not prepared to hand over power if the MAS-IPSP is the winner. However, on 14 October the Legislative Assembly censured Murillo as he did not attend to inform for the fourth time to the Assembly, and according to the Constitution he is no longer a government Minister. 

These are tense times, the people will go to the polls on October 18 with doubts but also full of hope. There is no guarantee that it will be a transparent process. There is talk of a second coup plotted by the right using "false flags."

It is known that Murillo has been organising a so-called fake group of MASistas who with blue flags would go out to provoke confrontations with the police and the army - a sufficient excuse for a possible state of siege to be declared and the climate of violence to increase with the repressive state blaming the MAS-IPSP.

There are also complaints from members of the armed forces who claim to have received orders from Murillo to shoot to kill.

The Bolivian people are on alert, determined to fight for their self-determination. They no longer want the neoliberal system of looting natural resources and submission to transnational corporations.

We call on the workers of the world and  the entire international community to demonstrate their solidarity, and proactively accompany the Bolivian people in this critical juncture until democracy is restored and beyond.

United we will make our hopes come true and liberate Bolivia from the claws of fascism, racism and imperialism.

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