Bolivian Thoughts opinion: This is a good article, however, it lacks some precision which I address inside [ ] throughout it, thank you:
Nicholas Casey reports for The New York Times:
Bolivia Tells President His Time Is Up. He Isn’t Listening.
LA PAZ, Bolivia — When he was 46, Rene Paucara voted for Evo Morales, helping elect him as Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2005.
At 56, Mr. Paucara, a doorman in El Alto, Bolivia’s second-largest city, voted with the majority again, but that time to reject a 2016 referendumto let Mr. Morales seek a fourth term.
Now nearing 60, Mr. Paucara says he is fuming: Mr. Morales has said he will run again anyway. The president has been aided in the courts, which threw out the country’s term limits, describing them as unfair to politicians like Mr. Morales, a leftist who has reshaped Bolivia in his dozen years in power.
Mr. Paucara now fears that if the president wins again next year, he may be well on track to keep the job for life, unwilling to hand over his office to any successor.
“He said he’d govern listening to the people, but that’s not the case now,” Mr. Paucara said of Mr. Morales as he stood at the entrance of the building where he works. “No means no,” he said, referring to the results of the referendum.
Mr. Morales’s determination to continue governing his landlocked country has echoes elsewhere in the region, where a stable grid of democracies suddenly looks a lot less solid. Corruption scandals have rocked Ecuador, a successful impeachment brought down a president in Brazil and an attempt to remove Peru’s president from office failed by only a slim margin.
In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro’s leftist government recently banned the three biggest opposition parties from running in a presidential election this year, following a deadly crackdown against protesters. In Honduras, judges overturned a constitutional ban against re-elections, allowing the right-wing incumbent, President Juan Orlando Hernández, to run again. After widespread protests of the results and calls by the Organization of American States for a new election after allegations of vote-rigging, Mr. Hernández declared victory last month, with the support of the United States.
“It’s undeniable that you’re starting to see authoritarian tendencies in parts of Latin America, leaders that are struggling to let go,” said Oliver Stuenkel, an international relations professor at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo, Brazil. “It’s not limited to the right or left now.”
Ben Raderstorf, an analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue, a policy group based in Washington, said recent economic troubles, in an area suffering from stagnant commodity prices, is one factor leading to incumbents trying to hold onto power in Latin America.
“When economies started to turn downward, political machines started to grasp what they could,” Mr. Raderstorf said.
Before telling Mr. Morales, 58, in the referendum that it was time he retired, voters had repeatedly backed him, in three consecutive elections, bringing stability to a country that some politicians had considered ungovernable. Five presidents had served in the five years before the swearing in of Mr. Morales in 2006.
When he first entered office, Mr. Morales, part of a group of leftist leaders in Latin America who rose to power at a time of high commodity prices, sought to tackle a history of inequality in Bolivia. He strong-armed foreign energy companies to share more profits with the state, investing the proceeds in education and health care while rewriting the country’s Constitution to speed his reforms. [Bolivian Thoughts opinion: Bolivia is facing trials where those companies are suing this government. This government has also allowed many “expenses” from those companies to be reimbursed, which in fact proves that the s0-called nationalization and its revenues are not just that successful … simple and pure demagogue by this coca grower caudillo. You can also read about the wastage of $240 billion dollars here]
A former union leader for coca farmers, Mr. Morales toured the country wearing traditional clothes and touting his indigenous roots. He built a web of aerial cable cars in the capital, La Paz, connecting the city’s poorer periphery to places of employment. By 2012, the poverty rate had dropped by more than half from a decade before.
This momentum has top officials in La Paz arguing that now is not the time to cut short a productive presidency on what they argue are the mere technical grounds of term limits.
“It’s historic leadership, it doesn’t work in short cycles,” said Gabriela Montaño, the head of Bolivia’s Chamber of Deputies and a member of the president’s Movement Toward Socialism party. “There is simply no leader in Bolivia like Evo Morales.”
From her office in the Legislature, Ms. Montaño noted that nearly halfof the country’s senators are women and added that her own rise to power would have been impossible under any other president. She then brought up the case of Germany, a democracy where the current chancellor, Angela Merkel, entered office before Mr. Morales and is now trying to form a coalition government after her fourth election.
“I think as Bolivians we have the right to re-elect people as we please,” she said.
It is an argument that has gained traction among some economists on the left.
“The question of term limits isn’t as simple as it’s often portrayed,” said Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, noting that Americans elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt for four terms as he sought to overhaul the economy in the 1930s and lead America’s World War II allies in the 1940s.
“Leaders who are trusted enough and have the skills to get elected and preside over serious transformations can be quite rare,” he said.
Yet in Bolivia, the argument that a leader like Mr. Morales needs to be allowed to run again is being countered by an adage: That power corrupts those who hold it.
While Mr. Morales’s initial years in power were notable for reductions in inequality and increased rights for indigenous people, the more recent news about his government has focused on the misuse of public funds and attacks on the news media. [Bolivian Thoughts opinion: Bolivian Indigenous people have suffered persecution, police aggression under the direct orders of the coca growers, who intend to expand the boundaries of the Chapare into TIPNIS, a National Park and also an indigenous territory … you can read about TIPNIS ordeal in many posts of this blog. evo (I write his name without the first upper case letter as in my opinion he doesn’t even deserve that) does not care about Mother Nature or the environment, he intends to build dams that will severely impact the Madidi, a unique hot spot in biodiversity of the world. So, there are number of examples that prove he is nothing but a petty demagogue with a humongous ego.]
One scandal involved a woman, Gabriela Zapata, with whom the local news media said Mr. Morales had a romantic relationship. Ms. Zapata, 31, an executive at a Chinese-owned construction company that received large government contracts, was tried and sentenced in 2017 for influence peddling.
Though Mr. Morales has denied any connection to the case, the allegations that he had a relationship with a corrupt businesswoman still follows the president. [Bolivian Thoughts opinion: evo has always neglected his children; his older son and daughter had to go to the media asking for help, as he never paid his alimony when he was a congressman. In this case, we all saw the birth certificate, we saw him talking about this child … then they said the child never existed … just a bunch of lies around this sordid individual.]
“I think he is a villain,” said Gabriela de Carpio, 34, an unemployed mother in La Paz, saying that the increasing frequency of corruption scandals involving the president’s confidantes was one reason she voted against the referendum to let him run a fourth time.
The term limits that Mr. Morales wants to jettison were part of a Constitution he had promoted in 2009. Late last year, the country’s highest court, which critics say is packed with judges loyal to Mr. Morales, ruled that term limits had violated an international human rights treaty from the 1960s, a ruling many legal experts consider dubious.
“In Bolivia the executive is now the only power and directs all others,” said Víctor Hugo Cárdenas, a former vice president, and now an opposition politician. He said he fears attacks against opposition parties in coming years similar to those in Venezuela. [Bolivian Thoughts opinion: VIctor Hugo Cardenas is of real indigenous background, he speaks Aymara, lived like one and got educated, while evo doesn’t speak any indigenous language and had never tried to get proper education to lead a country. When evo came to office, he made a charade at Tiahuanaco, trying to portray himself as the Inca, he considers he is of divine origin and as such should govern until he dies … he is a delusional egomaniac.]
But even though Mr. Morales has said he will run again, that does not mean he will necessarily win in a walkover.
In judicial elections in December, a majority of Bolivians voiced their anger at the government by nullifying their ballots rather than picking from a list of judges that had been preselected by leftists.
But some analysts point out that while many voters are willing to express their anger against the president in referendums and judicial elections, far fewer may be willing to reverse his course by sending an untested opposition politician to the presidential palace.
“We have the perhaps weakest opposition in Latin America,” said Jorge Lazarte, a columnist for Bolivian newspapers and political scientist, saying few candidates stand a chance against Mr. Morales’s power and charisma. [Bolivian Thoughts opinion: How could that not be true: when he assumed power, he demoted the upper two classes of the military, so he could appoint only those military who would follow his rule. Over 700 Bolivians had to flee the country due to political persecution, many remain on jail after more than eight years of wrongful incarceration. Many people died violently, were executed or murdered to threaten the media. Main opposition leaders have over 30 trials going at once on alleged accusations, that are just blackmail warnings, so they keep quiet … so, having a weak opposition is fairly understandable, but the people had it and went to the streets in protest, worldwide Bolivians are expressing our anger at this individual, this is another example]
As Julio Eguino, a 42-year-old psychologist, put it, “the question is, if not Evo, then who?”
While Mr. Eguino is keeping an open mind about who he will vote for next year, he said he has little interest in the opposition and so far has always given Mr. Morales his vote. [Bolivian Thoughts opinion: It is odd this psychologist gives such support to the coca grower, evo has clearly demonstrated he cares very little about professionals, despite receiving many honoris-causa degrees, he doesn’t believe in academic training. He once said he will do whatever and will let the lawyers fix it …. regardless of law compliance, etc. Thus, this supported is clearly biased or doesn’t understand we need competent people, professionals to perform as public servants.]
He added that the changes in Bolivia begun by Mr. Morales still have a long way to go.
“It’s not a question of even five terms for Evo,” Mr. Eguino said recently at his home in the capital’s middle-class neighborhood of Calacoto. “It might be a question of a century to see the change we need.” [Bolivian Thoughts opinion: I always spoke of a waste of $160 billion dollars, and apparently is over $240 billion wasted … in twelve years, Bolivia did not create a single sustainable job, did not attract competitive industries. evo remains in the state-owned-companies stage of mid 20th century. He brags about socialism and uses private plane/helicopter/cars, had build a humongous palace … he is nothing but a despicable liar! He has done nothing to improve our lives but increased the level of corruption through illegal activities like narcotrafficking, smuggling and has eliminated institutionality. He came to power and received loan forgiveness from the international cooperation, extraordinary high prices on our commodity exports, he became president during the best economic times ever in our history … and through corruption, ochlocracy has become the worst presidency ever!]