Pandemic lethal and postponement of elections, an explosive cocktail in Bolivia

Pandémie meurtrière et report d’élections, un cocktail explosif en Bolivie

In Bolivia, where the pandemic of COVID-19 rages, to the point that the police picks up the dead bodies in the street, the demonstrations of supporters of ex-president Evo Morales resumed since the announcement of a new postponement of the elections, raising fears of an outbreak of violence.

In this andean country, the memory of the ballot challenged in October 2019 is still fresh.

In power since 2006, Evo Morales was declared winner of the presidential election for a fourth term, but the opposition cried fraud. After weeks of protests, the indigenous president had resigned at the beginning of November, and fled to Bolivia, released by the police and the army.

The page Morales seemed to tour. But eight months later, his party, the Movement toward socialism (MAS), continues to control the Parliament and to influence national policy. “I think he (Morales) will continue to play an important role, in that it is always a factor of political polarisation in the country”, writes sociologist Maria Teresa Zegada.

On Tuesday, some 5,000 miners, and indigenous supporters of the former head of the State of the left, Evo Morales, (2006-2019) marched in the city of El Alto, on the heights of La Paz, waving the flags of bolivia and the “whipalas”, the symbol multicolor Aymara and Quechua, to denounce the postponement of the general elections.

The demonstrators chanted slogans hostile to the government of the acting president of the right Jeanine Añez, and the supreme electoral Tribunal (TSE). It has shifted the last week of the election from 6 September to 18 October as a result of an escalation of cases of COVID-19.

This is the second report, due to the pandemic, the vote was initially scheduled for 3 may.

But unlike the previous times, neither the parties nor the Parliament was consulted by the electoral authorities to secure the new date of the vote. For the constitutionalist Ivan Lima, the postponement of the election has led to a “confrontation between the organs of the State and an institutional crisis”.

Peak in September

“The election date of 6 September should be respected,” declared Tuesday in El Alto, a leader of the miners, Lucio Padilla. “We can’t allow the manipulation of the law. We have the obligation to defend democracy”, he added. The march took place in the cities of Cochabamba and Cobija.

The supporters of Evo Morales believe that the elections have been postponed because their candidate to the presidency Luis Arce is in the lead in the polls. They predict “seizures social” in the case of maintaining the postponement of the vote, while the ex-president exiled in Buenos Aires accuses the government of “saving time”.

The MAS has announced blockades of roads from 3 August.

The political scientist Marcelo Silva warns against a situation that is more confrontational, even if this will happen “is going to depend on (the evolution) of the pandemic”.

For their part, the sectors that conservatives are worried about a return of the MAS to power a year after his fall.

Country of 11 million people, Bolivia has now nearly 74, 000 cases of contamination to the COVID-19 for more than 2,800 deaths. The acting president and seven of his ministers have contracted the virus in July. And the worst is still to come : according to experts, the peak is expected for September.

Not a day without television broadcasts images of police cleaning up dead bodies in the streets, cars and houses.

Between 15 July and 20 July, the officers have picked up more than 400 corpses in all Bolivia, of which 85% were dead of the COVID-19, announced the national director of the police Force against crime (FELCC), Ivan Rojas.

Hospitals and morgues are overwhelmed. In Oruro, a score of bodies have been buried in a false joint due to lack of space elsewhere, said Wednesday the local authorities. Same thing with Sugar. In La Paz, a reconfinement strict profile.

To the health situation and policy, is added as also an economic landscape devastated, leading to several professions to take to the streets to demand the help of the State.

According to the world Bank, the GDP of Bolivia, until very recently one of the most dynamic countries of the region, should be dipped in 2020 5.9%.

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