The Movement to Socialism (MAS) , the party of former Bolivian president Evo Morales, accepted the postponement of the elections from September 6 to October 18 decreed by the Electoral Tribunal, although it did so on the condition that they not be postponed again for any reason. reason. The Legislative Assembly, controlled by this opposition party, approved a law that ratifies this date, which had been initially modified by the Electoral Tribunal, causing a serious social conflict. MAS’s adherence to the new date was considered a “betrayal”by the leaders of the workers and peasants unions that for a week have been blocking traffic against the postponement of the presidential elections and for other demands. However, shortly afterwards these unions ordered the lifting of the road barricades. The leaders of the Aymara area of the country (located in the La Paz region, to the west) have said that they will continue their fight until they achieve the resignation of the head of the interim Government, Jeanine Áñez, but it is unlikely that they will be able to maintain their actions for many days more.
Áñez presented the new law as an achievement by his Cabinet, which has resisted pressure from the Santa Cruz elite, business associations and various media outlets to suppress protests and clear routes by force. Instead of this, the president has preferred to encourage the discrediting of the blockades, which have affected the supply of medical oxygen to hospitals overwhelmed by the pandemic and which have also made some foods more expensive. In the last hours, a video has been released in which a dying man, who died shortly after, complains to the protesters due to the lack of oxygen to face the complications of covid-19. According to the ruling party, around 40 people have died as a result of road blocks.
Union leaders have defended themselves by pointing out that the shortage of oxygen is prior to these and is due to government inefficiency, since the supply has not been increased or airplanes have been used to transport the substance from Santa Cruz – where it is mainly manufactured – to the rest of the country.
The unpopularity of the protests initiated by the MAS led this party to change its mind and accept the new date (instead of continuing to push for September 6) for fear of losing more support in the cities, where it already has problems due to the radical opposition against him from the middle classes and the better-off. Several times Evo Morales asked from Argentina that it be accepted on October 18. Of course, the MAS introduced into the law a clause that considers it a crime to try to change the date of the elections once again.
At the same time, the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee, one of the institutions that led the protests prior to the overthrow of Evo Morales last November, demands that the elections be postponed sine die and that the MAS be prohibited from participating in them. The president of this institution, Rómulo Calvo, scandalized part of the country by describing the protesters who block the roads as “human beasts” without rationality. Another part of the population, on the other hand, supported his statement.
The MAS candidate, Luis Arce, is in the first place of all the polls, although it is not known if the support he has will reach him to win an election designed in two shifts. The unions involved in the blockade are either part of the MAS or have collaborated closely with its government for 14 years. The turn of this party has left them in a compromised situation, since they withdraw from the mobilization empty-handed. The leader of peasant women, Segundina Flores, denounced that they were abandoned by “the [people of the] middle class” who run the MAS today and who in the past conducted it so badly that it caused the downfall of Morales.
In the Aymara area of La Paz, this conflict has shown the reappearance of radical groups that present themselves as “self-organized” to differentiate themselves from the MAS and its unions. They insist on keeping the administrative capital isolated from the rest of the country. They demand Áñez’s resignation, since they consider that her government is “racist”. They crash into the three ministers who have Croatian origin, in particular Branko Marincovic, an enemy of the Morales government who, according to him, tried to overthrow him in 2008 and make the Department of Santa Cruz independent from the rest of Bolivia. Marincovic, who has just entered the Cabinet, is one of the main businessmen of the national agribusiness and denies this latest accusation.
The best known of the mobilized Aymara leaders is Felipe Quispe, who in a recent interview with the local press said that all the governments since the founding of the country “are foreigners, they are colonial that came from Europe, from Croatia, from other places.” “They rule us and we remain below. They have even seen us as human beasts. They have seen us as savages ”. Quispe believes that whites should go “to their mother country.” “Then we are going to govern ourselves. There we are going to have a government of the Mamani, the Condori, the Quispe ”, he said.