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Bolivians go to the polls in a climate of tension. Track coverage

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Brasil de Fato – About 7 million Bolivians go to the polls this Sunday (18), from 8 am to 5 pm, to elect president, vice president, deputies and senators of the Plurinational State. Luis Arce, from the Movement to Socialism (MAS) party, is named as a favorite by the polls. Behind him are ex-president Carlos Mesa (Citizen Community), representative of the traditional right, and businessman Luis Fernando Camacho (We believe), considered one of the operators of the 2019 coup.

All polls among Bolivian voters point to the possibility of Arce’s victory at the polls in the first round – according to some institutes, at the limit of the margin of error. For this, the MAS candidate needs to make more than 40% of the votes and open 10 percentage points on the runner-up. In the last three polls, the difference for Mesa is between 7 and 10.5 points.

Twelve hours before the election, TSE alters the results disclosure system

Track coverage throughout the day at Brasil de Fato, with participation from RBA, with information straight from Bolivia, analyzes and updates on the vote count.

Historic

This Sunday’s election is one of the most turbulent in the country’s history. Last year, then-president Evo Morales (MAS) was re-elected to office, but resigned after a wave of violence that took over the country. The opposition’s demonstrations were ignited by a report by the Organization of American States (OAS) that pointed to an alleged fraud in the count. The hypothesis has already been ruled out by independent studies, but it contributed to the cancellation of the election in November.

In the past 12 months, Bolivia has been led by an interim government, led by former self-declared senator and president Jeanine Áñez. She broke her promise to call elections in the first half of the year and used covid-19 as a justification for postponing the election three times. A representative of the Bolivian radical right, Áñez launched himself as a candidate for the presidency, but gave up in September “so as not to divide the opposition”.

The period was also marked by persecution of MAS militants, allies and supporters of Morales – who has been in exile in Argentina since the coup.

Everything for lithium?

The dispute over lithium is the main reason for the conflicts that preceded the Bolivians going to the polls this Sunday, aggravated by the racism propagated by the extreme right against the indigenous majority. This is the assessment of MAS, which governed the country between 2005 and 2019, and of international analysts interviewed by Brasil de Fato the past few months.

Lithium is an alkali metal used in the manufacture of batteries, the largest reserves of which are in the world in Bolivia – about a third of all lithium on the planet. One of the pillars of the Morales government was the nationalization of the country’s oil, gas and mineral resources, which allowed record economic growth and reduced extreme poverty by almost 20 percentage points.

Who conducted this process at the head of the Ministry of Economy and
Finance over 12 years was Luis Arce. The proposal
was based on the transfer of private companies to control the
The State and, mainly, in the renegotiation of
transnational corporations, which had to pay an additional 32% tax to
exploitation of mineral resources.

Lithium is one of the most cited subjects in the presidential candidates’ virtual campaigns. This shows an increasingly fierce political and economic project dispute. The pandemic of the new coronavirus, with impacts on the world economy, reinforced the importance of the debate on changes in the energy matrix and strategies for resuming the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Industry interests

The topic gained even more centrality as of July 25, 2020. That was when Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, an American company that makes electric cars, responded in an ironic and aggressive way to a comment on social media about his participation in the annulment of the elections 2019 in Bolivia: “We will hit anyone we want. Deal with it.”

For Arce, Musk’s statement is revealing about the reasons for the coup and the foreign interests that are at stake in the new elections. The remaining presidential candidates, who had supported Morales’ resignation the previous year, downplay the position of Tesla’s CEO.

Mistrust

High-level changes at the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) on the eve of the Bolivians’ meeting with the ballot boxes are viewed with suspicion by Bolivian political analysts.

Another cause for concern is the maintenance of the OAS as an election observer. The role of Secretary-General Luis Almagro has been denounced by human rights organizations and activists such as Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Nobel Prize for Human Rights.

Outside Bolivia, the warning signal is also on. Brazil, Argentina and Chile have the largest Bolivian communities. And voters in those countries accuse the Plurinational Electoral Body (OEP) of making access to information more difficult and disrespecting the right to vote.

MAS has been the favorite party for Bolivian immigrants since the vote abroad was instituted in 2009. Last year, Morales had 71% of the preference in Brazil and 58% in the average vote outside Bolivia.

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Economy

11 million Bolivians will have free vaccine against covid

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São Paulo – Former Bolivian President Evo Morales commented, this Wednesday (21st), the importance of youth in the electoral process that led Luis Arce, from the Movement to Socialism (MAS), to victory in the presidential election of October 18 . “Young people saw what it is like to live under the right and the dictatorship. And they reflected on how we were with our revolution and how we were under the coup, ”he said. Evo was overthrown by a coup in November 2019 that brought lawyer and TV presenter Jeanine Áñez to the presidency. With 90% of the official count completed. at 3:40 pm on this Wednesday (21st), Luis Arce approaches 55% of the valid votes. “What was at stake on October 18 was to go back to the past with the privatists or continue to the future with the nationalists,” said Evo Morales in an interview with Breno Altman (watch below).

Asked how the country will recover from the economic crisis aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, he replied that it will be with the presence of the state. The Bolivian guaranteed that Bolivia will normalize relations with China, Cuba, “some European countries” and Russia. “Those who once asked for market, market, market, now say State, State State, in the face of the pandemic.”

Vaccine against covid-19

“We are going to face the pandemic. When we have the vaccine, we will distribute it to all 11 million Bolivians for free. ” According to him, tackling the pandemic and the crisis will be done through joint work between the federal government, governors and mayors.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro not only boycotts health policies, but goes further. On Wednesday, he forbade the country to buy the Chinese vaccine CoronaVac, which would have 46 million doses through negotiations with the state of São Paulo announced the day before by the Minister of Health, Eduardo Pazuello. “I don’t give up my authority”, justified the Brazilian’s head of state.

South America

About neighbors in South America, Evo Morales highlighted the “profound ideological and programmatic difference” between MAS and the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, from Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, and the former Argentine president Mauricio Macri. But it was diplomatic. “Whether it is left or right, we must work together respecting our differences. South Americans cannot be isolated, ”he said.

Morales acknowledged that he may have been mistaken as president. “I was wrong, but I am a human being,” he said. “Now we have experience in public management, and we are going to take Bolivia forward, united, organized.” He affirmed that the new government will make “a pact of union between the parties of the right, businessmen and workers, a great national agreement, to raise the economy”, adding: “The moment is to consolidate our process of change, democracy does not end on election day ”.

Evo has been in Argentina since December 2019, where he went into exile after the coup in the country. He said that the return to his country still has no forecast. In an interview with BBC Brazil, the president-elect was not positive about the possible participation of the ex-president in the new government. “If Evo Morales wants to help us, he will be very welcome. But that does not mean that Morales will be in the government. It will be my government, ”he said.

Check out Evo Morales interview with Breno Altman

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