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Bolivia: Reasons and Interests Behind the Crisis

Now, in Latin America it is considered “normal” or even “more democratic” by most Western nations to have “self-declared” presidents trying to rule the nation. The situation in Bolivia seems to be far from resolved: many of those who at first pressed for new elections later realised that they were supporting a deeper and dangerous process of internal destabilisation that involves economic interest, fundamentalism and external interference.

The direct reason for the crisis was the fact that the opposition in Bolivia, led by the candidate Carlos Mesa, had accused the Electoral Court of fraud and did not recognize Evo Morales’ re-election for a 4th term in office, and started a very violent process of protests and foreign pressure (led by OAS – the Organisation of American States), ostensibly to promote democracy. The consequence was the resignation and exile of President Evo Morales; an opposition Senator, Jeanine Anez, subsequently declared herself the nation’s interim President.

It has been 2 weeks since the resignation of President Evo Morales in Bolivia. However, this extreme act was prompted by the head of the armed forces, and followed a process of intense violence and boycotts which threatened peace and the Bolivian economy, during which the armed forces refused to intervene. In addition, before resigning and attempting to resolve the deadlock, Evo agreed to call for new elections. In doing so, he was responding to the direct cause of the crisis, which was ignored, and opened himself up to the imposed resignation.

During the 14 years of Morales’ presidency, Bolivia made great economic and social achievements: its GDP increased from US$ 9 billion to US$ 40.8 billion in 2018. In 2005, the year before Morales entered office, 78.2% of the population lived in extreme poverty; by 2018 this figure had fallen to less than 15%. Under Morales, the country’s attitude towards natural resources changed and strategic companies were nationalised, which allowed for these improvements.

The regional context of the events of the last several months is the “conservative restoration” in Latin America. This follows a progressive cycle in the first decade of 21st century, which was characterised by governments that sought greater autonomy, national sovereignty, regional integration and coordination among the countries of the so-called “global south,” which helped to promote a multipolar world. From a geopolitical perspective, according to the Monroe Doctrine and the recommendations of US strategist Nicholas Spykman, the US should control the “Western Hemisphere” and prevent the emergence of any regional power. In addition, the geopolitical significance of Bolivia in South America is portrayed by many scholars who support the importance of its role as an integrator, and unique in the context of the region, as being in the South American heartland (Rodrigues, 2014).

The crisis in Bolivia happened in a way that wasn’t very different from what occurred in Honduras in 2009, but was more violent. It could also be compared to violence and destabilisation in Nicaragua (2018), and (with a different plot twist, but similar reasons) with the impeachment of President Dilma in Brazil and President Lugo in Paraguay.

Now, in Latin America it is considered “normal” or even “more democratic” by most Western nations to have “self-declared” presidents trying to rule the nation. The situation in Bolivia seems to be far from resolved: many of those who at first pressed for new elections later realised that they were supporting a deeper and dangerous process of internal destabilisation that involves economic interest, fundamentalism and external interference. Thousands of people are resisting what they are calling a coup d’etat. Beyond the situation, the nation’s congress is trying to approve a new electoral process with two different proposals, which could help find a solution. However, once the precedent for a coup is established, it is always hard to preview the duration and the consequences for it.


Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.