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Bolivia Undergoes Violent Clashes; What Does Former President Have to do with this?

Written by on November 19, 2019

By Sam Carliner

Bolivia has undergone a slew of violent clashes following a recent US-backed coup of the former president, Evo Morales. Supporters of Morales, many of whom come from the country’s long-marginalized indigenous population, have taken to the streets of La Paz to protest the Bolivian military’s forceful removal of Morales and many of his political allies. Members of Morales’ party have said that they fear for their lives and their families, videos of police attacking Morales supporters have appeared on social media and the far-right Vice President of the Bolivian senate, Janine Anez, swore herself in as interim president. The Trump Administration and many American media outlets have recognized Anez as the official president, although some prominent politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar have spoken out in support of Morales.

The unrest began with a section of Bolivian citizens protesting the results of the October 20 election. Many right-wing Bolivians questioned the legitimacy of the election, arguing that Morales should not have been able to run in the election after serving three previous terms as president. Morales’ critics also questioned the legitimacy of the vote. Despite concerns of Morales serving a fourth term, many Bolivians supported his campaign, largely due to the economic prosperity he brought to the country. Under Morales, the minimum wage and GDP of Bolivia have nearly doubled and poverty rates have been cut almost in half. Morales offered to hold a new election in response to the critiques, but resigned after the military released a statement suggesting that he step down to avoid violence. However, even after he stepped down, several members of his party were attacked. Morales was able to flee to Mexico which offered him asylum. From afar he has been encouraging the new government to avoid bloodshed.