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Tue Nov 12, 2019, 07:24 PM

Legitimacy and Democracy in Bolivia

Rejecting Simplistic Readings of the Morales Ouster
November 12, 2019

Jeffrey C. Isaac
James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington

This past Sunday, Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to resign his position, in the face of an intensifying domestic polarization and civil violence, centered on the contested results of his October re-election, for the fourth time, to the Presidency.

It is clear that one important dimension of this polarization was the defection of important elements of the police and the armed forces. The New York Times reported that “Bolivian Military Asks Morales to Resign to Ensure Stability,” quoting General Williams Kaliman, the chief military commander: “”After analyzing the internal conflict situation, we ask the President of the State to renounce his presidential mandate, allowing for peace to be restored and the maintenance of stability for the good of Bolivia.”

This surely sounds like a coup. Morales and his supporters describe it as a coup, as do a great many supporters across the world and many of the governments in the region, including Mexico. The Times reported yesterday that:

Former President Evo Morales on Monday encouraged resistance to efforts to form a transitional government leading to fresh elections in Bolivia after his resignation prompted violent protests by many of his supporters. “You never abandoned me and I will never abandon you,” Mr. Morales wrote on Twitter from an unknown location only hours after he was forced to step down. “The world and patriotic Bolivians will repudiate this coup.”


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