Bolivians reject postponement of elections with massive mobilizations

Nationwide mobilizations which kicked off today have been organized by Bolivian social movements and trade unions in rejection of the suspension of general elections in the country

July 28, 2020
Photo: Kawsachun News

Organizations and trade unions from diverse sectors in Bolivia joined the call to mobilize today, on July 28, against the postponement of the general elections in Bolivia. The call for nationwide mobilizations was given by the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), Bolivia’s trade union center, and the Pact of Unity, a national alliance of grassroots organizations in Bolivia.

On July 23, the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), which is under the direct control of the coup-installed government, postponed the elections scheduled for September 6 to October 18, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The following day, the COB and the Pact of Unity released a video announcing their rejection of the coup regime’s decision to further suspend the elections and called on citizens and workers to mobilize to demand the restoration of democracy and compliance with the decision to hold elections on September 6.

Indigenous, peasant, rural and women organizations have organized massive demonstrations in the capital city La Paz as well as in El Alto, Potosi, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, among others cities, under the banner of “For Democracy, Health and Life”. The organizations have also urged to abide by public health protocol and wear face masks, gloves and carry hand sanitizer.

The Coordinator of the Six Federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba and the Special Federation of Intercultural Communities and Agricultural Producers of San Julian also rejected the suspension of elections and demanded compliance with the electoral schedule. They warned that if the decision to delay elections is not reversed, they will carry out indefinite mobilizations across the country.

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The United Federation of Rural Workers announced that they will embark on a general strike and maintain roadblocks in all 20 provinces of the La Paz department for an indefinite period of time.

The organizations criticized the TSE for its complicity in the attempts by the country’s right-wing leaders to delay the democratic elections. They denounced that the TSE does not have the authority to repeal Law 1304, which set the date of the elections for September 6. They also denounced that the postponement is a way to extend the de-facto president Jeanine Áñez’s time in office. The social and union leaders also condemned the political persecution against MAS members.

Former president Evo Morales, his party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), and the MAS presidential candidate, Luis Arce, among other leaders, denounced the suspension of elections as a coup against democracy and reminded that any change in the date must be approved by the country’s parliament.

“The announcement of the Supreme Electoral Court is an abuse and an arbitrariness. It violates laws 1266, 1297 and 1304 that establish that the TSE may set the election date no later than September 6, 2020. This unilateral and arbitrary decision, surpassing the Plurinational Legislative Assembly exposes the members to eventual responsibility,” said the MAS in a statement.

Former president Morales in a tweet on July 27 said that “an administrative resolution of the Supreme Electoral Court cannot be above the law or above the Political Constitution of the State, especially if it talks about postponing general elections, suspended twice with the approval of the Legislative Assembly.”

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In another tweet, Morales denounced that “the Supreme Electoral Court and the de-facto government agree in trying to undermine the value of the Legislative Assembly. The resolution to postpone the elections is intended to close the Assembly, a State entity born of the people’s vote. No to the coup.”

Earlier last week, on July 24, Morales also alerted that the right-wing political parties were trying to seize power in municipality and departmental governments. “The right-wing involved in the coup aims to extend itself, outlaw MAS, and assault the state. They are now planning coups in departmental and municipal governments, among them the department of Pando,” tweeted Morales.

Bolivia’s de-facto government led by far-right Jeanine Áñez, which seized power following the civic-military coup against Morales in November 2019, has postponed the general elections three times since March this year. Social movements have condemned Áñez for holding on to power in pursuit of her imperialist and neoliberal policies