Denthusiastic Ticona Mamani felt hopeless and thoughtless when Evo Morales was forced from his hometown in the Andean in November amid civil unrest, the sinking of the electorate and what supporters of the first called native president of Bolivia a racist, rightwing coup.
“I was crying,”; recalled the 56-year-old lawyer, a staunch supporter of Morales and his Movimiento al Socialismo (Mas).
“The Evo represents the rebirth of Bolivian natives. He restored to us our self-esteem, our pride in being indigenous, of having the surnames of the natives, of our food … Evo Morales is the best president of Bolivia. “
Morales was condemned to exile – first in Mexico, now Argentina – believers like Mamani were left politically orphaned and the Mas rioted.
Jeanine Áñez, a righteous senator who previously marked Bolivian natives as “satanic”, took power as the caretaker president that led to the sudden and shocking end of almost 14 years of rule in the left-wing country where the country has long been isolated original (native people) finally took the stage.
Activists then accused Áñez’s government of using the justice system to create a political witchcraft against Morales and his allies.
But almost 12 months after last year’s uproar, the Morales Movement Towards Socialism could begin with a spectacular return to politics in the two postponed presidential elections on Sunday.
The vote is a re-run of the October 2019 doomed election that was repealed after a series of election frauds by the American Organization of the United States (OAS) fueled protests and saw Morales resign under pressure from security forces.
Polls suggest that the candidate of Mas, the former finance minister studied by Morales Luis Arce, has power over his main challenge, a centrist journalist and former president called Carlos Mesa.
“They are [Mas] is in the driver’s seat and if they can mobilize voters this weekend – and they are the only party capable of doing so – they will do very well, “said Eduardo Gamarra, a Bolivian expert at Florida International University.
Gamarra thought a second round – in which 67-year-old Mesa could win – remained more likely to be expected. If no candidate gets a straight majority, or 40% of the votes with 10% breathing space, a run-off will be held on November 29. The third major candidate is Luis Fernando Camacho of the new right-wing alliance in Creemos (“We believe”). Áñez withdrew his candidacy last month saying he did not want to split the conservative vote.
But since Morales’ rivals “atomized” the vote against Mas, it is less conceivable to think that Arce, a modest civil career speaker proud of a master’s degree from the University of Warwick, could succeed in the first instance of questioning.
“There is possibly a scenario in which it is more important to choose where it stops, with only Luis Arce as president,” Gamarra said.
Arce discussed that possibility on Wednesday at his final campaign rally – a high-level flag and dance festival in El Alto, a bastion of Morales support above the de facto capital La Paz.
“They thought they were going to kill the Movement towards Socialism. But we are here in El Alto to tell them: ‘Here we are and we are alive!’ The 57-year-old candidate told supporters wearing the blue, white and black colors of the group.
“The right has robbed people and demonstrated their inability to lead,” Arce added of the illegal allegations that Áñez and his cabinet took illegally and banned the response to Covid-19, which killed thousands of Bolivians.
Mamani is also hoping for a first-time winner and Arce believes Bolivia will “launch” again.
But, like many Mas voters, he fears that “a big fraud” is brewing with the consent of the United States and the OAS, whose controversial claims about voting in last year’s election have been major. role in forcing Morales abroad.
This week a senior U.S. state department official maintains Morales’ claim that he won the 2019 election is “the product of massive fraud” and the implied support for an Arce presidency fully secured.
“We look forward to working with any independent Bolivia and electing their president,” the official bluntly told reporters, praising protesters against Morales last year for “defending their democracy”.
If the prospect of a socialist revival already exists Masist to the extreme pleasure, it was a nightmare for Morales’ detractors, who regarded him as a power-hungry effort to cling to power and destroy Bolivia’s democracy.
Morales ’desire to achieve a fourth consecutive term last year came despite voters denying him the right to a referendum in 2016, the result of which he ignored.
Libertad Gabriela Vaca Poehlmann, the president of an opposition group called States en Acción (United in Action), recalled his joy as the former president fled Mexico City on November 10 last year.
“I felt comfort. I felt hope. I felt freedom,” said Poehlmann, 45, one of the thousands of citizens who took to the streets of Bolivia last year to save Morales.
Twelve months later, he denounced his movement that could rise to the previously seemingly unlikely return and urged voters to return any candidate they think is best placed to avoid that. “If Mas returns … it will be terrible for the country. As the saying goes: ‘People got the governors they deserve’,” Poehlmann said.
Foreign diplomats and voters on both sides fear another controversial outcome that could lead to a recurrence of violence last year when at least 36 people, mostly Mas supporters, died. And tensions are forming at the forefront of voting in reports of paramilitary groups attacking Mas activists and some panicked citizens who reportedly saved food in hopes of possible unrest.
Observers are convinced that Morales will ask to return to Bolivia, and possibly to frontline politics, if Arce wins.
“He is a political beast. His whole life is about politics. So he will try to come back and there may be tensions,” said Diego von Vacano, a Bolivian political scientist at Texas A&M University. “But for the good of the party … I think the Evo can play a little more symbolic role as opposed to a more active, commander,” he added.
Vacano denied that Arce was merely a proxy for Morales, who was being investigated for alleged acts of terrorism by Bolivian conservative governors and banned from running himself.
“Arce is not a puppet,” insisted the academic informally advising the candidate’s campaign. “He is aware that Evo is the historical leader of the Mas. But this is a new era and it requires a different approach. He clarified that he wants to do it in his own way.”
Mamani said he also expects the former president to step down, despite his love for Morales and for the social and economic development that the administration handled after his historic election in 2005.
“We need to see the cycle of power. No matter how good a leader is, they should not stay in power permanently. You need change.”
“He spent 14 years working. Saturday, Sunday, bank holidays. From 5 am to midnight,” Mamani said of Morales. “It’s time for him to rest.”