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Argument: Who Wants to Be the Next Former President of Bolivia? Who Wants to Be the Next Former President ...
In 2003, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who was president of Bolivia, resigned. His unpopular economic and energy policies had led to a series of protests, which his government had tried to put down using the police and military. But public anger became too great to ignore when security forces killed dozens of Bolivians, and Lozada departed office in disgrace. The same story looked set to unfold again in 2005, with President Carlos Mesa facing a series of protests also linked to his economic and energy policies. Confronting tens of thousands of demonstrators, he resigned rather than order the security forces to use violence.
In 2019, just last weekend, Bolivia saw yet one more resignation: that of President Evo Morales, who left office after a series of protests over allegations that he had rigged general elections last month to remain in power. Morales did call in the security forces to repress the protests, but multiple police units joined in the uprising while the military made a statement the day before Morales’s resignation saying it would refuse to engage in repression. After two weeks of rallies, the head of the armed forces asked for Morales’s resignation.
The resignations in 2003, 2005, and 2019 were three incredibly complex situations involving protests, security forces, and governing institutions. However, the point remains that not a single popularly elected Bolivian president since 2002 has handed over power peacefully to an elected successor. This history—and the current tumultuous state of Bolivian politics—suggests that the next elected president will likely face protests and be forced to resign as well. That’s a pessimistic yet entirely possible scenario in the coming years.
The point remains that not a single popularly elected Bolivian president since 2002 has handed over power peacefully to an elected successor.
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