By KJ Sankara
Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez said on Thursday that exiled former President Evo Morales will not be able to take part in upcoming elections because he is barred from running for a fourth consecutive term.
It is a move aimed to keep the left out of power in Bolivia, a country which saw 14 years of socialist rule under Morales.
When Alberto Fernandez took power in Argentina last month, many experts felt the pendulum was swinging left once again.
Mass protests in Chile and Ecuador against neo-liberal regimes – as well as the liberation of former Brazilian president Lula – indicated the beginning of the end for capitalism in Latin America.
Anez’s move may not be a radical counter-attack, however, according to Jim Mahon, a Professor in Political Science at Williams College.
Her insistence on the absence of Morales and vice president Alvaro Garcia Linera from the ballot paper could be rejected both domestically and internationally.
If Morales is allowed to challenge Anez, the left could yet remain in control.
Mahon told Redaction: “It’s possible. There’s lots of residual support for MAS (Movement for Socialism) in the highlands.
“But much depends on what Morales and Garcia Linera do now.
“If they call on their supporters to participate peacefully in new, monitored elections, and respect the results, they could preserve power in most of the highlands.
“But I’m worried that they will reject results monitored by the OAS or others, given what happened over the weekend. If so, Bolivia will be divided again, now with the lowland departments (led by Santa Cruz) having the more legitimate claim.
“Also, the “if” of fresh elections is unresolved as of now. The constitution did not name additional successors.
“The supreme court might have to organize them–but the electoral authority has been implicated and intervened by the prosecutor’s office. “
Protests against Morales may not have been a sound rejection of the wider left, either.
Mahon added: “Don’t read too much into it. Incumbents lose when the economy turns bad, so the “trend” might be simply an artifact of who is in power when things go bad.”
Anez has recognised Juan Guaido as the legitimate Venezuelan leader, highlighting concerns over a potential ‘domino effect’ as leftist leaders begin to crumble.
But Venezuela and Bolivia haven’t seen eye-to-eye since the death of Hugo Chavez, however.
Mahon added: “(All it means) is one less vote at a couple of insignificant meetings.
“It’s not nearly as important as Maduro’s problems are for Cuba.”
Like expert Marie-Christine Doran told Redaction earlier this week, there are serious doubts over US involvement in the coup.
Mahon said: “You can’t rule it out, but this seems to have been overdetermined.
“The referendum that went against Morales in 2016, the 24-hour stop in the vote tally.
“Morales and Garcia Linera made it very clear that they did not want to play by the rules they themselves had laid down, if it looked like they might lose under them.
“Plus, the way it happened, with scattered police units moving first, and only later the army-does not look like the typical pattern for the US, which usually has involved top-level plotting.”
Jim Mahon is a professor in Political Science at Williams College.