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The Struggle of Democracy in Bolivia

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, has changed the constitution in order to remain president. He currently has been in office for almost 12 years and is determined to stay in office for four more years even though the country has said they no longer want him as president. The citizens of Bolivia remain divided because half of the population is indigenous, and President Evo Morales supports them wholeheartedly due to his indigenous background. The other half is upset due to the changes in some laws concerning freedom of religion, and many are conflicted with President Morales’ Socialist government idea.

In his past terms, President Morales improved the state of Bolivia’s economy by increasing GDP or Gross Domestic Product and helping many of the indigenous people in Bolivia. Some of his main goals included reducing discrimination against the natives and improving their state of living. Since many of the natives live under the poverty line, he decided to provide them with education and funds for construction in their villages. While President Evo Morales has had some positive impacts on Bolivia, recently many of the middle-class citizens worry if he is abusing his power. He has begun to create controversial laws, change the constitution and take property away from middle-class families, to give to the poor. In the February of 2016, President Morales decided to ask citizens of Bolivia to vote through a referendum if he should stay in office and run for a 4th term. The majority voted that he should leave office in 2019; however, President Evo Morales has a great power over the Congress and influenced them to change the Constitution. The change stated that a president could stay in office for more than two terms, which was considered the maximum. In the past month, he also created a law that stated if people were caught evangelizing in public, they could be sentenced to up to twelve years in prison. Fortunately, about one week later it was revoked due to numerous protests organized by Christians.

Prayer march in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

In the past two years, civil protests occurred in Bolivia because of President Morales’s abuse of power. On January 16th of this year, thousands of Christians filled the streets to protest the controversial law that restricted evangelism. On January 21st, most evangelicals in the cities of Cochabamba and La Paz decided to have a day of prayer and fasting. After the continuous protests during the week, Morales decided to revoke the law on January 23rd. Similarly, when he influenced Congress to change The the Constitution regarding the minimum number of terms, a large number of protest occurred on October 17th, 2017. The citizens were angered because they had voted against him running for a 4th term, yet he ignored the referendum.

People gather outside the Basilica of San Francisco to mark 35 years of Bolivia's democracy and protest an attempt by President Evo Morales to run for reelection (picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Karita)

Protests against President Morales’ run for a fourth term.

In conclusion, it is apparent that the citizens of Bolivia continue to feel divided regarding the socialist ideas of President Morales.While his controversial actions have sparked fear for the loss of democracy, the success of the Christian’s protests does point to some hope. If the Bolivians continue to stand strong for what they believe, perhaps President Evo Morales will acquiesce to the will of the people and the political climate will change for the better.

Resources:

“Bolivia’s President Evo Morales to run again Despite Referendum Ruling it Out.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 17 Dec. 2016, <www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/18/bolivias-president-evo-morales-to-run-again-despite-referendum-ruling-it-out.>

“Evo Morales Finds a way to run for Re-Election.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 1 Dec. 2017, <https://www.economist.com/news/americas/21731949-bolivias-constitutional-court-gives-president-decision-he-wants-evo-morales-finds-way.>

Lee, Morgan, et al. “Bolivia’s President Revokes Evangelism Restrictions.” News & Reporting, <http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/january/bolivia-evo-morales-revokes-evangelism-ban-criminal-code.html.>

“Profile: Bolivia’s President Evo Morales.” BBC News, BBC, 22 Feb. 2016, <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-12166905.>

Ramos, Daniel, and Mitra Taj; “Bolivians Protest Morales’ New Bid to Extend Term Limits.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 10 Oct. 2017,  <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bolivia-politics-protests/bolivians-protest-morales-new-bid-to-extend-term-limits-idUSKBN1CG0BR.>

Image Sources:

<http://www.dw.com/en/bolivia-president-evo-morales-bid-to-extend-term-limits-sparks-mass-protest/a-40900966>

<http://evangelicalfocus.com/world/3183/Evangelicals_in_Bolivia_march_to_denounce_state_abuse>

 

2 Comments

  1. Dear writer,
    Freedom of religion? That is totally TOTALLY inaccurate. We don´t have religous problems in Bolivia. Not at all. You can believe in whatever you want. Dancing devils enter the churches in carnival.