Morales Blackmails Bolivia’s Democracy with Taxpayer Money

Bolivian President Evo Morales continues his quest for absolute power in his third term in office.
Bolivian President Evo Morales continues his quest for absolute power in his third term in office. (Flickr)

EspañolBolivia is currently immersed in the run-up to the March 29 municipal election, and so any political event, comment, or maneuvering has enormous impact on the voting public.

Politicians in Bolivia campaign in different ways. There are those who use their own resources and rally supporters with populist speeches. Then there’s the ruling Movement for Socialism party (MAS), who on top of the same dogmatic rhetoric that encourages dependence and serfdom also uses taxpayer money to promise needless public-works programs and blackmail votes.

Authoritarian rulers typically forget three things: he’s only office because of the people’s mandate; state resources belong to the citizens; and being president means serving the public, nothing more, nothing less.

Evo Morales has clearly forgotten all three. He makes use of public funds as he please, and then blackmails the real owners of those funds.

In early March, President Morales made plain that he would not work with the country’s political opposition. In other words, the central government will not transfer resources to municipalities and regions where a member of the opposition governs. Vice President Álvaro García Linera and several other MAS leaders then echoed the very same threat.

Blackmailing candidates and voters like this is not only repugnant, it signals the end of democracy in Bolivia. Should any opposition governors or mayors win seats, and Morales delivers on this threat, then the message will be clear: opposition politicians will have nothing to gain from their election, and the public nothing to gain from electing them.

The public will have learned that they have no real choice but to vote for the ruling party.

The MAS has taken over seven out of nine regions and almost every municipality in Bolivia since Morales took office as president in 2005. In his quest for absolute power, dirty politics present no moral dilemma. What good is “democracy” if the ruling party can shamelessly subvert its institutions?

Translated by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Guillermo Jimenez.

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