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It’s Time to End Presidential Reelection in Bolivia

By: Contributor - Sep 30, 2015, 10:16 am

By Ricardo Cardona López

EspañolBolivians are currently living through a very tense situation: the potential reelection of President Evo Morales for either two more consecutive terms, or perhaps even indefinitely.

Evo Morales aims to remain in power indefinitely in Bolivia.
Evo Morales aims to remain in power indefinitely in Bolivia. (Livefutbol.com)

At this point, we can’t even refer to this government as an “incumbent administration” anymore, since Morales has been in power now for three consecutive terms and is seeking reelection yet again.

But is there anything inherently wrong with this? Does it damage our liberty?

In countries like England and Germany, the prime minister or chancellor can run for office as many times as he or she likes, and be reelected repeatedly, such as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and current German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Countries like these allow for indefinite reelection under the premise of the “freedom to elect and be elected,” which sounds good in theory. However, the strength of a democracy rests in the alternation of power, so that citizens can come to know other options and decide which is best.

Democracy allows for the reelection of leaders, so long as the country in which this occurs has a strong democracy to begin with. In Bolivia, however, democracy and freedom are in a precarious state. Therefore, if we do not do away with this harmful idea of presidential reelection, our country will almost certainty become a dictatorship.

Morales has had his sights set on remaining in power indefinitely since he was first elected, not to protect citizens or see that their needs are met, as he claims, but to advance his own objectives. Since his very first term in office, Morales’s administration has been plagued by corruption, confrontations, deaths, and drug-trafficking.

Anyone with even the least bit of common sense about what it means to live in a free country would not vote for this same government again after seeing what it has done, but it seems people are always all too quick to forget.

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Apparently, this administration has an army of zombies at its disposal, since there are a great number of people who have passed away whose names can still be found in the electoral register. The corrupt Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) is brimming with ruling-party militants. Last year, the TSE placed a baseless ban on opposition candidates during regional elections in Beni state.

Even if the country were to hold a referendum on whether or not to allow reelection in Bolivia — putting aside for the moment the superfluous expense — the current regime would find a way to produce the results they want.

They are not above paying off small-town residents to vote for their party; anything to win an election or referendum. And if that doesn’t work, they still have the TSE on their side, which would not hesitate to falsify votes and put them ahead, even if by the smallest of margins.

Bolivia must not become another Cuba or North Korea, where political and economic liberties are nearly non-existent. On the contrary, Bolivia needs more freedom.

Democracy may not be the ideal model, but it is still one worth defending, to the extent that it protects liberty. We must resist this regime’s attempts to diminish our liberty and make gods of political leaders.

Ricardo Cardona López is the communications director for Casa de la Juventud, local coordinator for Estudiantes por la Libertad Bolivia and a commercial-engineering student at Universidad NUR. Follow @RiCardonaLopez.

Translated by Vanessa Arita and Guillermo Jimenez.