How A Farm Boy Became Bolivia’s President – And Lost It All | AJ+

How did Bolivia go from its first indigenous president to being led by a right-wing
Christian fundamentalist? Is this a coup or democracy being saved? We’re going to look at the
rise and fall of Evo Morales and what Bolivia’s future might look like. First, let’s talk about how we got here: In the 16th century, Spain colonized the country
now known as Bolivia. They forced the indigenous population to mine valuable metals like silver to enrich the Spanish Empire, while the Catholic Church set up missions to convert these communities. Even after independence, Bolivia was still controlled by a minority elite that
tended to identify as European, and Catholicism remained the protected religion of the state. The ruling class still looked down on the indigenous people and viewed them as backwards, keeping them socially and
economically marginalized. While some social mobility became possible in the mid-20th century, change accelerated in the 1980s. After some government-owned mines were sold off or shut down, many miners lost their jobs. Here’s the thing to remember, the miners were known for
their labor organizing, and some took those talents with them to their next jobs, farming: the coca leaf. It’s a symbol of Bolivia and a part of many indigenous traditions. It’s also the raw ingredient in cocaine. – The Coca and the cocaine production allowed it to counter balance the crisis of the Bolivian economy. If you know anything about South America in the 80s, you’ll know that this was the height of the U.S. War on Drugs. In July this year, Bolivia’s president,
Victor Paz Estenssoro, agreed to mount a joint
anti-drugs operation with the United States. The campaign was dubbed Blast
Furnace by the Americans, who sent in 170 troops to
work with the local police. The coca growers union became
a major political force. Farmers, including a young Evo Morales, fought back with hunger
strikes and road blockades. Morales became the leader of the union, and was elected to Bolivia’s
National Congress in 1997. A year later, he helped found the Movimiento al
Socialismo party, or MAS. MAS was an alliance of unions, farmers, indigenous organizations
and leftist intellectuals. It surprised a lot of people by coming second in the 2002 elections. The party’s support grew
over the next few years, during protests against the sale of Bolivia’s national gas
company to U.S. corporations. This led to the resignation
of the president in 2005 and MAS won the next elections. For the first time, Bolivia had an indigenous president. Morales’s socialist policies
grew Bolivia’s economy while also reducing inequality. While his closeness to leaders in Cuba and Venezuela made the U.S. uneasy, even the World Bank conceded that Bolivia’s economic progress
was “extraordinary.” Between 2006 and 2018, Bolivia’s extreme poverty
was nearly cut in half, partially thanks to a boom in the price of natural resources that funded policies like a cash-transfer program for children, the elderly and pregnant women. In 2009, a new constitution set aside seats in Congress
for indigenous groups. It also made Bolivia a secular, rather than a Catholic, state, and recognized the country’s
36 indigenous nations. – Those people felt that the state was with them for the first time in their history, and I think that this is important in terms of national or state building and national identity. It also set presidential term limits to two consecutive terms. Pay attention to that. It’s going to be important soon. Naturally, not everyone was
happy with these changes. Landowning families
and the business elite, who feared losing power and privilege, opposed Morales’ plans
for the constitution as soon as they were announced. A few years later, Morales began facing opposition from some of his own base as well. In 2011, his government proposed a highway that would run through
a protected rainforest. Indigenous groups protested by marching to La Paz, the capital. Morales ended up canceling the plan, but bought it back in 2017. Morales had also promised
to shift the economy away from resource extraction and towards more sustainable
forms of development, but he never actually followed through. Later on, his government
even began offering pardons for illegal deforestation in the Amazon. – There was a clear mandate
on the continuation, on following on this extractive strategy because they needed the money in the short term in
order to re-distribute this money to the population. Now, remember when we said the new constitution limited presidents to serving only two consecutive terms? Well, as Morales neared the end of his second term in 2013, he argued that he could
actually run a third time. He justified it by saying his first term had been under the old constitution, so he was eligible for a
second term under the new one. The Constitutional Court agreed, and so did the voters. Morales coasted to a third term in office. But that wasn’t enough. In 2016 Morales proposed
a constitutional amendment that would strip away the
term limits altogether. This time, voters didn’t agree. Morales lost a referendum
on the amendment. But the court, which opponents said was packed
with supporters of Morales, struck down the term limits anyway. In plain English, they ruled that term limits restrict
the rights of voters to choose their candidate
as many times as they want and the rights of politicians
to run for office. By the time of the 2019 elections, Morales had been president for 13 years. Would Bolivia give him a fourth term? As results started coming in, it seemed like Morales
wasn’t going to win outright. It looked like there would be a runoff between him and Carlos Mesa, the second place candidate, but then preliminary results stopped coming in for 24 hours. When they resumed, Morales had enough votes
to avoid that run-off. The opposition began protesting in different parts of the country alleging there was election fraud. Morales asked the Organization
of American States to audit the election results, and said he would abide by
the OAS’s recommendations. On November the 10th, the OAS said the election
had “irregularities.” Morales agreed to repeat the election. But Bolivia never got that far. – The military suggestion that he resign immediately
before he did so was in direct violation of
the Bolivian constitution, which does not allow them to express any opinion and forces them to always obey the dictates of the civilian government. After resigning, Morales fled to Mexico, and a right wing senator
called Jeanine Añez took over as president, with the Constitutional
Court backing her claim. – She had not been one of the most prominent members of the Senate, but she had already received criticism for her racist tweets, for her anti-abortion stance, for her strong, highly
conservative opinions. Añez also waved a large Bible as she was sworn into office in a callback to Bolivia’s past as a Catholic state. Añez gave the military
immunity from prosecution. Since the election, dozens have been killed
and hundreds injured. Añez’s unelected government has also threatened to arrest members of MAS. Some security forces have ripped off Indigenous flags from their uniforms. Two weeks after Morales was forced out, Añez passed a law to hold new elections. The interim government says it will allow MAS to run a candidate, but not Morales. They’ve called the former
president a terrorist and said he’ll be arrested if he returns to Bolivia. While Morales has a complicated legacy, it’s undeniable that Bolivia, and especially its Indigenous people, made a lot of progress
during his time in office. Now this progress, and Bolivian democracy, hangs in the balance.

11 comments on “How A Farm Boy Became Bolivia’s President – And Lost It All | AJ+”

  1. Izzat Haridan says:

    First comment 😬

  2. Anibal Lopez says:

    Its A USA orchestrated coup. The USA wants A puppet government to strip Bolivia of its resources

  3. Winston Shih says:

    OAS literally did the same thing previously to other Latin American countries that weren’t right wing governments

  4. Ayush Acharya says:

    Al Jazeera and all its affiliate channels have a very very visible anti-American stance. Don't know why (or maybe I do)?

    Oh, and against my country too….🤣
    I'm from Mozambique 🇲🇿 (not really 😉)


  5. Emily Barrera says:


  6. Amargad Bitersua says:

    Do you morons understand that the PEOPLE WANTED HIM TO REMAIN IN POWER and the CIA PLANTED THE OPPOSITION! No? The STFU

  7. Gaby says:

    Why didn't you mentioned the gas massacre of 2003? At least 63 people died! It was ordered by the then president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and his vice president Carlos Mesa. The latter one was Evo's rival during the last election.
    Also, the court wasn't packed with Morales supporters, Bolivian judges are elected not appointed by the presidency.
    In general there was a serious lack of nuance in the video, how sad

  8. Phill Bradshaw says:

    Obviously a coup d'etat. Clearly Morales is not perfect but gov't should reflect the will of the people & forbiding him from being a candidate is the opposite of democracy

  9. *•:Monika:•* says:

  10. Kevin Caraballo says:

    I find it odd that they refused to actually call it a coup. Also they make it seem like the swearing in of the new "president" was done in a legal way. Seemingly hiding the OAS having ties to the US government and their track record of getting democratically elected governments overthrown by announcing irregularities in elections without any evidence, and there was no evidence this time around either as explained by the Center for Economic Policy Research. As well as hiding the fact that the coup leader led a youth group founded by Croatian fascists after WWII. The indigenous population is a well organized, well armed majority. I don't see them taking this OBVIOUS coup lightly.

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