Bolivians in SP face long lines to vote for president; winner ‘will have the challenge of uniting the country’, says voter | Sao Paulo

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The Bolivian community in São Paulo faced long lines this Sunday (18) to vote in the first round of elections for the presidency of Bolivia. Voters will choose who will replace Jeanine Añez, the interim president who took office in November 2019, after the vote of that year was canceled and the disturbances that led Evo Morales to resign (read more at the end of the story).

In the main electoral college in the capital of São Paulo, the São Paulo Institute of Science and Technology, in Luz, central region, there was no recommended distance to avoid the transmission of Covid-19. The institute is next to the Kantuta Square, where this Sunday the traditional Bolivian Kantuta Fair was back in operation.

Bolivians are the majority of foreigners living in the city of São Paulo. In the state, 40,342 voters are eligible to go to the polls today, reported the Bolivian Superior Electoral Court. Unlike the Brazilian elections, the vote is made on paper ballots in the capital of São Paulo.

Bolivian Harlem Arispe, 34, has been in Brazil for 5 years and votes for the second time. “The future of Evo Morales [depois desta eleição] is uncertain. I don’t think his party will be elected ”.

These are the first elections in Bolivia without Evo Morales since 1997.

Harlem Arispe, 34, does not believe that Evo Morales’ party will be elected – Photo: Gessyca Rocha / G1

15 years ago in Brazil, Ronald Mancilla, 33, also faced the queues to vote. “Politically, Bolivia’s time is complicated. There is the question of left-wing, right-wing parties, a lot of regionalism, the country is a bit divided, and that same feeling is here with the Bolivian community. What everyone wants is that, regardless of who the president is, he will have the challenge of uniting the country, not governing with feelings and impositions ”.

Three candidates are ahead in the polls, Luis Arce, the candidate of Evo Morales’ party, Carlos Mesa, considered a centrist, and Luis Fernando Camacho, leader of the extreme right.

Despite the queue, Bolivian Ramiro said the voting process was quick within the institute. “I also voted last year and this year people are more eager. I think people want changes, the things that the president of now is doing are very bad,” he said.

Ronald Mancilla, 33, has been in Brazil for 15 years and said that the future president will face the challenge of ‘uniting the country’ – Photo: Gessyca Rocha / G1

Bolivians face long lines to vote this Sunday, October 18, in São Paulo – Photo: Gessyca Rocha / G1

Two right-wing candidates abandoned the race: interim president Jeanine Añez and Jorge Quiroga, who was also the country’s leader.

The two left the elections to avoid a first-round victory for Arce, Evo’s candidate. However, neither declared support for Mesa, the runner-up.

Bolivians make a long line to vote for president this Sunday, October 18, at an electoral college in São Paulo – Photo: Gessyca Rocha / G1

Understand the canceled elections of 2019

The vote to elect the next president is the second in a year. On October 20, 2019, Evo ran for the fourth time and came in first (Mesa, who now runs again, came in second). As he had more than 40% of the votes, he was considered the winner.

The initial result of the count indicated a second round, but there were interruptions in the count. After days of uncertainty, the process was resumed and Evo emerged as the winner.

Then protests against the results began.

On November 10, 2019, the Organization of American States (OAS) made public a report that pointed out that the elections had been rigged.

Evo canceled the results and called for new elections immediately. However, the action was not enough: under pressure from the military, he resigned and then fled the country. Initially, he went to Mexico and then went into exile in Argentina.

Subsequently, studies by U.S. research groups questioned the OAS claim that the 2019 elections were rigged.

Luis Fernando Camacho, Carlos Mesa and Luis Arce, candidates for the presidency of Bolivia – Photo: Reuters

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