Choice of fate in the coronary framework Bolivia – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

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– Racism, discrimination and arrogance are back, shouts Luis Arce, presidential candidate for the Movement for Socialism.

He speaks at the closing public meeting before today’s election. And he hits the mood well. For there is a fierce bitterness among the Socialist Party’s voters after what happened here in Bolivia almost a year ago.

They call it a coup.

Bloody riots

Former Economy Minister Luis Arce is the Socialist Party’s candidate ahead of today’s presidential election.

Photo: Arnt Stefansen / NRK

Last year’s presidential election in Bolivia ended in a drama. The Socialist Party’s Evo Morales ran for office for the fourth time. And when he was accused of cheating in the count, it happened violent riots.

Armed groups from the right, partly supported by police and the military, demanded the resignation of the president.

When the military asked Morales to withdraw, he left the country. He currently lives in Argentina.

The resignation of the President led to major protests, which were crushed with great brutality by the military. More than 20 people were killed.

Fatefully

After last year’s drama, Bolivia has been led by a controversial right-wing government. And the prelude to today’s election has been marked by deep divisions. Political commentator Erika Brockmann describes the situation as follows:

Political scientist Erika Brockmann and La Paz, Bolivia.

The well-known commentator Erika Brockmann believes that today’s election is crucial for Bolivia’s democracy.

Photo: Arnt Stefansen / NRK

– It is not just a political conflict between the right and the left. The whole society is divided between different parts of the country, ethnic groups and cultures, and between poor and rich.

And she sees today’s election as fateful for the country:

– This is a crucial choice for Bolivia as a democracy. It is probably the most difficult and critical choice in the country’s 38-year-long democratic history, she tells NRK.

«Indigenous President»

A new chapter in Latin American history was written when Evo Morales came to power in 2006. Five hundred years after the colonial era began, an indigenous leader became president of a country in the region.

The change of power led to big changes – economically, socially and culturally.

The economy grew rapidly, the number of the extremely poor fell dramatically, and the country’s indigenous peoples gained a new status after five centuries of oppression.

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Evo Morales ruled Bolivia for 14 years. He is now charged with terrorism and is refused to stand for election in his home country.

Photo: PEDRO UGARTE / AFP

But gradually people became more critical of the president and his Socialist Party. Voters who had come out of poverty were no longer as interested in supporting a policy for the poor.

And many reacted strongly when the president refused to follow the constitutional provision on one limited presidency.

Votes on the right

But even though the Socialist Party has lost support, the polls show that the party will win today’s presidential election. It is still doubtful whether the victory will be big enough to secure a final election victory.

And in a possible other round of elections, the right wing will probably be the largest. Veteran Carlos Mesa, who leads the “Civil Community” alliance, will then become Bolivia’s next president.

Lucia Blanco fra La Paz, Bolivia

Biologist Lucia Blanco from La Paz will vote on the right in today’s election.

Photo: Arnt Stefansen / NRK

The 26-year-old Lucia Blanco from La Paz has previously voted for the Socialist Party. But she believes it has become more and more marked by abuse of power and corruption.

– In this election, I will vote for Carlos Mesa, she says to NRK.

– I think it is a good solution. He has shown that he knows the problems here in Bolivia: Mainly health, corruption and unemployment, says the 26-year-old.

Sky-high corona numbers

Bolivia is the first country in Latin America to hold national elections after the corona pandemic began. And many fear that the risk of infection will affect the outcome.

With nearly 8,500 dead, 722 per. million inhabitants, Bolivia is one of the countries in the world hardest hit by the pandemic.

Relatives of corona victims in La Paz

Relatives of a corona victim in the main cemetery in La Paz.

Photo: Arnt Stefansen / NRK

When NRK visits Cementerio General, the main cemetery in La Paz, there are endless queues of people who want to lay flowers on the graves of their loved ones.

Poor health care and poor infection discipline are the main causes of the tragedy, according to the country’s authorities:

– People must take responsibility for their own health. They can not leave it to others, says Bolivia’s Deputy Health Minister Oskar Landivar in an interview with NRK.

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