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Chaos in Bolivia, turbulence in Chile

by Ace Damon
Chaos in Bolivia, turbulence in Chile

Bolivian Evo Morales's strategies for staying in power ended with the early end of the then-president's mandate, under pressure from week-long street protests that had secured the adhesion of security forces. On Sunday afternoon, the 10th, Morales announced his resignation, a few hours after promising to hold new elections, without making it clear whether or not to participate in the dispute. Morales is already in Mexico, the country that offered him asylum, and Bolivia is now in institutional chaos, as the vice-president, Álvaro García Linera, and the Bolivian mayors and senate have also resigned, leaving the succession line empty.

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Morales, who had ruled Bolivia since 2015, could well have avoided throwing the country into the current mess. His third election in 2014 had already been controversial, requiring court intervention and a lax interpretation of the country's new constitution before Morales could run for president. When, in 2016, the population in a referendum denied the president the possibility of trying a fourth term, the sufficiently clear message was ignored by Morales, who once again obtained permission from a supreme court to run. Bolivia is experiencing a favorable economic moment, with low inflation and unemployment and growth above the Latin American average; It is no exaggeration to imagine that Morales would have made it easy to make a successor, holding his Socialist Movement in power and leaving the scene with a legacy to celebrate, but the temptation to perpetuate power spoke louder.

Morales might well have avoided throwing his own country into the present mess; it would be enough to have respected the 2016 referendum

If even before the October election Bolivians were already on the streets, the irregularities in the tabulation, which gave the president a first-round victory, were the last straw for the population, which placed the attacks on democracy above the economic results of Morales The opposition of the international community, through the Organization of American States (OAS), to the official results of the election, and the adhesion of police and military to the protests left the president trapped. On Sunday morning, Morales announced the replacement of the Bolivian electoral justice summit and promised to hold new elections, but did not exclude himself voluntarily, leaving it understood that he intended to participate in the dispute. The retreat was not enough, culminating in the resignation.

Bolivia now has two urgencies: one is the reinstatement of institutions, starting with the recomposition of the government and the succession line, with the appointment of an interim president who oversees a new electoral process. From this angle, by creating a dangerous power vacuum, renunciation only aggravates the crisis; Morales's own stubbornness, however, made his early departure the only possible outcome. When the protests were still in their early stages, there was still the possibility that the president would announce a new election, explicitly pledging not to participate in it, and remain in office until the end of his term, handing the band over to a successor chosen in a clean claim. But that's not what happened: the president stretched the rope to the point that protesters and the military no longer contented themselves with new clean elections, demanding the resignation of the president as a condition for "pacifying and maintaining stability," in the words of Army Chief Williams Kaliman. The second urgency is precisely this pacification of the country, with the end of street violence and hostilities with political personalities for and against Morales, as the unrest continues even after Morales' resignation and departure from the country.

Pacification is what Chilean President Sebastián also seeks
Piñera, which has been facing nearly a month of violent protests, marked since the
beginning by vandalism and destruction, especially in the capital, Santiago. Pinera
announced its intention to initiate a process for the establishment of a new
constituent assembly that gives the country a new constitution, replacing the
1980s – inheritance, therefore, of the cruel dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who
lasted until 1990.

In theory, the longer you live the Constitutions, the better because
indicate democratic stability. However, there are times when
drastic changes, as was the case of Brazil: after redemocratization, the
Constitution of 1988 replaced a Magna Carta written by a regime
authoritarian. Chile has not gone through this process, leaving behind the
dictatorship, but keeping the Constitution of the Pinochet era, albeit amended. Moments
of social upheaval like the present ones, however, are nowhere near the most
suitable for such deep changes; after all, new assemblies
constituents have carte blanche, and it is impossible to imagine beforehand what they
will decide. Highly polarized environments or pressured by confusion in
streets cannot generate a constitution that reflects consensus and serves to
foundation to support a country during earthquakes, making the intention of
Pinera a risky bet.

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