Blockades are set up at almost every intersection, limiting movement to motorcycle or foot. The first few days of protest were relatively peaceful as most of those in the streets were united in opposition. Last Saturday barricades were lifted for a few hours to allow people to stock up on supplies. The president’s supporters have since mobilized however, and interactions have become increasingly violent as of Monday (Oct 28th).
For a bit of context, Mesa moved from vice president to president in 2003 after his sitting president fled the country following civil unrest and a very conflictive term. Discontent with that administration prepared the way for Evo Morales’ election soon after in 2006.
Evo’s presidency became increasingly divisive over the past decade and a half, as some praise his reforms and others see him as dangerously corrupt. While Bolivia only allows for two consecutive 5-year terms, Evo remains in power. Re-founding the nation in 2009, he argues that his first term was under the old country and therefore permits him two more terms under the new constitution. In 2016, Evo called for a referendum to amend the constitution and remove term-limits (like Canada). After loosing this national vote, the senate overruled the decision. This has caused considerable tension leading up to this month’s election.
Nonetheless, Morales appears to have won the election two Sundays ago, finishing ahead of Mesa (47.08% to 36.51%). Legally, without 50% of the vote or a 10% margin, a second-round election is required between the two front-runners, removing at least seven other parties. Officially there was a roughly 10.57% spread, leading Morales to claim victory.
Many Bolivians do not trust these numbers however, due to unusual activity including the halt of voter result transmissions on election night, stories of falsified ballots and electoral systems manipulation. Protestors then, are not necessarily fighting for either leader, but rather insisting they are promoting democracy. With heals dug in, it is difficult to discern the best path forward for resumed peace.
- Pray for wisdom on both sides amidst misinformation, high emotions,
and a complicated reality.
- Pray for peaceful protests, civil respect between neighbours,
and national peace in God’s way.
- Pray for those unable to make an income as their work is suspended.
- Pray for justice which brings shalom and facilitates deep healing long after these events.
"Peace, peace, to the far and the near," says the Lord. "And I will heal them."