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Bolivia: A Leaderless Nation

    The land-locked nation of Bolivia in South America is the newest addition to a long list of countries in political upheaval around the world. Protests which began in the capital city of La Paz quickly expanded to the rest of the nation. Citizens of Bolivia are enraged over the presidential election that occurred in late October when incumbent President Evo Morales declared victory for a fourth consecutive term. Brazil’s Constitution clearly states that the president may only serve two terms, but Morales gained his third one after claiming that his first administration didn’t count since it occurred during the socialist reforms to Bolivia’s government in 2006. Morales was able to run for a fourth term in 2019 after being backed by a federal judge appointed by his own administration, claiming that it is his fundamental human right to seek the highest office once again.

    The results of the October 20th elections changed drastically over a short period of time. What looked like a possible run-off situation between Morales and contender, former president Carlos Mesa, suddenly turned into an outright victory for Morales. Citizens were infuriated when Morales claimed victory and took to the streets just a couple of days later. The protests turned violent as Morales tried to retain his grip on the turbulent nation. Bolivians cited their protests as a culmination of frustrations with the corruption they witness in government and the breakdown in democracy that has occurred in Bolivia recently. Furthermore, citizens were inspired by the protests in neighboring Chile against their stagnant economy and low quality of living. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and the fifth poorest country in the entire Western Hemisphere.

    The violent protests were enough to get Evo Morales to step down from the presidency, and he resigned on November 10th. Leaving office with him is the vice president of Bolivia and the vice president of the senate, the next two people to fulfill the presidency. As Morales flees to Mexico where he has been offered an asylum claim, the Bolivian government is left in limbo. The second vice president of the senate and opposition politician Jeanine Añez has claimed the presidency as her own, as she is constitutionally next in line. Rumors perpetuated by Morales and his supporters, however, suggest a military coup occurring in Bolivia. At least ten protesters have died in the protests both before the election and after.

    The surprising end of Morales’ time as the president of Bolivia represents the end of “the pink wave”, a political movement of the early 2000s that swept left-leaning politicians into power throughout South America. Not only does the resignation of Evo Morales leave the nation of Bolivia in a state of political uncertainty, but it is also the latest factor in the direction that international politics will take in the Americas as a new decade approaches.