Reports indicate that strikes and violent demonstrations were witnessed in Bolivia on December 6 to demonstrate against a validation allowing incumbent President Evo Morales to run for office for a fourth continuous mandate. While peaceful protests were witnessed nationwide, clashes between police and demonstrators were recorded in the vicinity of Plaza Abaroa (Square) and outside the building housing the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), in La Paz. Moreover, a woman reportedly died during a protest in the northern city of Riberalta. The demonstrations were triggered by the decision of the TSE to validate Morales’ candidacy on December 4 ahead of the upcoming primary elections planned for January 27. On December 7, the Civic Movement, an opposition group behind demonstrations, published a statement indicating that it would call for a nationwide strike unless the TSE revokes Morales’ candidacy. Click here to see the location of the protest in La Paz on December 6.
Although the Civic Movement has a nationwide presence, its influence is especially strong in Santa Cruz and La Paz. Given that the former is considered a stronghold of the opposition, strikes on December 6 were deemed effective in the city. Despite attempts from the opposition to thwart Morales’ presidential ambitions, the TSE is very unlikely to rescind its decisions, nor Morales likely to step down on his own accord. In this sense, as previously assessed, tensions between the opposition and the government are very likely to continue beyond election day on January 27. Strikes and further demonstrations are likely to take place over the coming weeks and ahead of the elections. However, these are not likely to attract large turnouts, at least not outside Santa Cruz and La Paz.