The Coronavirus Anchors The “interim Government” In Bolivia And Blocks Constitutional Renewal In Chile

The coronavirus crisis has led to the postponement of two key events that were going to take place this week in Latin America: the presidential elections after the coup that took Evo Morales from power in Bolivia and the constitutional referendum called in Chile after several months of protests in the country.

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This past Sunday, nearly 15 million Chileans were called to vote in a referendum to choose whether they wanted a new Constitution or to continue with the Magna Carta enacted in 1980 under the dictatorial regime of Pinochet. But the plebiscite has been postponed to fall.

At the end of March, the different political forces agreed to postpone the plebiscite until October 25, and which in turn has also forced the date of the municipal and regional elections –and possible constitutional elections depending on the outcome of the referendum– to be changed. for that day until 2021.

This appointment was one of the main bets of the president, Sebastián Piñera, to alleviate the protests that began in October against the rise of the metro ticket and they have become a fight against inequality, due to the lack of access to basic rights such as health or education, or the current pension system, although now paralyzed by the epidemic. But that until January they had left more than 2,000 wounded and thirty people killed by the brutality of the army in their attempt to suppress the social outbreak.

Polls published before the pandemic pointed to a comfortable victory for the “approve” option that would open the constitutional process to reform the Constitution. Although according to the EFE Agency, the population would be more divided regarding which body should draft the eventual new text, the other question that the plebiscite will pose and in which citizens will choose between an assembly of elected citizens or also made up of parliamentarians.

Bolivia held presidential elections this Sunday to reconfigure power in the country. The elections were planning to renew the positions of the presidency and vice-presidency, as well as the senators and parliamentarians in the legislative chambers, but COVID-19 has paralyzed the ‘sine die’ elections.

On March 21, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced that the elections were suspended after the interim government of Jeanine Áñez decreed national quarantine for the pandemic, now extended until May 10. In a press conference and later in a message sent to Parliament, the TSE president asked the political formations for “consensus” to call a new electoral appointment based on “solid scientific and technical criteria”.

At written They also propose that the elections will have to be held between Sunday, June 7 and Sunday, September 6. In this way, it was the Legislative Assembly that had to approve a bill that sets the new date, but in the session that took place this past Wednesday, the Chamber of Deputies, with the majority of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) of Evo Morales, in a first step of the project has approved that the electoral body be the one to say the exact date, within a period of ninety days from the approval of the law.

Now the law has passed to the Senate, which due to the May 1 party, it is not clear that it can hold the plenary session, which would further upset the MAS proposal in the Chamber of Deputies so that the elections take place on August 2.

The MAS went first in the polls before the elections were postponed and before treating the project, alleged internal differences emerged about the advisability or not of delaying the electoral appointment more or less, later denied by party voices such as the Speaker of the House of Deputies, Sergio Choque. In addition, Morales himself has accused a member of parliament related to the interim government of pressures to postpone the elections as long as possible.

Since the epidemic reached the Andean country, several humanitarian organizations have criticized the authoritarian drift and restriction of freedoms that Áñez continues to impose on the country. Human Rights Watch denounced in early April that the interim government “takes advantage of the pandemic to claim the power to criminally sanction those who publish information that the authorities consider ‘incorrect’.” Furthermore, according to this same organization, high-level Bolivian officials have expressly mentioned political opponents as possible targets of prosecution for “misinforming”, and would face penalties of up to 10 years in prison for an “ambiguous” interpretation of the decree on measures against COVID-19.

Bolivia has been under an interim government chaired by Senator Jeanine Áñez since last October, after she entered the parliamentary seat with a Bible and declared herself president of Bolivia through a coup. Evo Morales was forced to leave power amid allegations of fraud in his favor, reports from international organizations about alleged irregularities in the elections, and pressure from the armed forces.



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