Thousands of Bolivians took to the streets to protest against President Evo Morales’ attempt to get re-elected despite the fact that the constitution does not allow for a fourth consecutive term. The demonstrations that took place in the country’s nine regional capitals warned President Morales that the people of Bolivia will not allow him to participate in any more elections.
“No means no,” was one of the slogans that could be heard on the streets of Bolivia, referring to the opposition’s triumph in choosing “no” during a constitutional referendum that rejected Morales’ previous attempt to run for a fourth term.
President of the Pro Santa Cruz Committee, Fernando Cuéllar, opened a series of public speeches on September 24 in Santa Cruz.
“Nothing is further from a democratic government than a government that aspires to perpetually remain in power,” Cuéllar said. “When this happens, democracy becomes totalitarianism. That is why we strongly and firmly support the full exercise of human rights, and we believe that citizen mobilization is and will always be the most powerful weapon to avoid excesses and to defend our right to live in freedom, fairness, solidarity, with peace and harmony.”
The demonstration coincided with the commemoration of 35 continuous years of democracy in Bolivia, which started with the presidency of Hernán Siles Zuazo that ended 18 years of dictatorial rule.
President Morales accused those who protested in defense of democracy of wanting to recycle the dictatorships from the past. “The same people who abused democracy to recycle the dictatorship and negotiate the power of votes, and they claim to be the defenders (of democracy),” the president tweeted.
Last year 51% of Bolivian voters who took part in a referendum rejected Morales' proposal to reform the constitution to end current term limits. At the time, Morales accepted defeat. But last month the president's Movement to Socialism (MAS) party asked Bolivia's highest court to remove legal limits that currently bar officials from seeing re-election indefinitely. The party argued that these limits violate human rights.
The court has until December to rule on the MAS request or extend the deadline for a decision.
Morales, the country's first indigenous president, came to power in 2006 and currently has an approval rating of roughly 50%. He has said he would give up his office, but that his supporters are urging him to stay.