02:30 GMT03 April 2020
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    Despite the fact that the Bolivian Supreme Electoral Tribunal stated Thursday that ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales is ineligible to register as a senatorial candidate for a snap election, Morales will remain a “towering figure” in Bolivia, Adrienne Pine, an associate professor of anthropology at American University, told Sputnik.

    Morales is currently living in Argentina after being forced to resign in November by a US-directed coup carried out by right-wing opposition leaders. The opposition has falsely claimed there were irregularities in the October 20 presidential election, which Morales won by more than the margin that mandates a runoff. Other leading government officials from Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party also resigned, allowing then-Senator Jeanine Añez to assume the title of interim president unchallenged just days later.

    On Friday, the former president accused Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal of fearing democracy after the body banned Morales from running for a senate seat over claims that he doesn’t meet the residency requirements.

    “I would not say he [Morales] is out of politics, because he is such a towering figure in Bolivia and certainly continues to exert influence within the MAS party, but what it does show is just the terrifying success that the US-backed coup has had in very rapidly reversing and squelching the tremendous progress that Evo has made,” Pine told Loud & Clear hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.

    “There’s really an uphill battle right now for the members of the MAS. We’ve seen what they’ve [the opposition] done to disqualify him is, first of all, jail his lawyer who was filing his paperwork - a pregnant attorney, Patricia Hermosa, is being jailed for six months - and then claim that he is disqualified because he is not fulfilling the requirements for residency. But of course, the reason he is not fulfilling those requirements is that he was receiving death threats and had to leave the country,” she noted.

    Earlier this month, Hermosa was charged with terrorism, sedition and financing of terrorism. Morales condemned the attack on his lawyer, tweeting that she was charged “without any evidence or legal basis.” 

    Following the coup against Morales were violent attacks on Morales supporters by Bolivian security forces. Many Bolivian indigenous people who support Morales, who is from the Aymara indigenous group, staged rallies in support of him and were the victims of police and army violence. A November report by Al Jazeera states that at least 32 people were killed by such violent attacks following Morales’ ousting.

    “Those [massacres] are meant to terrify people into complacency. Thankfully, the Bolivian people are not willing to be terrified into complacency. I mean we’ve definitely seen that there’s a lot of enthusiasm. There’s new leadership coming up in the MAS party despite the fact that both Evo and Diego Pary, his foreign minister, both of them were running for basically congressionals seats. They have been excluded from that on these really false grounds. We’re seeing that despite the violence, despite the state terror campaign that is, of course, completely supported by the US government and perhaps just as importantly, the Organization of American States, people are not being cowed,” Pine explained.

    The US backing of the overthrow of Morales was due to the “tremendous wealth in lithium that Bolivia has and the fact that he had not been opening it up to the massive exploitation by foreign companies,” Pine also added.

    MAS is a unique party, an amalgamation of social movements and organizations that has staying power in Bolivia, Becker pointed out.

    “It is indeed a unique kind of party, and it comes out of the movement. And the way that a lot of Bolivians talk about Evo is that he’s really a product of that movement rather than the other way around. One of the other things that MAS has really been productively trying to do since Evo was forced out is to cultivate and create new leadership on a national level. If anything, the critiques that were coming from both the right or left of Evo - whether right or wrong - had to do with this centralization of power, and so I think there’s a lot of hope and a lot of inspiration,” Pine agreed.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Bolivia, US, coup, socialism, Evo Morales
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