Bolivia’s progressive political party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), has been campaigning for the general elections scheduled for October 18 across the country. Several motorcycle rallies were carried out in different departments in the past week. On September 13, the MAS presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca, held a campaign event in the city of El Alto and promised to restore stability in the country. Thousands of citizens joined them at the peasants market in the Santa Rosa neighborhood and expressed their support for MAS’ slogan “Vamos a salir adelante” or “We will overcome”.
Nos encontramos en el Mercado Campesino Santa Rosa acompañados del pueblo alteño. Feliz de estar aquí. Se siente la fuerza y el compromiso con #Bolivia. Estoy seguro que #VamosASalirAdelante. pic.twitter.com/qrKSCe0UKY
— Luis Arce Catacora (Lucho Arce) (@LuchoXBolivia) September 13, 2020
The same day, the MAS party announced the election of 37-year-old Leonardo Loza, the executive secretary of the Federation of Intercultural Communities of Chimoré and the vice-president of the Six Federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba, as the candidate for Senate in Cochabamba. The decision was taken after former president Evo Morales’ candidacy for the same was disqualified by the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) in a proscription attempt by the coup installed government.
The TSE rejected Morales’ nomination arguing that he did not meet “the requirement of a permanent resident”, which according to them is a minimum 2-years stay in the country. Morales, who left Bolivia in November 2019 following the coup and threats to his life, is currently residing in Argentina as a political refugee. Social and political leaders from across the world condemned the coup regime’s decision.
Former president Morales expressed his support for Loza’s election. “The election of my soul brother and companion in struggle Leonardo Loza as a candidate for senator for Cochabamba in my place is excellent. Leonardo is the son of the transformation process and a born popular leader, with social conscience and great commitment to the Plurinational State,” wrote Morales in a tweet.
Meanwhile, Loza said that “it is very difficult to replace Evo Morales”. “It is painful that your leader and role model is disqualified for political reasons. It was neither my intention nor my thought to enter here. We are more dedicated to union work, but now as we are called to fill in the empty space, we are sure that we are not going to disappoint the people,” Loza told Radio Kawsachun Coca.
Yesterday, on September 14, Loza’s nomination was formalized by the TSE. The peasant leader is one of the several leaders who have been persecuted by the de-facto government for their alleged role in the 12-day national strike and nationwide roadblocks against the postponement of elections in August.
Various recent opinion polls ratify that the MAS presidential ticket, Arce-Choquehuanca, has the largest support in the country. Meanwhile, Carlos Mesa of the center-right coalition of Citizen Community (CC) and the de-facto president Jeanine Áñez of the far-right Juntos party are in second and third place.
On October 18, over 6.9 million Bolivians will get the opportunity to vote and choose between Mesa and Áñez’s neoliberal economic model and Arce’s model of nationalization and industrialization.
(With inputs from Kawsachun News)