The Two Phases in the Transition Towards Democracy in Bolivia
*Carlos Sánchez Berzaín
The great challenge of the transition towards democracy in Bolivia rests in the fact that an interim Executive Power, with great legitimacy, has the mandate to hold free and fair elections but within a still dictatorial framework that has not changed, in other words; with the regime’s constitution, without the rule of law, with all other branches of the government controlled by the dictatorship, with the same functional opposition now acting and under terrorism and conspiracy attacks orchestrated from Mexico by the fugitive dictator. After almost 14 years of holding power in Bolivia, the Castrochavist system remains intact because the dictator collapsed but not the dictatorship.
The success of the peaceful civil resistance that led to Evo Morales’ resignation and ended his government, has not been able to end the dictatorial system that started with the expansion of illegal coca leaf cultivation in order to install a narco-state in Bolivia, it has not changed the judicial structure that supplanting Bolivia’s constitution eliminated the Republic of Bolivia changing the Legislative and Judicial branches and creating an Electoral branch to end the rule of law, it has not been able to remove from the government those officials who made disappear the separation and independence of the branches of government and has neither released all political prisoners, nor allowed those exiled to return.
Evo Morales’ regime is a dictatorship that, applying the model orchestrated from Cuba and Venezuela, made disappear all the fundamental components of democracy in order to perpetuate itself in power, through:
The institutionalization of the violation of “human rights and basic freedoms” with “despicable laws” and the misuse of the judicial for political persecution, the covering up of corruption and the granting of impunity.
The elimination of the “Rule of Law” to impose and pseudo-legalize the dictator’s will, instead.
The ending of the “separation and independence of the branches of government” by designating corrupt, unjust, officials who were totally subservient to the whims of the dictator.
The supplanting of “free and fair elections” by a “vote-catching dictatorship” in which “you vote, but do not elect”.
The ending of the “free social and political organization” establishing the “functional opposition” instead.
Evo Morales’ fall and resignation started the beginning of the process of transition towards democracy that has a first phase, under the direction of the interim Constitutional President Janine Añez and her government, with the task of holding free and fair elections as soon as possible and to adopt urgent measures to ensure security. Her government is not a government with a typical ordinary agenda, it has a specific mandate; free and fair elections, to which several other responsibilities were added, such as; addressing the urgent and indispensable matters, internal security facing the terrorist and narcotraffickers’ attacks directed by the fugitive dictator, and dealing with the Transnational Organized Crime’s system that he manipulates.
The second pase of the transition towards democracy will be under the responsibility of those who will be elected in the forthcoming elections, a date for which has yet to be determined, that is anticipated will be around the month of April of 2020. A new Constitutional President with a new Legislative Branch shall have to start the disassembling of the dictatorial apparatus to restore the Republic, make the country’s economic reality transparent, put back an independent Judicial Branch, institutionalize; Central Bank and Comptroller General’s authorities and Control and Regulatory agencies. Bolivia’s government for the term 2020 to 2025 is a government of truly earnest transition. Its planned agenda has been set by historical events and is none other than the one to put in effect the fundamental components of democracy and avoiding impunity.
The threat against a real and effective return to democracy in Bolivia is that in the first phase of the transition -spanning from the departure of the dictator until the election of a new president, senators, and representatives- this become only a cosmetic phase so that the same holders of power and functional opposition members of the last 14 years, be recycled. The delay to activate this emergency electoral process placed -besides- in the hands of the fugitive dictator’s legislative majority, threatens to produce something similar to the transition from Trujillo to Balaguer’s dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, change everything so that nothing changes.
The purpose for the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Bolivia is the restoration of the Republic and all fundamental components of democracy, including the replacement of elected officials and candidates who comprise the dictatorship either as direct participants or as functional opposition members. Until that happens, the dictatorship will not have ended.
*Attorney & Political Scientist. Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy.
Published by Infobae.com Sunday, December 1st. 2019
“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”
Translated from Spanish by; Edgar L. Terrazas, member of the American Translators’ Association, ATA # 234680.