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Protests in Bolivia against Incumbent President Morales slated for December 6

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) confirmed on November 28 that nine presidential lists were received, including that of incumbent President Evo Morales. With the registry now being closed, the TSE is expected to validate or reject the candidacies on December 8, ahead of the upcoming primary elections planned for January 27. The Civic Movement opposition group has called for nationwide protests against Morales’ candidacy on December 6, calling supporters to mount roadblocks and to strike. In turn, while official sources announced that the government will respect protesters’ rights to demonstrate, unions aligned with Morales announced that they would organize counter-demonstrations.

Despite a constitutional ban against Morales’ reelection and a failed referendum in February 2016 to authorize his candidacy, in November 2017 the Supreme Justice Tribunal (TSJ) allowed Morales to run for a fourth continuous mandate since taking office in 2006. Although the opposition has consistently pledged to carry out anti-Morales demonstrations, these events have not witnessed considerable turnouts on a nationwide scale. That said, demonstrations on December 6 will most likely attract thousands of participants in Santa Cruz, which is considered an opposition stronghold. We assess that counter-demonstrations are also likely and that there is a distinct potential for scuffles between Morales’ supporters and detractors. Considering that the TSE will most likely validate Morales’ candidacy, further demonstrations over the coming weeks are also liable to transpire.

Those operating in Bolivia on December 6, especially in Santa Cruz, are advised to exercise vigilance and avoid the vicinity of unfolding protests.

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