Bolivia

Map of Bolivia

Supporting the enabling environment for an informed, transparent, resilient, and inclusive electoral process.


WHY USAID/OTI IS IN BOLIVIA

Amid accusations of electoral fraud in the October 2019 presidential election that triggered sustained protests across the country, President Evo Morales of the MAS (Movement for Socialism) party announced his resignation in a televised address. In November, he left the country for Mexico then Argentina where he resides today. After resignations of all the senior MAS officials ahead of her, opposition legislator Jeanine Añez became the next in line of presidential succession. The priority of Añez’s transitional government was to hold free and fair elections on the timetable agreed upon by the MAS-controlled Congress. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the first round of voting was scheduled for May 3, 2020 with a likely run-off on June 14, 2020. In late March, a few days after the transitional government decreed a national quarantine, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced it had sent the Legislative Assembly a bill to postpone the elections, with a current target window between June 28, 2020 to September 27, 2020 for the first round. Were a run-off required, it would take place six weeks later. USAID/OTI is committed to providing assistance to support a democratic, inclusive, and peaceful electoral process in Bolivia.

USAID/OTI’S ROLE IN BOLIVIA

The USAID/OTI program will support the enabling environment for an informed, transparent, resilient, and inclusive electoral process that can respond to unexpected crises through:

  • Strengthening new political actors’ capacity for self-expression and interaction;
  • Promoting democratic internal reflection processes in representative social organizations;
  • Increasing the ability of local organizations to articulate a response to the crises ensuing from the coronavirus pandemic.

After meeting with potential partners in four target cities (El Alto, La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz), the program identified the following inter-related problem sets:

  • Strong regional, socioeconomic, and racial divides between the central and peri-urban areas;
  • Coopted and fragmented social organizations, with parallel leaderships largely divorced from their grassroots constituencies;
  • A structural crisis in the political representation system, with large portions of the electorate perceiving that political parties and social organizations do not represent them;
  • Mainstream media’s horse race coverage that is contributing to the growing polarization of political discourse and is being further amplified by social media.

The national quarantine has overlaid new forms of disinformation onto Bolivia’s political discourse and has led to protests in areas that have experienced post-electoral conflict. USAID/OTI’s third objective envisions strengthening local solidarity networks, exploring alternative rural-urban commercial linkages, and piloting activities to aid in reactivating the
economy, among other initiatives in these critical geographies.

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Last updated: April 29, 2020

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