Report Confirms Rigged Presidential Election in Bolivia6 min read

            On December 6, 2019, The Organization of American States (OAS) released a report that claimed the October 20 presidential election in Bolivia was rigged to favor Evo Morales.[1] The report explained “malicious” and “deliberate” actions taken to manipulate the vote for then-President Morales.[2] Specifically, there were changes in voting times and falsification of signatures that made it impossible to confirm the results.[3] The data from voting centers were rerouted to two hidden servers that were not controlled by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, thus furthering the possibility of data manipulation.[4] Additionally, voting data was lost and overrun with errors.[5] Suspicions surrounding the vote arose after an official count was not given within the normal twenty-four-hour time frame. Once the results came out, Morales won by a very small margin.[6] In response, large-scale protests erupted across the country.[7]

            Evo Morales, a former coca farmer, was first elected president of Bolivia in 2006.[8] Morales is Bolivia’s first president with origins from the nation’s indigenous community.[9] As president, he gained substantial popularity from fighting poverty and improving the overall economy.[10] However, Morales’ decision to run for a fourth-term in 2019 disobeyed the country’s constitutional term-limits.[11] His choice damaged the stability and legitimacy of Bolivia’s democracy.

            Before the full report was released by OAS on December 6, an initial investigation shortly after the election found undeniable manipulation and called for the results to be annulled.[12] In response, Morales agreed to replace electoral authorities and hold a new vote.[13] Nonetheless, Carlos Mesa, his rival in the election, argued Morales should not be allowed to run for office again.[14] Later, the chief of Bolivia’s armed forces called for his resignation in order to end the widespread protests and restore peace.[15] On November 10, Morales stepped down as president of Bolivia and called the entire controversy a “coup” and a “political and economic conspiracy” led by the U.S.[16] Morales claimed his life was in danger and asked Mexico for asylum.[17] Mistakenly, the Mexican government accepted his request.[18] The Congress in Bolivia passed legislation that banned Morales from running in the next presidential election.[19]

            On November 13, Morales arrived in Mexico and explained that he had to leave Bolivia because a $50,000 award was being offered to anyone who killed him.[20] Interestingly, the Mexican Air Force Jet that transported Morales initially refueled in Peru before arriving in Bolivia. However, after picking up Morales, the plane was denied re-entry into Peru’s airspace on the journey back to Mexico for “political reasons.”[21] Mexico was forced to negotiate with other countries in the region and was eventually granted access to refuel in Paraguay.[22]

            The Mexican government should not have granted Morales asylum. Undoubtedly, Morales should not be able to flee from a problem he presumably created. Moreover, the government of Mexico has no business interfering in the political disputes of Bolivia. The Mexican government made a drastic international mistake and will pay the price for it in the future. As evidenced by Peru’s unwillingness to allow the Mexican Air Force Jet to land in its borders with Morales, other nations do not support Mexico’s decision.[23] In the future, it will be interesting to observe if additional countries refuse to cooperate with Mexico.

            Sadly, since the disputed election, over thirty people have died as a result of political violence.[24] After Morales stepped down as president, Jeanine Áñez, deputy head of the Senate, was made interim president “by right of succession.”[25]Áñez claimed that if Morales returns to Bolivia, he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent.[26] Morales’ party and his supporters unsuccessfully boycotted the decision to appoint Áñez.[27]

            The manipulation of the presidential election in Bolivia relates to the class themes of challenges to democracy and legitimacy. Clearly, Morales’ decision to unconstitutionally run for a fourth-term and the rigging of the election severely delegitimized Bolivia’s institutions and democratic norms. As explained by Robert Dahl, an essential feature of democracy is free and fair elections.[28] Therefore, the past presidential election in Bolivia represents a fatal blow to the nation’s regime. In the coming years, it is likely that election results in Bolivia will not be trusted by the citizenry and that the methods of vote counting will be under high scrutiny. Unfortunately, the recent election will leave a long-lasting stain on Bolivia’s politics.

            Interestingly, on December 6, Morales traveled to Cuba.[29] According to Morales, his decision to travel to Cuba was strictly for a medical appointment.[30] However, many scholars contend that this move was the first step in Morales’ political comeback.[31] Certainly, Morales should not return to the political stage. In fact, if he travels back to Bolivia, his arrival will presumably result in renewed protests and violence.

            In the future, it will be imperative to closely evaluate Morales’ intent to return to politics. If he decides to return to Bolivia’s political scene, many questions present themselves. For instance, will interim president Áñez stand by her claim and seek charges against Morales?[32] Will anti-government protests reemerge? Finally, will it become necessary for outside political actors like the U.S. to become involved and remove Morales? Clearly, the future of Bolivia’s politics remains a mystery that must be meticulously observed.


[1] “Evo Morales: Overwhelming evidence of election fraud in Bolivia, monitors say,” BBC. December 6, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-50685335.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Patrick J. Mcdonnell. “Violence Spreads in Bolivia. Here’s What You Need to Know,” Los Angeles Times. November 18, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-11-18/turmoil-in-bolivia-explainer.

[10] “Evo Morales: Overwhelming evidence of election fraud in Bolivia, monitors say,” BBC.

[11] Id.

[12] “Evo Morales: Overwhelming evidence of election fraud in Bolivia, monitors say,” BBC.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Tom Phillips. “Evo Morales heads to Cuba amid talk of eventual comeback,” The Guardian. December 6, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/07/evo-morales-heads-to-cuba-amid-talk-of-an-eventual-comeback.

[17] “Evo Morales: Overwhelming evidence of election fraud in Bolivia, monitors say,” BBC.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] “Bolivia crisis: Evo Morales says he fled to Mexico as life was at risk,” BBC. November 13, 2019.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-50397922.

[21] Id.

[22] Id.

[23] “Bolivia crisis: Evo Morales says he fled to Mexico as life was at risk,” BBC.

[24] “Evo Morales: Overwhelming evidence of election fraud in Bolivia, monitors say,” BBC.

[25] “Bolivia crisis: Evo Morales says he fled to Mexico as life was at risk,” BBC.

[26] “Evo Morales: Overwhelming evidence of election fraud in Bolivia, monitors say,” BBC.

[27] Id.

[28] Robert Alan Dahl. 1971. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.davidson.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=52899&site=ehost-live.

[29] Tom Phillips. “Evo Morales heads to Cuba amid talk of eventual comeback,” The Guardian. December 6, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/07/evo-morales-heads-to-cuba-amid-talk-of-an-eventual-comeback.

[30] Id.

[31] Id.

[32] “Evo Morales: Overwhelming evidence of election fraud in Bolivia, monitors say,” BBC.

Works Cited

“Bolivia crisis: Evo Morales says he fled to Mexico as life was at risk.” BBC. November 13, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-50397922.

Dahl, Robert Alan. 1971. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.davidson.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=52899&site=ehost-live.

 “Evo Morales: Overwhelming evidence of election fraud in Bolivia, monitors say.” BBC. December 6, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-50685335.

Mcdonnell, Patrick J. “Violence Spreads in Bolivia. Here’s What You Need to Know.” Los Angeles Times. November 18, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-11-18/turmoil-in-bolivia-explainer.

Phillips, Tom. “Evo Morales heads to Cuba amid talk of eventual comeback.” The Guardian. December 6, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/07/evo-morales-heads-to-cuba-amid-talk-of-an-evntual-comeback.

1 thought on “Report Confirms Rigged Presidential Election in Bolivia<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">6</span> min read</span>”

  1. Genna, this was a very interesting post and you did a great job of analyzing the intricate details of Morales’ fraudulent presidency. It seems as though he should be held accountable for the manipulation and deliberate attempts to undermine the democratic values in Bolivia. This case is especially interesting because it not only affects the people of Bolivia, but not Mexico is involved and will impact relations between the two countries. It is also interesting that Morales seemed to have gained popularity for the beneficial things he did during his presidency, but his desire for power happened and he disobeyed the term limits, ultimately ruining the popularity he gained during his presidency. I think when he returns from Cuba, he should face the consequences of his actions and protesters should demand answers from him. Additionally, I think you posed some great questions for further analysis. I think it will become necessary for outside countries to become involved in this ordeal because Morales is taking away democratic values from the people. If there is substantial evidence of fraudulent behavior and actions, perhaps the US should become involved in holding him accountable. His actions are similar to those we read about in Menu of Manipulation, which is those of an authoritarian regime. Overall, a great blog post!

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