February 28, 2016

The Deconstruction of the Morales Government

MABB ©

Observing from afar the political events taking place in Bolivia, namely, a series of corruption revelations that reach the highest levels of government, even Evo Morales, it seems these same events have started a slow but fulminating process of the government's deconstruction.

While the government has been experiencing a relatively stable political period, from the time of its consolidation in power around 2009 up to the February 21, 2016 referendum on Constitutional reform, we can observe slowly but surely, the Morales government has come increasingly under pressure.

The process begins with a series of revelations about corruption in the Indigenous Fund for the Development of Indigenous, Originary and Campesino People (Fondo Indigena para el Desarrollo de Indigenas, Originarios y Campesinos, Fondioc). In the mean time, the fund has been intervened and currently is being wound up, having the charges reached the highest posts in the fund. In the weeks up to the February referendum, more corruption revelations were published. A regime-critic journalist, Carlos Valverde, revealed that President Morales had had a relationship with a business woman, and that the couple even had a son, who passed away. Adding insult to injury, the journalist also revealed irregularities in the adjudication of public projects in favor of the woman's company. This case has been, and still is, a very damaging case for Morales personally. This is an ongoing process, therefore, this post will most likely end in ... to be continued ...

The Fondioc

The Fondioc was created in 2010 by President Morales to specifically fund development projects in favor of the indigenous population in rural areas. It was designated 5% from the hydrocarbons tax (i.e. natural gas sales tax).



How has this happened?

November 11, 2013

The newspaper Pagina Siete starts a series of revealing reports about alleged corruption in the Indigenous Fund, known in Bolivia as Fondioc. Over the course of a month, the allegations revolved around some projects not having been executed, which pointed to the waste of public money.

December 2013

On December 11, 2013, as a result of these revelations, Morales was already in an uncomfortable place because he had been pointing to the indigenous values of not stealing, not lying, and not being lazy (in Aymara, ama sua, ama qhuella, ama llulla) as being the culture of the MAS. Morales then order the Comptroller to start an investigation of the Fondioc.

End of 2014

The Office of the Comptroller determined several irregularities, which were all listed in its report. Above all, the auditors found ghost projects, underfunded projects, unfinished projects and other already finished projects. All in all, the auditors saw a total damage to the Bolivian state in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.

February 2015

The case was transferred to the office of the Attorney General, who then started an official investigation. The result was cases filed against some 250 people directly involved in the individual cases.

During 2016

The Fondioc has been in the news almost permanently. It has evolved into a conflict between some groups and the government because the government does not want to implicate the former Rural Development and Lands Minister, Nemesia Achacollo. The other groups, mostly in favor of many officials already in prison, have been demanding Achacollo take responsibility for what happened in Fondioc.

As the Fondioc case was evolving, other revelations hit the government as well.

On February 3, 2016, Carlos Valverde accuses the government of drug trafficking in favor of Gabriela Zapata (Morales ex-girlfriend) and a Chinese company, CAMC. This company, it was reported, benefited with the signing of some 7 publicly funded projects with a value of over 500 million dollars.

The journalist also reveals that Zapata was Morales' lover and that they had a child.

On February 5, 2016, Evo Morales accepted he had had an affair with Zapata and that out of that relationship a child was born. At the same time, he said the son had died and as a result they had grown apart.

On February 12, 2016, the Fides News Agency, reported the Vicepresident, Alvaro Garcia, did  not have an academic title, whereas he had given them impression, in various occasions and had stated in some instances, he did have a degree. Days later other news outlets revealed he had been lecturing in the La Paz University and even had been the director of the Sociology Department.

On February 17, six people died as a result of a demonstration turning violent against the El Alto government building. Especially, damaging for the MAS was the fact that several MAS leaders and former candidates had been agitating the mood, which resulted on braking of doors, the occupation of the first floor and the installing of fires within the offices.

As we stand, there are more damaging revelations coming out.

On Friday 26, 2016, Gabriela Zapata was arrested with a direct order from the Ministry of the Interior, most likely from Minister Carlos Romero.

It turned out this order was  not all that legal because the Attorney General's office, the instance in charge of issuing aprehension orders, had not issued any against Zapata.

However, on Saturday 27, the charges of illicit enrichment (and others) were formally brought against Zapata. It was then when the aprehension papers were issued.

At the same time, Zapata had to be discretely delivered to the AG's aprehension facilities, but she was forced to face the news crews and the cameras because the door did not open soon enough.

On Sunday 28, 2016, the Zapata's aunt makes more revelations. She implies Zapata is being silenced by the government. She also reveals the son did not pass away, but is alive and living in La Paz.

As you can see, the drama continues ...

Update:

March 1, 2016

The National Coordinating (Organization) for Change (Coordinadora Nacional para el Cambio, Conalcam), the umbrella organization grouping all social organizations supporting Morales' Process of Change, but at the same time functioning as a type social control, has expressed its support for the referendum's results.

After having met with President Morales, the leaders of Conalcam, made declarations in favor of respecting the decision taking by the Bolivian people in the February 2016 referendum. Evo Morales and Alvaro Garcia will not be the MAS candidates for the general elections in 2019.

The deconstruction


1. The government has been put under pressure by the corruption scandal in the Fondioc.

This case, is specially damaging, because it contradicts directly Morales' claim the indigenous culture is not like 'other' cultures. Which ones are these, is not defined. Morales has been pointing to the already mentioned Aymara principles of ama sua, ama qhuella, ama llulla.

The fact that the corruption happened in the Indigenous Fund, which was created for the Indigenous people and was administered by Indigenous people, has negatively affected the credibility of the government.

The implication would be that the indigenous culture is not much different from 'other' cultures.

2. Evo Morales has been, for the first time under his presidency, under pressure as well.

It is much less, the fact that he had had relations with a woman. That much, I would like to guess, his supporters were willing to look over. However, the fact that his government had been giving unfair advantage to the woman's company when it came to adjudicate publicly funded projects was what affected support for Morales.

The fact that even Morales himself could be acting corrupt is very disenchanting for people and undermines the support for the MAS and Morales.

3. Furthermore, if things keep the way they are going and Zapata starts to reveal what she knows, it could be affecting not only the government, but above all, the character of Morales.

If it turns out the son is still alive, it would release a very ominous and dark shadow over the person, Evo Morales. Granted he can say, I was lied to, who can say who is telling the truth? I would come to his word against her word.

Update:

4. The support for his candidacy in 2019 is seriously diminishing. The fact that Conalcam has come out so early with the decision not to have Morales as candidate for 2019 is really something to pay attention to. This points to a significant decrease in the support for Morales' candidacy. Later, it will be very difficult for him to want to change his mind.

As I said it earlier, this post is bound to be continued...

Update:

March 1

For those of you who are really interested and can read Spanish, in this link you will find a detailed chronology of the Evo-Gabriela case. As usual, thanks to our friends from Pagina Siete.

Sources:
http://www.paginasiete.bo/opinion/editorial/2016/2/6/investigacion-certificada-85822.html
http://www.la-razon.com/nacional/investigacion-Fondo-Indigena-llega-beneficiarios_0_2220377950.html
http://www.paginasiete.bo/decision2016/2016/2/21/cuatro-temas-marcaron-campana-peleada-87442.html
http://www.erbol.com.bo/noticia/politica/05022016/morales_reconoce_que_tuvo_un_hijo_con_gabriela_zapata_pero_fallecio
http://www.erbol.com.bo/noticia/politica/01032016/dirigentes_del_conalcam_dicen_que_se_respeta_referendo_y_evo_no_va_el_2019#st_refDomain=www.facebook.com&st_refQuery=


The Referendum on Re-election of February 21, 2016

MABB ©

Bolivians headed to the ballot boxes once again on February 21, 2016 to vote in a referendum, which asked them to decide whether the government could amend the 2009 Constitution to allow President Morales to run again for President in 2019.

At the core of the matter was the amendment of article 168, which would allow a one time re-election of Evo Morales and his VP for a period 2020 - 2015. His current period should be coming to an end on 2019, however with this amendment it was going to be set to begin on 2020 and last the five years the Constitution allows.

This is the second time Evo Morales tries to amend the constitution to stay in power. The first time, back in April 2013, he was practically backed up by the Supreme Court, which ruled the first time Morales was elected in 2005 did not count towards his number of terms because it happened before the new Plurinational State founded in 2009.

All in all, Morales is in his third presidential period, even though the constitution has only allowed for two consecutive periods. He was first elected in December 2005 and was then re-elected in 2009, when the Plurinational State was created. His last re-election was in 2014.

The results of the February 21 referendum were:

Source: Elections Office (OEP - TSE)


The No option won with 51.29 % of support against a 48.71 % support for the Yes option.

A clear, yet a narrow win.

However, a look at the international and subnational levels reveals a bit more about the vote.

At the international level, according to the electoral office, Bolivians could vote in 33 countries. The yes option won with yet another narrow margin 51.37 % to 48.63 % for the no option. However, the bulk of this support came from Bolivians living in Brasil, Spain and Argentina. These three countries host the largest Bolivian communities from all countries where Bolivians live. Contrasting this picture, the majority of Bolivians living around the world voted for the no option. Especial mention has to be made for all those Bolivians living in Europe and of course, in USA. Coincidence? Your call.

At the subnational level, La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Oruro departments gave their support to the yes option. These departments have been traditional regions of support for Morales and the MAS. The rest of the departments, Pando, Beni, Santa Cruz, Potosi, Chuquisaca, Tarija, supported the no option. A bit surprising here are Potosi and Chuqisaca, which have more or less tended to side with Morales. However, the government has had various problems with civic organizations in these two cities. Potosi, in particular, has felt neglected by the government. In similar manner, the results show support for the no option in all capital cities around the country. In some cities the support even went beyond 60 %.

In my opinion, the results should not be read as a vote against the Morales government. In this case, it is important to differentiate between support for the government and its administration and support for an amendment of the constitution to allow a politician to stay longer in office. It also should not be read as an victory of the political opposition, because it is not. Granted there were some overlapping points during the campaign, such as the opposition to Morales staying in power for longer time, the victory was for Bolivians opposed to the changing of the constitution. Not more and not less.

In addition, the result was a show of Bolivia's democratization process where democracy seems to be on its way to consolidation. More on this on my post here.

Sources:

http://www.paginasiete.bo/nacional/2016/2/28/votantes-capitales-paises-dijeron-morales-88191.html
http://yoparticipo.oep.org.bo/