By Joe Montero
As Bolivia heads towards a presidential election in October, the building of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), which is the party of incumbent president Evo Morales, was violently attacked and set on fire last Thursday (Peru time). About 30 people were injured by the attackers.
The following Twitter clip show tha violent attack on the MAS office and persons by members of 21F.
La violencia de la derecha boliviana en imágenes: ataque a local del partido de Evo Morales, a centro de salud gratuita, linchamiento a un simpatizante de Evo, destrozos. Igual que en Venezuela, y dicen que Evo no es democrático y ellos sí. Vean. #14Sep #ProteccionSocialParaTodos pic.twitter.com/hFa1CMCDal
— Marco Teruggi (@Marco_Teruggi) September 14, 2019
This attack was organised by the opposition. It calls that calls itself the 21F movement.\, taking for its name the 21February 2017 referendum on changing the constitution to allow the president to stand for a fourth term.
There was a very slim no majority. But there have been accusations of irregularities on both sides. Whatever the case is, the nation’s Supreme court ruled that the law can be changed. The opposition does not accept this.
Morales came out and called the attack “racist and fascist.”
“this is a conspiracy against democracy and, above all, a conspiracy against the defenders of democracy that are social movements,” he added, during a speech at the inauguration of the central building of Ende Transmission in Cochabamba.
Unlikely to succeed in the presidential election, the opposition is driven to used other than electoral tactics in its campaign.
A major poll published in in pro-opposition media July showed support for Morales to be at 37 percent. The closest rival, and leader of the rightist Citizens Community, Caros Mesa, is more than 10 points behind. And the poll’s methodology has been criticised for underestimating the rural population, where support for Morales is high. Another factor that under Bolivia’s law, Morales would win in 6 out of the nine departments, giving a clear majority of 55 percent.
In the 13 years of Morales’s presidency the economy has grown by an average of 5 percent per year and the lives of most people improved.
So what is 21F? It calls itself a grass roots social movement (named after the 21 February referendum of 2016). But critics point out that its “civic Committees” are organised and financed by a wealthy elite, with close links to the United States and supported by traditional Democratic and National Unity parties.
Although Mesa is put forward as the candidate of the defunct Revolutionary Left Front, which has been useful for the opposition to create a new image. This is the same man who resigned from a brief presidency rather than accede to a popular uprising that demanded the nationalisation of the gas industry.
An uprising that led to the rise of Evo Morales.
The core of the protest against Morales is within the wealthier neighbourhoods. It is in these localities that most of the activities take place. The movement has links with and support from traditional parties.
There have been revelations of links with Brazil’s military and landowner aligned president Jair Bolsonaro and a key component of 21F calling itself The Bolivian Streets.
Other than getting rid of Morales and the MAS government, the movement’s policy centres on the re-introduction of neoliberal economic policies, which will restore the position and power of the corporations.
Other than this, the opposition is divided, and the attack on the Mas office, as well as being an attempt to disrupt the election campaign, may well have been influenced by factional rivalry within the opposition camp.