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EL ESPECTADOR

Bolivia Elections, A Quiet Revolution Bound To Reverberate

The decisive reelection of the left in Bolivia, after Evo Morales was crudely ousted, is a message to all those powers that aim to unseat the popular will.

Votin in El Alto, Bolivia, on Oct. 18
Votin in El Alto, Bolivia, on Oct. 18
Marcelo Caruso Azcárate*

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁ — Bolivia has shown that nations learn a lesson when they lose their rights, and must gamble it all to win them back.

From the first day of last year's "suggested coup" by police and army against socialist President Evo Morales, Bolivia's native communities led the resistance, and paid the price in killings and repression at hands of the extreme right. A few months of zeal in privatizing the economy were in turn enough to convince the urban middle class that they were not living a "lesser evil" after Morales, whose reckless reelections had enraged them. They joined this indigenous mobilization, realizing that all the progress made toward a better life was at risk. But they did it quietly. They kept their voting intentions hidden until the last minute, lest elections be postponed yet again.

Thus the election results on Oct. 18 defied polls, and became the real meter of opinion. Only an avalanche of votes for MAS, the socialist movement that backed Morales, could prevent fraud or a refusal to recognize the results — and this is what happened.

Now, Bolivians must maintain a permanent state of mobilization — like the minga or collective protests of native Colombians who intermittently march on the capital to defend their rights, to prevent further coups, and ensure the parliamentary majority duly takes power.

So-called political cycles are not so clearly defined.

Seldom has an election so swiftly rectified a break with the constitutional order. The results will compound the elections' impact on global geopolitics, and are effectively a defeat for Donald Trump's authoritarian interventions, and those of his regional diplomatic arm, the Organization of American States. These results may now increase support for constitutional changes in Chile, encourage progressive alternatives in Ecuador and herald a complicated future at all levels for the political right in Colombia.

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales on Oct. 19 — Photo: Juan Ignacio Roncoroni/EFE/ZUMA

The election has also shown that so-called political cycles are not so clearly defined. They are determined by the zeitgeist, as the sociologist Erich Fromm might say, which combines subjective and objective elements that are unpredictable, and even not exactly real. Like the spirit of indignation and desire for change that characterize the protests of natives, the black community and peasant organizations currently marching and arousing consciences in Bogotá. Their protest conveys to anyone who cares to listen, the concerns of Latin American youngsters who have grown up in a context of inequality, exclusion, marginalization and violence imposed by the neoliberal, authoritarian version of capitalism.

This is time for neither political hubris nor human cruelty.

It is childish and dangerous to declare, as fascists and their ilk do, that such movements were cooked up by unspecified Chavistas and Bolivarians to discredit the state and its security forces, and take power using street protests. Rather, police and military forces have cause for reflection when they are dragged into policies of indiscriminate repression and attempted coups before having to face charges later on of rights violations and abuse of power.

Progressive elements in Colombia and elsewhere should also reflect, because they are the first to be surprised, and taken to task, by this generation's powers of mobilization and imagination. It is a generation that is angrily putting on the political agenda the right to study and work, our myriad cultural, economic and environmental problems, and its vision of a more inclusive, attentive and sympathetic way of life.

The questions that arise in a period of crisis are bound to find outlets, and will soon demand expansive programs forged from below. It is a message for all, that this is time for neither political hubris nor human cruelty.

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Society

End Of Roe v. Wade: Will It Spark Anti-Abortion Momentum Around The World?

Pro-life activists celebrated the end of the U.S. right to abortion, hoping it will trigger a new debate on a topic that in some places had largely been settled: in favor a woman’s right to choose. But it could also boomerang.

Thousands of people demonstrate against abortion in Madrid

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Shaun Lavelle

The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion put the United States at the forefront of abortion rights in the world.

Other countries would follow suit in the succeeding years, with France legalizing abortion in 1975, Italy in 1978, and Ireland finally joining most of the rest of Europe with a landslide 2018 referendum victory for women’s right to choose. Elsewhere, parts of Asia and Africa have made incremental steps toward legalizing abortion, while a growing number of Latin American countries have joined what has now been a decades-long worldwide shift toward more access to abortion rights.

But now, 49 years later, with last Friday’s landmark overturning of Roe v. Wade, will the U.S. once again prove to be ahead of the curve? Will American cultural and political influence carry across borders on the abortion issue, reversing the momentum of recent years?

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