Second wave of demonstrations rock Bolivia as thousands protest Morales
People gather in San Francisco Plaza to protest Bolivian President Evo Morales in La Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)
TORONTO -- A second wave of protests against Bolivia’s President Evo Morales flooded some of the country’s biggest cities Thursday, as thousands poured into the streets for a “cabildo,” or public demonstration.
Morales, who has been in power for 14 years, is facing a threat to his re-election on Oct. 20 over his perceived inaction on the wildfires that have decimated the Bolivian countryside.
A grassroots movement aided by civil rights groups have been calling for mass protests across the country, and for a “voto castigo” -- a protest vote -- against Morales to oust him from power after many consider his failed 2016 referendum bid turnover illegal and unconstitutional.
Thursday’s cabildo movement occurred in the cities of Cochabamba and La Paz, and attendance was estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, further expanding the movement from a protest on Oct. 4 in Santa Cruz that human rights groups estimate 1 million people took part in.
Jhanisse Daca, founding member of Bolivian human rights and environmental activist group Standing Rivers, documented the cabildos on Twitter, telling CTVNews.ca in an email that the group is “so happy to see so many people mobilized.”
Daca says the movement is centred around renouncing Morale’s recent agricultural legislation aimed at upping production to expand exports to China, which environmental groups say directly contributed to the wildfires, and a call-to-action that Morales’s unprecedented run for a fourth term is in violation of the Bolivian constitution.
“We are focused on two things right now: fighting the fires and holding the government accountable,” Daca said.