Horns honked. Fireworks flared. Foes of President Evo Morales celebrated in the streets on Sunday. The socialist leader resigned after nearly 14 years in power. What’s more—nearly every person in line for the job quit too.
In 2005, Bolivia’s president Carlos Mesa resigned. Bolivians elected Morales to finish that term. He was the first member of the country’s native population to become president. Morales helped cut poverty, pave roads, and send Bolivia’s first satellite into space. For those achievements, he remains popular among many Bolivians. He was reelected in 2009 and 2014.
In October, Morales ran for a fourth term—even though the country had voted to limit presidential terms. A court overturned the vote to allow the incumbent president a place on the ballot once again. Morales barely won. Some accused his government of cheating, and observers found problems with the process. Plus, even Morales’ supporters disliked his unwillingness to leave power.
In the midst of that public grumbling, Morales agreed to step down. His opponents see his overthrow as a triumph of democracy. One said, “We are celebrating that Bolivia is free.”
Bolivia now enters a time of uncertainty. It’s not immediately clear who will succeed Morales—or how that person will be chosen. That’s because the vice president and others in line for the office resigned too.
Some people think the military will move to take over the country. Latin American expert Jennifer Cyr says, “The power vacuum opens up space for the military to potentially step in.”
Morales announced his decision from his home province of Chapare. He says, “I return to my people who never left me. The fight goes on.”
It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. — Proverbs 16:12
(Opponents of Bolivia’s President Evo Morales celebrate after his resignation, in La Paz, Bolivia, Sunday, November 10, 2019. AP Photo/Juan Karita)