Bolivian Horizons: An Interview with Pablo Solon

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1916 ... October 24, 2019

Bolivian Horizons: An Interview with Pablo Solon

Bolivians went to the polls on Sunday, October 20, 2019. According to the country’s electoral system, in order to avoid a second round in presidential elections the leading candidate must secure 51 per cent of the vote, or more than 40 per cent of the vote and a lead of 10 per cent over the second place candidate.

With 83.8 per cent of the quick-count votes verified, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s (TSE) website indicated that Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism (MS) was leading with 45.3 per cent, with Carlos Mesa of Citizen Community in second place with 38.2 per cent. It appeared as though there would be a second round. At this point, the TSE inexplicably shut down the live transmission of the quick-count tabulation of ballots after the 83 per cent of votes had been counted. Twenty-two hours later, on Monday evening, the transmission of quick-count results was restarted, with the website now indicating 95.63 per cent of votes counted. The distance between Morales, the... front runner, and Mesa, the runner up, had grown significantly over the intervening period. The difference separating the two candidates was now said to be 10.12 per cent according to the quick-count, and this after Morales had announced that once the rural votes were counted he was sure there would be no need for a run-off.

Oppositional protests contesting the results kicked off Monday evening throughout the country, including the torching of several departmental offices of the electoral tribunal, just as MAS supporters simultaneously took to the streets in celebration. It will be days before the detailed count is finished, but the margin of difference in the detailed account appears to be closer, making a run-off election very likely. It would be held on December 15, 2019.

It is useful in this context to take a step back and to consider what is at stake in these elections. One important perspective on this issue is captured below in the conversation I had with former Morales government official, and now left-oppositionist, Pablo Solón in La Paz, Bolivia on August 29, 2019.

Today, Solón is the director of Fundación Solón, an institution established in 1994 by Pablo’s father, the artist Walter Solón Romero, with the intention of "fomenting creativity and the critical perspective of rebellious spirits." With the passage of time, and the death of Walter in 1999, the artistic foundation became a centre for the interpellation and search for alternatives through art, analysis, and activism with the aim of confronting social and environmental injustices and changing the socio-economic system fundamentally.

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