The protests against the election of President Evo Morales in Bolivia are getting more violent as the opposition, claiming the election was stolen, stages mass protests throughout the country.
Clashes between pro-and anti-Morales demonstrators have turned deadly. A pro-Morales protester in the city of Cochabamba was killed during a clash with the opposition. Twenty-year-old Limbert Guzman became the third person killed during the violence.
In the small town of Vinto, a pro-Morales mayor was seized during a protest at city hall, dragged through the streets, and had her hair cut by demonstrators.
Meanwhile, in the town of Vinto, located about 210 miles from Cochabamba, the mayor of the governing Mas party was attacked by protesters after rumors that two members of the opposition had been killed by supporters of Morales, according to the BBC.
Vinto Mayor Patricia Arce Guzman was confronted at the town hall by protesters, who then dragged her out barefoot through the streets of the town as windows at the city building were broken and her office was set on fire.
Guzman was then forced to kneel down as demonstrators cut her hair, doused her in red paint, and forced her to sign a resignation letter all while yelling “murderess, murderess,” according to the BBC.
The violence stems from a hotly contested election that Morales won with 47 percent of the vote. But it was enough to avoid a runoff with the opposition candidate Carlos Mesa. What has riled the opposition was a 24-hour delay in the counting that the EU and the Organization of American States, independent monitors, expressed their grave concerns about after vote totals for Morales shot through the roof when the counting resumed.
Michael G. Kozak, acting assistant secretary at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, took to Twitter to accuse the electoral tribunal of attempting “to subvert Bolivia’s democracy by delaying the vote count.”
But a more formal preliminary official account showed Morales well short of the votes needed to win outright.
Tensions rose when officials abruptly stopped releasing results from the official quick count of votes hours after the polls closed Sunday. The last numbers released before Monday night had showed Morales topping the eight other candidates, but also falling several percentage points short of the percentage needed to avoid the first runoff in his nearly 14 years in power.
But Morales claimed an outright victory anyway, before the vote counting resumed. When it did, Morales’s prediction fell a little short. With 95 percent of the vote counted, Morales was 0.7 percent shy of an outright win.
The international community demanded an audit of the results.
“The OAS Mission expresses its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results revealed after the closing of the polls,” it added following the updated quick count..
The foreign ministries of Argentina, Brazil and Colombia also expressed concerns about the situation.
Meanwhile, Bolivia’s interior minister, Carlos Romero, accused the opposition of trying to create turmoil and warned that “they have to take care of the violence they’re generating.”
Morales has promised to abide by the results of an audit. But a lot of mischief can be generated by an election commission under government control in 24 hours. The vote has been hopelessly compromised and Morales should realize it.
The best outcome for Mesa would be an audit that forces the scheduling of another election. But Morales is not likely to risk it, and in true leftist fashion, will probably blame international observers for trying to thwart the will of the Bolivian people.
He is not likely to go quietly.