Bolivian President Evo Morales. (Image: Sebastian Baryli, CC BY 2.0)
Andes, Bolivia, Today in Latin America

Bolivia To Hold Referendum on Fourth Term for President

September 28, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Bolivia’s legislature on Saturday voted to allow a referendum which could allow President Evo Morales to run for a fourth term as president in 2019.

The National Assembly voted by a margin of 112 to 41 lawmakers to call for a referendum in February to determine whether Morales can be re-elected following a debate that lasted through the night on Friday and into Saturday afternoon, the Bolivian newspaper El Deber reported.

The outcome of the referendum will determine whether Bolivia’s constitution, which only allows for two consecutive terms, will be amended. Morales’ third term was only possible because of a 2013 court ruling, which noted that his first term predated the amendment of Bolivia’s constitution in 2009.

Morales has served as president since 2006; as the Guardian notes, the duration and stability of his presidency has been a marked departure from the turbulence that marked Bolivia’s politics prior to his ascent. Under Morales, tenure, Bolivia’s economy has tripled in size amid a boom sustained in part by the expansion of natural gas production. While much of the region slips into recession, Bolivia’s economic growth has remained sturdy.

In 2014, he won his third term with more than 60 percent of the vote, although his Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party lost ground in regional and legislative elections in March.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Thousands of people marched in Mexico’s capital Saturday in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from Iguala, with parents of the disappeared demanding the investigation of the case be transferred to an internationally supervised special unit.
  • Three men were each sentenced to 520 years in jail by a Mexico City judge this weekend for their roles in kidnapping and murdering 13 young people from a bar in Mexico City two years ago.
  • Violent crime has increased this year in Mexico City, where homicide rates jumped 21 percent in the first eight months of 2015, generating concern that the capital is no longer a haven from the drug gang violence that plagues the rest of the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Caribbean

  • Cuba’s President Raúl Castro spoke out against the United States’ continued trade embargo of his country during his first address at the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, though he said resumed political relations between the two countries was “major progress.”
  • President Raúl Castro is slated to have an official meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday, just the second time ever the two will meet in person.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama sent Kenneth Merten, the administration’s “Haiti special coordinator,” down to Haiti in the midst of the country’s election crisis, The Huffington Post reports, arguing that U.S. intervention on the island has done little to promote change.

Central America

  • President Juan Hernández announced Sunday that the United Nations will open an office to monitor human rights in Honduras to ensure there are no violations by security forces as they work to crack down on drug gangs.
  • Additional law enforcement presence on a beach in Costa Rica will work to protect sea turtles while they lay their eggs, after hordes of tourists taking selfies disrupted the turtles and caused international outrage earlier this month.

Andes

  • Peruvian prosecutors have re-opened a case against first lady Nadine Heredia, who has been accused of money laundering.
  • Last week’s announcement that a peace deal in Colombia is imminent has been met by optimism from many, but some opposition figures fiercely oppose the deal — like former president and current Senator Álvaro Uribe, who the The Washington Post compared to “a bleacher-seat heckler” waging “a one-man Twitter war.”
  • Ecuador’s Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado issued a statement on Friday announcing that his office will abandon proceedings against the country’s last independent press watchdog, yielding to pressure from Ecuador’s ombudsman.

Southern Cone

  • Ahead of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s speech to to the United Nations on Monday, she announced on Sunday a plan to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, highlighting the rainforest-rich nation’s status as one of just a few developing countries to undertake such an ambitious climate policy.
  • With a presidential election one month away, Argentina faces the decision of a continuation of left-leaning economic policy under front-runner Daniel Scioli or market-friendly reforms under conservative Mauricio Macri, notes BBC correspondent Robert Plummer, who suggests a Scioli win would represent a missed opportunity to attract investment and fight inflation.

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