Elections in Bolivia: Áñez’s management, marked by conflicts and the pandemic

The interim president promised that hers would be a short government and ended almost a whole year in power, after even an attempt to be a candidate Source: Reuters

The controversy over whether his was a de facto government or complied with all the legal steps for the acephaly case after the resignation of Evo Morales, will surely accompany Jeanine Áñez the rest of his life.

But the truth is that this 53-year-old lawyer and television presenter, who temporarily assumed the presidency of Bolivia on November 12 with the sole objective of calling elections “as soon as possible”, will finally have ruled the country probably for more than a year, in one of the most conflictive periods in Bolivian history.

This year there were three postponements of the date of the elections that were originally going to be on May 3; the coronavirus pandemic exposed the serious shortcomings of the Bolivian health system; Bolivia suffered the worst drop in GDP in 40 years; Government corruption scandals broke out; international conflicts with Argentina and other countries, and There was even a flirtation by Áñez with his candidacy for the elections That, given the general rejection and the low intention to vote according to the polls, he had to discard.

However, she has a positive view of his management. “We have won the war. Everyone has had to fight to get ahead and we will continue fighting because, although the worst is over, this battle is not over yet”, evaluated weeks ago.

Áñez during a government ceremony Source: AFP

But if there is something that Áñez did not achieve, at least in the magnitude with which he was excited last November, was to distort the opinion of more than 30% of Bolivians who, according to pre-election polls, continue to support the majority of the Movement towards Socialism (MAS) of Evo.

“That man may cause the admiration and respect of the lukewarm politicians of Bolivia, but he causes me nothing but deep indignation,” Áñez said last month.

For Bolivian political analysts, the president’s big mistake was to have tried to advance beyond the task that was proposed in November.

“Áñez came to government with a very simple mandate: to pacify the country and call elections. But he was delighted with power and believed that they could manage, produce public policies, generate employment, take over all the State institutions and distribute wealth. And when he began to manage, they began with the usual vices of corruption. And so his image deteriorated very quickly, “commented political scientist Carlos Cordero.

Since he launched his candidacy in January for the elections that were then to be held in the first days of May, Áñez’s popularity has only fallen.

Then came the new coronavirus pandemic that, in addition to exposing the deterioration of the health system, sank the country’s economy. Added to this was a scandal over the purchase of 170 respirators that were paid for at triple their market value and that were not suitable for the tasks in which they were to be used. And Evo’s trips to Mexico and, later, to Argentina confronted Áñez with the governments of both countries, who decided not to recognize his administration..

Despite everything, after the president resigned her candidacy on September 18, the waters calmed down and her own political future began to clear beyond November or December, when the transfer of power takes place.

“I believe that in the departmental elections next April, Áñez will be a candidate for governor for Beni, her place of origin. And she has many chances of being elected. Of course, it all depends on the next government being tolerant of the corruption scandals of these months and not starting with the trials.. There are reasons, “said Cordero.

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