February 24 2016
The smear campaign against Bolivian President Evo Morales has borne fruit as the US funded “No” side in the national referendum has won a narrow victory over the “Yes” of 51.3 percent versus 48.7 percent with 99.5 percent of votes counted, according to reports from Bolivia’s electoral authorities Bolivian President Evo Morales will not run for re-election in 2019 .
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, has adopted policies which have lifted millions out of poverty and has implemented a variety of state-funded social programs which have reduced extreme poverty from 38.2 percent in 2005 to 21.6 percent in 2012.
Over the past nine years, Morales’ macro-economic policies increased state revenue from the country’s natural resources which enabled increased investment in public spending by over 750 percent.
Under the Bolivia Changes, Evo Comes Through initiative, Morales’ government provided small-scale infrastructure projects to many underprivileged communities, allocating over US$1 billion for over 5,000 projects throughout the country including the construction of medical clinics, schools and gymnasiums.
The US neoliberal agenda
However, as is happening throughout Latin America where progressive governments have opposed the neoliberal agenda of the US empire and have developed policies to benefit the poor, destabilization attempts aimed at regime change have become a normal part of daily life.
In Bolivia, the right wing opposition launched a smear campaign against President Morales as part of their strategy to win the “No” vote. Social media users and opposition groups in Bolivia unleashed a coordinated campaign on social media to undermine the Bolivian president leading up to the country’s national referendum. According to the president of the Bolivian parliament, Gabriel Montaño, right-wing opposition groups tried to discredit the president using memes, videos and blogs, as Bolivians consider increasing presidential consecutive term limits to three.
According to Professor of Political Science at the Latin American Social Sciences Institute and at the University of Buenos Aires the U.S. Embassy provided $200,000 for the “No” campaign in Bolivia. He revealed this information via an opinion piece published in Mexican newspaper La Jornada.
Boron also said this is not the first time that the U.S. has intervened financially in Bolivian affairs. Between 2003 and 2014, the National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, spent over US$7.7 million to fund nearly 20 institutions in Bolivia, all of which contained political objectives, said Boron.
The Argentine analyst added that the referendum “will be the Bolivian people against the US empire. That is going to be a struggle.”
Morales’ past victories
Until Sunday’s ballot, Morales had won nationwide elections, including a 2009 rewrite of the constitution, with an average 61.5 percent of the vote.