Carlos Mesa: “This time there will be no fraud, but the MAS threatens violence in Bolivia if it does not win or its victory is not recognized”

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The candidate of the Community Citizen Center Alliance seeks to win the presidency in this Sunday’s elections. But it is likely that he will have to face Luis Arce on the ballot.

Carlos Mesa seek revenge. A year after the failed elections in Bolivia that ended up being annulled due to suspicions of fraud and unleashed a deep political crisis, the former center-right president is excited to now arrive at the Government Palace. He is convinced that he is very close to achieving it, although he may not be able to celebrate this Sunday, but will have to wait for a second round, scheduled for November.

“We will try to win in the first round,” says the former president, who ruled Bolivia between 2003 and 2005, in an interview via Zoom with Clarion, in the epilogue of an atypical campaign, marked by the coronavirus pandemic and that in recent weeks was agitated with threats of possible mobilizations that could lead to new scenes of violence, such as those that stained the country with blood a year ago.

The candidate from the Community Citizen Center coalition has said these days that if he becomes president, he will seek to improve relations with Argentina, after a year of tension due to the presence of former president Evo Morales here. “We have problems with Argentina that must be resolved. President Alberto Fernández has made a mistake in his reading of the government of Jeanine Áñez. I hope that this can be corrected,” he said. And he stressed the importance of reestablishing a fluid link.

-The polls mark a narrow difference between you and the MAS candidate. Luis Arce, and it is not clear if there will be a second round … This poses a scenario similar to that of last year, in which Evo Morales was proclaimed the winner and you claimed that the difference was less than 10 points and a ballot had to be disputed.

-It is clear that the election will be defined between our candidacy and that of the Movement for Socialism. Our bet will be until the last minute to win in the first round. And if there is a second round, we will go with all the effort in the world to win the election. We believe that we have possibilities, since at least 60% of the Bolivian population does not want the MAS to return to government. But we have a fundamental difference with the MAS. We believe that the Superior Electoral Tribunal is independent, serious, that it is doing a good job, that it is not subject to the Executive Power, the Legislative Power, or the political parties, which makes a difference from day to night in relation to the Electoral Tribunal. who administered the gigantic electoral fraud carried out by Evo Morales. Last year the Electoral Tribunal was occupied by Masista militants.

-Do you think there could be a violent outcome?

-There is no vocation of violence on the part of the Bolivian people. The voter wants to vote in peace and knows that it is a decisive choice. But there is an incredible, surreal threat posed by the MAS. He says he thinks there is going to be fraud, without any proof. And he anticipates that he is going to mobilize his people to repeat the scene of violence that we had a few weeks ago to define the date of the election, with blockades, and of course the scene of violence that the MAS promoted after Evo Morales fled the country . That is our main concern. Once again, a political party, the MAS, without any democratic vocation, thinks that elections are valid when they win but not when they lose.

-A year ago you were the one who denounced the possibility of fraud before the election …

-Last year what happened was a fraud, and that completely blocked the political scheme. Mr. Morales generated a political crisis that we have to resolve in this election. Now the problem is not the danger of fraud. There will be no fraud. The electoral result may leave three political forces that will have to define what will be the construction of the governance of the country if there is a second round. There is a difference. But one of the protagonists gratuitously and without foundation says that there will be fraud and threatens that if he does not win the election or his triumph is not recognized, he will put the MAS people on the streets. It threatens to hijack democracy again through violence.

-Although he is the candidate chosen by Evo Morales and was a minister in his government for almost his entire term, Luis Arce tried to show some distance with the former president and assures that he will not be a “puppet” if he comes to power. Do you think you will really have a different attitude?

-Arce has advanced that if he does not win, it will be because there was fraud. This does not differentiate him at all from Evo Morales, he is reacting exactly like Evo Morales: ‘I win or I win’. Since he cannot commit fraud because he no longer controls the Executive Branch, he is going to carry out the threat of taking his people out onto the streets. If that happens, we can experience a difficult situation in the immediate days after the election. But we will react with a democratic, passive sense and not respond to provocation.

-What will your priorities be if you come to power?

-We are the only candidate with a vocation for national reconciliation, recognition of the other, a very firm commitment to continue the fight against discrimination and racism. This must be done in dialogue with the base of society. We have spoken with different social, union, and neighborhood organizations that allow us to progressively break this polarization. And through a political alliance that allows us to govern. We will have to manage to build a majority in the Legislative Assembly, democratically confronting the MAS.

-What specific measures do you propose?

-There is an imperative that is the post coronavirus crisis. We have to rebuild the republican sense of the Bolivian nation, the separation of powers, respect for the institutional framework, the guaranteed alternation of power, legal security, the drive for private investment, without destroying the State, without unnecessary privatizations and without unnecessary nationalizations. That the private sector play an important role alongside the State. The economic recovery after this brutal crisis and the gigantic deficit, the fall in GDP, must be resolved with the injection of liquidity into the economy, and this is an urgent priority. And there is another urgency that is health. We are now in a moment of lowering the contagion curve, we have considerably reduced the number of infected and deceased, which has decongested the crisis in hospitals. But we have the possibility of a second wave and we have to be prepared.

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