Interim Bolivian President rescinds expensive US visa requirements

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by Ohio_Danimal, Dec 12, 2019.

  1. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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  2. Secret Agent Man

    Secret Agent Man Globe Trotter

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    Thanks for taking the time to bring us up to speed on this. I am Canadian so not affected but these kinds of updates are appreciated.
    #2
  3. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    Daniel, is it for real you think? Has anyone actually tested this yet?
    Related matter is how easy is it to travel in Bolivia now? A month ago we were basically hostages in Sucre waiting for the roads to open up. If it were me, based on what we experienced, I would only truly to enter from the south to go to Uyuni. But maybe things have improved since then, idk.
    #3
  4. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Travel in Bolivia warrants a closer look. The new president was installed through a CIA orchestrated coup. She was only good for 3% of the vote in the last election. The indigenous people are protesting because they voted for the deposed president by an overwhelming majority.

    Protests there often take the form of road blocks. And the politically aware may not be really keen on Americans right now.
    #4
  5. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    Uh - not quite sure about some of that.

    I was there, along with my wife, during and after the election. It was a nine-way election, with really three main candidates; Evo, Carlos Mesa and Óscar Antelo. To avoid a runoff, the winner needs more than half the vote toal, or a 10% lead over his nearest rival. Going into the evening, with over 80% of the votes counted, Evo was clearly headed for a runoff with Mesa. Evo had less than 50% of the vote and only a 7% lead. I went to bed thinking that the runoff result was more or less a done deal - then when I woke in the morning I learned that the elections commission had, without explanation, stopped updating the vote totals later that night. Then, 24 hrs later, they announced the final total and Evo had picked up a 10.6% lead, giving him a victory by 0.6% margin (still less than 50% of the total). This was "fishy" to say the least - there was never a reason given for the blackout in the vote updates, and it seemed unlikely that there were enough uncounted votes before the (never explained) blackout to give him that win. And even in this final suspicious vote count, he did not have "the overwhelming majority of the people" as you said - he had 47.07% of the vote.

    Evo is not widely popular, especially in the cities. His base is in the countryside -and this highly polarized situation is blindingly obvious as you travel around the country. Many Bolivians were very upset with Evo for reneging on his promise in the last election cycle to abide by a referendum on term limits for president - we heard complaints about this all the time. He wanted to run a third term, but the law limited him to two. He put forth a referendum to change that, and said he would abide by the will of the people. The vote did not go his way - the people voted to keep the two-term limit. But he then went to the supreme court, which is stacked with his appointees, and they ruled that limiting him to two terms was a violation of his personal civil rights (a ruling that received world-wide criticism at the time), and with that ruling, he ran for the third term. As we talked to people in La Paz, Sucre and other cities about Evo, this came up time and time again - they were furious that he did this end-run around the term limit. And then with the suspicious vote counting, they felt that if they let him get away with this that their democracy was a farce. We were told Evo liked to say "Bolivia is not Venezuela", to distance himself and his government that of that dictator ruled socialist SA country. This election result was seen as Evo essentially refusing to step down from power, making him a de-facto dictator, and one phrase we saw was (translated) "We are Venezuela after all."

    After the clearly fishy election results, there was a call to have a second election because this one was impossible to redeem and legitimize given the suspicious circumstances in the vote counting. Evo agreed to an audit by the OAS. The OAS auditors found wide spread irregularities and said that there was no way to legitimize that election. Evo agreed to new elections. Meanwhile the protest against Evo were growing and Evo was pressured to resign when he lost the support of the police and military. Mesa asked him to stay until the next election to maintain continuity in the government, but Evo abruptly resigned, as well as many elected officials that were his supporters, including every person in the constitutional line of presidential succession, creating a constitutional crisis as to who would become president until the elections. In this vacuum, with no constitutional guidance give direction, Añez stepped in, as the more or less logical next-in command as vice-president of the senate. I seriously doubt the CIA or any agency could have orchestrated that chaotic and unlikely chain of events that put Añez in the position of interim president.

    If in all of this you see the CIA, I don't know what to say. But I can say that having been there and lived through it, what I saw was a president that had clearly lost the support of the majority (but not an overwhelming majority) of his people, but who despite that wanted to retain power, and seemingly indefinitely. Those who opposed him strongly felt that his ouster was a matter of saving their democracy. We did not talk to a single person in La Paz or Sucre (the two cities we spent the most time in) that supported Evo, or see any signs of support for him there, but driving in the countryside it was clear he is almost worshiped, and the people we talked to at the blockades in the rural areas were as angry as the ones we talked to in the city, but on opposite sides of the equation. The population is very polarized, divided along demographic, socioeconomic and racial lines which puts the country in a very volatile situation, with disturbing parallels to the situation in the USA, but that is a different topic. But in any case, though Evo was no friend to the USA, I do not see how one can call what went down a "coup".

    It is a mess. With Evo not in the upcoming new election, there is a significant segment of the population that effectively has no candidate to vote for that represents their constituency, which is why they are now upset. Ironically if Evo had abided by the term limit and helped to support the election of a chosen successor, things could have been very different. To top it off, in the political vacuum that has been created by these events, a group of evangelical right-wing politicians seem to be taking control, which to me is not a good thing either. It is a sad situation and we pray for the country and it's people.

    We did, as you mentioned, find many (MANY!) roadblocks. Just going from Oruro to Sucre we lost count at around 20. We left Bolivia the first week of November, and things can and will change, but we never once felt that being from the USA caused us problems. We did get very tired of navigating them and when things got worse we were advised to not try and make it through the rural roadblocks. That left us more or less trapped and unable leave - that was very unsettling. We finally made a dash for it on a holiday weekend, and exited to Argentina, and we didn't realize how stressed we really were until the wave of relief hit us when we crossed the border.

    This article has a good summary of the situation, imo.

    http://theconversation.com/bolivia-in-crisis-how-evo-morales-was-forced-out-126859
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  6. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA Supporter

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    And wow that was too long, sorry! Bolivia is a sensitive topic for me given our experience and ordeal there!
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  7. markharf

    markharf Been here awhile

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    That was not "too long." Quite a few of us remain capable of reading several successive paragraphs of well-written, on-topic prose. I appreciate your taking the trouble to post something more substantial than the usual polarized sound-bite.

    Mark
    #7
  8. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    Hi all, Bolivia is one of my favorite countries in SA and it's tough to watch the country go through the pains it's experiencing now. That said, the LA Regional forum is not a political forum, please keep the content limited to the intel on the ground that is helpful to your fellow riders traveling in Bolivia. This is not the place for conspiracy theories and heated political debate. Feel free to use CSM for this content should you want to discuss.

    Feel free to flag/report similar content and I'll address as needed.
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  9. JSey29

    JSey29 n00b

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    I (US Cit) went to the Bolivian Consulate in Puno, Peru yesterday to apply for a visa and it was confirmed: US citizens no longer need a formal visa for Bolivia...just get stamped through at the border. Now, let’s see if I can get my Peruvian moto out of Peru
    #9
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  10. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Please let us know how it goes. Did you buy from Around the block moto?
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  11. JSey29

    JSey29 n00b

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    Will do. I would imagine that border agents have been known to try to enforce old laws in the past... so I’m crossing my fingers and still going with 3 copies of everything (plus chocolate and cookies).

    ATBMA: Sho did!
    #11
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  12. JSey29

    JSey29 n00b

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    Yup...just had to show my passport and was stamped in for 30 days, it can be extended within the country. The French guy I was with was also only given 30 days, but we got 90 days on our TIP so that’s one less hassle. The chocolate was also well received! Now I can offload the 2kg of various copies/paperwork I had readied just in case.

    Bonus: best Christmas present EVER...the Peruvian Aduana gave me 1 year on my exit paper for my Peruvian moto with zero struggle. Drinking wine in Copacabana at the moment. Happy Holidays everyone!!!
    #12
  13. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    What does this mean? I have crossed borders and just exit out,what am I missing here? Thanks
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  14. JSey29

    JSey29 n00b

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    Apparently there is a law that foreigners cannot take Peruvian vehicles out of Peru. Sometimes it is enforced (I was denied at the coastal border between Peru and Ecuador) and sometimes it is not (then I went inland to La Tina/Macará and was waved through with no paperwork) So I was nervous going into this crossing! Should be smooth sailing from here.
    #14