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  • Bolivia's President Evo Morales accompanied by deputies attends a ceremony that marks the 12th anniversary of the Plurinational state in La Paz.

    Bolivia's President Evo Morales accompanied by deputies attends a ceremony that marks the 12th anniversary of the Plurinational state in La Paz. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 January 2018

Protests and celebrations marked the 12th anniversary of the recognition of Bolivia as a Plurinational state. 

Opposition sectors in the Bolivian cities of Santa Cruz, Sucre, Potosi, Oruro, La Paz and Tarija took to the streets Monday, calling for the elimination of the Penal Code and expressing opposition to President Evo Morales' 2019 presidential run.

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At the same time, Morales addressed the country’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly to give a report on the country's social and economic progress.

The Bolivian Workers' Center, COB, Bolivia's main workers' union, announced a 24-hour strike against the Penal Code and Morales' 2019 presidential bid. The measure is not new. In the past month, the COB, transport unions, Bolivia's health workers and other groups have paralyzed all activities to reject Article 205 of the newly-proposed Code that would sanction professional negligence and medical malpractice.

Morales had announced the elimination of Article 205 on Jan. 9. On Jan. 21, Evo requested the elimination of the totality of the Penal Code so "the right wing will stop conspiring and have no arguments to destabilize the country."  

Opposition protesters remain mobilized to uphold the results of the February 2016 referendum in which 51.3 percent voted against modifying the Bolivian Constitution to allow a Morales candidacy in 2019. The narrow victory by opposition sectors was reversed in November 2017, when the Constitutional Court gave a positive response to a request by the Movement Towards Socialism, MAS, to allow Morales to participate in the 2019 elections.

The Court's response cited Article 23 of the Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right of citizens to vote and be elected.

On the same day of the protests, which coincided with the 12th anniversary of the establishment of Bolivia as a Plurinational state, Morales presented a report on government progress under his administration to the country’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly.

During his address, Morales said that his country’s economic, political and social achievements have made Bolivia one of the fastest-developing and improving economies in South America. A claim backed by international organizations like the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean, known as ECLAC.

Vast sectors of Bolivia's working class — including labor unions, workers' collectives and Indigenous communities — have come out in support of Morales' re-election bid.

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