The End of an Era? Bolivia’s Evo Morales and the Alternation of Power

June 13, 2017
03:00 pm - 04:30 pm

About the Event

A hallmark of a true democracy is the periodic alternation of executive power. In Bolivia, uncertainty about a possible political transition looms large as the country prepares for presidential elections in 2019. Despite losing a referendum in 2016 that would have permitted a fourth term in office, President Evo Morales remains intent on exerting his vast influence over the country’s judiciary, media, and civil society apparently as a way of legitimizing an alternative means to retain power beyond 2020, when he is scheduled to leave office. Delayed national elections, violence, and increasing social polarization could occur during this process. In his presentation, journalist and political commentator Raul Peñaranda addressed Bolivia’s possible political and economic future and reflected on the rise of Morales’ populist administration. His presentation was followed by comments from former Bolivian Cabinet minister and La Paz Mayor Ronald Maclean-Abaroa.


Raul Peñaranda, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

with comments by

Ronald MacLean-Abaroa, Former Mayor of La Paz 

moderated by

Fabiola Cordova, Associate Director for Latin America and Caribbean Programs, National Endowment for Democracy

About the Speakers

Mr. Raul Peñaranda is a prominent journalist, author, and advocate for freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Bolivia. He currently serves as managing editor at the Bolivian news agency Agencia de Noticias Fides and as columnist of Página Siete, a daily newspaper that he founded in 2010. His most recent book, Control Remoto (Remote Control, 2014), denounces the mechanisms used by the Bolivian government to infringe on democratic liberties and to control and co-opt independent media. In recognition of his journalistic work and his promotion of freedom of expression, Mr. Peñaranda received Columbia University’s Cabot Award in 2015 and the United Nations’ Elizabeth Neuffer Medal (bestowed by former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon) in 2012. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2008. During his fellowship at the NED, Mr. Peñaranda is laying the foundation for a website dedicated to the promotion and protection of freedom of expression, access to information, and democracy in Bolivia.

Ronald MacLean-Abaroa was the first democratically elected mayor of La Paz, Bolivia and was reelected four times between 1985 and 1995. Appointed the youngest minister at age 29, he has held five national cabinet positions including planning, foreign affairs, communications, finance, and sustainable development and environment, under three different Bolivian presidents. He studied at Harvard University, where he now lectures on issues of decentralization, devolution of government powers to local citizens, and anti-corruption strategies.

Twitter: Follow @ThinkDemocracyand use #NEDEvents to join the conversation.