Presidential Election: Bolivia

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Luis Fernando Camacho: Media Presence and Public Sentiment

Public sentiment towards Luis Fernando Camacho in Bolivia appears to suggest that he is a polarizing figure. Many in Bolivia accuse him of being racist and a Fascist. Meanwhile, others offer unwavering support for his attempts to build a new Bolivia.

Luis Fernando Camacho: Media Presence

Bolivian Media

  • The El Deber newspaper ran an article on 17 December 2019 referring to a proposed to run with Marco Pumari, president of the Potosinist Civic Committee (Comcipo). On 11 December 2019, the newspaper ran an article covering the meeting between Mr. Camacho and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro.
  • The Page Seven newspaper mentioned Mr. Camacho in an article on 17 December 2019 which referred to the proposed joint run with Mr. Pumari. On the same day there was also an article covering the appointment of Mr. Camacho's ex-bodyguard to the telecommunication company Entel, and a former executive of a company owned by Mr. Camacho's family was appointed to direct the tax administration of Bolivia.
  • El Diablo ran an article on 13 December 2019 in which supporters of Evo Morales interrupted an "Inter-American Dialogue" meeting on three occasions. The protesters shouted "No to the blow", Camacho killer," and "Camacho facista."
  • published an article on 15 December 2019 on its website examining the political structure of Mr. Camacho's candidacy. The station also published an article on 14 December 2019, in which the Cortez hotel denied recording meetings at its facilities unless explicitly request by clients. This is in response to an alleged statement from Mr. Camacho to a journalist that it recorded a meeting between him and Mr. Pumari.

International Media

  • Prensa Latina published an article on 18 December 2019, which reported on the filing of charges in Argentinian courts against Mr. Camacho and other politicians by the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights.
  • Telesur published an article on 11 November 2019, in which Mr. Camacho's personal and family ties to the far right discourse was examined. The headline of the article likened Mr. Camacho to the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro.
  • Time Magazine profiled Mr. Camacho on 15 November 2019, when it published an article exploring how Mr. Camacho rose to prominence in Bolivian politics.
  • On 26 November 2019, the Guardian considered if Bolivia is turning into a right-wing dictatorship when the article referenced two incidents in which the military killed indigenous persons protesting the ousting of the former president, Evo Morales, were killed by the military.

Social Media Presence

Public Sentiment


  • In an interview for the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), Bolivian anthropologist Raul Rodriguez Arancibia attributes Mr. Morales creating Mr. Camacho from his denial of the severity of the push back to the possibility of a fourth term from him. Mr. Arancibia noted in the interview that Mr. Camacho's overtures to the indigenous community appear to be working. There is a meme with Mr. Camacho hugging an indigenous woman with a caption inviting the handsome non-indigenous man to discriminate against them.
  • A feminist from Cochabamba expressed the fear that the change in power brought in religious extremists who were anti-woman and racist. Sentiment about Mr. Camacho being a racist is prevalent on account of his activities with the ultra-right -wing Unión Juvenil Cruceñista, that physically assaulted low-income and Indigenous people during the gas conflict in 2003.
  • On Mr. Camacho's Instagram profile one post from a follower has an image of Mr. Camacho on his knees with a bible in front of him on a flag of Bolivia. The post praised Mr. Camacho for uniting Bolivia, but many responses complained about bringing the church and state together. A response to another post praising Mr. Camacho on Instagram called him a fascist and racist. There are 467 posts with Mr. Camacho's name and a hashtag on Instagram.
  • References to Mr. Camacho on Twitter range from persons calling him a Fascist, to a belief that he just wants to be president of Santa Cruz, not Bolivia, to persons thanking him for building a new Bolivia, to those pledging their support for him as president.
  • On Facebook posts range from persons offering their support for the new Bolivia, to those calling Mr. Camacho to account for previous allegations of domestic violence, lying about running for the presidency, and using his relationship with the Civic Committee in Santa Cruz as a political platform.

Research Strategy

To determine the media presence of Mr. Luis Fernando Camacho, the strategy of the research team was to provide a sample of mentions in the media Bolivia, Latin America, and internationally. This is in addition to a review of the subject's social media profiles and engagement statistics for those profiles, where available. This strategy resulted in a search that unearthed sources in the local media, such as El Deber, regional publications, such as Telesur, and international publications such as Time magazine. The strategy also led to information on Mr. Camacho's social media presence on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. To determine public sentiment towards Mr. Camacho, the research team accessed information from the publications mentioned above, such as Al Jazeera and Time magazine and from posts using the hashtag and Mr. Camacho's name.
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General Elections in Bolivia: Characteristics of Voters

Five characteristics of voters in Bolivia that could affect the upcoming general elections include differences between Highland and Lowland voters, the indigenous voters' traditional support of left-leaning policies, the importance of ethnicity in influencing voters, the fact that younger voters are looking for change, and the economy's impact on the way Bolivians vote.

There Are Differences Between Highland and Lowland Voters

  • In Bolivia, while there is a tendency to treat Bolivian voters as homogeneous and all supporting the indigenous party that was recently in power.
  • However, "as the Andean indigenous population constitutes the majority, they possess a high electoral weight and visibility at the political level," but in reality, the population's "voting behavior varies considerably."
  • Indigenous people living in the Highlands tend to vote mostly for left and indigenous parties, as well as "parties that implemented or were promising policies that were popular amongst indigenous voters." This is likely linked to the 1950s, when a left-leaning political group campaigned on pro-Highland indigenous policies.
  • People living in the Lowlands typically vote for "the large mainstream parties with a preference for the center-right." This tendency is linked to the right-leaning Peasant-Military Act, which was the first to involve Lowland people in the political process.

Indigenous Voters Support Left-Leaning Policies

  • Since indigenous voters in Bolivia stand to benefit more from policies such as welfare and multicultural initiatives, they have "strong motives to support parties that implement those policies."
  • For instance, former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, a leftist, had been "praised for his social policies and is popular with many indigenous Bolivians."

Ethnicity is Important

  • Bolivian voters tend to support "party candidates according to their ethnic identity, striving for reaffirmation of this specific identity."
  • As such, candidates emphasize their ethnicity to appeal to their base.
  • Historically, indigenous people have been excluded from political representation in Bolivia, so candidates who represent their ethnicity provide significant motivation for indigenous people to vote for them.
  • The Highland Aymara people are the most prone to voting for candidates based on ethnicity, but it is also a strong trigger for Quechua people as well.
  • Former president Evo Morales, who was in power in Bolivia for 14 years, is ethnically an Aymara, a group that makes up two-thirds of the Bolivian population. This partially explains Morales' popularity in the country.

Young Voters Want Change

  • Most young voters grew up only knowing Evo Morales as president, and as such, they began criticizing him for becoming autocratic.
  • The younger voters in Bolivia are concerned with corruption in the courts and the government, while many older voters would "never vote for anyone else" (in reference to Evo Morales).
  • Younger voters are also concerned about the lack of response to the Amazon wildfires over the past summer and his persecution of "members of previous right-wing governments."

Bolivian Voters Place a High Value on the Economy

  • Evo Morales' victories were "built on a strong economy," and the poorer voters in Bolivia continue to support him as long as the nation's GDP consistently grows, as it is expected to for the near future.
  • Poverty rates have fallen 38% since Morales first took office in 2006, which had earned him loyalty among voters, particularly those who experienced poverty before his presidency.
  • Rising external debt and lower commodity prices in recent years, though, have given rise to unrest, especially among less loyal younger voters.

Research Strategy

The first article was found in Taylor & Francis Online's database of academic articles, but the link redirects to the site's home page. Therefore, the entire text has been copied to a Google document for access.
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General Elections in Bolivia: Leading Candidates

The presidential candidates that have confirmed to be running for office in the March 2020 elections are Carlos Mesa and Chi Hyun Chung. Other likely candidates include Luis Arce Catacora and Andronico Rodriguez. Conversely, the major social media platforms for political conversations in Bolivia are Facebook and Twitter.

Leading Presidential Candidate

  • The former President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has stated that he will play a role in campaigning for the candidate his party chooses in the next general election.
  • According to New York Times, the candidate will likely be Luis Arce Catacora or Andronico Rodriguez.
  • Luis Arce Catacora was the economy minister in President’s Evo Morales’ government.
  • On the other hand, Andronico Rodrigues is a prominent cocoa farm union boss.
  • The candidates that have confirmed to be running for office include Carlos Mesa and Chi Hyun Chung.
  • Carlos Mesa belongs to the Civic Community (CC) while Chi Hyun Chung is affiliated with the Christian Democratic Party (PDC).
  • Carlos Mesa came second after President Morales in the October elections and is likely the popular candidate out of the two.

Major Social Media Platforms

  • The major social media platforms in Bolivia for political conversations are Facebook and Twitter.
  • The most popular page politically on Facebook is Evo Morales Ayma, which has 867,856 fans.
  • Similarly, the most popular page on Twitter is Evo Morales Ayma, which has 957,075 fans.

Research Strategy

After reviewing media publications, such as The New York Times, Buenos Aires Times, Prensa Latina, Library of Congress, and U.S. News, we were unable to determine the leading candidates in the next general election in Bolivia. While the articles we looked at focused on the March 2020 election, they did not present information on the most popular candidate. Furthermore, they did not present any polls with regard to the presidential elections. Instead, the articles only provided the names of the presidential candidates who are likely to be running for office. We attempted to look at the social media pages for the candidates running for office on Twitter and Facebook for insights, however, the comments were in Spanish, therefore, we could not determine the popular or leading candidate. A probable reason why we could not find the information is that the decision to run the elections was made by the interim government barely a month ago. Furthermore, the Movement to Socialism (MAS), which is the former president’s party, has not yet decided on a candidate for the March 2020 elections.
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General Elections in Bolivia: Presidential Candidates

Three candidates, Carlos Mesa, Chi Hyun Chung, and Luis Camacho, have announced their intention to run in the 2020 presidential election in Bolivia. The Movement for Socialism (MaS) party has stated they will have a candidate in the election, but has not stated who the candidate will be.

Carlos Mesa

Chi Hyun Chung

  • Chi Hyun Chung is running for president of Bolivia in 2020 and is backed by the Christian Democratic Party.
  • He also previously ran against Evo Morales in the 2019 election and lost, coming in third with 539,081 votes.
  • Chung is an evangelical pastor and physician and is of South Korean descent.

Luis Comacho

  • Luis Comacho is a conservative candidate running for president in the 2020 presidential election in Bolivia.
  • Mr. Comacho is currently the president of the Santa Cruz, Bolivia civic organization that is known as an economic powerhouse in the country.
  • Luis was played a key part in the deposition of previously ousted president Evo Morales and the resignation of Morales has been credited to Comacho and his followers.
  • He bribed police to mutiny against the government run by Morales, offering higher retirement pay in exchange.

Unknown Mas Party Candidate

  • The Movement for Socialism (MaS) party, whose previous candidate Evo Morales was elected to his fourth term as president in October then was quickly forced to resign, has not named a specific candidate. However, the party has stated they will have a candidate in the 2020 presidential election.
  • The party has said that their candidate will be "young" and will not have previously run for the office.
  • The party convened to begin choosing a candidate for this office on December 7, 2019, but the timeline for identifying a candidate has not been made public.

From Part 01