Security forces opened fire on protesters in Sacaba (Cochabamba Department) on Friday, November 15, killing at least five people and wounding several others. Clashes erupted as supporters of former President Evo Morales tried to cross a military checkpoint in the area. In La Paz, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters. The surge in violence came as Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Áñez, said earlier on Friday that Morales, currently in Mexico, would face possible legal charges for election fraud and corruption allegations if he returned to Bolivia.
On Thursday, November 14, Añez reportedly reached an agreement with lawmakers to hold new presidential elections. Opposition politicians and members of former President Evo Morales's Movement for Socialism (MAS) party held a Senate session on Thursday night (local time) to form the deal. A specific date for the vote has not been announced, but under the constitution the interim president has 90 days to hold an election. During a press conference on Thursday Añez said that Morales would not be eligible to run for another term. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also announced that an envoy will be sent to the country "to offer support to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Additional protests, including spontaneous ones, are to be expected daily in other urban centers and across La Paz. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are expected at all demonstrations. An escalation of violence between rival political supporters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
The US Department of State asked family members of government employees to leave Bolivia on November 12 due to the ongoing uncertainty. It also warned American citizens against traveling to Bolivia and said the US government had limited ability to provide emergency services.
Former President Morales resigned on November 10, following weeks of protests organized by opposition political organizations. Tensions have been high in the country since the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Bolivia (TSE) halted its provisionary vote count on October 20 after 83 percent of the ballot was completed. Initial results indicated that President Evo Morales was short of securing the 10-percentage point lead needed to prevent a runoff election. However, on October 21, the TSE updated the count, indicating that President Evo Morales secured 47.08 percent of the vote against his primary rival Carlos Mesa, who received 35.51 percent, preventing a runoff. Political opposition supporters are accusing the TSE of manipulating the vote in favor of Morales.
Individuals are advised to avoid traveling to La Paz until the situation normalizes.
Travelers in La Paz and across Bolivia are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all demonstrations due to the risk of violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business in demonstration- and strike-affected areas, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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