After almost a year of an unelected right wing government backed by the US, the people of Bolivia have voted to remove the coup regime.
Exit polls on Monday said the Movement For Socialism (Mas) presidential candidate Luis Arce, the former former minister of economy and public finance, had won the presidency. He won with more than 50 percent of the vote.
There were celebrations on the streets outside Mas headquarters in the capital city of La Paz.
Mas is the party of Evo Morales who became the first indigenous president of the country in 2006.
Last year a right wing coup backed by the police and the army—and supported by the US—ousted Morales and forced him into exile.
Morales won his presidency on the back of mobilisations of mainly indigenous people in the early 2000s.
In power the administration granted more rights to indigenous people and cut poverty. But during his 14 years as president, Morales’ popularity had been decreasing. And many were unhappy with his increasing closeness to agribusiness and energy multinationals
Morales had been wrongly accused of election fraud by the Organisation of American States who demanded another election. He agreed to hold another vote but was still forced out.
In his place, conservative senator Jeanine Anez—who once described indigenous people as “satanic”—took over. She was backed by Trump in the US.
In the almost 12 months of the Anez administration supporters of Mas have faced persecution.
Human Rights Watch claimed earlier this year that a “witch hunt” was being conducted against those who supported the former president.
But mass protests undermined Anez.
In August coup opponents dynamited Andean passes, scattered boulders across highways and dug trenches along rural roads. Sanitation workers in the city of Cochabamba led protests with what were described as “flaming brooms”.
Although coup leaders were able to delay the election, the protests meant they could not avoid it entirely.
And on Sunday protesters defied intimidation and voted in huge numbers for Mas.
But this is far from the end of the struggle.
The right will be seething at the election result and will seek further chances to assault the left.
Last week the coup government celebrated the anniversary of Ernesto Che Guevara’s murder by the Bolivian military and its US backers. Anez declared that the lesson of Guevara’s death “is that communist dictatorship has no place here.”
Yet the Bolivian people are showing that they firmly reject the right wing coup in their country in their continued support for Mas.
But only the mass mobilisation of workers outside parliament can win lasting change.