Referendum to Let Bolivian President Seek a Fourth Term Appears Headed for Defeat

The New York TimesLA PAZ, Bolivia — A referendum that would allow the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, to run for a fourth term looked imperiled on Sunday, as early exit polls predicted that it would fail by a small margin and the president’s rivals declared victory.

Television exit polls showed that a slim majority of voters, in the single digits, had turned down Mr. Morales’s bid to change the Constitution to allow him to run again and possibly serve as president until 2025.

“Today we have buried the project of converting our country into a single party, of converting our country into an authoritarian state,” said Samuel Doria Medina, an opposition legislator. “This is a victory of the people over abuse.”

However, Álvaro García Linares, Mr. Morales’s vice president, said the opposition had declared a premature victory. He said that the polls showed a “technical tie” and that the final result might vary from them.

If the margin holds, it will represent a sharp turn of fortunes for Mr. Morales, perhaps Latin America’s most visible leftist leader and his country’s first indigenous president. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

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