By Jelena Kopanja, FI2W contributor
At Pike Pizza, a Bolivian restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, Bolivian patrons enjoy some of their country’s delicacies like salteñas, or the refreshing peach beverage, mocachinchi. These days, the conversation can often turn to why it is important to have the right to vote from abroad for Bolivia’s next president.
Bolivians will go to the polls on December 6 to elect a new president. The incumbent, leftist President Evo Morales currently leads his two more conservative rivals in public opinion polls. For the first time ever, Bolivians living abroad will be able to cast their ballots in the upcoming general election.
For Bolivians living in the United States, Argentina, Brazil and Spain – the four major destinations for Bolivian migrants – the right to vote was cemented in the new constitution passed earlier this year. Rodolfo Henrich Arauz, a representative of the Bolivian National Electoral Court, sees this as a victory after almost two decades of struggle for what he considers a fundamental right.
“The Bolivian people have to participate in political, economic, social and cultural life with the country. We live outside of the country, but we belong to the country, wherever we are,” he said.