Bolivia President Evo Morales [BBC profile] pardoned 1,800 prisoners on Saturday in a continued attempt to cut down on prison overcrowding [official press release]. Those that Morales pardoned include inmates with sentences of less than five years, one-time offenders, prisoners under the age of 28, single mothers with incarcerated children, prisoners with terminal illnesses as well as people with disabilities. This is the fourth time Morales has issued mass pardons over the course of his presidency. It is estimated that 15,000 individuals remain incarcerated in Bolivia, a third of whom have not yet been sentenced.
In February, Morales acknowledged the outcome of a failed constitutional referendum that would have permitted him to remain in power for a fourth consecutive term. Voting on the referendum took place last Sunday, and following a two-day count of the votes, the nation’s electoral commission ruled the proposal was rejected by a vote of 51-49 percent [Guardian report]. Morales has occupied the presidential office since 2006 and his current term will keep him in office until 2020. Morales labeled the loss a conspiracy in the press and claimed there was a dirty war against his regime in the weeks leading up to the election. Morales is the longest serving president of Bolivia and the first to come from the country’s indigenous majority. According to news reports, a number of voters expressed concern about extending Morales’ time in office [JURIST report] despite the fact that Morales won by a substantial margin in each of the previous three presidential elections.