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The difficult coexistence of the new president of Bolivia with an Evo in the shade

A poster with the image of the former president of Bolivia Evo Morales and the newly elected, Luis Arce, behind a woman in the province of Chimoré, Cochabamba.FERNANDO CARTAGENA / AFP

Few after the return of former President Evo Morales to Bolivia earlier this month after a year in exile, to which he was pushed by pressure from the military, the division of labor between the head of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) and the new President of the country, Luis Arce, has been defined. But coexistence will not be easy. The dolphin, who won with great advantage the elections of October 18 that ended the interim government of Jeanine Áñez, will be in charge of managing the resources and personnel of the State, while Morales will “guide” the parliamentary brigade of the party he founded, which has an absolute majority in both Houses of the Legislative Assembly, according to MAS sources. He will continue as the party’s “campaign manager” with a view to the municipal elections in March 2021. The two leaders will have different but related functions, which in itself is fertile ground for future clashes. The first frictions have already occurred.

President Arce, for example, did not mention Evo Morales in his inauguration speech on November 8, giving rise to internal speculation of all kinds. Nor did he attend days later the huge rally at the Chimoré airport that celebrated the return of the ex-president to that place, located in the coca-growing area of ​​the country, a year after a plane took him out of there heading into exile.

In public, Morales put on cold cloths and justified the president’s absence. However, at the same time he revealed what matters he was talking to him about: “This morning I spoke with Lucho [Luis Arce]At one o’clock in the morning he called me … I hope he can arrive, but he is in the process of organizing the State. This morning we talked again, internally we made]debates, so as not to make mistakes in the appointment of authorities, “he said, insinuating that he participated in a dynamic, that of” appointments “, which defines the amount of power that one has.

But how far are these gestures? A MAS source who does not want to be identified says that Morales insisted to Arce not to dismiss the collaborators of his three governments from high positions, contrary to what the president and vice president, David Choquehuanca, promised in the campaign. This veto seems to Morales an implicit censorship of his management, and also of his policy of constant re-election of a layer of leftist leaders, including himself. To support it, one of its former ministers, Carlos Romero, declared: “The binomial has won the presidency and vice-presidency of the State on their own merit, but the political-strategic direction of the process is Evo Morales.

Arce, who in the campaign assured that Morales would not participate in his government, has appointed a team of young ministers with a technical profile within the MAS. The Cabinet reflects its own character as a member of the popular middle class with a university education that supports the leftist party. Another internal source assured EL PAÍS that the only minister chosen by Arce to ingratiate himself with Evo Morales was Defense, Edmundo Novillo, a member of the “old guard” of the formation. Novillo did not previously form part of the Executive, so Arce, by naming him, did not break his electoral promise. He will be in charge of the delicate mission of rebuilding relations with the Armed Forces, which played a decisive role in the overthrow of the MAS in 2019.

“Take care of Lucho”

It is not known what reaction the indigenous leader had to the decision to form a Cabinet “without repetitions,” with the exception of Novillo. Most of the ministers are close to the president, but at the same time they are evistas of the new generations. As the appointments made so far have caused annoyance in the social organizations that make up the MAS, whose mobilization explains a large part of the electoral victories of this party, Morales expressly asked them to support and “take care of Lucho.” For his part, Arce said through social networks that he applauded the welcome meeting held in Chimoré. “From the Big House of the People [la oficina presidencial] We accompany this emotional meeting by working together to rebuild Bolivia ”, he wrote.

The sources consulted believe that the main tension will be between Morales and Choquehuanca, who is also indigenous, who has had friction with the head of his party in the past and who in his speech in the oath seemed to criticize him – “Power must circulate the same than blood, “he asserted. Choquehuanca’s followers have not achieved many positions in the Cabinet, but they already appear in the positions immediately below. Both leaders are from the Aymara people, but Morales is considered to be stronger in the Quechua area.

Morales has hardly ever been able to avoid making public confidences. He has pointed his finger at the president of the Electoral Tribunal, Salvador Romero, for allegedly having “hidden” the election results of October 18 until late at night, and has said that he hopes to “free” all leaders and militants of the MAS sued by Áñez, which generated criticism from the opposition. Arce already said before taking office that Morales “is not going to change.” “And we don’t want it to change, either. It’s just going to be like that ”, he added.