"The New Government Of Bolivia Has To Rebuild a State, And That Is Not Achieved By Looking Back"

Exactly one year ago, a campaign began to delegitimize the electoral result of an election that had been called for October 20: as soon as data began to come out that suggested that Evo Morales could have won re-election in the first round, he stood in question the count, even by the European Union. And from there, protests came that led to the burning of the houses of political leaders, the police mutiny, the military coup, the overthrow of President Morales and the inauguration of a senator, Jeanine Áñez, as president of the country at the hands of of an Army command.

“It was a civic police coup,” said the then-ousted vice president, Álvaro García Linera, in an interview with elDiario.es: “It began as a civil coup against the Government, the institutions, and, halfway there, returned police and military “.

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Twelve months later, the MAS (Movement towards Socialism) caresses the return to government after the presidential elections held on Sunday and in which Morales has not been able to run. According to the first scrutinies, the polls and even Áñez himself, Luis Arce, Fought, former Minister of Economy of Morales, has won the elections in the first round.

The spokesman for the Movement for Socialism, Sebastián Michel, former Vice Minister of Communications with Morales and, later, ambassador in Caracas until the November 2019 coup, attends elDiario.es by phone from La Paz to comment on the electoral results. Michel, who some see as a future member of Arce’s cabinet, in whose strategy of the campaign led by Morales he has participated, defends that the new government must “look forward.”

The first results point to a victory in the first round for MAS and Lucho Arce. Did you expect this?

The truth is that you always hope to win with the majority. It seemed uphill, but we said we were working hard and determined to try to win on the first lap, with a 50 plus 1. We worked very hard for it and I think that somehow the goal has been achieved.

After the coup a few months ago, did you fear that there would be a reaction, that there would be an impediment to the MAS being able to return to the government?

I wish it had just been a fear that they won’t let us come back. Directly the fear was that they did not want elections, they did not want to ban only the MAS, they wanted to outlaw democracy. And in that sense, it has been very difficult for us to have elections. Normally, one begins a strategy with a positioning campaign. In this case, the first strategy was to press for elections: sacrifice, negotiate, give in so that the elections could be held at once.

And they were permanently extended with the intention of not going through the polls who knows how long. But, well, after a year we are returning to the country the institutionality and peace.

Will Evo Morales and other members of the cabinet in exile, such as former Vice President Álvaro García Linera, be able to return to Bolivia?

Of course. They have open causes, like the ones we have many. I have never picked up a gun and I have a cause for terrorism. It was extended to me a week ago, almost at the end of the campaign, due to fraud. A fraud that never existed and that today is proven.

We all have to respond when some authority, no matter how pressured or manipulated, has urged this. And the [Morales] it will have to do so, but at this time there is no due process yet.

Of course you will have to come, when you can do so in freedom, to declare, clarify, inform the justice or the instance that is asking you for some information as every public official is obliged to give.

That is an issue that corresponds to justice, and it is due process that determines it.

What role will Morales have in the new government?

I believe that the weight of a historical leader is strong enough to give him another weight.

No one doubts that he has been the founder of a majority as overwhelming as that of the MAS. The vote starts from that, the number of people who support a 14-year process. He has been the president who has governed Bolivia the most, and who has governed it in the best period, in the best economic decade, the governments with the best results in terms of social impulse and closing the poverty gap.

He is a man who will always be a reference, and who has ended up being the victim of a blow, of a slander, of a hoax. He’s a leader who has all the historical seasonings to do it.

Nobody doubts the importance that he will have in our memory, and what he represents for history.

What will they do with those who perpetrated the overthrow a year ago?

We don’t have time for such a thing. If justice sees that it has something to say, it is a matter of justice.

I don’t think it’s good to be wasting time looking back for a government. That has to be answered before the Truth Commission, before the victims … It is a government that has to rebuild a State, get out of the crisis that they have left us. And to get out of this, it is not achieved by looking back, it is achieved by working day by day.

There are many victims with lawsuits, and it will have to be an impartial justice that guarantees due process, which will have to give the exit.

The role of some police officers, the Army, areas in which the Government can make decisions is known.

No one, even a patrol robbery with deaths, can continue in office. But I want you to know that it was not the majority of the institution. Three or four generals have been involved.

It has not been an institutional attitude, nor a thing of all the police. It has been a minority issue, of three or four people.

And how are they going to prevent something like this from happening to them again?

The best way is to always be in tune with society, and knowing that as long as society is committed to the demands, it is society that is going to avoid that. And make it clear that some commanders cannot rule the future of 11 million people.

It is also important to protect ourselves by seeking the support of the international community.

The MAS is a party that knows how to confront, but we have never wanted to use people, we have never wanted a bloodbath. And we also don’t want a country where people feel persecuted.

Lucho Arce has spoken of the Government of unity. Does that mean that ministers from other parties will enter?

No, what it means is that it will not be a hegemonic government, but rather a government that will seek with the rest of the fronts and parties a solution to the great solutions that people need to overcome the crisis and unemployment. It is a government for all sectors.

There is a very broad sector that thinks that another government would be for the rich and multinationals, and who thinks that our government is only for unions and social movements. We are going to govern for the whole country.

What are the priorities?

Get out of the crisis, overcome unemployment and create stability. The first thing to do is that food production can be reactivated by applying policies to stimulate production.

If the field produces again like a year ago, we will have full supply, and there will be a good supply. In parallel, we have to stimulate the demand with resources among the most vulnerable, with a bonus or direct transfer so that they consume a product from the countryside of a Bolivian; or a bread made by a Bolivian; or a Bolivian dinner from a Bolivian local … It’s all part of the plan to reactivate the economy.

Public investment must also be reactivated so that there is more labor and it produces a cascade effect.

Lastly, we have to reduce the fiscal deficit, by means of import substitution and with austerity.

What will your relationship be like with the OAS and other countries in the region that from the beginning aligned themselves with the allegations of electoral fraud a year ago?

Bolivia is demanding and very jealous. It is a nationalist and revolutionary country. We like to have relationships with those who respect our sovereignty, but also with those who are not the same, as in the past we had with Mauricio Macri and Jair Bolsonaro by virtue of a sovereign decision of their countries.

We have that vision with everyone, we are going to maintain such a position.

On the other hand, we do not believe in abusive interventions by those who believe they have the right to intervene in others. And at the same time we think that there are things that cannot be solved by being alone because it is a great challenge that requires multilateralism, such as poverty, equity or the environment.

What relationship will they have with Spain and the EU, which also did not recognize the results of the first round of a year ago?

We have a historically good relationship with Spain. We do not believe that Spain is an enemy, and it can play a prominent role in reconstruction and is an open door to Europe. We have very fluid relationships with people in the government and a tradition of respect. It is a country that we consider a friend.

Is there a risk that the personal and political relationship between Luis Arce and Evo Morales could end up like that of Lenín Moreno and Rafael Correa?

Not in any way. There is mutual respect, Lucho and Evo. A respect between a historical leader, the one who has governed Bolivia the most and has done it best, and another who represents democratic recovery.

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