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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Bolivian socialists celebrate

by our Latin American affairs correspondent

BOLIVIAN SOCIALISTS are celebrating this week following their victory in the presidential election which has reversed the results of last year’s fascist coup. Evo Morales, the elected president of Bolivia was deposed and driven out of the country by reactionary forces in the pay of US imperialism last November. Now the Bolivian people have swept Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) back into power trouncing the right-wing candidates in a snap election last weekend.

Luis ‘Lucho’ Arce, the MAS candidate who was the Economics Minister in the Morales administration, won over 53 per cent of the popular vote easily beating his nearest rival, Carlos Mesa of the Civic Community who came second with 29.52 per cent while three minor right-wing candidates trailed well-behind with a total of 15 per cent. “We’ve recovered our democracy,” said Morales. “Lucho will be our president.”

Luis Arce received his Master of Science in Economics from the University of Warwick in 1997 and served in the Morales government as minister of economics and public finance between 2006 and 2017. During this period, Bolivia’s average GDP growth amounted to 4.9, outpacing the averages of many Latin American countries. Arce oversaw the nationalisation of Bolivia’s mining, gas and telecommunications industries and helped launch the Bank of the South, a regional development fund for infrastructure and social development projects.

His main right-wing rival, Carlos Mesa, conceded defeat on Monday, telling supporters that a quick count showed a “very convincing and very clear” result. “There is a large gap between the first-placed candidate and us … and, as believers in democracy, it now falls to us … to recognise that there is a winner in this election,” he said

Arce says his government will continue along the road charted by Evo Morales, who led the country from 2006 to 2019. But he ruled out any future role for his old leader in the new administration. Arce said Morales “will not have any role in our government” though the veteran Bolivian socialist, who is still the president of the MAS movement, will doubtless be consulted from time to time once he returns to the country from exile in Argentina.

The president-elect says he will restore relations with Cuba, Venezuela and Iran while stressing that his government will open the door to all countries under the basis of mutual respect and sovereignty – an oblique reference to the United States, whose not so hidden hand lay behind the ousting of Morales. The Trump administration said Morales’s ouster was a “watershed moment for democracy in Latin America”. This week the US State Department merely said that the United States is “ready to work with whomever Bolivians select in a free and fair vote”.

Bolivia’s new leader had blunter words for the Organisation of American States (OAS), a tool of US imperialism that co-authored a report on the 2019 elections that challenged the results and served as a pretext for the fascist coup. This report was later proved to be inaccurate. The OAS also supported the brutish de facto government that took over and plunged the country into an unprecedented economic recession. The “OAS has to make amends for their mistakes” Arce said. “But if it does not, we (the elected government) will work, as well as with other countries, with international organisations that respect us.”

In Havana Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel congratulated Arce and MAS on their stunning victory. “Congratulations to MAS, who recovered at the polls the power the oligarchy usurped from it with the OAS’s collaboration and the imperial guide [of the United States]” he said. “Cuba shares joy for the triumph of Luis Arce. The Bolivarian ideal is reborn”.