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2025 Presidential Candidate Issue Divides Ruling MAS Party of Bolivia


By Satyaki Chakraborty

The bitter personality clash between the present President of Bolivia Luis Arce and the former President of the country Evo Morales has led to the split of the Latin American nation's ruling party Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) posing a big danger to the sustenance of the Left wing government. The developments have got the left wing parties of the continent worried as the vertical split has given a big opportunity to the rightist elements and the US multinational companies to fish in troubled waters.

The main issue is that one of the founders of MAS Evo Morales who was the President of Bolivia for long years till 2019 when he was ousted due to the machinations of the right encouraged by the U.S. Morales is willing to be the Presidential candidate in the coming 2025 elections. But incumbent President Luis Arce is not agreeable. More importantly, Morales expected that he will be functioning as the adviser of the new Arce government in view of his position in MAS and seniority.

Luis Arce after winning as the MAS candidate in 2020 presidential elections governed in his own way without caring for his senior leader. He also openly disagreed to the hints given by his senior MAS leader that the party should nominate him as the next presidential candidate in 2025 elections. As a result, the ruling MAS was split into two factions one led by the current President and the other led by the former president Evo Morales.

Early this month, President Luis Arce held the 19th congress of the ruling party MAS with the participation of the delegates loyal to him. The congress elected Grover Garcia, a senior leader of the farmers union as the new head of MAS replacing Evo Morales. Morales faction also has announced a convention on June 10 in Cochabamba to decide their programme and elect their own leaders. The issue of choosing Morales as the presidential candidate will also come up at this convention.

President Luis Arce secured a 55% majority vote on October 19, 2020 elections to restore the MAS Party to power is also worrisome to Washington officials. His government in October 2022 mobilized popular support to defeat an opposition uprising led by reactionary politicians in Santa Cruz and other eastern departments. The victory elevated Arce's appeal to government officials and MAS activists alike.

The division between the Party's two wings, widening over two years, is highly visible. Highway blockades, strikes, and demonstrations carried out by “radical factions of the MAS movement led by former President Evo Morales” played out between January and March. Rising inflation, reduced gas and oil production, falling currency reserves, and shortages of fuel and food add to MAS's vulnerability.

One goal of the 10th MAS Party Congress was to meet constitutional requirements of orderly party function. Observers were on hand whose reports to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE in Spanish) would allow the Tribunal to certify the “resolutions of the Arcista conclave.” But an adverse ruling now and two more in the future would deprive the MAS Party of its “judicial personhood,” and rule out future election participation.

This development has posed a big problem for both the MAS factions. If TSE gives any adverse ruling now and two more in future, MAS can not participate in presidential elections. This means that the elections will be open to the anti-Left parties and continuous pro-people work by the MAS governments will be of no value. The TSE has already issued an adverse ruling on May 23 nullifying Arce organized convention's decision on electing Garcia as MAS head. Two more such ruling will rule out MAS from electoral participation.

President Luis Arce on May 18 warned that “the right is sharpening up for next year's elections.” He denounced as “economic blockade” the Bolivian Senate's recent refusal to authorize foreign loans. Meeting recently in the United States, extreme right-wing opposition politicians were “unifying against MAS,” he claims. This is shared by Morales also but he at the same time took a dig at his rival Luis Arce by saying that TSE recognition of the Arce organized MAS congress would signify genocide against indigenous movement. Significantly Evo Morales belongs to the indigenous community of Bolivia.

The U.S. intelligence agencies are very active to take advantage of the split. According to an alleged media report, US embassy has prepared a report on destabilization of the Arce government. Both the MAS factions have reacted to that. Rallies are being organized by the MAS factions in support of both Arce and Morales. It seems that both factions understand that this split will only be of advantage to the right and the U.S. companies engaged in mineral resources. There is a growing demand among Bolivian people for restoring unity in MAS.

In fact an encouraging development is that Garcia, the nominated MAS head of Arce group is in favour of unity of two factions taking into account the threat from the right. He has urged Morales to join hands. On the other hand, Morales has said that he wants the June 10 convention of his s supporters as the ‘unity congress'. There is still time for a reconciliation. It is to seen whether the two leaders Arce and Morales stick to their respective egos or offer hands of cooperation in the interests of the Latin American Left. (IPA Service)


The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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