Democracy around President Luis Arce faltered.

Democracy around President Luis Arce faltered.

A Bolivian general, the head of the army, positioned his armored vehicles outside the presidential palace in La Paz on Wednesday. The president, who has been in power for four years, has not surrendered, and Bolivia has avoided a major crisis. But that does not bode well for the future.

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Bolivian President Luis Arce on the balcony of the government palace in La Paz, June 26, 2024. (AIZAR RALDES / AFP)

“Democracy has been saved” Luis Arce shouted from the balcony of the presidential palace to a crowd that had come to celebrate the failure of the coup. The Bolivian president also appointed a new commander of the armed forces after the arrest of General Juan José Zuniga, the man who tried to overthrow him on Wednesday, June 26. Another military official, the naval commander, was also arrested on charges of armed uprising and terrorism. The motives of the coup plotters are not entirely clear: the former army commander, now deposed, made it clear that he wanted… “Restructuring democracy”. In fact, rumors have spread since Tuesday about the possible dismissal of this high-ranking officer.

However, Juan José Zúñiga took a position against the possible candidacy of former President Morales, Luis Arce's rival in the same leftist party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS). The next presidential elections in 2025 are expected to see candidates Luis Arce and Evo Morales compete for the party's nomination. The general also confirmed that it was the current president himself, Luis Arce, who asked him to carry out this coup, to increase his popularity, which is impossible to verify.

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To understand, you have to go back five years. In 2019, faced with Evo Morales’s stubborn desire to remain in power, unrest broke out in Bolivia. It lasted several weeks. Former President Morales was forced to resign and leave Bolivia temporarily. Then, opposition senator Jeanine Anez Chavez took over, but she would only hold the reins for a year. Then she would be thrown in prison for sedition, and she is still there.

When new elections are organized in 2020, the left returns to power through the movement towards socialism. But for several months, the party has been divided between supporters of current President Luis Arce, and supporters of Evo Morales, who has already presented himself as a candidate for 2025. In principle, he cannot run for a third term, by his decision. of the Bolivian Constitutional Court.

As for Luis Arce, he has not yet announced his decision but it is very likely that he will run again. Thus, there will be two candidates under the same banner of the Socialist Party. Two men between whom the rivalry continues to grow. If the crisis continues, the right will have an unexpected opportunity to regain the presidency of Bolivia in 2025.

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