Bolivian ex-vice says charges against Evo and Añez are ‘completely different’

“These are completely different accusations”, answers Álvaro García Linera, former vice-president of Bolivia (2006-2019), about the case against Evo Morales during the interim management of Jeanine Añez (2019-2020) .

The charges of sedition and terrorism against Evo, which fell with the return to power of her party, the MAS (Movement for Socialism), now weigh on Añez herself, detained in the early hours of Saturday (13), hidden in a box-bed at his house in Trinidad.

García Linera, who is also MAS’s intellectual guide, is in La Paz advising “informally” the new president, Luis Arce, who took over in November.

Officially, however, he says he has moved away from political activities since leaving Bolivia in 2019 with Evo on his way into exile in Mexico and later in Argentina. “My idea is to go back to Argentina when classes are in person again and resume academic activity.

Since arriving in Buenos Aires, García Linera has taught at two local universities. The former leftist guerrilla, mathematician and social scientist spoke with Folha by phone from La Paz.

To the outside world, it is strange that the justice which accused Evo Morales of terrorism reverses the process against him when his party returns to power and now detains Añez for the same reason. How do you explain that? It’s just that they are completely different things. And to equalize them is to try to diminish Bolivian justice. The charges against Morales have never been proven, and it was allegedly “terrorism” because he allegedly incited rebellions from abroad. It has never been proven. Against Añez, the process is different. At this first moment, she is accused of sedition. In other words, it refers to a period before the government takes office, so the process does not have to go through Congress. This is an investigation focused solely on actions in which she forced an illegitimate succession.

According to article 170 of the Constitution, in the absence of the president and the vice-president, they succeed the president of the Senate and of the Chamber. And stop there. Añez was not one of them. Therefore, the question of succession should pass a decision of Congress which, by majority, would choose a new leader. And we know that didn’t happen, because it was proclaimed without the consent of our members of Congress, who were the majority.

The “coup” process, as it is called, also refers to other crimes. Which do you consider the most serious? Undoubtedly the case of the two massacres [Senkata e Sacaba, quando foram assassinados mais de 30 civis]. These actions and other abuses of force that were carried out to keep her in power. However, they are at a later stage, in which their actions will already be considered as president. In this case, the treatment must be approved by Congress. This, technically, can be disputed [a necessidade de passar pelo Congresso], because if it is proven, in the current process, that her coming to power was illegitimate, she could not be considered a legitimate president, so there would be no need for congressional approval to judge her . It could be considered to be outside the scope of the political mandate. But it is a problem which must be solved by justice.

How do you see the region today? We are living in a second wave of progressive governments. It is already a reality. It started in Mexico, with the victory of Andrés Manuel López Obrador [2018], then Alberto Fernández [2019] in Argentina, the return of MAS to Bolivia [2020] and again in the coming weeks it will happen in Ecuador [o favorito ao segundo turno das eleições é Andrés Arauz, apoiado pelo ex-presidente Rafael Correa]. This second wave has particular characteristics. They are marked by more moderate, less charismatic leaders, and shaken by a society that seeks to recover social gains lost in the recent past, with neoliberal governments.

The economic situation has also changed. Yes, in the first wave there was an economic boom due to the “commodity boom”, which we were able to take advantage of. However, the economy, aggravated by the impact of the pandemic, is the great challenge of this second progressive wave.

What about the political scenario? It is also different because, in the first wave, the opposition was formed by neoliberal, but not radical, center-right parties, which did not question democracy. Today, the second progressive wave has to face an extreme right which has no problem in downplaying or disrespecting democracy. The coup d’état in Bolivia is one example. The idea that a government can be forcibly removed is from the far right. Brazil is another example of the strength of this thought that progressivism will have to face with harsher and more daring strategies.

What do you mean by tougher and bolder strategies? Economically, for example, if we cannot afford the surplus good times, we must apply taxes to the big fortunes more systematically and return to the process of nationalizing companies. In other words, it’s not enough to just manage the model we already had. We need to reform it.

This can cause new tensions. Yes, but it is because the rival has changed, and has shown himself not only to be more racist, more social and anti-gender rights, he has also shown himself to be anti-democratic and a force that has come to question the democracy. While on the left democracy is the only resource, on the right it is one of the resources. If it’s not democracy, they can use force.

I imagine they were happy with the possibility of former President Lula being a candidate in the next election. Yes a lot. Very happy at the beginning that this unjust decision, without proof, was the result of political persecution. And more than that, his release and his return to the political game will help advance this second progressive wave.

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Álvaro García Linera, 58 years old

Mathematician and social scientist, Álvaro García Linera was Vice President of Bolivia between 2006 and 2019, under the government of Evo Morales. Lives and teaches in Buenos Aires.

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