On Sunday, Bolivia’s Luis Arce will be inaugurated as President, capping a turbulent period for the Andean nation and leading the socialists back into power after long-term leftist leader Evo Morales was removed amid angry protests late last year.
Arce, 57, will be sworn in during a ceremony in La Paz, with heads of state from Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Spain in attendance and senior officials from Iran, Chile, and Venezuela’s government’s Nicolas Maduro.
The humble former economy minister, feted as the architect of Bolivia’s rapid growth under Morales, will come into power trying to fix the divisions of a political crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.
Tensions have remained high, especially over changes made by the socialist-controlled Congress to lower the majority needed to pass new laws and Morales’ planned return from exile in Argentina where he has lived since leaving Bolivia last year.
Morales, who led the country for almost 14 years as the first indigenous President, sparked a widespread backlash last year when he ran for an unprecedented fourth term in the face of term limits and a national referendum.
After claiming victory in that election, Morales was eventually forced to resign after angry protests, and the police and military finally dropping their support for him. He fled the country shortly afterward.
Arce, who was handpicked by Morales and is a close ally, has said that the former President will play no role in his government. Morales is expected to cross back into Bolivia on Monday before proceeding to his rural stronghold in Chapare.
As economy minister, Arce promoted nationalizing strategic sectors such as energy and hydrocarbons and pushed domestic production with public investments and subsidies, which helped Bolivia grow at one of the fastest rates in Latin America.