Bolivians Mobilized to Defend Their Democracy: President Arce

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‘Interests of foreign and domestic actors were at play in the coup d’etat,’ he pointed out.

On Wednesday, President Luis Arce affirmed that the Bolivian people mobilized in defense of democracy during the coup attempt carried out on June 26.

“Bolivia does not want a coup d’etat or a violation of the Constitution. Bolivia is not willing to suffer any dictatorship,” he said in an interview with teleSUR President Patricia Villegas.

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“During quite anguishing and stressful hours, we had to quell a coup d’etat but had the support of the Bolivian people. What happened marked a very high point because it was the people who made the military retreat who intended to seize power,” the Bolivian president emphasized.

“Interests of domestic and foreign actors were at play in the coup d’etat. As often happens in our Latin America, our natural resources are one of the most coveted elements,” he added. Below is a summary of other topics President Arce addressed during his interview with teleSUR.

Patricia Villegas: At what moment did you realize that the military irregular movement was part of a coup d’etat?

President Arce: Initially, in the early hours of the morning, the Minister of Defense informed me that he did not know about the irregular movement of the military. Upon investigating the events, he contacted the Chayapata unit in the department of Oruro. He received no responses. General Zuñiga did not answer his phone calls either.

Subsequently, he informed me that the three force commanders were in an armored vehicle in Murillo Square. It then became clear that the actions were being commanded by Zuñiga.

The operation could have been led by a captain, a lieutenant colonel, or a major. But it was not. All three force commanders were commanding the operation. Fortunately, I had previously ordered the defense minister to make changes in the authorities…

The vice ministers, the vice president, and I decided to go down to confront Zuñiga and ask him, ‘What is happening? What madness is this?’… I took the baton of command that gives me the rank of captain general of the Armed Forces, and we all went down to stop him.

I ordered Zuñiga to leave the place, but he did not comply… I asked the Navy Commander if he was involved in the events and if he agreed with him. Without hesitation, he answered yes. I asked the same question to the Air Force Commander and stayed talking with him. At that moment, Zuñiga and the Navy Commander left the Palace.

#FromTheSouth News Bits | Bolivia: The anticorruption courtroom ordered preventive detention for three armed forces former chiefs, accused of participating in the attempted coup d’etat. The court of Anti-corruption and violence against women was in charge of the procedural act. pic.twitter.com/GndUVmvoiA

— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) July 1, 2024

Patricia Villegas: When did you realize that people had gone to Murillo Square to defend democracy?

President Arce: When we saw that the military had taken the square, I ordered the Social Movements Vice Minister to inform all organizations about what was happening.

Additionally, I personally called Juan Carlos Guarachi from the Bolivian Workers’ Center to inform him about the tense situation. We talked to everyone we could to inform them of what was happening. We believed that the most important thing was to communicate with friendly countries. The Foreign Ministry communicated with all the embassies. The fundamental thing was to ensure that information flowed.

Communication was the key element that allowed the presence of the Bolivian people. It was interesting to see how the Armed Forces tried to get people out of Murillo Square, but citizens remained in the corners. Little by little, the square filled with people.

Bolivians were not willing to lose democracy. With the mandate the citizens gave us in the 2020 elections, we made democracy respected. The people gave us the strength to go out and face Gen. Zuñiga because we knew we were not alone. We knew that the people in the streets would not allow the coup.

#Bolivia | President Luis Arce thanks citizens after coup attempt. pic.twitter.com/Ep2hwQ3rmX

— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) June 27, 2024

Patricia Villegas: In those hours, it seemed that there was a coincidence between you and former President Evo Morales. However, that coincidence seemed to fade later. Is there a possibility that your visions will coincide again?

President Arce: The conversation I had with Evo was very short because I wanted to call as many people as possible. We did not talk about anything else because we have a problem between his vision and the vision that the social organizations, the owners of the political instrument, have.

He is acting as president of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) because the movement’s congress has been postponed since the election that took place in 2016. The MAS statute establishes that the call for a new congress of the movement must be made consensually between the outgoing National Directorate and the founding social organizations.

This has not been possible. On four occasions, social organizations have sent notes to comrade Evo to meet, define a joint call, and hold the congress. The organizations never received even a response. They were simply ignored. When Evo calls them, he does not call them as confederation leaders or organization leaders. He calls social leaders as ordinary citizens without specifying the position they hold.

This has been a reason for discontent. Unfortunately, this problem has not been resolved because there is no willingness to recognize the legitimately elected social organizations to carry out the congress.

Patricio Villegas: Is any agreement possible?

President Arce: The call to the MAS congress has to be agreed upon between Evo and the social organizations… His mandate is being extended because the MAS statute establishes that the movement’s presidency is valid for two years, and the last congress occurred in 2016.

Since then, the social organizations have complained that there has been no progress on this matter, which is a delicate issue.    

#Bolivia | The Bolivian people, together with its president Luis Arce and the minister of the presidency, said NO to the coup d’état. ✊

This historic moment, which has become a symbol of the defense of democracy in Bolivia, shows the courage and unity of the Bolivian people. pic.twitter.com/HFsM9YShZF

— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) June 26, 2024

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