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Evo Morales Faces an Internal Struggle Within His Party that Could Weaken the Left

The ruling MAS party experiences a power struggle between those loyal to Evo Morales and those calling for renewal within the ruling party .

Evo Morales

Photo: TW-evoespueblo

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Evo Morales enfrenta una lucha interna de su partido que podría debilitar a la izquierda

Bolivia has been experiencing more than a month of localized protests in the Santa Cruz region. The department, which is the center of opposition power and the economic engine of all of Bolivia, completed 31 days of demonstrations on November 21 for the postponement of the Bolivian Census of 2024. In principle, the census was scheduled for November of this year, but, in July 2022, the National Council of Autonomies decided to postpone the start of the count to March 23, 2024, which many citizens saw as a delay that could affect investment in the department.

This critical situation in the political stronghold of the Bolivian right has created a political crisis for President Luis Arce , and indirectly for former President Evo Morales. On the one hand, the opposition in the legislature has insisted that a law be passed that guarantees the new times for the census and thus avoid a new rescheduling of the census by the Government. Likewise, they seek that it also guarantee dates for the delivery of the final data. But Arce and the official deputies defend that the date of March 23 is shielded by a decree.

The Importance of the Bolivian Census

Despite the fact that under normal conditions, censuses tend to be periodic events in all countries, they do not lead to riots like those seen in Santa Cruz. The background of the census that has been postponed for a year and a half in Bolivia has a political and economic overtone.

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Economically, the region of Santa Cruz, the richest in all of Bolivia, fears that, if the census is not updated, there will be an underrepresentation of the people of Santa Cruz when defining the national budget. If there is a larger population than the estimates say, there would be less money per Bolivian in the area.

But it's not just about money. Santa Cruz, traditionally, is the political stronghold of the right in Bolivia. The largest number of opposition votes come from here, and for this reason an underrepresentation of the Santa Cruz population also represents an underrepresentation in congressional seats.

With elections in November 2025 and a census scheduled to start in 2024, time is too short to announce the results of the new count and with this, a redistribution of seats in Congress. It is precisely that today there is also a partisan dispute on the date of the census.

SMA Fracture

The official political party Movimiento Al Socialismo, MAS, is today the strongest political force in Bolivia. However, despite having full control of the legislative and executive, internal fractures are evident. These problems point to the president of the movement and former Bolivian president, Evo Morales, as the cause of the internal struggle.

Several politicians related to Luis Arce have expressed their support for the approval of a Census law. Given this, Evo Morales made explicit his criticism of those groups within the ruling party that do not seem to uphold the position of the head of the party. The former president called on the MAS deputies and senators to respect the authority of Arce, who has already approved the Supreme Decree and sees a new law as unnecessary.

Andrés Flores, head of the MAS bench, sent a clear rejection of Morales' position. Flores told public opinion that "I believe that if this bill is approved it is to provide a solution, especially to the department of Santa Cruz, we would not be taking away our Government (authority), but we would guarantee the Census in 2024," explained the legislator.

An internal division in the MAS could end up dividing the Bolivian left. Without the figure of Evo Morales in the presidency, it was known that internal power struggles would come. However, it was not expected that this dispute would be even with the former president at the head of the party.