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Bolivia’s former interim president, Jeanine Anez, is escorted into a police station Bolivia’s former interim president, Jeanine Anez, is escorted into a police station after giving a statement at the prosecutor’s office, in La Paz, Bolivia, March 13, 2021 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

Arce’s Promise of ‘Unity’ Rings Hollow in Bolivia

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The cautious optimism that greeted the election of Luis Arce as Bolivia’s president has abruptly turned to profound concern. Arce, the socialist technocrat who came to office in the midst of dangerously inflamed political divisions last year, had vowed to “rebuild the country in unity,” including by making the judiciary independent of politics. Yet he just had Bolivia’s previous president, Jeanine Anez, along with more than a dozen former officials, arrested and imprisoned on dubious charges of “terrorism,” “conspiracy” and “sedition” connected to the ouster of her predecessor, Evo Morales.

“We will learn and we will overcome the mistakes we’ve made,” Arce had pledged on the eve of his win last October, following deadly political unrest the year before, when the firebrand Morales was removed from office by the military after a fiercely contested election that Morales’ critics said was rigged. Arce, a former economy minister under Morales, was the candidate of the Movement for Socialism, or MAS, the political vehicle for Morales’ transformative presidency from 2006 to 2019. His promise to heal an impoverished country crippled by partisan and ideological acrimony now rings hollow. ...

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