From Exile, Evo Morales Fights to Maintain Influence in Bolivia

From Exile, Evo Morales Fights to Maintain Influence in Bolivia
A stencil of former President Evo Morales adorns a wall in La Paz, Bolivia, Dec. 6, 2019 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

When towering political figures are suddenly ousted from power, what role will they play in their country’s future? That question is at the heart of what is unfolding in Bolivia some 10 weeks after former President Evo Morales resigned at the “suggestion” of the military amid mass public protests over a disputed presidential election.

Morales, who fled into exile, first to Mexico and then Argentina, still insists he will lead the charge to topple the current, interim government. But he has faced a new and unexpected challenge to his political influence in Bolivia: an increasingly powerful current in his own party, the leftist Movement Toward Socialism—MAS, by its Spanish acronym—that favors a more moderate approach.

From the moment he fled Bolivia, it was clear that Morales had no intention of becoming a passive observer of the country he governed for 14 years. Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, Morales first won the presidency in 2006, as the so-called Pink Tide swept leftist leaders to power across Latin America. Bolstered by strong economic growth, Morales cemented his rule by following a now-familiar playbook—solidifying his hold on national institutions and staying in office past his initial, single term limit, thanks to a rewriting of the constitution in 2009. Then he ran for a third time, claiming his first term didn’t really count toward the new, two-term limit because it was under the old constitution. Finally, he broke a vow not to run for yet another term, even after Bolivians rejected a referendum to amend the constitution again and permit him a fourth term. The ensuing election last October was marred by fraud, according to international observers, which triggered the protests that ended in Morales’ ouster.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review