Bolivia’s MAS aims to restore unity, discipline at party congress

Lauca Ñ, Bolivia, Aug 4 (EFE).- Bolivia’s ruling Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, led by ex-President Evo Morales, is holding a congress on Wednesday aimed at promoting unity and overcoming some recent internal tensions.

The meeting is being held in this tropical lowland town in the central department of Cochabamba, considered that left-wing party’s main bastion of support.

“We’re a single heart and a single force,” said Bolivian ex-Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni, a member of one of the delegations that arrived from different parts of the country.

Huanacuni said Bolivia had recently experienced a “coup” by rightist elements during a 2019 political crisis, when the long-serving Morales lost the support of the army amid protests over alleged election fraud and was forced to seek asylum in Mexico and later Argentina.

MAS lost its grip on power for nearly a year, he recalled, a period in which the opposition tried to reverse the left-wing movement’s “process of change.” MAS reclaimed power when current head of state Luis Arce, who had served as economy and public finance minister under Morales, won the October 2020 presidential election in a landslide.

The delegations taking part in the event represent various popular social organizations linked via a unity pact, which connects rural farmworkers, mining- and oil-sector workers and indigenous peoples aligned with MAS.

The MAS congress, which had to be postponed due to a third Covid-19 wave in Bolivia, will aim to ensure its statutes are in line with the rules of the national elections authority and adopt disciplinary measures to counter the “desertions and betrayals” of some party members.

The events of 2019 and 2020, including Morales’ resignation and the period in which the country was governed by a right-wing interim administration, provoked internal debates within MAS about whether it needed an overhaul.

Former senior party leaders also have come under criticism for fleeing Bolivia or seeking asylum at embassies inside the country.

In different statements to the media, Morales has said that those calling for MAS to be reformed are doing the bidding of the “right” and that what congress participants need to do is come together and reaffirm the party’s orientation as a “political instrument.”

He also has referred to the possibility of imposing sanctions on “undisciplined” MAS members, removing people deemed to be opposition infiltrators and stripping away the legislative seats of those who break party ranks.

Some prominent individuals already have been expelled from the party, including Eva Copa, a former Senate president and the current mayor of the highland city of El Alto; and ex-Sen. Omar Aguilar.

Both have questioned Morales and his inner circle for their conduct during the 2019 crisis and their decision to leave the country at a crucial time.

They also have criticized the former president for his alleged unilateral imposition of candidates in regional and local elections. EFE


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