La Paz, Nov 29 (EFE).- A large-scale march headed by President Luis Arce and ex-head of state Evo Morales arrived in Bolivia’s executive and legislative capital on Monday in a show of support for the leftist administration.
Amid a festive atmosphere with music, shouts and cheers, thousands of people walked through La Paz and poured into the emblematic Plaza San Francisco and its surrounding streets.
“They may have pulled off a coup against me, but they won’t do it to Lucho,” Morales told reporters moments before the march entered the city.
The 62-year-old leader of the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS), a left-wing populist and indigenist political party, was head of state from 2006 until being forced to step down in 2019 after losing the support of the army amid protests over alleged election fraud.
Morales, who decried his ouster as a coup, was forced to seek asylum in Mexico and later Argentina but returned to Bolivia late last year after Arce was elected in a landslide.
On Monday, Morales hailed the festive and peaceful nature of the march and added that “we’re united to defend the fatherland.”
The march began last Tuesday in Caracollo, a small town in Oruro Department that often serves as a launching pad for political marches, while its final stretch on Monday ran from the city of El Alto to La Paz.
Arce, Vice President David Choquehuanca and the leaders of the Senate and lower house were on hand to kick off the march on Nov. 23 and then joined it at different points over the past seven days.
“People want tranquility, they want peace, they want democracy and votes cast at the ballot box to be respected. And this is a warning to the right that you don’t play around with the people,” Arce said in El Alto before thanking the marchers for supporting his administration.
A mass meeting of the ruling party is to be held in Plaza San Francisco once all the marchers have arrived.
White flags were hung from light posts in La Paz beginning early Monday in downtown La Paz on the orders of Mayor Ivan Arias, an opposition figure who had urged La Paz residents and marchers to avoid confrontations and not cause damage to buildings and streets.
Last Thursday, Arias took to Twitter to question Morales’ motives.
“Evo Morales is a businessman now. He should be leading a march of tractor-trailers because he’s an exporter. He’s leading a march for I don’t know what for. To talk about federalism? For a Constituent Assembly and reducing President Arce’s term in office? What’s behind the march?”
Morales and MAS organized the march in response to a nine-day strike launched two weeks ago by civic committees and other sectors against a contentious law against money laundering and terrorism financing, which Arce eventually was pressured to repeal.
The ruling party said that strike had been aimed at bringing about a “second coup.” EFE