LA PAZ – Luis Arce, the unofficial winner of last weekend’s Bolivian presidential election, told EFE on Tuesday that he plans an inclusive administration with a mission to “govern for everybody.”
While acknowledging ousted president Evo Morales, the founder of the leftist MAS party, as a “mentor,” he stressed his independence from the man he served as economy minister for more than a decade.
The tabulating of votes continues, but Arce’s opponents have already conceded and he is poised to preside over the restoration of the constitutional order after a year of rule by the unelected “interim government” that took power after Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state, was forced out.
Besides the presidency, the MAS won majorities in both houses of Congress.
What style of government do you want to have?
What we are going to do in our government is to include more young people. It’s MAS 2.0, it’s MAS renewed. A MAS with changes that need to be made. We need to continue some good things we have done, but of course, we need to change other things.
In one of your first (campaign) speeches you spoke of reorienting the “process of change.” What does that mean?
We need to have much more communication with the social organizations. We need to have periodic and permanent meetings. To give room to sectors that in the past did not have access to the instrument, such as the professionals, the youth. And still better, to unite professionalism and youth.
After the results of this election, do people inside MAS continue to think that Evo Morales is irreplaceable?
I believe that it’s necessary to differentiate. First, the leadership of the ex-president, because we will always recognize him as the historical leader, the mentor of this process of change that Bolivia lives since 2006. But this issue of the elections is another thing. I think that the elections have been won based on the social organizations, the MAS membership and the Bolivian people who wanted a transformation.
The question asked repeatedly is if Evo Morales will govern behind Luis Arce. What do you say about that?
That has been invented by the parties of the right to take votes from us, to try to capitalize on some people who don’t like partner Evo, whether out of hate, out of racism or whatever it may be. We are going to govern. It will be my government and in my government we will move the country forward.
How will you bring reconciliation among Bolivians and how will you demonstrate that MAS was not connected to alleged acts of violence?
With objectivity, simply with objectivity. When has MAS entered the government with violence? Never. We have come in through the vote, through elections, through democracy. Those who come in violently, those who gun down the Bolivian people are the right, the parties of the right.
How will you work toward reconciliation?
What we have done since the first day: we are going to govern for everybody. Our government will be for all. We are not the violent ones. Even so, we understand that (our opponents) are Bolivians and that there has been enough of fighting over strictly personal and group matters. We will have all the bridges necessary for them to see that the possibility exists for all of us to govern together.
Who has called to congratulate you?
I have received calls from everywhere. We have been called by President Alberto Fernandez (of Argentina) President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico, President (Daniel) Ortega (of Nicaragua), President (Sebastian) Piñera (of Chile), the president of Paraguay (Mario Abdo Benitez), various presidents.
Is it necessary to reorient foreign policy? What will happen with Cuba, Venezuela, Iran?
We will re-establish all of the relationships. This government has acted very ideologically, depriving the Bolivian people of access to Chinese medicine, to Russian medicine, to China’s advances. For a purely ideological question, they have exposed the population in an unnecessary and prejudicial way. We will open the door to every country. The only requirement is that they respect us and respect our sovereignty, nothing more. All countries, no matter the size, that want a relationship with Bolivia, the only requirement is that they respect us as equals. If that’s how it is, we have no problem.
Will you restore ambassadorial relations with Mexico and Spain?
Of course, they must be re-established. We must re-establish will all the countries that want (relations) with us. I have also spoken with the prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez. He told me ‘we want to work together,’ we don’t have any problem. It would be a good signal to re-establish ambassadors, the same with Mexico. What the current government has done with the Mexican ambassador (Maria Teresa Mercado), who has done an excellent job here in Bolivia, seems abusive to me. Moreover, I will ask, if the Mexican government so desires, that we send (to Mexico) the same ambassador who was there before the coup d’état.
What will be your principal economic measures?
We will carry out a plan for industrialization with import substitution. We will have a program of security with food sovereignty, promote domestic tourism, generate our processes of industrializing lithium, the iron ore of Mutun, export electric power, continue with our processes of industrializing gas. And we will continue with our strategic framework of maintaining natural resources in state hands.