LA PAZ – Gen. Gina Reque Teran was sworn in on Wednesday as head of the Bolivian armed forces general staff, becoming the first woman to hold that post.
President Evo Morales administered the oath to Reque Teran and the new military chief, Gen. Juan Duran Flores, at a ceremony at the Government Palace, as is done every year in December.
In addition, Gen. Luis Ariñez assumed command of the army, Gen. Celier Aparicio was named head of the air force and Vice Adm. Jose Puente was appointed to head the navy.
Morales emphasized that the appointment of Reque Teran is an historic milestone and “fair recognition” of all the women in Bolivia.
Reque Teran, 53, is the daughter of Gen. Luis Antonio Reque Teran, one of the military commanders who in 1967 participated in the campaign against guerrillas led by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who was captured and executed on Oct. 9 in that year in the southeastern Bolivian village of La Higuera.
Morales, who has governed Bolivia since 2006, has declared himself to be an admirer of Guevara.
The president said that during the almost 10 years that he has been in office he has sworn in a like number of top military commands and emphasized that the armed forces have regained the principles of anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism.
He noted that in May 2006 the military prepared an operation to help nationalize Bolivia’s natural gas reserves, which allowed the country to “liberate” itself economically, and he thanked them for their support when in 2008 and 2009 secession-minded opposition groups in the eastern part of the country had to be confronted.