LA PAZ – Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera told EFE that he has given no thought to the possibility President Evo Morales will step down in 2019 as a part of a maneuver to allow the head of state to seek another term.
Asked during an interview whether he has imagined the moment in 2019 when he might become president following Morales’ resignation, Garcia Linera replied: “I have neither visualized it, nor do I expect it.”
“It has been mentioned as one of the theoretical possibilities to legally, constitutionally enable President Evo to be a candidate (in 2019), and there are four options. His resignation is one of the options. And I treat it simply as another option,” the vice president said.
Besides the resignation gambit, supporters of Bolivia’s first indigenous president have mentioned ideas such as asking the Constitutional Court to make a determination, or holding referendums on proposed constitutional amendments.
In February, Bolivian voters rejected an amendment that would have permitted Morales to run again.
Morales, 59, and Garcia Linera, 54, took office in 2006 and their current terms end in 2020.
Garcia Linera said that unlike some of his predecessors, he has never viewed his role as waiting for something to happen to the president so he can take power.
“The entire history of vice presidents in Bolivia is the story of the cruel wait,” he said.
Garcia Linera said that he had dedicated his life to making it possible for the presidency to be occupied by an indigenous person, not “a mestizo creole” like himself.
Bolivia must have only indigenous presidents for several decades in the interest of “historical redress,” he said.
“I am very thankful because I accomplished my mission, that the indigenous people govern Bolivia,” Garcia Linera said. “What more do I have ahead of me? Nothing! What other objective? None, except that this lasts, that the indigenous people govern for much longer.”
Speculation that Morales would hand over power to Garcia Linera in 2019 has grown since the vice president announced he would not seek another term even if the president ultimately runs again.
But Garcia Linera told EFE that his decision to leave politics in 2020 had been made in 2014, when he concluded that he needed to return to civil society to wage an “ideological struggle” in defense of the process of change begun by Morales.
“I will continue accompanying the president, but from another angle, from another trench on the same field of battle,” the former guerrilla said.
Opponents of the government, pointing to the February referendum, say that continuing attempts to change the rules and allow the president to run again are damaging to democracy.
Garcia Linera said that while he was opposed to holding the referendum in February, just a few months after he and Morales were re-elected, as a “good communist,” he accepted the will of the president’s grassroots supporters.
“In people’s minds, they had already given us five years just months earlier. We had won in October, they had given us five years, and that six months later we are asking them for another five years is a strange line of reasoning. It’s wrong, it’s too much,” he said.
Now, however, the government has three years to convince people of the existence of a legal, legitimate path for Morales to seek a fourth term, the vice president said.