LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales announced on Friday that he will give a new generation of his party members the chance to form his Cabinet and is analyzing changes in the leadership of both houses of Congress.
“Some ministers can take a break. Not for doing a bad job, but I feel there are new generations, new talents coming forward and we have to give them a chance,” the president told a press conference in La Paz.
Morales said his next Cabinet will have “new men and women,” changes that are expected for Jan. 22-23 when he completes his 11th straight year as president.
It is usual for ministers on those dates to publish a letter putting their positions at Morales’s bidding, after which he ratifies some and designates others.
Among those being replaced, one or two cases will be related to problems of performance, the president acknowledged.
A number of ministers in Morales’s Cabinet have been there for years, and those with the longest runs are his foreign minister, the Aymara Indian David Choquehuanca, and Economy and Finance Minister Luis Arce, who have held those offices for 11 years.
Morales, who now has 18 ministers, said that several of his team have asked him to get some rest and take a vacation, an attitude he said he understands “perfectly” but does not share.
“Speaking personally, not as a boy or a teenager, neither as a farmer nor a director nor a lawmaker, much less as the president, have I known what it’s like to take a vacation,” the president said.
The president added that “when a person commits himself, 100 percent of the time has to be dedicated to the people, to the nation,” though he left open the possibility that some members of government “could take some time off and return” a little while later.
He also dismissed the possibility that some lawmakers in his party, the Movement to Socialism (MAS), might leave the legislature to occupy a position in the executive branch.
The president also spoke of meetings this week with the senators and lower house lawmakers of his party from the country’s nine provinces and said that each region must elect new leaders before next Monday.
“They must vote province by province to choose who will be the next speakers of the two houses of Congress. That is the democratic way we govern,” the president said with reference to changing the speakers of the Senate and lower house.
The Senate is currently headed by Jose Alberto Gonzalez, while the lower house is presided by Gabriela Montaño.
Morales, who has governed Bolivia since January 2006, is currently in his third term and aspires to a fourth for the 2020-2025 term, though that depends on whether he is legally authorized to run for office in the 2019 elections.