Former Bolivian president Evo Morales has held a celebratory event in exile in the Argentinean capital, Buenos Aires, to mark the end of his presidential term.
Morales, now in Argentina, has been in exile since he was forced to resign in November last year under pressure from the Bolivian military and his political opponents over accusations of electoral fraud in what he said was a US-backed coup d’état against his administration.
Speaking before a crowd of thousands of people in a sports stadium in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, the 60-year-old said he won the disputed October election and praised his government policies, such as nationalizing Bolivian industries.
“It has not been an easy path and, it must be said, it has been necessary to make a profound change,” Morales said. “I thank the present listeners in this very important event, the 14-year anniversary of the plurinational state, for accompanying me, for not abandoning me.”
The leftist leader made the remark a day after Bolivia’s Congress formally accepted his resignation and that of his deputy, Alvaro Garcia Linera.
Morales, who had been in power for nearly 14 years, was initially granted asylum in Mexico after his resignation. He vowed not to back down and continue fighting from abroad. Bolivia’s first indigenous president later left Mexico for Argentina, where leftist leader Alberto Fernandez took office in December 2019.
Bolivian prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Morales over allegations of sedition and terrorism, leveled by the government of Jeanine Anez, Bolivia’s right-wing interim president. Morales has denied the charges.
The new Bolivian regime has also threatened to imprison Morales for the rest of his life.
‘We will return to government’
Morales, who is barred from running for president again, also announced during the Wednesday event that his Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) Party would return to power in the upcoming elections.
“I am convinced sisters and brothers, it is a matter of time. We will recover democracy and we will return to the government. We will return to the government not with weapons like the right, not with bullets like fascist racists. We will return on May 3 to the government with the conscience of the people, with the vote of the Bolivian people, pacifying, democratizing,” Morales said.
“Now that they provoked us, now that they provoked me, now that they expelled me and they do not want me to return to Bolivia, I want to tell you here that with more force, with more energy, I will continue doing politics to defeat the Bolivian right, I have no fear.”
Morales on Sunday named his former economy minister, Luis Arce Catacora, as the MAS’s presidential candidate, with former foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, as his running mate in Bolivia’s May 3 elections.
On Wednesday, hundreds of people took to the streets of the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba to show their support for Morales and his party’s candidates in Bolivia’s upcoming general elections.