On 11 March, the departmental leadership of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS-IPSP) in Santa Cruz and Beni made a formal complaint to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to disavow its national leadership, whose president is Evo Morales and vice-president Gerardo García. It was denounced that the last election was held in 2015 and that as the mandate is for two years, it expired seven years ago. They demand respect for 1) The party’s organic statute, art 13: “The national congress of MAS-IPSP will meet every two years, and will be convened publicly, with a maximum term of 90 days and a minimum of 60 days”. 2) Law 1096 on political parties, art.5 Inc. a), art. 7 Inc. e) and f): “Supervise compliance with current regulations and the internal statutes of political organisations in elections, their leadership and candidacies”.

The complaint led to the expulsion of their own deputy Rolando Cuellar from MAS-IPSP on 16 March and the threat to “take away” his political seat. On 18 March, indigenous leader Angélica Ponce was also expelled from the Confederation of Intercultural Women, of which she is president. In addition, Luis Arce was asked to dismiss her from her executive position in the Ministry of the Environment, and the party’s leadership demanded that she be expelled from MAS-IPSP.

The arguments for expulsion are: “defaming” the party elite, fomenting “division” and being “promoters” of the call for elections within MAS-IPSP. In this respect, MP Cuéllar affirmed on PAT’s “No Mentirás” programme that he is not worried about his expulsion and that all he is doing is asking “that the party’s internal democracy be respected”. Angélica Ponce said that she was not worried about her expulsion because it was carried out by a “parallel organisation” created by the party’s elite, with the aim of displacing her. She denounced that they want to subject the rank and file to a “trade union dictatorship” within the party and accused Evo Morales and his “entourage” of being behind her expulsion. He also denounced political harassment: “Arriving from Argentina, Evo told me: “You should be in the kitchen”, instead of thanking us for fighting for his return”. After his expulsion from “Correo del Sur”, he also denounced: “I received death threats” and “two cars came to my house and took photographs”.

1) On 24 March, David Choquehuanca met with the mayoress of El Alto, Eva Copa, at the vice-presidency where they discussed issues of benefit to the city of El Alto. 2) On 25 March, Luis Arce received Rolando Cuéllar, a member of parliament, at the government house to discuss projects to benefit Santa Cruz, where the congressman is from. 3) On the same day, the MAS-IPSP departmental leadership of Santa Cruz held a meeting in the presence of David Choquehuanca and the leader Angélica Ponce, where unity around the presidential binomial was defined. The party’s elite, who expelled Cuéllar and Ponce, ruled out that these actions were an “endorsement” of those expelled, and that they were only aimed at coordinating work projects.

These expulsions represent the second crack in the MAS-IPSP, after the first in 2021 with the expulsion of Eva Copa, former president of the Bolivian Senate, which led to the departure from the party of its indigenous hard core, El Alto. These expulsions unleashed a belligerent confrontation between the warring factions, and further expulsions are not ruled out.

Congressman Rolando Cuéllar and leader Angélica Ponce represent a considerable part of the MAS-IPSP’s “renovating” line, which is basically made up of the grassroots indigenous wing and which advocates the renovation of leaders and the protagonism of youth. They are pitted against the “historic” line or old party structure, better known as “La vieja rosca” (the old thread), made up mainly of the traditional left of white, middle-class intellectuals.

Those expelled are not without political backing, but the most delicate aspect of the situation is the point of no return that led to these expulsions. If the aim was to set a “disciplinary” example to the militants, it had the opposite results, and the criticism even involved Evo Morales. Behind this internal dispute, it is clear that there is a sector within the party that does not agree that Evo Morales should be a candidate again in 2025. There are many reasons for this, mainly the rejection of his “entourage”, whom they blame for the defeat in the 2020 sub-national elections due to the imposition of candidates and the fall in Evo’s image.

Chronology of events: the struggle between the Historics and the Renovators

The historical or old MAS structure:

-Álvaro García Linera former vice-president of Bolivia reappeared in the media and sparked numerous responses from the renovationist wing of the party. Mainly because of his comments to the EFE news agency on 6 March, in which he warned of a “popular fragmentation” for the 2025 elections, one led by Luis Arce and the other by Evo Morales. He also made a separation between “political and state leadership” represented by Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca and “social leadership” represented by Evo Morales, which could manifest itself in separate candidacies. On the other hand, the former vice-president warned that he does not know whether “they will be candidates within MAS-IPSP or not”.

It is noted that the former vice-president does not recognise the “social leadership” of the binomial that won the 2020 election with 55%, thanks to the campaign promise, set out in article 5 of the resolution that the Unity Pact (P.U.) signed on 28 October 2020, not to include the same former vice-president Álvaro García Linera and his former cabinet of ministers in the new government of Luis Arce to avoid making the same mistakes that would have been made. With this resolution, generational “renovation” and the protagonism of the youth would be imposed. On the other hand, it is left aside that the current vice-president David Choquehuanca was the original candidate for president in 2020, elected by a majority of the indigenous base, who ceded his place to Luis Arce in the face of the imposition of the party elite in order to avoid a fracture and to be able to recover democracy.

It is important to note that until 6 March, when Álvaro García Linera gave the interview to EFE, the party elite denied any internal party politics and accused anyone who publicly exposed them and/or criticised them of “working for the right”. With this interview, a change of strategy is evident and discredits those who deny the strong political crisis the party is going through.

-On 17 March, former government minister Carlos Romero said: “Evo is going to play many cards in Bolivian politics (…) he could very well be a candidate for 2025”. According to “Sin Mordaza Digital”, the former minister is considered a “traitor” by social organisations because after the conflicts of 2019, Romero left Evo Morales without security and without internal police intelligence and was the one who minimised the coup mobilisations.

-On 23 March, MAS-IPSP deputy Héctor Arce said to “Detrás de la Mentira” in reference to those expelled: “They are taking the path of betrayal (…) if you look at the conferences they gave, there is resentment. The underlying issue is pegas (political positions) and power. Cuéllar said he should have been first senator, but now he is a substitute deputy (…) Angélica Ponce wanted to be minister of water and environment and now she resents the fact that she couldn’t be (…) Politics is not a way of life to have a salary and live off it”.

-On 20 March, the senator from the Tropic, Leonardo Loza, referred to those expelled and to those calling for the renewal of the party’s leadership: “In the name of renewal they are trying to divide our political instrument, traitors will not pass”. He also responded to Mayor Eva Copa who joined the controversy: “They withdrew from MAS, they have another political party. They are traitors of the people”.


-On 9 March MAS deputy Rolando Cuéllar in an interview for “Sin Mordaza Digital” responded to the former vice-president: “Understand that you have already completed your cycle in politics, your image is already worn out, you have civil and political death in Bolivia, I am asking you to retire and dedicate yourself to forming leaders (…) Your position is obsolete, you have to understand together with your so-called thread that elections were won in 2020 without you, you are a nuisance in Bolivia, today there are new political actors (…). ) The former president is lying, generating a division within the party (…) You are not going to be a candidate again, that is what worries you, you only represent a tiny fraction within the party”. She challenged him to call a rally: “You have no base, no representation, the people will not forgive you for the fact that while social organisations were campaigning in the midst of a pandemic and during a coup government, others cowardly escaped to air-conditioned hotels. They watched what was happening in the country on cable and contributed absolutely nothing”. The deputy affirmed that the presidential binomial managed to reactivate the economy and that at this rate they would be candidates again in 2025.

On 11 March, Rafael Bautista Segales, former director of Geopolitics of Living Well and Foreign Policy of the Vice-Presidency, a man trusted by David Choquehuanca, resigned from his post. Rafael is the brother of the philosopher Juan José Bautista Segales, a disciple of Enrique Dussel, who was awarded the 2015 Libertador Prize for Critical Thought by President Nicolás Maduro. In his resignation letter he stated: “I resign because of the techno-administrative dictatorship”, which would block all his projects. This resignation must be contextualised in a systematic attack on Choquehuanca and his circle.

– On 12 March, Illa Paxi of MAS-IPSP responded to Álvaro García Linera: “The 2019 coup situation marked a before and afterwards in the country (…) The coup moment revealed some truths: 1) A worn-out government, 2) Widespread discontent with the insistence on re-election, 3) Lagging social advances and 4) The abuse of power that were the condiments for the population to initially take an attitude of spectators of the coup (…) The “cardinals” of the palace group preferred to watch over their lives, the “fatherland or death” remained just a phrase (…). ) When the people suffered persecutions, arrests and threats, those high authorities from “forced exile” watched us from the box (…) Far from the events and changes taking place in the streets, one in particular, “the academic” whom nobody accused and persecuted”.

-On 18 March, MAS deputy Rolando Cuéllar told the media outlet Red GigaVisión after his expulsion: “I want to tell the old thread that this deputy is not going to resign because I am a MAS member (…) Dr. Chato Peredo was put in the freezer (political isolation), imagine that they did that to a commander of the Argentine Ernesto “Che” Guevara (…). They questioned many MAS leaders, they overthrew leaders, they expelled leaders (…) I say to you that art. 156 of the MAS-IPSP organic statute can never be above the Political Constitution of the State (C.P.E.), respect the constitution in its art. 156 which speaks of my mandate as a deputy of five years duration. Whether the old thread likes it or not, they are going to have to put up with me until 2025. And article 157 mentions that in order for me to lose my position as a deputy, there must be the causes of death, resignation or revocation of mandate. I invite Álvaro García Linera, Juan Ramón Quintana, Gerardo García: Do you want to take my life away from me? Do they want me to resign? I am not going to do it, don’t be cowards. If you want to recall my seat, you have to call a recall referendum. But then they will have a hard time with our president Luis Arce and vice-president David Choquehuanca, because this is a government elected with 55% of the votes. Do these criminals who escaped now want to take the helm of the national government? We are not going to allow it. We want to tell the obsolete national leadership that their mandate expired in 2017. Is it a crime for the old thread to ask for a national congress to be held? I answer them: “It is not a crime”, we are asking for democracy, that they respect the rank and file, we are tired of the finger-pointing”.

– On 17 March, the Eastern bloc and the MAS-IPSP leadership in Santa Cruz backed Congressman Cuellar and rejected the party’s leadership due to the expiry of his mandate and demanded the nullity of the expulsion for this reason.

-On March 18, MAS-IPSP influencer “Alcón Boliviano” responded to Congressman Héctor Arce: “You are the one who has held various political posts until today (…) that is the explanation why they do not want the new leaders, that is why they dedicate themselves to killing them. They have found a business and a sucker for the state that they don’t want to let go of (…) They want to make us look as if we want to eliminate Evo’s leadership (…) The only thing we want is to get Evo back from you. And to make him rest so that he can return with the forces of the grassroots because he has lost his strength, thanks to you who are the old thread (…) Why do we call you the old thread? Because they have been in the MAS for 15 years. (…) You are at Evo’s side, using him and wearing down his image and killing his leadership while he is still alive (…). They are not trying to take over MAS by saying that they are the founders because it belongs to all the people, nor does it belong to Evo Morales”.

On 21 March, the co-founder of MAS-IPSP, Román Loayza, in an interview with Edwin Urizar, said: “He cannot be so “dictatorial or authoritarian” not to listen to the criticisms of his own militants (…) The expulsion of comrades for criticising the bad actions of the leadership is the straw that breaks the camel’s back (…) This is getting out of control and is evidence of a dictatorship from the Evo Morales era as leader and authority”.

-On 29 March, the anniversary of MAS-IPSP, MP Cuéllar said in “GigaVisión”: “I want to tell Juan Ramón Quintana to retire from politics, he is a hindrance to Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca. We won the national elections without the help of the old thread. While they were in five-star hotels, the social organisations were breaking their backs in the midst of Añez’s political persecution and in the midst of a pandemic”.

On the other hand, although Mayor Eva Copa no longer belongs to MAS-IPSP, on 24 March she expressed her opinion in El Deber: “Evo Morales has been an indigenous leader who we have supported, but I think his cycle is over. He should step aside and make room for the new generations and let Luis Arce carry out his work (…) They are taking revenge by expelling comrades and intimidating”.