President Luis Arce crossed the halfway point of his term and gave a speech to the Bolivian people with his balance of the last two and a half years and the perspective of what remains to be done until 2025.
Arce affirmed that Bolivia’s economy is advancing despite the actions “from inside and outside” to make his Government fail.
He highlighted that the country started to make economic transactions with China in yuan to leave behind the dependence on the US dollar.
Former President Evo Morales (2006-2019) expressed his support for the Government of Arce, who was Minister of Economy during Evo’s entire term, except in 2018 when the current President faced a health problem.
Likewise, the current President of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) asked him to coordinate the realization of a social summit in which the next national policies will be determined.
Sputnik spoke with MAS assemblyman for Cochabamba, Sergio de la Zerda, and political analyst Mario Adett Zamora, from Santa Cruz de la Sierra (some 860 kilometers east of La Paz), who shared their views on the road ahead for the Plurinational State.
A MESSAGE OF CALM
The President’s message was broadcasted by the state channel Bolivia TV and through his social networks.
The executive clarified his position regarding the shortage of dollars that put the economic scaffolding built at risk since he was Morales’ minister.
Arce referred to the challenges for the national economy posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, whose most important effects, said the President, “were the rise in oil prices, the increase in food prices and others in most countries, difficulties in the supply chain and the rise in interest rates, especially in the developed countries”.
Despite this, “we have returned to the path of stability and hope, we have regained control of our destiny, and we are moving forward in the reconstruction of our homeland”, he said.
The President acknowledged that “Bolivia, like some countries in the region, faces problems of liquidity of the US dollar”.
But with the recent approval of the Gold Law “and other measures we are taking, we will gradually overcome them”.
In this sense, he highlighted that “several countries, among them Argentina, Brazil, Arab countries and others, are already agreeing with China, the main supplier of manufactured goods in the world, to trade in Chinese yuan rather than in US dollars”.
For Arce, the exchange with yuan represents “an objective recognition of the geopolitical changes we are experiencing and of the new pole that is rising in the world”.
“We are moving forward, despite those who, from outside and from within, try to position the idea of economic crisis, despite those who want to sow uncertainty and generate instability,” he added.
LIGHTS AND SHADOWS
Assemblyman De la Zerda considered positive the Government’s policy to face the Covid-19 pandemic, which had not received adequate attention during the de facto presidency of Jeanine Áñez (2019-2020).
Since Arce took office, “the coronavirus was practically defeated with the arrival of mass vaccines and tests, applied so far free of charge”.
By inoculating more than 15 million vaccine doses, the lethality rate was reduced from 6.2% in the first wave to 0.1% in the sixth wave.
De la Zerda highlighted the economic achievements of the Government, mainly the control of inflation, which is 2.2%.
“It is good for Bolivian families because basic products have not become more expensive, as has happened in other countries”.
In his message, Arce emphasized that inflation during 2022 was 3.1%, “one of the lowest in the world”.
On the other hand, the Assemblyman noted that “public investment has not been improved as it could have been.”
“Our former president Evo left in 2019 a programmed public investment of US$9 billion, which were key in the dynamization of the economy, at a macro and micro level”.
Currently, “this figure does not even reach half. I think that more could be done”, he said.
In agreement with former President Morales, he evaluated that “a National Summit is needed to define the economic progress to be made”.
Based on the proposals of social organizations and other sectors, “consensus and unanimity must be generated, first around our political movement”.
“The international credits the country must contract must have a political consensus, in which the MAS leadership must necessarily participate”.
In the future, the Assemblyman expressed his hope that “our President will consolidate this industrialization policy for the substitution of imports, which is also a continuity of what former President Evo has established”.
Among other appropriate policies, he mentioned the progress in the industrialization of lithium.
In his message, Arce highlighted:
“In 2021, the growth of our economy exceeded 6%. In 2022; it reached 3.5%”.
A VIEW FROM THE EAST
Adett Zamora, a lawyer and political analyst, is based in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s main department in area, population, and economic relevance.
It is also a territory traditionally adverse to MAS governments.
“Mr. President’s half term in office has disappointed the Bolivian people,” the analyst summarized.
He considered this is due “to the fact that Arce maintains the polarization installed in the previous government. This has done and does much damage to Bolivia”.
He evaluated that since the establishment of the “socialist” government model, as the years go by, there has been a disincentive towards the agricultural producer, especially in Santa Cruz, where they want to normalize an economy that is 80% informal”.
According to Adett Zamora:
“In the middle of the fight between Mr. Morales and Arce to see who is the candidate for 2025, there is a feeble opposition and a people that feels abandoned by national, departmental, and municipal authorities”.
The governor of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho, has been imprisoned since the end of 2022 in the maximum security prison of Chonchocoro, in La Paz, for his alleged participation in the 2019 coup d’état, which led Evo Morales to go into exile in Mexico with the assistance of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Adett Zamora pointed towards “the people who manage Santa Cruz because, after almost five months of detention, they have been forgetting about the presence of Mr. Camacho”, who continues to govern from jail, which would not be effective.
“You cannot govern by teletype or Whatsapp or Instagram. One must govern in physical presence in such a large department.”
“It is part of the actions of power groups in Santa Cruz, who do not think about the needs of the people.”
With information from Sputnik
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