On Thursday, August 25, under the banner of ‘March in Defense of Democracy and Economic Reconstruction’, over one million Bolivians mobilized in support of the government of President Luis Arce and Vice President David Choquehuanca and its socialist economic policies.
Workers from diverse sectors, peasants, students, and members of various Indigenous organizations and social movements from all nine departments of the country arrived in capital La Paz to ratify their support for the national government of the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party.
The call for the march was given by the Pact of Unity (PU), a national alliance of grassroots organizations, and the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), the country’s trade union center, in the face of attempts by far-right opposition sectors and capitalists to destabilize the national government and the country’s economy.
Recently, the governor of the Santa Cruz department and one of the main opposition leaders, Luis Fernando Camacho, called for national strikes and other protest actions against the MAS government, although protests were only registered in a few cities. He demanded that the Population and Housing Census be carried out in 2023 and not in 2024, as defined by the government in a meeting with the National Council of Autonomies which was attended by eight of the nine governors of the country, except Camacho.
In this regard, President Arce warned that the census was being used to discredit the work of his government, regroup the right, and divide the democratic, cultural, multiethnic and multinational unity of the country to oust him. Nevertheless, he affirmed that the national survey will be carried out in a professional and technical manner and without any political influence in 2024.
Men, women, senior citizens and children who participated in the march vowed that they would not allow another coup in the country, like the one that was carried out in 2019 against former President Evo Morales. The demonstrators condemned Camacho for promoting and provoking a coup d’état against President Arce.
The march began from the neighboring city of El Alto and was led by former president and the current head of MAS party, Evo Morales. In the capital, it joined another march led by President Arce and Vice President Choquehuanca, and concluded at the San Francisco plaza in La Paz.
Bolivia's workers unions and indigenous movements are arriving to the centre of La Paz to express their support for President Luis Arce. pic.twitter.com/S7cSDQNLN0
— Kawsachun News (@KawsachunNews) August 25, 2022
Addressing the multitudes, President Arce expressed his gratitude to the people for their overwhelming support and for joining the march. He ratified his government’s commitment to continue working for the benefit of all Bolivians.
Previously, he stated in a tweet that “this is the unity of the Bolivian people, who today march stronger than ever to tell the right-wing coup plotters that democracy must be respected.”
In another tweet, recalling the 2019 coup and the popular struggle that followed it and continued until the 2020 general elections, Arce said that “the unity and conscience of the Bolivian people, mobilized in the streets and then at the polls, gave us back democracy. Today, it is our historic duty to defend it.”
“Here we are, stronger and more united to continue working for Bolivia. Respect for democracy is what we demand. We say to the oligarchy that never won elections that if they don’t respect the popular vote at the polls, we will make it respect it in the streets,” wrote the head of state in another tweet.
Arce stated that “once again, the maturity and wisdom of the Bolivian people prevail to defend democracy in this historic march. The Bolivian men and women do not want more coups, they want to work and industrialize the country. Thank you Bolivia! The coup-plotters shall not pass!”
A todas y cada una de las hermanas y hermanos que llegaron de toda #Bolivia y protagonizaron la más grande marcha y concentración que se vio en la histórica Plaza Mayor de San Francisco, les agradecemos su esfuerzo, compromiso y respaldo.
¡No sentimos más fortalecidos que nunca! pic.twitter.com/TKQZvd4Zom
— Luis Alberto Arce Catacora (Lucho Arce) (@LuchoXBolivia) August 26, 2022
Meanwhile, Morales stressed that “unity is the triumph of the people and the defeat of the empire. Our task and responsibility is to guarantee the unity of our social organizations in the face of the divisive desires of the internal and external right-wing that, under external guidance, seeks to provoke (people) and destabilize (the government).”
He had earlier said that “defending democracy means defending the people’s vote, the nationalization of natural resources, and other great achievements of our cultural democratic revolution.”
The executive secretary of the COB, Juan Carlos Huarachi, said that “all over the world, capitalism wants to destabilize progressive governments that protect the wealth of nations. Meanwhile, the oligarchies play into the Empire’s game.” Huarachi warned that “the COB will not allow a new coup in the country.”
Last November, social movements and trade unions associated with the government organized a similar massive march to boost President Arce’s morale. Under the banner of ‘March for the Homeland,’ thousands of people undertook a 180-km and seven-day-long journey on foot from the town of Caracollo in the Oruro department to La Paz to express their approval of the Arce government.