Bolivians are not crying out for the return of Evo Morales. The former president has been in Argentina since December 12, where he arrived as a refugee after a hasty stopover in Mexico. But despite the victory of the MAS in the last elections, its return will not be immediate. His early departure from power, a product of pressure from the street and the abandonment of the loyalty of the military and police, removed him from the front line of Bolivian politics. On Sunday his political dolphin, Luis Arce, won the presidency, without the name of Morales barely making a sound in the campaign. The debate is now about the best time for the return of the exiled leader.
Evo Morales lives in Buenos Aires in a house in a middle-class neighborhood. He is visited by local leaders linked to the Peronist government and leaders of the huge Bolivian diaspora in Argentina (145,000 were able to vote), who supported him on Sunday with 88% of the votes. On Monday morning, when interim president Jeanine Áñez had already recognized Arce's victory in the first round, Morales spoke with the Argentine press. "Sooner or later we will return to Bolivia, that is not up for debate," he warned, but without giving precise dates. On Tuesday he met with the Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, a political ally who welcomed him. The Argentine said that he would like "to accompany Evo to return to his homeland." "I would love to go with Evo, put him back on his ground," he said, and gave a hint about the date: "Let's see when (Arce's) assumption is."
The common opinion among Bolivian politicians, intellectuals and journalists during the year in which the MAS was not in power was that "if Evo returns to Bolivia, it will be to appear before justice," as the former president and right-wing candidate Jorge Quiroga summarized. The consensus, based on the results of opinion polls, was that the majority of Bolivians rejected Morales. Days before the elections, the former Minister of Government (Interior) and "strong man" of President Añez, Arturo Murillo, even declared that "Morales is not going to return to Bolivia even if the MAS wins" the elections. “He is not going to return to Bolivia. He is afraid of people. He is afraid of the censorship of the people because he has cheated people, because today he has removed his mask on the subject of pedophilia, ”he said, convinced.
Murillo's opinion drew attention, because at the same time that his return was being ruled out, an attempt was made to encourage the vote against MAS by falsely announcing that Morales was on the border with Argentina ready to enter Bolivia.
Arce's resounding victory has silenced these types of statements for a time, but it has not eliminated the hatred that the former president arouses among the part of the population that considers him a "tyrant." Among the MAS electorate, Morales is much less questioned, but he also arouses apprehensions, in particular over the accusations that his rivals have made against his alleged sex life with minors. Víctor Borda, leader of the MAS and former president of the Chamber of Deputies, said that "Evo's cycle is over." Meanwhile, the president of the Senate, Eva Copa, said that her party partner should first cleanse himself of slander and defamation before returning to the country. "This is not the right time" while I have "problems to solve," he said.
Arce's Bolivian campaign office has carefully displayed Morales's name. Although the former president was the head of the campaign and is the historical leader of the MAS, allusions to his figure and his legacy did not attract votes, especially in the cities, so spokesmen tried to avoid them. In his speech on election night, Arce thanked his "campaign manager," but did not explicitly name him.
In an interview with EL PAÍS, Arce said that his former political boss will be welcome, but that he will not have "any participation" in the future government. “He has his role as president of the MAS, which is very important. In this time we have realized that we failed by not strengthening the bodies of the MAS itself. He can contribute in relations with social organizations. And he's also going to be pretty busy trying to resolve the lawsuits he has, ”he said. The vice president-elect, David Choquehuanca, once Morales's “political brother” and now estranged, promised during the campaign that the former president's “environment” will not regain power.