New President and Vice President Address People of Bolivia

November 8, 2020. Inaugural address by President Luis Arce.

TML Weekly is printing for readers' information unofficial English translations of President Luis Arce's inaugural address and the speech of Vice President David Choquehuanca delivered at the Plurinational Legislative Assembly on November 8. Links to videos of the speeches being delivered in Spanish are provided at the end of the text.

Inaugural Speech of Luis Arce,
President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia

Honour and Glory to our ancestors who always accompany us!

Honour and Glory to all the martyrs of the liberation!

Honour and Glory to the fallen in Senkata, Sacaba, El Pedregal!

Honour and Glory to the heroes of the people who recovered democracy!

Greetings to the Bolivian people, to brother Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and President of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, brother, jilata David Choquehuanca.

To the brothers, King Felipe VI of Spain, Felipe de Borbón and Grecia; President of the Republic of Argentina, Alberto Fernández; President of the Republic of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez; President of the Republic of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez; President of the Council of Ministers of Peru, Walter Roger Martos Ruiz; Second Vice President of Spain, Mr. Pablo Iglesias.

To the foreign ministers of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Republic of Chile, Almuhamed Al Jasmi, delegate of His Highness, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, President of the United Arab Emirates.

To the parliamentarians from sister countries, official delegates from other countries who are with us today, General Secretaries of the CAN, Parlasur; the Ibero-American General Secretary; ALBA, Inter-American Development Bank; representatives of international organizations, the diplomatic corps accredited in Bolivia; election observers; the President of the Senate; the President of the Chamber of Deputies; to all the senators and deputies.

National and subnational authorities of the Plurinational State of Bolivia; authorities of the organs of the State; High Military and Police Command; democratic former presidents; religious and spiritual authorities.

Executives of social, peasant, Indigenous and workers' organizations; representatives of political parties, the leadership and members of the Movement Toward Socialism-Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples.

Greetings to the family of our brother, jilata David Choquehuanca, and a very special greeting to my family -- for my mother Olga, my wife, Lourdes, my children: Marcelo, Rafael, Camila.

My grandchildren and my entire family, whom I thank today from this rostrum for all their patience and support.

During the years that I was Minister of Economy and Public Finance, I sacrificed many years with you, to dedicate myself to serving our country, and today I ask you for five more years of patience and tolerance.

The De Facto Government

I greet with much affection all Bolivian women and men who are accompanying us on this historic day for the Bolivian people.

As of November 10, 2019, after 21 days in which the popular will expressed at the polls was hidden and they came up with a winner, Bolivia was the scene of an internal and systematic war against the people, especially against the most humble.

The two tasks that the de facto government gave itself: pacification of the country and an immediate election call were not fulfilled, quite the contrary. Death, fear and discrimination were sown, racism intensified, and the pandemic was used to extend an illegal and illegitimate government.

The persecution and criminalization unleashed by the regime against leaders of the MAS-IPSP and social movements, against humble women and men of the people, resulted in deaths, injuries, imprisonment, persecution, asylum and exile.

Sacaba, Senkata and El Pedregal are irrefutable proof of the brutality of the regime, but they are also a symbol of dignity and resistance alongside men like Carlos Orlando Gutiérrez Luna, a great mining leader who bravely fought for the recovery of democracy and who will always live in the heart of the people.

But, as Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz, that socialist leader assassinated in another coup in 1980, would say, it is not hatred that drives our actions, but a passion for justice.

A New Stage

This November 8, 2020, we begin a new stage in our history, and we want to do so with a government that is of all and for all, without discrimination of any kind.

Our government will seek at all times to rebuild our homeland in unity to live in peace.

On this path, democracy is a fundamental value of the peoples and it is the one that unequivocally expresses the will of the population and is also an organizing axis of our institutionality and of our society.

Democracy is not only the vote to elect authorities at all levels, but also open, fair elections. It is the participation of everyone without the exclusion of anyone, even more so of the social and national cultural majorities. It is the protection of civil and political rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of organization. It is political pluralism.

All these requirements to qualify a system as democratic were mutilated in one year of a de facto government. For months their mouths were filled with democracy for some, while trying to outlaw not only the MAS, but the people as a whole.

Since the recovery of democracy in Bolivia in 1982, which was the product of the Bolivian people's struggle, never until now has there been evidence of a democracy mutilated of its central contents. An immense multinational majority faced the danger of proscription, criminalization and persecution.

Social movements, peasants and Indigenous peoples, and workers were stigmatized. We were called savages, seditious, terrorists. Women in polleras were humiliated, our Wiphala burned, which is like burning ourselves, like burning our roots. From minority sectors of the population, as was evident in the elections last October, they wanted a democracy only for a few.

In fact, these minority sectors raise the flag of democracy only when it suits them, and when not, they resort to destabilization, violence, and coup d'états to seize power.

Unfortunately, some groups want to return to an exclusionary democracy, mutilating our plurinationality, in which those majorities who with the effort of their work make the Bolivia of every day possible, do not participate.

However, despite these adverse conditions, despite the fact that the people's participation was threatened by the violence of the de facto government and paramilitary groups in the October 18 elections, we obtained a historic victory at the polls with more than 55 per cent.

"We Are the Majority"

We are the majority. This means that the Bolivian population voted for peace and stability, for hope and dignity, for the reunion of all Bolivian women and men.

That 55.10 per cent vote does not belong to Luis Arce or David Choquehuanca. This vote is the product of the consciousness and organization of a people that does not want freedom for a few, but for all.

It is the vote of a people that does not want wellbeing for a few, but for all; who does not want happiness for a few, but for all.

We assume this mandate that the population gives us -- the people -- to work tirelessly and humbly for the reconstruction of our Homeland, and we commit to rectify what was wrong and to strengthen what was right.

In October 2020, intercultural democracy triumphed, democracy that permits deliberation and organization from below triumphed, and democracy that translates that will, that creative force through voting, triumphed. But democracy is also the materialization of the rights contained in our Political Constitution of the State.

It is useless to elect the authorities by voting if, at the same time, the people to whom democracy is owed are deprived of fundamental rights, such as access to health, education, work, income and housing.

Democracy is having the right to enjoy the wealth that is for everyone and not for a few, as we upheld during 14 years and that we are going to deepen in our Government: the redistribution of income.  The bonds will always go hand in hand with our economic policy.

We are going to work together to recover the growth levels that the de facto government shattered, and we will do so by reducing poverty, as well as economic and social inequalities. These are the principles that guide our productive community social economic model to which we will return.

The "Triple Crisis"

Today our country faces a triple crisis that began in November 2019 with the coup d'état and deepened with the pandemic.

The political crisis generated by a government that did not come out of the ballot box or respect the regulations of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, much less its adherence to the Political Constitution of the State.

The health crisis resulting from the emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic in Bolivia, and to which the de facto government was unable to offer an adequate comprehensive response.

The economic crisis derived from the inability of the Government to generate stability and growth with social justice. In one year all the gains of the Bolivian people receded.

There are those who have argued that the current situation is solely and exclusively the product of the action of that silent enemy called COVID-19, but wanting to blame the pandemic for this situation is not right. The crisis had been forming on the horizon since the coup d'état, after the abrupt change in economic policy and was exacerbated by the effects of the health crisis.

Today our national economy is in the middle of a deep recession; currently there is a drop in the GDP of 11.1 per cent.

According to data published by the National Statistical Institute, in the second trimester of this year our country went from leading the economic growth of South America for six years in the period between 2006 and November 2019 to presenting the biggest fall in the economy in the last almost 40 years. In the same way the fiscal deficit projected for 2020 reaches 12.1 per cent and becomes the highest since the period of the UDP [Popular Democratic Union]. The deficit of the financial public sector as of September already reaches 5.6 per cent.

For its part, the General Treasury has budgeted for a deficit of 8.7 per cent, mainly explained by the increase in current spending, since the current deficit of the Treasury has reached 8.1 per cent in the current administration. These figures show that in only one year of economic management by the de facto government things went from an economy that privileged public investment and income redistribution, to having the need to contract public debt to pay the wages and salaries of the public sector. There was also a drastic increase in the public debt.

Between November 2019 and October 2020 the transition government indebted the country for more than 4.2 billion dollars between the internal and external debt. Of particular note is its contracting of a debt with the Central Bank of Bolivia for approximately $1.9 billion and 800 million through public auctions of General Treasury bonds. In the area of foreign debt, foreign credits were incurred for more than $1.5 billion. To close the year, they programmed an additional debt of 4.4 billion bolivianos in the domestic market.

Net international reserves decreased by $881 million between November 2019 and October 2020, representing a fall of approximately 13 per cent as of November 2019.

International reserves stood at $6.459 billion, and as of October of this year they are only $5.578 billion. Only in the month of October the reserves decreased by $777 million.

The de facto government leaves an economy with figures that were not seen even in one of the worst crises that Bolivia suffered in the UDP government in the decade of the '80s of the last century; unemployment, poverty and inequalities have increased. We have before us the great challenge of rebuilding our economy, of generating certainty, of generating growth with income redistribution, of reducing economic and social inequalities, but we are sure that working together with the people we will once again overcome adversity.

A Message of Hope

Today we are here to send a message of hope to all the nations that make up Bolivia, to those brave women and men who go out every day to fight to overcome this difficult situation. They are the example for a political class that must turn this dark page of its history, to look at the present with responsibility and commitment and the future with optimism, focusing on a single objective: that each and every Bolivian can live well.

That is why we will give continuity to the construction of a plural and diverse economy that recovers, strengthens and promotes all the potential that we have, initiatives and capacities of Bolivia from the community of native peoples and peasants, the State, the private sector, cooperatives and the broad cultural diversity.

For months we have planned a series of actions to activate our economy and stimulate the internal economy. We have great projects that we are going to gradually launch in the coming months, thus fulfilling our campaign commitment with the people, because every day that passes without taking action, is a day that the situation in Bolivia becomes more complicated.

Our country today more than ever requires effort and synchronized mobilization between civil society and all State organs, between the public sector and the private sector; just like between the different political groups.

Despite the differences, we are obliged to measure up to the people, who demand unity, peace and certainty.

Unity and complementarity between east and west, between the country and the city. We are all Bolivia, we must put an end to fear in Bolivia.

I believe in justice, not in fostering an environment of resentment and revenge, that does not respect diversity of thought, where being from another party or political colour makes you the object of hatred.

That must end. I believe and support the reinforcement, the institutional framework of the State and in generating a safe and stable environment where the only ones who should be afraid are the offenders, criminals, violent people and those who commit acts of corruption.

Our government will work oriented in the present and future, serving the Bolivian people, for collective interests and not individual petty interests.

"We Are a Sovereign Nation"

From this rostrum where the democratic will of our people is concentrated, I also want to address the international community, the sisters and brothers from other countries who visit us today. We are a sovereign nation, with a government born in the ballot box and our will is to work for a multipolar world, in which there is no supremacy of any power and in which all States and human beings live without fear, without wars, without hatred, without looting our natural resources; without exploitation, without racism and discrimination; without threats, without pressure of any kind.

We strongly assume today more than ever the principles of self-determination of peoples, non-intervention, the non-alignment and full legal and political equality of all States without any form of subordination.

We are committed to an emancipatory and non-subordinate integration that considers all areas of life, from health and education to commercial economics.

We demand South-South integration in a globalized world that does not impose designs from the North.

We advocate the political unity of the diversity of Latin America and the Caribbean. CELAC is the best way to realize such a noble and historic cause.

We are once again in keeping with our CELAC resolution of 2014, when we declared Latin America and the Caribbean as a territory of peace.

We raise the flag of the peoples' diplomacy for life and a world without walls. We must put an end to everything that prevents us from recognizing ourselves as equals, as sisters, as brothers.

In our sub-region, we propose the recovery of Unasur as a space for integration and a mechanism for political dialogue in which we all participate, regardless of the political orientation of our governments.

"I Assume the Presidency with Humility"

Dear Bolivian people, I am in front of all of you today with great emotion, but with an enormous sense of responsibility that is born from the love I have for our country, our roots and the people, but also the promises made before this political campaign. That is why I want to reaffirm from here my commitment to honour each one of them.

I assume the Presidency of the Plurinational State of Bolivia with great humility, with great honour and with great gratitude for the trust placed in us.

We will govern with responsibility and inclusion, representing all of you, facing the necessary changes with the aim that Bolivia return to the path of stability as soon as possible.

Today we face the enormous challenge of having to write together with the letters that will define the next five years of our history, hoping to be remembered as the government in which the Bolivian people rose to recover democracy, dignity, peace, growth and social justice.

We will work tirelessly, serving the Bolivian people. We will defeat the pandemic, we will triumph over the crisis as we have done in previous years, because we are a fighting, persevering and courageous people who look without fear and with optimism and with the strength of knowing that we are capable of achieving.

In my travels through all of Bolivia, together with brother jilata David, I have felt the pain, but also the hope of millions and millions of Bolivians.

I will never forget the tears, the hugs, the smiles, the words of strength that they gave me at all times, nor the personal stories that they shared with me in each place I passed through.

We will not forget the hopes of those who have been so affected in this fateful year marked by the blow to democracy and by this cruel pandemic.

Their faces, their voices, their love and hope will always be present with me today and will accompany me at all times for the next five years.

By your mandate, dear sisters and brothers, I assume with great humility and responsibility the Presidency of the Plurinational State.

I look at the past, everything we have lived through and overcome. I lift my eyes and see that a better Bolivia is possible, with the participation and work of each and every Bolivian.

Let's walk in peace, side by side to achieve it. We will move forward!

Long live the Plurinational State of Bolivia!

Honour and glory to the Bolivian people!

Thank you very much.

Inaugural Speech of David Choquehuanca,
Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia

With the permission of our gods, of our older brothers, of our Pachamama, of our ancestors, of our Achachilas, with the permission of our Patujú, of our rainbow, of our sacred coca leaf.

With the permission of our peoples, with the permission of everyone present and not present in this chamber.

Today I want to share our thoughts in a few minutes.

It is an obligation to communicate, an obligation to dialogue, it is a principle of living well.

The peoples of millenial cultures, of the culture of life, have sustained our origins since the dawn of ancient times.

We children have inherited an ancient culture that understands that everything is interrelated, that nothing is divided and that nothing is outside.

That is why they tell us that we all go together, that no one is left behind, that everyone has everything and no one lacks anything.

And the well-being of all is the well-being of oneself, that helping is a reason to grow and be happy, that giving up for the benefit of the other makes us feel strengthened, that uniting and recognizing ourselves in everything is the path of yesterday, today, tomorrow and always, from which we've never strayed.

The Ayni, the Minka, the Tumpa, our Colka and other codes of ancient cultures are the essence of our life, of our Ayllu.

Ayllu is not only the organization of a society of human beings, Ayllu is a system of organization of life, of all beings, of everything that exists, of everything that flows in balance on our planet or Mother Earth.

During centuries the civilizing canons of Abya Yala were destructured, re-semanticized and many of them exterminated; original thought was systematically subjected to colonial thought.

But they could not extinguish us, we are alive, we are from Tiwanaku, we are strong, we are like stone, we are kalawalla, we are cholke, we are sinchi, we are Rumy, we are Jenecherú, the fire that never goes out; we are from Samaipata, we are jaguar, we are Katari, we are Ainus, we are Maoris, we are Commanches, we are Mayans, we are Guarani, we are Mapuches, we are Mojeños, we are Aymara, we are Quechuas, we are Hopis, and we are all the peoples of the culture of life who awaken our Larama -- Larama that is equal, rebellious, with wisdom.

A Transition Every 2,000 Years

Today Bolivia and the world are living through a transition that is repeated every 2,000 years, within the framework of the cyclicity of the times, we go from no time to time, beginning the new dawn, a new Pachakuti in our history

A new sun and a new expression in the language of life where empathy for the other or the collective good replaces selfish individualism.

Where we Bolivians see one another as equals, and we know that united we are worth more, we are in the times of being Jiwasa again: it is not me, it is us.

Jiwasa is the death of egocentrism, Jiwasa is the death of anthropocentrism and it is the death of eurocentrism.

We are in the times of returning to being Iyambae, it is a code that our Guarani brothers have protected, and Iyambae is the same as a person who has no owner. Nobody in this world has to feel they are the owner of anyone or anything.

Since 2006 in Bolivia we began hard work to connect our individual and collective roots, to return to being ourselves, to return to our centre, to the taypi, to the pacha, to the equilibrium from which the wisdom of one of the most important civilizations of our planet emerges.

We are in the process of recovering our knowledge, the codes of the culture of life, the civilizing canons of a society that lived intimately connected with the cosmos, with the world, with nature and with individual and collective life; to build our Suma Qamaña, from our Allin Kawsay, from our Suma Akalle, which is to guarantee the individual good and the collective or community good.


We are in times of recovering our identity, our cultural roots, our sapi. We have cultural roots, we have philosophy, history, we have everything, we are persons, and we have rights.

One of the unshakeable canons of our civilization is the inherited wisdom around the Pacha. Guaranteeing balance in all time and space is knowing how to manage all the complementary energies, the cosmic one that comes from the heavens, with the earth that emerges from under the earth.

These two telluric cosmic forces interact, creating what we call life as a visible (Pachamama) and spiritual (Pachakama) totality.

By understanding life in terms of energy we have the possibility to modify our history, matter and life as the convergence of the Chacha-warmi force, when we refer to the complementarity of opposites.

The new time that we are beginning will be sustained by the energy of the Ayllu, the community, consensus, horizontality, complementary equilibriums and the common good.

Historically, revolution is understood as a political act to change the social structure, in order to transform the life of the individual. None of the revolutions has managed to modify the conservation of power, to maintain control over the people.

"Our Revolution Is the Revolution of Ideas"

It was not possible to change the nature of power, but power has managed to distort the minds of politicians; power can corrupt and it is very difficult to modify the strength of power and its institutions, but it is a challenge that we will assume from the wisdom of our own peoples. Our revolution is the revolution of ideas, it is the revolution of equilibriums, because we are convinced that to transform society, the government, the bureaucracy, the laws and the political system, we must change as individuals.

We are going to promote opposing coincidences to find solutions between the right and the left, between the rebelliousness of the young and the wisdom of the grandparents, between the limits of science and an unyielding nature, between creative minorities and traditional majorities, between the sick and the healthy, between those who govern and the governed, between the cult leadership and the gift of serving others.

Our truth is very simple: the condor takes flight only when its right wing is in perfect equilibrium with its left wing. The task of forming ourselves as balanced individuals was brutally interrupted centuries ago, we have not concluded it and the time of the Ayllu era, community, is already with us.

It requires that we be free and balanced individuals to build harmonious relationships with others and with our environment, it is urgent that we be beings capable of sustaining equilibrium for ourselves and for the community.

We are in the times of the brothers of the Apanaka Pachakuti, brothers of change, where our fight was not only for ourselves, but also for them and not against them. We seek the mandate, we do not seek confrontation; we seek peace, we are not from the culture of war or domination; our struggle is against all kinds of submission and against the single, colonial, patriarchal thought, wherever it comes from.

The idea of the encounter of spirit and matter, heaven and earth, of Pachamama and Pachakama, allows us to think that a new woman and man will be able to heal humanity, the planet, and the beautiful life that is in it and return the beauty to our Mother Earth.

We will defend the sacred treasures of our culture from all interference, we will defend our peoples, our natural resources, our freedoms and our rights.

"We Will Return to Qhapak Ñan"

We will return to our Qhapak Ñan, the noble path of integration, the path of truth, the path of brotherhood, the path of unity, the path of respect for our authorities, for our sisters, the path of respect for fire, the path of respect for the rain, the path of respect for our mountains, the path of respect for our rivers, the path of respect for our Mother Earth, the path of respect for the sovereignty of our peoples.

Brothers and sisters, in conclusion, Bolivians must overcome division, hatred, racism, discrimination among compatriots, no more persecution of freedom of expression, no more judicialization of politics.

No more abuse of power, power has to be to help, power has to circulate, power, as well as the economy, has to be redistributed, it has to circulate, it has to flow, just as blood flows within our body, no more impunity, justice, brothers and sisters.

But justice has to be truly independent. Let us put an end to intolerance, to the violation of human rights and of our Mother Earth.

The new time means listening to the message of our peoples that comes from the bottom of their hearts, it means healing wounds, looking at one another with respect, recovering the homeland, dreaming together, building brotherhood, harmony, integration, hope, to guarantee the peace and happiness of the new generations.

Only in this way can we achieve living well and govern ourselves.

Jallalla Bolivia.

For the full video in Spanish of the inaugural speech of  President Luis Arce click here and for that of Vice President and President of the  Plurinational Legislative Assembly, David Choquehuanca click here.

(Ministry of the Presidency, Plurinational State of Bolivia (President's speech) and Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, November 8, 2020. Translated from the original Spanish by TML. Photos: Bolivian Ministry of Communication.)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 44 - November 14, 2020

Article Link:
New President and Vice President Address People of Bolivia


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