Socialist Bolivia reaches out to re-establish ties with Iran

Newly elected Socialist Bolivian president's first move is to re-establish ties with Iran
2 min read
12 November, 2020
One of the first decisions of Bolivia's new president is to embrace Iran.
Luis Arce [Getty]
New leftist President Luis Arce took office in Bolivia on Sunday and one of the first ports of call was to re-establish ties with Iran and Venezuela.

The Bolivian government wanted to "re-establish diplomatic relations damaged by the previous de-facto government" led by Jeanine Anez.

The former economy minister inherits a deeply polarised nation struggling with the coronavirus pandemic and the economic hardships it has caused.

It has led to the worst economic slump in four decades, as well as sharp divisions over the 14 years in power of Evo Morales, the country's first Indigenous leader.

Arce promised "to rectify what was bad and deepen what was good" as he took office following an election in which his Movement Toward Socialism party won 55 percent of the vote.

Taking to Twitter, Arce said he was restoring relations with Iran and that "they are always welcome in Bolivia. We will continue to strengthen common projects".

He added that Bolivia plans to "strengthen strategic ties for the good of our peoples" with Venezuela also. 

Vice President David Choquehuanca, who will head the nation's congress, sounded a conciliatory note, saying the new government "signifies a new time to listen and heal wounds". 

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attended the La Paz swearing in ceremony.

"Just arrived in La Paz, to celebrate with Bolivians the fruits of their struggle to restore their democracy. And honored to participate in inauguration of President Arce on Sun.

"Great to witness the joy people exhibit celebrating their
restoration of liberty & democracy," Zarif said in a tweet upon his arrival in the Bolivian capital.

Zarif found Bolivia's new leadership promising.

"Just met with President-elect Luis Arce and Vice President-elect David Choquehuanca of Bolivia. Conveyed my country's congratulations on their victory and wished them and the nation the best. We discussed our brotherly ties - political and economic - and ways to expand them," tweeted Zarif.

Since winning election, Arce has downplayed speculation of a major role in his administration for Morales, whose popularity was dented in his final years as president by a refusal to accept term limits and by perceived growing authoritarianism.

Morales wasn't permitted to run in the election a year after abandoning power, at the suggestion of military and police leaders, following a wave of deadly protests against his claimed re-election.

The interim government that followed tried to erase many of Morales' foreign and domestic policies and prosecutors brought charges against the former leader and several of his aides, accusing them of fomenting violent protests.

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