Bolivia’s Coup Attempt: Potential Power Play and Political Uncertainty

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Just this past week, the Bolivian government underwent a coup attempt. According to Americas Quarterly, on this past Wednesday June 24, Bolivia’s army chief Juan José Zúñiga and his command attempted to occupy the presidential palace in La Paz. The President of Bolivia Luis Arce had fired General Zúñiga over controversial comments he had made on national television about the 2025 election and former president Evo Morales.  

According to Al Jazeera, troops with army vehicles entered Bolivia’s capital La Paz and went to the Plaza Murillo where the presidency and Congress are stationed. The attempt lasted for about 5 hours and apparently Arce confronted Zúñiga during the coup. Eventually the coup was subdued when the troops pulled back and Zúñiga was arrested. So the real question is what is the significance of the coup the Bolivian government faced?

Bolivia has not undergone a coup attempted by the armed forces in over 40 years so this was a surprise to the government given how sudden it was. One of the main controversies of this event is that General Zúñiga is claiming that the coup was staged by the President. This has prompted former President Evo Morales to also believe the coup was staged by President Arce in an attempt for the current president to garner political support to increase his chances of staying in the favor of the Bolivian people and eventually win the electorate. 

This potential theory has been quickly accepted by those that oppose Arce. There is still no evidence on General Zúñiga’s end that has proved that the coup was staged in an attempt to reinforce the current president’s power, but many have already come to believe it.

The strained relationship of Arce and Morales is one that is significant and goes back in time. Evo Morales was president from 2006 until 2019. According to the BBC, in 2019, Morales ran for a third term of presidency which goes against the Constitution, but he was re-elected anyway. He resigned and left the country very early into his term after protests began and the head of the army wanted him out. The next year his political party Movement for Socialism or MAS stayed in power with Luis Arce as the president. The next election is bound to happen in 2025 and Morales has stated that he is going to run again. Many citizens of Bolivia in support of MAS are worried that their democracy is under attack due to the fact that a split MAS party could mean that the right-wing could gain power again. 

The coup the Bolivian government is experiencing right now is a significant one because there is the potential that it is not a genuine one but is full of lies and deception on either the ends of Zúñiga, Morales, or Arce. It also could just be manipulated into making President Arce look bad when General Zúñiga’s role may have been to prevent Morales from running. The truth behind the coup is not yet known as more evidence needs to be found, but this puts Bolivia and its citizens in a very confusing place entering its election year.

Written by Sirisha Kunamneni

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