COCHABAMBA, Bolivia – In the days since Evo Morales, Bolivia's first domestic president, deep ethnic tensions that have long divided the country have complicated the efforts to move Bolivia out of political crisis.
Mr. Morales, a champion of the indigenous people, has now been replaced by an acting president of European descent, and improvements have emerged. Police officers have torn the original insignia from their uniforms. Protesters have burned the original flag. And the acting president, who published tweets that many consider racist, initially appointed a cabinet without a single domestic member.
Mr. Morales nearly 14 years in power represented a breakthrough for the three-quarters of the Bolivians who are either of native origin or identified as members of indigenous groups. But he also strengthened his base of support with explicit appeals to racial identity that many Bolivians found threatening and polarizing. Now that Mr. Morales has taken asylum in Mexico, his followers fear the loss of their hard-earned political and economic gains.
She has since deleted the tweets, but not before spreading much on social media. They were complemented by a cascade of fake racist services attributed to Ms. Añez and distributed by Mr. Morale's supporters, according to a media monitoring group, Bolivia Verify Observatory.
At a news conference on Friday, Añe z condemned the false tweets and said that her enemies were spreading disinformation. But asked if any of the racial tweets attributed to her were real, she did not respond.
"This rhetoric about racism and discrimination," she said, "is not true, and we reject it."
Tensions between the indigenous population and Bolivia's long-standing elite of European descent go to Spanish colonial times, and have been subsiding since then.
Diego von Vacano, a Bolivian political scientist at Texas A&M University, likened traditional racial relations in Bolivia to "the apartheid system in South Africa, with the indigenous people as second-class citizens."
He said, "The importance of Evo was up and achieving a lot of positive things for the indigenous people. "
But when Mr. Morales began to lose his grip on power over the past three years, Mr. von Vacano, ”he gathered his original base through the rhetoric of racial differences, which has now polarized large parts of the country. "
During Mr. Morale's time in his work, the number of representatives of ministries and congresses increased, and included women wearing traditional full skirts called polledas, which once became confused in public spaces.
Mr. Morales also redistributed the country's natural gas wealth to indigenous communities and led a renaissance of traditional food, music and clothing.
He introduced a multicolored flag, called Whipala, representing the country's various indigenous groups, and made it an official flag along the country's traditional independence-era banner of red, green and yellow.
This policy has made him an idol of many of Bolivia's foremost indigenous peoples, Quechua and Aymara, who make up about a third of the country's adult population, according to the latest census.
They have also caused outrage among many Bolivians of mixed or European descent, as well as the country's smaller indigenous groups, which accused Mr. Morales for ethnic favoritism and exploited racial differences for political gain.
Mr. Morale's critics say that his government's fixation of a certain brand of Bolivia's diverse domestic culture – highland substance societies – masks the country's growing cosmopolitanism. The proportion of Bolivians who identified themselves as members of indigenous groups dropped to 41 percent in the latest census, 2012, from 62 percent a decade earlier.
“Racism exists in Bolivia; it was before Evo, and it will never disappear, "said Michelle Kieffer, an insurance broker, as she sipped a cappuccino in a high-class neighborhood in the country's administrative capital, La Paz.
"While Evo started an important discussion," she added, "he also manipulated the racial issue, and that has caused disagreement. And now people of different races look at each other with suspicion. "
Bolivia's political fallacies are complicated; race is often combined with regional and ideological divisions. There are domestic leaders who broke with Mr. Morales over allegations of corruption, and some non-resident Bolivians supported his socialist policies. But the racial difference was evident this past week when comparing the crowds marching for and against Mr. Morales.
These divisions are rocky cities such as Cochabamba, a diverse regional capital of about 700,000 in a high Andean valley surrounded by the majority-Quechua speaking countryside. It was in Cochabamba where a decision by local police forces last Friday to join protesters protesting Mr. Moral's contested re-election brought a nationwide jump in security forces.
The mystery set the scale of death for Mr. Morales embattled government. With pressure from the armed forces, Mr. Morales resigned from his stronghold in the cocaine cultivation region of Cochabamba province on Sunday and flew into exile the next day.
After taking control of the city of Cochabamba, the rebel police officers cut Whipala insignia from their uniforms and dumped them on the ground, a scene captured on a video shot by a local newspaper. Minutes later, anti-government protesters seized the Whipala standard from the police headquarters and burned it on the city's main square.
For the rebels, the dual use of national flags was a symbol of discord promoted by Mr. Morales.
"They made us believe that there were two Bolivia's, and we always thought there was one," Colonel Miguel Mercado, the commander of the neighboring province of Santa Cruz, said in a television interview. " must protect us all. "
But for many of Bolivia's indigenous people, Whipala's cutoff was a serious insult, symbolizing the end to equal rights they had under Mr. Morales. On Thursday, thousands of Cochabambas, mainly Quechua coca leaf farmers, descended on the outskirts of the regional the capital, which waved to the country's two flags to demand Mr. Morale's return, the city, a reminder to many Coca peasants of the brutal repression they had suffered under Mr. Morale's pro-US predecessor governments.
It was the biggest protest in Bolivia that day, but no local journalist was present in a city that has several local TV channels and newspapers. the cornerstone of cultural discrimination. The entertainment programs and commercials on Bolivia's national television are almost exclusively filled with white actors and presenters.
"They've been ordering for 500 years, and now they want to take away our 13 years," said Herlinda Cruz, a coca grower wearing a bollard and traditional bowler hat. "They will remove my poll. They will take away my voice, ”she added, breaking into tears.
The ethnic divide is partly religious. Morales had a tense relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, in part because he encouraged traditional Aymara ceremonies in the presidential palace, a practice considered pagan in a country where Catholicism was a central part of the conquest of the Indians in the 1500s. the number.
Ms. Añez was answered while holding a large Bible, which she ceremoniously placed in the presidential palace. Although the vast majority of Bolivians consider themselves Christians, Añez signed conservative Catholicism to a certain return to the European dominance of Bolivian culture. When Añez appears in public, a helper often stands by her and holds a cross.
Mr. Morales has outlawed the growing cultural and racial tensions of his Mexican exile. In frequent news conferences and Twitter posts, he has called his opponents "racists and coup men."
His message was almost completely recalled by his followers at a protest in Cochabamba on Thursday. Many wore homemade weapons and shields to protect themselves from what they expected to be an imminent police attack. At least one person died in clashes between domestic protesters and police in a nearby province the day before.
"They have burned our flag; they have laughed at our culture. This is racism; this is discrimination, says Alfonso Coque, a cocaine grower. "We will give our lives for our rights."
Anatoly Kurmanaev reported from Cochabamba and Clifford Krauss from La Paz. Cesar del Castillo contributed with reporting from La Paz.