Bolivia stuck over ex-president's museum

La Paz (AFP) –


Bolivia's interim government has inherited an unexpected problem since Evo Morales resigned and fled the country: what to do with the former president's $7 million museum.

After almost 14 years in power, Morales hurriedly left Bolivia last month as protests against his controversial re-election to an unconstitutional fourth term intensified.

Since his flight, Bolivia has been wracked by violence mostly between his supporters and the security services.

But the government of interim President Jeanine Anez has another problem to solve in the form of a costly museum dedicated to Morales, whose detractors accused him of corruption during his leadership.

"We've got to do something" with it, Culture Minister Martha Yujra told Lider97 radio, complaining that "it's no use to us, it serves no purpose."

The 4,000-square-meter museum was opened in 2017 in a remote village of just 600 people, where Morales was born.

The "Democratic and Cultural Revolution Museum" in Orinoco is 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the nearest town, Oruro, and 400 kilometers from La Paz.

According to right-wing lawmaker Amilcar Barral, it costs $13,000 a month to run the museum, which brings in just over $450 in revenue.

Barral said it wouldn't be possible even "in 625 years" to recoup the $7 million it cost to build.

The museum is filled with thousands of gifts that Morales, his country's first ever indigenous leader, received during his presidency.

It also details Morales's political, trade union and sporting career, as well as telling the history of the indigenous people of the Andes, from their conquest and subjugation by Spanish invaders to the current fight for emancipation.

Yujra, herself from the same Aymara indigenous group as Morales, said "we'll do what the people decide" on the fate of the museum, adding that it was losing "a lot of money."