David Mercado—Reuters
September 28, 2022 6:00 AM EDT

For nearly 14 years, politics in Bolivia was dominated by Evo Morales, a hugely popular union leader who founded the country’s socialist party: MAS. But when Morales pursued an unconstitutional fourth term in 2019, he plunged Bolivia into crisis: mass protests led to the installation of an interim government with little support from voters.

Eva Copa, 35, forged her own path out of that crisis. As head of the senate and a MAS lawmaker, she agreed to work with the rightwing interim administration ahead of fresh elections, helping to stem violence in the streets. In response, however, Morales loyalists in MAS expelled Copa. In March 2021, she challenged the party’s candidate for mayor in El Alto, Bolivia’s mountain-top second city. Young and indigenous, like the majority of El Alto’s population, Copa won 69% of the vote, and has since managed to work closely with the new MAS president Luis Arce on the city’s security and health challenges, charting a democratic path forward for leftists in Bolivia. “The renewal is not only about age, the renewal is to bring new faces to politics,” she told Reuters last year. “To make a good foundation and build on it.”

Correction, October 12:

The original version of this story characterized Bolivia’s 2019-2020 interim government as far-right. It was widely considered right-wing, not far-right.

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Write to Ciara Nugent at ciara.nugent@time.com.

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