Thursday, December 2

Former interim president of Bolivia arrested in opposition repression | Bolivia


Bolivia’s former conservative interim president, who led the country for a year, has been arrested when officials from the restored left-wing government target those who helped topple socialist leader Evo Morales in 2019.

Jeanine Áñez, who according to Morales supporters was part of a coup, was arrested early Saturday in her hometown of Trinidad and flown to the capital, La Paz, where she appeared before a prosecutor.

“This is abuse,” he told reporters after the appearance. “There was not a coup, but a constitutional succession,” he said.

From a police cell in La Paz, Áñez called on the Organization of American States and the European Union to send missions to Bolivia to evaluate what she called “an illegal detention.”

Áñez’s arrest and arrest warrants against many other former officials further aggravated political tensions in a South American country already torn by the alleged ills suffered by both parties.

Among them are complaints that Morales, whose party is now back in power, had become more authoritarian in 13 years in office, illegally running for a fourth election and then allegedly manipulating the outcome, that the forces Right-wing leaders led violent protests that incited security. forces to push him to resign and then crack down on his followers, who themselves protested the alleged coup.

“This is not justice,” said former President Carlos Mesa, who finished second behind Morales in several elections. “They are looking to behead an opposition by creating a false one-hit narrative to distract from a fraud.”

Morales tweeted that: “The authors and accomplices of the dictatorship must be investigated and published.”

Other arrest warrants were issued for more than a dozen former officials. These include several former cabinet ministers, as well as former military leader William Kaliman and the police chief who had urged Morales to resign in November 2019 after the country was razed by protests against the country’s first indigenous president.

After Morales left the country, many of his key supporters also resigned. Áñez, a legislator who had descended several rungs on the ladder of the presidential succession, was promoted to the interim presidency.

Once there, he abruptly turned Bolivia’s policies to the right and his administration tried to prosecute Morales and a number of his supporters on charges of terrorism and sedition, alleging electoral fraud and oppression of protests.

But Morales’s Movement for Socialism remained popular. He won last year’s election with 55% of the vote under Morales’ chosen candidate, Luis Arce, who assumed the presidency in November. Anez had retired after sinking in the polls.

Two ministers from the Áñez government were also arrested on Friday, including former Justice Minister Álvaro Coimbra, who had helped lead the prosecution of Morales’ aides. A former defense minister and others have also been charged.

The new justice minister, Iván Lima, said Áñez, 53, faces charges related to her actions as an opposition senator, not as a former president.

Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo denied it was an act of persecution and said the case stemmed from a criminal complaint for conspiracy and sedition filed against him in November, the month he left office.

The director of Human Rights Watch for the Americas, José Miguel Vivanco, said from Washington that the arrest warrants against Áñez and his ministers “do not contain any evidence that they have committed the crime of terrorism.”


www.theguardian.com

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