Tuesday, May 24

La Paz: Former Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez enters preventive prison | International

Former Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez enters the Obrajes Women's Orientation Center in La Paz this Monday, where she will serve her preventive detention.
Former Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez enters the Obrajes Women’s Orientation Center in La Paz this Monday, where she will serve her preventive detention.Stringer / EFE

The judicial problems of the former president of Bolivia, Jeanine Áñez, are complicated. This Monday, she entered a prison in La Paz after a judge decreed four months of preventive detention against her and two of her ministers, Álvaro Coímbra, and Energy, Rodrigo Guzmán. All three are accused of crimes of “terrorism, conspiracy and sedition” for the events that led to the resignation of Evo Morales in November 2019.

The Bolivian police mounted an operation to transfer the former interim head of state, who was arrested in the early hours of Saturday, from the cells of the Special Force to Fight Crime (Felcc) to the Obrajes Female Orientation Center, in the south of the city.

A group of people waited for Áñez at the gates of the penitentiary to show their support by shouting the phrase “nobody gets tired, nobody gives up”, a characteristic refrain of the citizen mobilizations in 2019 that denounced irregularities in the general elections of that year. The tension was palpable in the Bolivian capital and other cities such as Sucre and Santa Cruz, where the police deployed a strong security device in anticipation of possible demonstrations, while rumors grew about new arrests of members of the interim government.

Áñez will be isolated for 15 days to respect the sanitary protocol due to the pandemic and then she will be assigned a place among the 200 inmates that populate the penitentiary center “without privileges”, as the director general of the Penitentiary Regime in Bolivia, Juan Carlos Limpias, said. For their part, Álvaro Coímbra and Rodrigo Guzmán entered the San Pedro prison, also in La Paz, and in the same regime. All three are accused of “terrorism, conspiracy and sedition” for the events that led to the early departure of Evo Morales from power at the end of 2019

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The hearing against the three officials began on Sunday and lasted virtually nine hours. As explained by the Minister of Justice, Iván Lima, Áñez was included in the process as a senator and not as president, so she has not had a special trial and is in a common jail.

In addition, Lima presented four additional charges to the Prosecutor’s Office for crimes that Áñez would have committed as president. They refer to his management of the pandemic and to some economic acts of his Cabinet. These accusations against the former president must reach the Bolivian Parliament, although the Movement for Socialism (MAS) of President Luis Arce does not have the two-thirds of the votes necessary to convert them into what is known as a “trial of responsibilities”.

These demands do not include any regarding the responsibility of the former president in the repression of the protests against her Government, in November 2019, which caused more than 30 deaths and hundreds of injuries. President Arce made the sanction of “the Sacaba and Senkata massacres” one of his main electoral demands.

Many analysts believe that Áñez and his collaborators may face three judicial fronts: the process in which they are currently included, focused on the days immediately before and after the resignation of Evo Morales, on November 10, 2019; a trial for the actions of the military in the first weeks of his government, and the accusations about Áñez’s management before Parliament.

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