Jeanine Áñez, a senator from the rightist opposition camp, declared herself president of Bolivia on Tuesday although the legislative body failed to meet with the constitutional requirements for such a move.
The Parliament did not achieve a quorum because the lawmakers of the Movement to Socialism (MAS), the movement ousted president Evo Morales represented, could not attend, due to a lack of guarantees for their security. The MAS has a majority in Parliament.
I Assume presidency
“I immediately assume the presidency of the State and I undertake to take all necessary measures to pacify the country,” said Áñez, who is the second vice president of the Senate of Bolivia and from the right-wing Social Democratic Movement.
The senator proclaimed herself president only with a minimum presence of deputies, all from the opposition.
On Tuesday, an extraordinary session of both chambers (Deputies and Senate) of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly (Parliament) was convened. But the representatives of the MAS, which are the majority, did not attend because they did not have guarantees for their safety and that of their family members. Therefore, Parliament had suspended its session due to the lack of quorum.
Bolivia is going through a political crisis after the forced resignation of President Evo Morales, his vice president Álvaro García Linera, and presidents of the Deputies and Senator’s chambers, due to the wave of opposition violence that lashed out at indigenous and peasant population.
The coup was consumed when the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a preliminary report on alleged irregularities in the electoral process of October 20, as well as the “suggestion” of the Armed Forces for Morales to resign.
Evo’s departure added to a sense of crisis in Latin America, which has been hit by weeks of unrest in countries such as Ecuador and Chile, where protesters are urging governments to step back from policies raising fuel and transport prices.
Violence in the country continues by radical opposition groups that have burned symbols of the indigenous population.
Clashes between the left and right have persisted in La Paz, as nobody has yet stepped in to fill the power vacuum left by Evo’s ouster through the coup.
Violent clashes with indigenous protesters were reported at dawn, with at least six citizens were shot, around 30 people were injured and a girl was rescued by anti-coup protesters.
Soldiers deployed in La Paz Top of Form
Police and military patrols are taking over the streets of the Bolivian capital on Tuesday, shortly after ousted President Evo Morales landed in Mexico, where he was granted political asylum.
In a communiqué released on Monday, the military High Command announced the beginning of operations meant to “protect essential public services” as well as “to guarantee peace and stability in the country.”
The national police has been reportedly been setting up barricades in the streets in order to block the way for the Indigenous protesters marching in La Paz and Cochabamba.
In a video published by far-right media outlet El Deber, police chief of Cochabamba province Jaime Zurita encouraged the opposition to join the patrols and barricades.
Police officers have also posted videos on social media where they cut off the whipala flag from their uniforms.
Police urged residents of La Paz to stay in their homes and authorities said the army would join in policing efforts to avoid an escalation of violence.
In Bolivia, military forces have not been deployed for public order tasks since October 2003, when they defended the pro-market President Sánchez de Lozada, resulting in at least 77 deaths and 400 injured.
Ayamara Indigenous protesters marched from the neighborhood of El Alto, shouting “Ahora Si Guerra Civil” (“Civil War It Will Be Then”), responding to what they felt were provocative supporters burning the Indigenous whipala flags amid racist slurs.
“Entering the Government’s Palace with a Bible and a letter in the hand to kneel down before the cameras without any popular vote as legitimacy is a fascist and coup-plotter move,” said María Galindo, founder of the feminist collective Mujeres Creando, referring to opposition Luis Fernando Camacho and presidential candidate for the opposition Carlos Mesa.
“Burning the homes of government officials from the cabinet of Evo Morales is fascism, as well as burning the home of the head of public university Waldo Albarracin by Morales’ supporters,” she added in a column published in Argentine news outlet La Vaca, warning about an atmosphere of vendetta in the country.
Indigenous leaders and social activists denounced that the Police have joined the coup, which is being supported by former commander Yuri Calderon who publicly threatened to arrest MAS supporters.
Social mobilizations in Bolivia capital
Social movements in Bolivia are opposing the coup. The social movements have announced mobilizations to the capital.
Venezuelan embassy in La Paz overrun with dynamite
During Sunday’s violence in La Paz, Venezuela’s embassy was “overrun” by hooded assailants carrying dynamite.
Cuban news agency Prensa Latina quoted Venezuela’s ambassador to Bolivia, Crisbeylee Gonzalez, as saying “They want to make a massacre out of us, we need everyone to denounce this.” The Venezuelan government is yet to comment on the reports.
Thousands of Evo-supporters mobilized
In La Paz, thousands of supporters of Evo Morales are being mobilized in rejection of the coup d’état and its discriminatory and racist acts.
Evo thanks Mexico, pledges fight
Bolivia’s ousted socialist president, Evo Morales, has credited Mexico with saving his life, after the country offered him political asylum following his resignation from government.
“I am very grateful to the president and the Mexican people, because he saved my life,” Evo said on Tuesday, after he arrived in Mexico City to claim political asylum.
The socialist leader – who presided over Bolivia through a period of relative stability and economic growth – vowed to remain politically active in exile. “As long as I have life, we continue in politics, the struggle continues, and we are sure that the people have every right to free themselves,” he told reporters in Mexico.
Prior to his departure for Mexico, Morales promised his supporters that he would “return with more strength and energy.” Morales said in a tweet announcing his departure that he would soon return to Bolivia. “It hurts to leave the country for political reasons, but I will remain vigilant. Soon I will return with greater strength and energy.”
One of Latin America’s last remaining leftist heads of state, Morales received an offer of asylum from Mexico’s socialist government on Monday.
I won’t change ideology
In Morales’ words, “Let the whole world know that I won’t change ideology because of his coup.”
Unaccounted for in recent days, Evo Morales decried the coup against him, and recounted how a member of his once-loyal military was offered $50,000 to turn him in to the opposition on Sunday.
Evo’s odyssey: Banned airspace
Evo Morales has landed safely in Mexico.
But his journey to political asylum had twists and turns as neighboring states reacted to the ongoing turmoil back home.
During his morning press conference, the Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) revealed that the MAS leader’s air travel was a real odyssey.
“A journey through different spaces and political decisions”, AMLO commented while listening to the trip’s details, which were briefed by Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard.
On Monday morning, Mexico sent an airplane to pick up Evo Morales in anticipation that the Bolivian leader would accept the asylum offered by the Mexican government.
Initially, the Air Force G550 aircraft had planned to land in Lima and wait in Peru’s capital until the “competent authorizations” allowed its entry into Bolivia.
“‘It is the military who rule. This is a coup, this is a coup,’ said an official Mexican source,” as outlet El Pais reported, adding that the military authorized Evo’s transfer to Mexico on Monday afternoon.
“That’s why the Mexican plane took off from Lima.” Once it arrived in Bolivian airspace, the aircraft did not have permission to land and had to return to Lima.
“Waiting hours in Lima seemed endless. The operation is about to go to waste. The refueling operation gets complicated because cash payment is overdue, which further delays the takeoff,” El Pais reported.
While these “logistics” problems were resolved, Mexico’s Assistant Secretary for Latin American Affairs continued to work with the Bolivian military.
The Bolivian air force command finally granted definitive permission to pick up Morales, “which says who has the power now in Bolivia,” Foreign Minister Ebrard said at the press conference on Tuesday.
The Mexican Air Force aircraft took off at 07:00 pm on Monday from the airport in Chimore, a town located in Cochabamba, where Morales was sheltered after being forced to resign under pressure from the mutinous military and police.
Morales’ problems did not end right there and then. While his airplane was flying, Peru revoked its permission to refuel in Lima “due to political evaluations,” as the Peruvian Foreign Minister told his Mexican counterpart.
A tense-wait period began and the Mexican plane had to plan an alternative route to return to its country.
Argentina’s President-elect Alberto Fernandez spoke with Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo, asking him to authorize the entry of the Mexican plane to Asuncion to refuel.
A few minutes later, Paraguayan’s Foreign Minister contacted Ebrard to inform him that Evo’s plane could land in his country.
Simultaneously, Mexican diplomats made consultations with Ecuador to request that the plane be allowed to land in Guayaquil in case a new fuel refill was necessary.
Initially, Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno’s administration authorities accepted such a possibility. Then, however, they changed their minds.
Once again, when the Mexican plane was about to take off from Paraguay, the Bolivian military said the aircraft had no authorization to fly over the Bolivian airspace with Morales on board.
Brazil’s ambassador to La Paz, who offered to help, got a permit so that the Mexican plane could fly just over the Bolivia-Brazil borderline, then head to Peru, and finally navigate over international waters.
The Mexican Air Force aircraft took off from Asuncion at approximately 02:00 am on Tuesday. Upon leaving Paraguay, Bolivia’s leftist leader expressed his feelings through a tweet.
“Sisters and brothers, I am leaving towards Mexico. It hurts to leave the country for political reasons; however, I will always be watching. Soon I will return with more strength and energy,” Morales said.
After landing in the North American country, Morales told reporters that his home in Bolivia has been ransacked along with his sister’s house.
The plane had been allowed to refuel in Peru on its way to fetch Morales, suggesting that the Peruvian government had a change of heart due to the aircraft’s political passenger.
Initial reports claimed that Chile and Brazil had refused to allow Morales’ aircraft to pass over their airspace, but flight-tracking enthusiasts noted that the plane was allowed to fly across Brazil on its way to Mexico.
Mexico’s foreign minister said that another country, which denied permission for the plane to land and refuel, and also fly over its airspace was Ecuador.
Despite the setbacks, Morales appears to be upbeat. One photograph shows him holding up a Mexican flag on board the plane delivering him to political asylum, while another photo was of Morales waving to the camera as he prepares to leave Paraguay for his final destination.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said it had decided to take in Morales for humanitarian reasons.
According to Foreign Minister Marcelko Ebrard, Morales’ “life and physical integrity” were at risk in his home country.
Bolivian opposition leaders had claimed that police and the military were looking to capture the former president – but the country’s police chief later dismissed these reports.
Bolivia is facing its worst unrest in decades amid a political vacuum.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador praised the Bolivian president for the decision to resign rather than put the lives of Bolivians at risk.
Morales’ flight from the country was a dramatic fall for the llama shepherd from the Bolivian highlands and former coca growers’ union leader who as president helped lift millions out poverty, increased social rights and presided over nearly 14 years of stability and high economic growth in South America’s poorest country.
No sign of irregularity in the election
The OAS, which Maduro has previously denounced as being the “US Ministry of Colonies,” had been invited to audit the results, with their preliminary report claiming “irregularities.”
On Friday, however, the Washington DC-based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) published a statistical analysis of the vote count, which showed no signs of fraud or irregularities.
Solidarity vigil across Venezuela
Solidarity vigils and concentrations were held in most major cities across Venezuela on Monday, with an ‘Anti-Imperialist Tribune’ organized at the symbolic Llaguno Bridge in Caracas, epicenter of the 2002 coup d’état in Venezuela.
The ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV) has also convened a counter-demonstration this Saturday, promising to have “the people out on the streets.”
Left wing parties, including the Communist Party and the Homeland for All Party, were also quick to join the government in rejecting the coup and expressing their support for the elected Morales, with the former claiming that the coup was “orchestrated by imperialism.”
Likewise, grassroots movements expressed their support for the Bolivian progressive movement, including the Bolivar-Zamora Revolutionary Current (CRBZ), the Platform of Campesino Struggle, and the International Solidarity Committee (COSI).
Venezuelan President Maduro’s condemnation of the coup in Bolivia was reiterated by an array of ministers and political leaders on Sunday and Monday, including the Foreign Ministry, which described events in Bolivia as a “grotesque” and “sophisticated” operation carried out by “racist radicals, the private media, the US embassy, and the OAS.”
The head of the Armed Forces Vladimir Padrino Lopez also manifested his condemnation, reiterating the loyalty of the military to the Maduro government.
Venezuela’s socialist leaders called on sympathizers to take the streets in a march that played out as Morales landed in Mexico where he is being granted asylum.
Maduro, a long political ally of Morales, accused the U.S. of mounting an economic war to overthrow his socialist government.
Venezuela condemns Bolivia coup
Grassroots movements in Caracas held an Anti-Imperialist Tribune at Llaguno Bridge in support of ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales.
Thousands marched through Caracas on Tuesday, many carrying handmade signs scrawled with “Evo!”
On November 11, 2019, Venezuelan authorities and grassroots movements have condemned the coup d’état in Bolivia.
President Nicolas Maduro joined regional leaders in repudiating the ousting of his close ally Evo Morales, while calling for international solidarity.
The governments of Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and the president-elect of Argentina all expressed similar positions on Sunday.
“We categorically condemn the coup d’état against our brother president. The social and political movements of the world declare ourselves mobilized to demand the preservation of the life of the indigenous Bolivian people, victims of racism,” Maduro wrote on Twitter.
Speaking at a Caracas press conference on Sunday, Maduro also warned that Morales’ life is endangered by the “brutal repression” from “fascist” coup-mongers, pointing the finger at the Organization of American States (OAS) for instigating the coup.
Massive mobilization in Buenos Aires
Thousands of demonstrators marched Tuesday along the main avenue in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, to reach the Bolivian Embassy, condemning the coup that Bolivia is going through and offering full support to the legitimate president Evo Morales.
Iber Mamani, a prominent figure of the Bolivian community in Argentina, thanked the “support offered by the social and political organizations of the popular Argentinean countryside that pronounced themselves against the coup,” and demanded the protection of “the lives of the comrades who today are being persecuted, kidnapped and tortured.”
Vilma Ripoll, the leader of the MST, also present at the march, expressed her “rejection to the coup carried out by the big bosses, the corporations and the armed forces, and endorsed by politicians like Mauricio Macri who until now has not declared anything about it.”
In dialogue with Pagina 12, Ripoll added that Evo Morales “had pending tasks in Bolivia, such as the purging of the armed forces.”
“We are here to repudiate what has no other qualification than a coup. We are very concerned about Evo’s physical integrity, as well as the threat to the region. We have to remember and prevent the return of coups in Latin America,” Argentinean Frente de Todos lawmaker Itai Hagman said amid flags and traditional Bolivian dances.
“Jallalla Evo Morales” was the expression most repeated by the Bolivian community installed at the door of the Bolivian Embassy in Argentina, a Quechua Aymara expression that symbolizes the unity of the people, their sense of belonging.
“We will return better, we will fight, we will win and we will return. Long live Evo Morales Ayma,” Bolivians living in Argentina chanted in unison.
The mainstream media did not report the rightists’ violent acts, selective burning of houses, and beating the leftist activists.
Bolivian Police on Monday harshly repressed the El Alto journalists who took to the streets to protest against the coup, which forced the resignation of Evo Morales.
Images uploaded on social media attest to the existence of several injured; however, there are no official figures on the number of victims.
“The police repress with firearms to cause deaths and injuries in El Alto. My solidarity with those innocent victims, including a girl, and the El Alto’s heroic people who is defending democracy,” former president Morales tweeted.
Over the last week, far-right groups have staged acts of aggression against the MAS authorities and politicians.
But the selective burning of houses and beatings against Evo’s supporters have not been reported in a timely manner by international and local media.
In Argentina, where Mauricio Macri will remain in the presidency until December, the Press Workers Union on Monday denounced that the National Radio direction prohibited its journalists from writing or speaking about the existence of a coup in Bolivia.
According to social net videos posted on Monday, it is known that at least six citizens were shot, around 30 people were injured and a girl was rescued by anti-coup protesters in El Alto.
Indigenous leaders and social activists denounced that the Police have joined the coup, which is being supported by former commander Yuri Calderon who publicly threatened to arrest MAS supporters.
“The first thing we should do is organize groups in all cities. We are going to stop all the leaders who are causing anxiety,” Calderón said at the time of submitting his resignation on Sunday, when he “suggested” Evo Morales to leave the presidency.
One wrote on Twitter:
“Terror in Bolivia. Last night artillery helicopters shot at the indigenous people in La Paz. El Alto communities reported 6 dead and around 30 injured. This is silenced by mainstream media.”
Bullets are not the answer
Morales’s Defense Minister Javier Zavaleta on Monday presented his resignation and denounced violent actions that the mutinous security forces are carrying out.
“Bullets are neither the answer nor the solution to a problem,” Zavaleta said and explained that he never ordered the use of military force against the population.
“We never gave an order for our soldiers to wield a weapon against the people… The State we built was a State in which the military defends the Homeland with the people and never against them.”
“A political issue is not resolved by increasing the caliber of repression,” said Zavaleta addressing one of the leaders of the Bolivian right, former presidential candidate Carlos Mesa.