Bolivians protest self-declared “interim president” and police tear gas thousands of Evo Morales supporters

bolivia protest

Thousands of supporters of deposed Bolivian President Evo Morales gathered in La Paz, the Bolivian capital city, to demand the resignation of self-declared “interim” leader Jeanine Anez.

Riot police squared off the protesters during street clashes.

Thousands of Bolivians are demonstrating against the coup, which was orchestrated by opposition leaders Luis Fernando Camacho and Carlos Mesa and supported by the country’s armed forces and police.

The new Military High Command, the commander in chief, Carlos Orellana Centellas; Pablo Arturo Guerra; Ivan Inchauste; Orlando Álvarez and Moisés Mejía Heredia, swear in the new position Wednesday, at Palacio Quemado, in La Paz. Photo: EFE

Flying national and indigenous flags and chanting pro-Morales slogans, the protest marchers met a forceful police response in Bolivia’s administrative capital on Wednesday, facing down volleys of tear gas from armored security forces.

The demonstrators, led by indigenous militia group Ponchos Rojos, were heading toward the presidential palace in downtown La Paz before the clashes broke out.

The protesters responded the police tear gas shells with rocks and other improvised projectiles.

The mainstream media (MSM) have not reported the street protests and clashes on the La Paz streets.

Following Evo Morales’ forced resignation and flight from Bolivia for political asylum in Mexico earlier this week, opposition Senator Jeanine Anez declared herself “interim president”.

While right wing opposition lawmakers argued Anez’s declaration was valid under the Bolivian constitution, the ousted president’s Movement for Socialism Party, in Spanish, Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) slammed the move as illegal and boycotted the legislature.

Evo Morales resigned under pressure from top military officials after weeks of opposition protests over the result of October’s presidential election, in which the opposition, and U.S.-based Organization for American States (OAS), alleged “irregularities”, the claim not supported by any fact.

Washington and its partners in the OAS have hailed the socialist leader’s ouster as a triumph for democracy, though it did little to quell the unrest in Bolivia.

A Reuters report headlined “Morales’ shadow looms large in Bolivia as clashes test new leader”, from La Paz, said:

Bolivian security forces clashed on the streets of La Paz with supporters of unseated president Evo Morales on Wednesday, firing tear gas to clear the protesters.

Supporters of Evo Morales carrying colorful flags and banners marched in the capital while his party’s lawmakers looked to unseat Jeanine Anez.

Anez, 52, said she wanted elections as soon as possible and denied a coup had taken place against leftist leader and newly-exiled Morales, who hinted he could return to Bolivia.

Anez, who has already overhauled some of Morales’ policies, faces a challenge from lawmakers of Morales’ MAS, who have a majority in parliament and have threatened a rival session to nullify her presidency.

Police also fired tear gas in the city center to break up crowds after thousands of Morales supporters marched into La Paz from nearby El Alto, many carrying the colorful “Wiphala” flags of regional indigenous groups.

Many previously marginalized indigenous groups saw their power and affluence rise significantly under Morales, a former coca grower who was Bolivia’s first indigenous president.

Bolivia’s Attorney General says there have been at least seven fatalities in the 23 days of conflict, including in the cities of La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba.

People in La Paz were split on Anez. “She does not represent the people, but the big elites, the society that has money but does not represent the poor,” said bread seller Ruth Moscoso.

At the government palace, where Anez later unveiled her core team of ministers, she said she planned to call elections “in the shortest possible time.”

Britain Brazil Colombia congratulate Anez

Conservative-led Brazil, Colombia and Britain congratulated Anez.

A U.S. official said Washington would “look forward to working with her and Bolivia’s other civilian authorities as they arrange free and fair elections as soon as possible.”

Anez recognizes Guaido

The Reuters report said:

The religious conservative arrived to take on her new role carrying a bible in a symbolic break from indigenous leader Morales. She has already recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido over Morales ally President Nicolas Maduro.

Morales’ loyalists say the move by Anez to declare herself president was illegal because Congress did not formally accept Morales’ resignation, and tried to hold a counter meeting on Wednesday.

Workers Council’s deadline

The deadline given by the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) to restore democracy has expired on Wednesday, amidst a illegal presidential succession that cannot be easily consolidated because it was carried out by breaking several legal procedures.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

For instance, with the intention of legitimizing an act of succession that occurred without the legally required quorum, Anez cited article 170 of the Bolivian Constitution according to which the President can be dismissed from his duties in case of death, resignation, absence or definitive impediment.​​​​​​​

​​​​​​​If this politically driven interpretation of the constitutional text does not achieve greater support among citizens, however, the COB could initiate an indefinite strike.

Police attacks Senate’s President

Adriana Salvatierra, the legitimate President of the Senate, was violently assaulted by the police as she was trying to enter the Senate on Wednesday in order to comply with the constitutional rule that automatically proclaims the head of the upper chamber the Interim President when the President steps down, after Evo Morales was forced to resign on Sunday.

In a press conference that followed the attack, Salvatierra told reporters that she was ready to open the parliament session and assume the presidency of the Plurinational State of Bolivia as mandated by law.

“After the attack, we can observe that we have no guarantee for us to fulfill our legislative mandate,” she said from her office at the Legislative Assembly in La Paz, as she suffers from minor injuries from the attack.

She recalled that ousted President Evo Morales’s instructions were very clear about avoiding violence and clashes between supporters and opponents of the socialist party.

She lamented the violence of the attack by security forces and condemned the radicalization growing across the country, after Morales’ resignation left a political vacuum that the conservative opposition was quick to fill.

On Tuesday, opposition Senator Jeanine Anez declared herself president of Bolivia.

However, she made the move without meeting with the constitutional requirements, as the Parliament did not reach the legal quorum since the lawmakers of the MAS, who represent the majority in Congress, could not attend the session due to a lack of guarantees for their security.

The Reuters report said:

Large numbers of police around the central Plaza Murillo in La Paz appeared to block MAS lawmakers, including former Senate head Adriana Salvatierra, from entering the government building.

Salvatierra had resigned publicly but said on Wednesday that her resignation letter had not been formally accepted. “I’m still a senator,” Salvatierra told journalists.

Legitimize coup: 4,000 twitter accounts created

With hashtags such as #EvoAsesino, #EvoDictador or #EvoEsFraude, the messages of these accounts denounced that the first indigenous president is a corrupt and accused him of having “stolen” the October elections, as well as celebrating the presidency of Jeanine Anez and declaring that the coup finally led to “democracy and freedom” to the Bolivian people. Photo: Pagina 12

It’s becoming more and more clear the role of social media as yet another political party able to legitimize or remove any Government, especially through social networks.

A few days after the consummated coup against Bolivian President Evo Morales, there have been more than 4500 new Twitter accounts created, without almost any followers, with the hashtag #BoliviaNoHayGolpe installed. The exact number, up to preparing this report, was 4,492.

Luciano Galup, director of the Menta Communication consultancy, was the one who announced that there were thousands of messages against the figure of Evo Morales from accounts almost without followers.

He acknowledged that as a result of an effervescent society, which in the face of a crisis may want to participate in the debate, some of these accounts could, in fact, be genuine.

Galup expressed that the majority had been created to install a sense of democratic disruption in Bolivia worldwide.

“These types of coordinated actions do not have much impact on domestic politics. A Trending Topic has no effectiveness on people who live those experiences and occupy those territories. But worldwide they can function as propaganda,” Galup explained to Argentinean media outlet Pagina 12.

For the analyst, the campaign in networks against Evo aims to legitimize the coup and wash the face of the incoming illegitimate government. “Dictatorships and coups need to legitimize themselves against the concert of nations because there may be sanctions. It works like a foreign policy, not a domestic one,” he said.

Since Sunday the images illustrating the coup in Bolivia have flooded the Internet: Evo announcing his resignation to avoid an escalation of violence, Fernando Camacho entering Palacio Quemado with a bible and a rosary, fires and looting of the houses belonging to the leaders of the MAS, mobilizations in the streets for and against of the coup, senator Jeanine Anez demanding the Armed Forces to intervene to “prevent a bloodshed”, Peru preventing the plane that took Evo to Mexico from flying over its territory, prisoners rioted in the most important prison in La Paz.

“When countries acquire relevance from their conflicts, their meaning is disputed at the global level. The Bolivian case is particular because it has the characteristics of a traditional coup d’etat, with the Armed Forces asking a president to resign, so it has a lack of legitimacy of origin that forces it to have to defend what is happening internationally,” Galup explained.

With hashtags such as #EvoAsesino, #EvoDictador or #EvoEsFraude, the messages of these accounts denounced that the first indigenous president is a corrupt and accused him of having “stolen” the October elections, as well as celebrating the presidency of Jeanine Anez and declaring that the coup finally led to “democracy and freedom” to the Bolivian people.

Argentina’s Congress to discuss text rejecting coup in Bolivia

Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies and Senate was scheduled to hold sessions in which lawmakers will urge President Mauricio Macri to reject the coup against Evo Morales, demand the restitution of the constitutional order, condemn human rights violations and provide asylum to deposed officials.

“As Argentineans who have a deep tradition of peace and respect for the people’s will, we urge the executive power to speak out against the civic-military coup which has interrupted the democratic and constitutional order,” says the draft text that will be discussed.

On Tuesday, lawmakers from Victory Front (FPV), Renovator Front (FR), Network for Argentina, Evita Movement, We Are (Somos), Left and Workers Front (FIT), and Republican Proposal (PRO) presented five draft texts related to the political situation in Bolivia.

Among these are pronouncements to halt the coup and the interference of the army, appeal to the restoration of democracy, and reject systematic human rights violations.

The calls in both houses of the Parliament were motivated by the silence that the Macri administration has maintained so far with regard to the Bolivian events, which Argentinean lawmakers have described as “intolerable facts which cannot be accepted under any circumstances or with any excuse.”




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