Bolivia has flared up with violent clashes between people protesting the coup and security forces.
Fresh clashes have broken out in as the self-declared interim president Jeanine Anez faced challenges to her leadership in the Bolivia Congress and the streets from supporters of the exiled President Evo Morales.
Evo Morales, forced out by the armed forces in the country has warned government officials not to “stain themselves with the blood of the people.”
Running battles broke out in La Paz as Morales supporters, throwing rocks and wielding wooden planks, squared off against riot police who set off teargas into the crowds of demonstrators. Huge crowds also mobilized in the adjacent city of El Alto, demanding his return.
President Evo Morales’ supporters holding Wiphala flags took part in a protest in La Paz on November 14, 2019. Indigenous women held white flags and faced police officers during protests in La Paz on November 13, 2019.
Schools and universities remained shutting due to the continued demonstrations.
Many gas stations remained closed because of a lack of supplies.
The crisis unleashed during the planning and execution of the coup in Bolivia has left 8 dead, 508 injured and 460 detained so far, according to the Bolivian Ombudsman’s Office.
Supporters of Evo Morales took to the streets of La Paz on Wednesday also in protest against Senator Jeanine Anez’s illegal assumption of power earlier this week.
The coup-opposing protesters lit fires and hurled rocks while police used tear gas to disperse the people demonstrating for democracy. The protesters had gathered near the city’s presidential palace.
Meanwhile, lawmakers loyal to Morales have been seeking to challenge the legitimacy of Anez’s appointment after she declared herself interim president.
The lawmakers opposing the coup boycotted the session of congress convened to formalize Anez’s claim to the presidency, preventing a quorum, and have been attempting to stage new counter sessions.
During a parliamentary session without quorum on Tuesday night, citing absence of the president and vice president she said, “as the president of the Chamber of Senators, I immediately assume the presidency.”
The U.S. and Bolivia’s Constitutional Court have endorsed Anez’s appointment as interim leader. The U.S. announced its support to the interim president on Wednesday.
Morales said he is “ready to return to pacify” the country.
He also denounced the decision by the Donald Trump administration to acknowledge the Anez government and cautioned those in power not to “stain themselves with the blood of the people.”
“This coup d’état that has triggered the death of my Bolivian brothers is a political and economic plot that came from the U.S.,” Morales said during a press conference on Wednesday.
So far, Anez has named members of her cabinet and appointed new personnel to lead the armed forces.
In her first address to the nation as interim president, Anez stressed that her position is “strictly provisional,” adding that she plans to “call for new general elections in the earliest possible time.”
Anez talks to CNN
“This is a transitional government,” Anez told CNN. “Obviously, as soon as we can, we will call general elections so the Bolivian people can have a president elected by us in a democratic manner.”
Anez will now need to form a new electoral court and get Congress, which is controlled by the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), the party Evo leads, to vote on a new election. All of this must be achieved by January 22, when Morales’ current term was due to end.
Evo Morales’s resignation still needed to be approved by both houses of the Bolivia Congress. But the lawmakers supporting the coup could not assemble the numbers needed for formal sessions.
At the same time, police who scuffled with her supporters prevented the former senate head Adriana Salvatierra, a Morales loyalist who resigned just after he did, from entering the parliament building.
Emboldened MAS lawmakers and senators, who hold a two-thirds majority, tried to hold sessions to declare Anez’s claim to the presidency illegal and block Morales’s resignation.
Anez forged ahead regardless, arguing that Bolivia could not wait.
Anez, a conservative Christian, declared herself the interim president on Tuesday with an outsized Bible in her hand. She took power noting that the constitution did not require congressional approval.
Anez brandished the outsized bible was an explicit rebuke to Morales, who banned the Christian holy book from the presidential palace when he reformed the constitution in 2009 to recognize Pachamama, the Andean Mother Earth deity, instead of the Catholic church.
U.S. supports Anez
The U.S. and Brazil were quick to offer their congratulations to Anez, who declared herself interim president without a vote or recognition by Morales’s Movement for Socialism majority party.
Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, congratulated Anez: “The United States applauds Bolivian Senator Jeanine Anez for stepping up as interim president of state to lead her nation through this democratic transition, under the constitution of Bolivia and in accordance with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”
“We look forward to working with her and Bolivia’s other civilian authorities as they arrange free and fair elections as soon as possible,” tweeted Michael Kozak, US assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs.
Anez recognizes Guaido
In a clear sign that Anez intends to steer Bolivia away from the socialism of her predecessor, one of her first acts on Wednesday was to recognize the opposition leader Juan Guiado as president of Venezuela – overturning Bolivia’s support for Nicolas Maduro under Morales.
Anez’s sudden move to the political centre stage prompted a closer look at racist remarks towards Bolivia’s indigenous majority on her social media accounts.
One tweet from 2013 – later deleted – describes indigenous Aymara new year’s celebrations as “satanic.” It concluded: “Nobody can replace God!”
In another post, she questioned whether “a group of indigenous people were genuine because they were wearing shoes.”
A racist usurper
Angry Morales supporters decried her as a racist usurper who had seized power illegally.
In the streets of La Paz, hundreds of Morales supporters waved the multi-colored Wiphala, the flag of native people of the Andes associated with Morales’ government, shouting: “She must quit!”
“She’s declared herself president without having a quorum in the parliament,” said one protester, Julio Chipana. “She doesn’t represent us.”
Others swore their enduring loyalty to Morales, the country’s first indigenous leader in modern times.
“While our president and maximum leader Evo Morales is alive, the MAS will carry on,” said the party youth leader Alejandro Martinez. “He may not come back tomorrow, or the day after, but that won’t stop us from taking the streets.”
Ruben Chambi, an MAS lawmaker described her oath of office as a “media show” and told supporters that his party would reject Morales’s resignation, “so that he comes back directly and resumes his functions as president.”
Anez’s minister threatens
Anez’s Interior Minister Arturo Murillo, who announced the government, would “hunt down” a former Morales minister, Juan Ramon Quintana, accused of masterminding opposition to Anez.
Quintana “is an animal that feeds of blood,” said Murillo, while Anez has publicly insisted there would be no persecution of Morales’s inner circle.
Don’t stain yourself with blood
Evo Morales, a one-time llama shepherd from the Bolivian highlands, won praise for lifting millions out of poverty, increasing social rights and presiding over stability and high economic growth in South America’s poorest country.
Evo Morales said the decision to relinquish power had been taken in response to mounting pressure and in order to stop fellow socialist leaders from being “harassed, persecuted and threatened.”
“While I have life I’ll stay in politics, the fight continues,” he said on Sunday. “All the people of the world have the right to free themselves from discrimination and humiliation.”
Morales called for dialogue with his political rivals but repeated his allegation that he was the victim of a coup.
Speaking at a press conference in Mexico City, Morales called for an end to the violence.
“I have a message for the police and the armed forces: don’t stain yourselves with the blood of the people,” he said.
Morales dismissed an Organization of American States (OAS) report that found there had been “clear manipulations” of the vote, which would have handed him his fourth term in office. He said his rightwing opponents had plotted the coup from the night of the vote.
“The OAS is not at the service of the people of Latin America. It is at the service of the U.S.A.,” he said. “We built a lot with so much sacrifice and now this coup is destroying Bolivia.”
Putin urges “common sense” amid chaos
The power vacuum in Bolivia has brought the country to the edge of a Libya-style disaster, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned.
As protests consume other Latin American countries, Putin urged leaders to use “common sense.”
“There is a situation where there is no leadership in the country. Anarchy. It resembles Libya somewhat,” Putin told reporters on Thursday.
Commenting on the turmoil in Bolivia and on anti-government riots in Chile, Putin noted that “in Latin America things change fast.”
With Washington backing the opposition in Bolivia, he pointed out that in Latin America, “there’s some intrusion from outside that only happens when something wrong goes wrong inside.”
Using the example of the failed US efforts to depose Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, Putin suggested that the West back off and let the citizens of Latin America resolve their problems “by themselves.”
UN sends mediator
In the aftermath of the coup against Morales, the UN Secretary-General calls on Bolivians to “refrain from violence and exercise utmost restraint.”
A UN envoy is traveling to Bolivia to mediate among different political forces and achieve a peaceful solution to the crisis that the coup d’état against President Evo Morales triggered.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres entrusted this task to Jean Arnault, a French diplomat who will serve as his envoy and meet with all Bolivian actors.
Guterres’ decision comes just some hours after Evo Morales asked the UN, European countries and the Catholic Church to support a “dialogue to pacify” Bolivia.
According to Dujarric, Guterres has not spoken to Morales, who is currently a political asylee in Mexico.
Venezuela’s FM in Managua
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Thursday arrived in Managua, Nicaragua, to participate in the Meeting of the Political Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples (ALBA), which is expected to analyze the coup in Bolivia and its consequences for the region.
Argentina Congress rejects the coup
Even the Argentine Right admitted that there has been a “coup against democracy” in Bolivia.
Both chambers of the Argentine parliament on Wednesday passed resolutions to condemn the coup d’état against Bolivia’s President Evo Morales.
In the Senate, both the Left and the Right presented draft resolutions to condemn the ongoing political events in the neighboring Bolivia.
“Evo Morales was forced to asylum in another country because the army and the police broke their constitutional obligations and that means a coup d’état,” Senator Mario Pais said.
The right-wing block, which supports Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri, presented a project to reject the “coup to democracy.”
According to the Radical Civic Union (UCR) senator Silvia Giacoppo, Evo Morales would have been responsible for what happened because “he tried to perpetuate himself in power.”
Despite this sort of ideological resistances, the Argentine senators ended up approving the project presented by the Left, which mentioned the words “coup d’état.”
In Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies, which met on Wednesday for the first time after two months of inactivity, the Front for Victory (FV) and the Justicialist Party (PJ) presented a draft resolution, which was also approved with the votes of most lawmakers.
“The resolution declaring that there is a coup d’état in Bolivia has been approved,” the Chamber of Deputies president Emilio Monzo said.
The deputies’ resolution expresses “its repudiation of the coup d’état perpetrated in Bolivia, which forced President Evo Morales and his vice president to resign to preserve peace.”
“It also appeals to the restoration of the constitutional order and democracy,” the FV-PJ bench leader Agustin Rossi said and warned that “the U.S. has a lot to do with the coup.”
While both Chambers were discussing their resolution projects on Wednesday, the Macri administration continued to avoid public statements regarding what is happening in Bolivia.
Alberto offers Evo Morales Argentina as a home
“If I had been president, I would have offered (Evo) political asylum from the first day. Argentina is the house of all Bolivians,” declared Alberto Fernandez in Montevideo, during his visit to support candidate Daniel Martinez from Frente Amplio, in the second round of general elections in Uruguay.
After meeting his homolog, Tabare Vazquez, Fernandez addressed media to express his solidarity and concerned about the plurinational state after the coup, which happened last Sunday.
When asked about the possibility of welcoming the Bolivian indigenous leader in Argentina, the winning candidate of Frente de Todos answered that he would be pleased with the idea and extended the offer to vice-president Alvaro Garcia Linera.
Alberto Fernandez advocated letting each nation solve its own future throughout votes and without foreign pressures: “There is a continent that is demanding more progressivism. I feel that we are on a continent that is reviewing these times. What needs to be preserved is institutionality, and when democracy is in crisis we have to save it with more democracy, not less.”
UK and U.S. warns citizens
The UK and the U.S. warned their citizens to avoid travel to Bolivia, with the U.S. ordering the departure of diplomatic family members and non-emergency U.S. government employees.