Protesters, Police Clash In Bolivia’s Santa Cruz

 

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest to demand a census for 2023 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on November 11, 2022. – The protests that have been going on for 20 days in the opposition region of Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s economic engine and which is demanding a census, have left four dead, a woman raped, and 178 injured, according to an official balance sheet released on November 10, 2022. (Photo by Rodrigo URZAGASTI / AFP)

 

Riot police used tear gas to quell violent street protests in Bolivia’s largest city on Friday, the latest disturbances in three weeks of unrest over demands that a new census be conducted.

Vendors and public transit workers set tires ablaze in streets and threw rocks at opponents of leftist President Luis Arce in the center of Santa Cruz, a key hub of the energy industry in Bolivia’s tropical lowlands.

Television footage showed that a peasant federation office affiliated with the ruling party was looted and burned. Later, the headquarters of the largest local union, the Central Obrera Departamental (COD), was also looted.

Santa Cruz is a stronghold of center-right political forces that are opposed to the Arce government. They argue that the region is not adequately politically represented and receives fewer funds than it should, as calculations are based on a 2012 census.

On Friday, Arce announced that the government would be sticking to plans to hold the next census in 2024, announcing that it would be held on March 23 that year.

He also promised to redistribute the state’s economic funds to all regions within six months of the new census results.

Santa Cruz plans to hold a people’s assembly next Sunday to define its position in response to the president’s announcement.

Earlier on Friday, opposition protesters in Santa Cruz set up barricades of burned tires and claimed they were beaten by police.

Luis Fernando Camacho, the right-wing governor of Santa Cruz province, said the protesters were “set upon by the police and by MAS,” Arce’s ruling Movement To Socialism party.

Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo, however, said that the demonstration of vendors and drivers seeking an end to the opposition roadblocks “was the peaceful march of the people that was brutally attacked by radical sectors that seek confrontation”.

Authorities offered no official count of arrests or injuries sustained in the violence on Friday.

The federal government said that four people have been killed and 178 injured in unrest over the past three weeks in Santa Cruz.

In his statement on public television, Arce called for “the return of calm, peace and normalcy in the department of Santa Cruz”.

AFP

Bolivian Ex-President Anez Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison

In this file photo taken on January 22, 2020 Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez gives a speech during the celebration of Plurinational State day at Palacio Quemado, in La Paz. Bolivian ex-president Jeanine Anez was sentenced to 10 years in prison on June 10, 222 over an alleged plot to oust her rival and predecessor Evo Morales.
JORGE BERNAL / AFP

 

Bolivian ex-president Jeanine Anez was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison, more than a year after her arrest for an alleged plot — dismissed as fictional by many — to oust her rival and predecessor Evo Morales.

Anez, who has been held in pre-trial detention since March 2021, has consistently denounced what she calls political persecution.

The former interim leader will serve 10 years in a women’s prison in La Paz, the administrative capital’s First Sentencing Court announced in a decision that comes three months after her trial began.

Convicted of crimes “contrary to the constitution and a dereliction of duties,” Anez was sentenced to “a punishment of 10 years” over accusations stemming from when she was a senator, before becoming president.

Prosecutors had asked for a 15-year jail sentence.

The former leader had already announced she would appeal if convicted, saying: “We will not stop there, we will go before the international justice system.”

Also sentenced to 10 years were the former head of the armed forces, William Kaliman, and the former head of the police, Yuri Calderon, both of whom are on the run.

Anez still faces a separate, pending court case for sedition and other charges related to her short presidential stint.

At the start of her presidency, Anez had called in the police and military to restore order. The post-election conflict caused 22 deaths, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

For that, Anez also faces genocide charges, which carry prison sentences of between 10 and 20 years.

‘Political Persecution’

Right-wing Anez became Bolivia’s interim president in November 2019 after Morales, who claimed to have won a fourth consecutive term as president, fled the country in the face of mass protests against alleged electoral fraud.

The Organization of American States (OAS) said at the time it had found clear evidence of voting irregularities in favor of Morales, who had been in power for 14 years.

Many potential successors to Morales — all members of his MAS party — also resigned and fled, leaving opposition member Anez, then vice-president of the Senate, next in line.

Virtually unknown, the lawyer and former television presenter proclaimed herself interim president of the Andean nation on November 12, 2019, two days after Morales’ resignation.

The Constitutional Court recognized Anez’s mandate as interim, caretaker president, but MAS members disputed her legitimacy.

Elections were held a year later, and won by Luis Arce — a Morales protege.

With the presidency and congress both firmly in MAS control, Morales returned to Bolivia in November 2020.

After handing over the presidential reins to Arce, Anez was arrested in March 2021, accused of irregularly assuming power.

The arrest occurred in the city of Trinidad, located in the country’s Beni department, where she was born and where she returned after her tenure in office.

“I denounce before Bolivia and the world that in an act of abuse and political persecution, the MAS government has ordered my arrest,” she said on Twitter at the time.

In detention, Anez would go on to carry out hunger strikes.

Shortly before the start of her trial in mid-February, she echoed the same sentiment, stating: “I assumed the presidency of Bolivia without asking for it, without seeking it and even less expecting it… with the sole mission of organizing elections and calming a country in crisis.”

According to one of Anez’s lawyers, Luis Guillen, the fact that multiple cases were being pursued against her at the same time violated the law.

He additionally maintained that the court that weighed in was not capable of deciding constitutional matters, and that the former president would need trying in congress.

The IACHR described the 22 deaths that occurred at the beginning of Anez’s tenure as “massacres,” and found they indicated “serious violations of human rights.”

Unlike the other accusations against Anez, the case will be dealt with by congress, which will decide whether or not to hold a trial.

Bolivian Ex-President Anez Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison

Bolivian opposition leader and senator Jeanine Anez Chavez speaks during a news conference following Bolivia’s former president Evo Morales’ exit out of the country, in La Paz, Bolivia, November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Marco Bello

 

 

Bolivian ex-president Jeanine Anez was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison, more than a year after her arrest for an alleged plot — dismissed as fictional by many — to oust her rival and predecessor Evo Morales.

Anez, 54, has been held in pre-trial detention since March 2021, and has consistently denounced what she calls political persecution.

The former interim leader will serve 10 years in a women’s prison in La Paz, the city’s First Sentencing Court announced in a decision that comes three months after her trial began.

The court said she had been convicted in the criminal case for crimes “contrary to the Constitution and a breach of duties… sentencing her to a punishment of 10 years,” over accusations stemming from when she was a senator, before becoming president.

Prosecutors had asked for a 15-year jail sentence.

Anez still faces charges in a separate, pending case for sedition and other charges related to her short presidential stint.

Right-wing Anez became Bolivia’s interim president in November 2019 after Morales, who claimed to have won a fourth consecutive term as president, fled the country in the face of mass protests against alleged electoral fraud.

The Organization of American States (OAS) said at the time it had found clear evidence of voting irregularities in favor of Morales, who had been in power for 14 years.

Many who would have succeeded Morales — all members of his MAS party — also resigned and fled. This left opposition member Anez, then vice-president of the senate, as the highest ranking official remaining.

The Constitutional Court recognized Anez’s mandate as interim, caretaker president, but MAS members disputed her legitimacy.

Elections were held a year later, and won by Luis Arce — a Morales protege.

 

 

After handing over the presidential reins, Anez was arrested in March 2021, accused of irregularly assuming the presidency.

At the start of her short-lived presidency, Anez had called in the police and military to restore order. The post-election conflict caused about 35 deaths, according the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

For that, Anez also faces genocide charges.

With the presidency and congress both firmly in MAS control, Morales returned to Bolivia in November 2020.

Four Dead, 70 Injured In Bolivian University Stampede

A wounded inmate is transported from a truck to an ambulance after a riot, outside the Bella Vista prison in Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Ecuador, on May 9, 2022. Juan Carlos PEREZ / AFP

 

At least 43 inmates died on Monday in Ecuador’s latest grisly prison riot, the public prosecutor said.

Authorities said a fight broke out between the rival Los Lobos and R7 gangs inside the Bellavista prison in Santo Domingo de Los Colorados, in the center of Ecuador some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Quito.

“For now there are 43 inmates dead,” said the public prosecutor’s office on Twitter, adding that the situation was “developing.”

The South American country’s prison authority SNAI said it has activated “security protocols” to contain the “disturbances to order.”

Interior minister Patricio Carrillo initially told reporters that two inmates had been killed before later increasing that figure to 41 in a press conference. The public prosecutor’s office then tweeted the latest death toll.

Carrillo had also claimed authorities were in control.

During the riot, at least 112 people tried to escape but were detained by security forces inside the prison grounds, said Carrillo.

Inmates with facial injuries were taken by truck and ambulance to medical facilities while family members of those incarcerated gathered at the prison looking for information, AFP reporters at the scene said.

Authorities have said they will carry out a search for weapons and transfer gang leaders to a different prison.

Prior to this one, around 350 inmates had been killed in five separate prison riots since February 2021.

Just last month, at least 20 inmates died inside the El Turi prison in Cuenca, southern Ecuador.

Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso insists the problem inside the facilities mirrors that outside, where drug gangs are vying for control of trafficking routes.

Those rivalries among inmates sometimes explode into violence, with some prisoners hacked to death or beheaded with machetes.

Even with greater investment in the prison system, the creation of a commission to pacify facilities and new policies such as the holding of the most dangerous prisoners at a single penitentiary, have not reduced the bloody violence.

Ecuador has also seen a rise in street crime and drug trafficking which the government has tried to tackle by declaring a state of emergency in the three worst-affected provinces: Guayas, Manabi and Esmeraldas.

The country seized a record 210 tons of drugs in 2021 and has already seized another 82 tons this year.

AFP

Mass Protests In Bolivia Over Ex-President’s Arrest

 

 

Tens of thousands of Bolivians answered an opposition call Monday for protests against the arrest and detention of former president Jeanine Anez on charges of leading a coup d’etat against her socialist predecessor Evo Morales.

Conservative Anez, 53, was placed in pre-trial detention Sunday after she was arrested on charges of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy.

“It wasn’t a coup. It was a fraud,” read a banner held by one of the protesters who defied the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic to attend marches, sit-ins in front of prosecutor’s offices and peaceful gatherings in the capital La Paz and in the cities of Cochabamba, Sucre, Trinidad and Santa Cruz.

In Santa Cruz, the country’s economic capital, some 40,000 people assembled in the Christ the Redeemer Square, which has only been the site of right-wing demonstrations in the past.

The arrest brought a rebuke from the Organization of American States (OAS), which on Monday expressed “concern about the abuse of legal mechanisms that once again have been transformed into instruments of repression by the governing party.”

“The Bolivian judicial system is not in a position to provide the minimum guarantees of a fair trial,” the office of OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said in a statement.

It called for “the liberation of all those detained in this context, until impartial processes and mechanisms can be put in place to determine responsibilities.”

The government of Peru reported that one of Anez’s former ministers, Roxana Lizarraga, had asked for asylum in the country.

Following her arrest, Anez tweeted on Sunday: “They are sending me to detention for four months to await a trial for a ‘coup’ that never happened.”

In an indictment seen by AFP, prosecutors had originally asked for Anez and two ministers in her year-long caretaker government to be held for six months as a “precautionary” measure.

Anez came to power in November 2019 after Morales and several senior allies in his Movement for Socialism (MAS) party resigned following weeks of protest at his controversial reelection to an unconstitutional fourth term.

As Morales fled into exile, Anez was the most senior parliamentarian left and was sworn in by Congress as the interim president despite the lack of a quorum, with many MAS legislators boycotting the session.

Morales and his MAS allies then claimed they had been the victims of a coup.

In an interview at that time, Almagro argued that the only coup was committed by Morales in manipulating the various branches of government to allow him to stand for a fourth consecutive term as president in a country whose constitution limits leaders to two successive mandates.

The presidency is now back in the hands of MAS since Luis Arce won last year’s general election.

‘Arbitrary, illegal’

Anez says she is the victim of political persecution, while the UN, European Union and United States have called for due process to be respected.

The US government said Monday it was “following with concern the developments surrounding the Bolivian government’s recent arrest of former officials.”

Carlos Mesa, a centrist former Bolivian president, took to Twitter to describe Anez’s detention as “arbitrary, illegal, and a violation of her human rights.”

Anez has sent letters to the EU and the OAS asking them to send observers to Bolivia.

Morales, the country’s first indigenous head of state, was himself the target of sedition and terrorism charges in an investigation opened shortly after Anez took power.

But he returned from exile last November following Arce’s landslide victory in October’s election.

Following his departure, Morales branded Anez “a coup-mongering right-wing senator.”

He said Anez had “declared herself… interim president without a legislative quorum, surrounded by a group of accomplices.”

Last month, Congress voted to give amnesty to those prosecuted during Anez’s presidency for acts of violence during the chaos that followed Morales’ resignation.

Also arrested on Saturday were Anez’s former energy minister Rodrigo Guzman and his justice counterpart Alvaro Coimbra.

The 17-page indictment said the arrests were part of an investigation into a conspiracy to carry out “an alleged coup d’etat” starting three days after the 2019 elections.

The document lists Anez and five former ministers, as well as police and military chiefs.

On Sunday, right-wing civilian activist Yassir Molina, whom the government said led a group participating in the 2019 protests against Morales, was also arrested.

Justice Minister Ivan Lima insisted on Saturday that the legal system was independent from the government.

“What we’re looking for is not four months’ detention, what we’re looking for is 30 years because there were bloody massacres” during the protests that followed Morales’s resignation, Lima said.

Bolivia Ex-President Anez Arrested In ‘Coup’ Probe

FILES) This file handout photo taken on August 06, 2020 shows former Bolivian interim president Jeanine Anez delivering a message during the celebration of the 195th anniversary of the Bolivian Independence at the government palace in La Paz. 
Bolivian Presidency / AFP

 

Bolivia’s former interim president Jeanine Anez was arrested early Saturday in relation to the 2019 political crisis in which she replaced predecessor Evo Morales, according to a government minister.

“I inform the Bolivian people that Mrs. Jeanine Anez has already been apprehended and is currently in the hands of the police,” minister of government Carlos Eduardo del Castillo wrote on Twitter and Facebook.

The conservative politician had faced an arrest warrant on charges of terrorism, sedition, and conspiracy over an alleged coup after she replaced Morales in November 2019 when he fled the country during widespread protests against his re-election.

Former ministers who backed her one-year caretaker government were also being detained by authorities, media reports said.

Castillo congratulated the police for their “great work” in the “historic task of giving justice” to the Bolivian people.

Anez had tweeted an arrest order she said was issued by the public prosecutor’s office, with the response: “The political persecution has begun.” She later tweeted to again condemn the arrest warrant.

The prosecutor’s office had not publicly announced the warrant.

But Bolivian television broadcast images of a heavy police presence around her home in the northern city of Trinidad, as well as of former energy minister Rodrigo Guzman and his justice counterpart Alvaro Coimbra, both listed on the warrant, being detained.

Anez, a former senator, took over as caretaker president after Morales left Bolivia. He had lost the support of the armed forces amid violent protests against his re-election to an unconstitutional fourth term.

Several Morales allies who held senior posts also fled, leaving Anez the most senior Senate official still standing.

– Morales is back –

Morales returned from exile in November last year and took over the leadership of the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party he founded.

Last month, Bolivia’s socialist-dominated congress voted to give amnesty to those prosecuted during conservative president Anez’s year-long government for acts of violence during the chaos that followed Morales’ resignation.

Bolivia’s congress is dominated by the MAS, which romped to victory in an October 2020 general election that saw the party’s Luis Arce win the presidency.

MAS party member Lidia Patty filed a complaint against Anez last December, claiming she, several of her former ministers, ex-military and police members, and others had promoted the overthrow of Morales, who had been in power for 14 years.

“The MAS has decided to return to the style of dictatorship. It is a shame because Bolivia does not need dictators, it needs freedom and solutions,” Anez tweeted Friday.

Coimbra protested the “illegal and abusive” arrest of his former colleague Guzman, before he, too, was brought in.

“We have said that we will always make ourselves available to the law,” Coimbra told Bolivian TV as he was placed into a police vehicle.

Anez, a former lawyer, is a longtime critic of leftist Morales.

She had sought to cast herself as the only one able to lead the country out of its post-Morales crisis.

Even as she vowed to “pacify the country,” Morales at the time branded her “a coup-mongering right-wing senator.”

He said Anez had “declared herself… interim president without a legislative quorum, surrounded by a group of accomplices.”

Conservative ex-president Jorge Quiroga and centrist Carlos Mesa, separately condemned the earlier arrest warrants.

“We are in a process of political persecution worse than in dictatorships. It is executed against those who defended democracy and freedom in 2019,” Mesa said on Twitter.

-AFP

Bolivia Judge Confirms Ex-President Morales Cannot Run For Senate

(FILES) Bolivia’s government announced on September 4, 2020 it has filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against former president Evo Morales for “crimes against humanity” over last month’s mass roadblock movement. The government accused Morales of “terrorism and genocide” over the 12-day campaign that saw hospitals complain they were unable to receive urgent medical supplies needed to treat coronavirus patients. (Photo by Alejandro PAGNI / AFP)

 

A judge in Bolivia on Monday ruled that former president Evo Morales is not eligible to run for a senate seat in October’s elections, the government announced.

Justice Minister Alvaro Coimbra wrote on Twitter, “Urgent Evo Morales Disqualified,” after Judge Alfredo Jaimes Terrazas confirmed the former president was barred from running, in line with a decision by the Supreme Electoral Commission in February.

“They denied protection to Evo Morales, democracy won,” said lawyer Williams Bascope, one of the judicial team who weighed the constitutional protections presented by the ex-president’s defense team.

Morales, 60, is a hugely influential figure in Bolivia even though he currently lives in exile in Argentina after 14 years in power. He fled into exile following three weeks of protests against his controversial re-election to an unconstitutional fourth term last October.

Morales had appealed to the constitutional court in La Paz  to overturn the electoral commission’s decision and permit him to run as a senate candidate for the central region of Cochabamba, where he emerged as a political leader decades ago.

“Evo Morales cannot be a candidate for senator because he lives in Argentina,” said Bascope.

Neither Morales nor his party, the Movement for Socialism (MAS), issued a statement in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.

Bolivia heads to the polls on October 18, a year after the elections that triggered mass protests over allegations of being rigged.

 

 

-AFP

President Of Bolivian Football Federation Dies After Contracting COVID-19

 

The president of the Bolivian Football Federation (FBF), Cesar Salinas, died Sunday after being hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month, officials said.

The federation confirmed his death in a statement that highlighted his “dedication and commitment to national and international football.”

Salinas, 58, had chaired the FBF since 2018.

READ ALSO: Ligue 1 Club Monaco Sack Coach Moreno

He was a director of The Strongest in La Paz, a century-old Bolivian soccer institution. His wife, head of the same club, also tested positive for COVID-19.

“My condolences to the family and friends of Cesar Salinas, president of the Bolivian Football Federation. They have all my support in these hard times,” wrote the interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Anez, on Twitter.

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said: “Conmebol and the South American soccer family deeply regret the death.”

Salinas had recently met with authorities to plan to restart football in Bolivia after the virus shutdown. With 11 million inhabitants, Bolivia has registered 58,136 cases and 2,106 deaths.

Bolivia Villagers Destroy 5G Masts Over COVID-19 Fears

Bolivian teacher Wilfredo Negrete Jaldin lifts his bike carrying a board on his way to his students’ homes in Aiquile, Cochabamba department, Bolivia, on June 12, 2020. – Negrete rides his bicycle for several kilometers to give lessons to his students at their homes amid the new coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

Multiple telecoms masts were destroyed Monday by Bolivian villagers who feared that 5G technology could transmit coronavirus, media reports said.

The South American country does not yet have 5G wireless infrastructure, which has been linked to the pandemic in viral posts on social media.

According to the conspiracy theory, electromagnetic radiation causes the symptoms of COVID-19, not a virus — an idea debunked by scientists.

Four communications towers were destroyed in Yapacani, near the city of Santa Cruz, local police chief Franklin Villazon was cited as saying by the newspaper El Deber.

“We were overwhelmed,” said Villazon, likening the incident to a “terrorist attack”. No serious violence was reported by police.

The villagers had previously held protests demanding the mayor take down the masts over fears that they could spread COVID-19, according to the newspaper.

Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said on Twitter that people loyal to former president Evo Morales were destroying masts in Yapacani as well as San Julian and Ichilo, two other eastern towns.

READ ALSO: Africa Urges UN Probe Of US ‘Systemic Racism’, Police Violence

Bolivia’s communications ministry issued a statement reminding people that 5G technology is not available in the country and that it is not linked to the respiratory illness.

Similar attacks on communications towers have been seen elsewhere, including in Britain.

A man was jailed last week in northwest England for setting fire to a 5G mast following fears the technology was dangerous and spreading the coronavirus.

Bolivia has reported more than 19,000 virus cases, including 632 deaths.

AFP

Bolivia’s President Asks All Ministers To Resign

(FILES) In this file picture taken on November 13, 2019, Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Anez speaks while taking the oath to the military command on her first day in power, at the Quemado presidential palace in La Paz, on November 13, 2019. Anez asked for the resignation of all her ministers on January 26, 2020, two days after announcing she would stand in the May 3 presidential election and just hours after her Communications minister presented her resignation over such decision. A little-known senator, Anez assumed the presidency on November 12, two days after ow ex-president Evo Morales resigned following three weeks of sometimes violent protests against his controversial re-election in a poll the Organization of American States said was rigged.
Aizar RALDES / AFP

 

Bolivia’s interim President Jeanine Anez has asked all her ministers to resign a little more than three months before a general election.

The news Sunday came just hours after communication minister Roxana Lizarraga resigned in protest at Anez’s decision to stand as a presidential candidate in the May 3 election.

Anez assumed the presidency on November 12, two days after Evo Morales resigned following three weeks of sometimes violent protests against his controversial re-election in a poll the Organization of American States said was rigged.

Anez, a little-known senator at the time, had said she had no intention of standing for the full-time job.

But that changed on Friday when she announced her candidacy.

Anez “has decided to ask for the resignation of all ministers to approach this new stage in the management of the democratic transition,” the presidency said in a statement.

The statement added that it was “usual” in an electoral cycle to have “adjustments in the working team of the Executive.”

Anez said she would name a new cabinet of 20 ministers “as soon as possible.”

Hours earlier, Lizarraga, who was appointed by Anez on November 13, criticized the interim president for having “lost sight of her objectives.”

Lizarraga said Anez had “started to fall into the same evils” as the party of her predecessor Morales.

“This is not the path the citizenry has signaled to us,” said Lizarraga.

– ‘Making a big mistake’ –

Anez was criticized for going back on her initial commitment not to run for president.

“I respect President Anez, but I think she’s making a big mistake” because “she has not been appointed to propose herself as a candidate for the presidency,” former president Carlos Mesa, 66, said.

Former presidential candidate Samuel Doria Medina voiced his opposition and ex-president Morales, in exile in Argentina, reminded his successor that “she promised not to be a candidate,” although he said, “it is her right.”

There is also still doubt about the legality of Anez contesting the election.

Lawmaker Luis Felipe Dorado said he would consult the Constitutional Court.

Anez came only fourth on 12 percent in an opinion poll published on Sunday that was led by Morales’s Movement for Socialism (MAS) candidate with 26 percent.

MAS headed the survey by Mercados y Muestras and published in the Pagina Siete newspaper, which was conducted before the party had announced the name of its candidate, former economy minister Luis Arce.

“In all the polls we are first,” Morales tweeted in reaction, adding: “We are ready to beat the coup and regain the homeland.”

Parties have until February 3 to register their candidates.

AFP

Mexico Offers Asylum To Bolivia’s Morales, Says Foreign Minister

(FILES) In this file picture taken on December 19, 2005 Bolivian presidential candidate Evo Morales Ayma waves to supporters in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned on November 10, 2019, caving in following three weeks of sometimes-violent protests over his disputed re-election after the army and police withdrew their backing. Aizar RALDES / AFP

 

Mexico on Sunday said it was offering asylum to Bolivia’s President Evo Morales after 20 government officials and lawmakers had sought refuge at its embassy in La Paz.

“Mexico, in accordance with its tradition of asylum and non intervention, has received 20 personalities from the Bolivian executive and legislature in the official residence in La Paz, so we would also offer asylum to Evo Morales,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter.

Bolivia’s Election Turmoil: A Timeline

 

Bolivian President Evo Morales has resigned after three weeks of turmoil stemming from a disputed October 20 election in which he was declared the winner, giving him a fourth straight term.

Here is a recap of the tensions leading to his dramatic move.

Morales seeks fourth term

On October 20, Bolivians go to the polls with Morales, Latin America’s longest serving leader, seeking a fourth straight term.

His only serious challenger is centrist Carlos Mesa, president between 2003 and 2005.

Second round?

Partial results released hours after polls close put Morales on 45 percent of the votes and Mesa 38 percent, with 84 percent of ballots counted.

A margin of 10 percentage points between candidates is required to avoid a second round runoff.

Morales has won all his previous elections in the first round.

Vote count stalls

The release of official results is inexplicably stalled overnight with 84 percent of votes counted.

On October 21, international observers ask for clarification and Mesa accuses Morales of cheating to avoid a runoff.

Opposition supporters protest outside key vote counting centers in the capital, La Paz, and in other cities.

Count change

Late October 21, the election authority releases more results showing Morales edging towards an outright victory with 95 percent of the votes counted.

Organization of American States (OAS) monitors express “deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change.” Mesa alleges fraud.

Violence breaks out at protests in several cities. Mobs torch electoral offices in the cities of Sucre and Potosi, while rival supporters clash in La Paz.

Opposition strike

On October 22, opposition groups call for a nationwide general strike from midnight “until democracy and the will of the citizens are respected.”

The vice president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal resigns, criticizing what he calls mismanagement of the election count.

There are new clashes between protesters and security forces in La Paz.

‘Coup’

On October 23, Morales likens the general strike to a right-wing coup.

Mesa urges his supporters to step up protests and insists a “second round must take place.”

He says he will not recognize the results tallied by the tribunal, which he accuses of manipulating the count to help Morales win.

Clashes break out between rival demonstrators in the opposition bastion of Santa Cruz, where offices housing the electoral authority are set on fire.

Security forces and demonstrators also clash elsewhere.

Morales declares victory

On October 24, Morales claims he has won outright.

In the evening, the election authority issues final results, giving Morales has 47.08 percent of votes and Mesa 36.52 percent.

The opposition, the EU, the US, OAS, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia urge a second round.

Fresh clashes take place between rival groups, along with road blocks and demonstrations.

On October 27, Morales says that there will be no “political negotiation” and accuses his rivals of preparing a “coup”.

Call for ‘de-escalation’

On October 28, protests deepen with around 30 wounded in clashes with security forces and between supporters of Morales and Mesa at La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

On the 29, the government invites Mesa to take part in an audit of the election results by the OAS, a body that works to promote cooperation in the Americas.

The United Nations calls for an urgent “de-escalation” of tensions.

Outside audit

As outrage grows, the OAS begins to audit the election results.

On November 3, an opposition leader vows to oust Morales and appeals to the military for its support.

The death toll in the protests rises to three on November 6 with the death of a student.

On the 8th, police officers in at least three Bolivian cities join the opposition, in some cases marching in the street with them.

On November 10, the OAS announces that it found many irregularities in its analysis of the election.

Morales calls a new election, but it is too late. Two ministers and the speaker of congress resign after their homes are attacked by opposition supporters.

The commanders of the armed forces and the police add their voices to the calls for Morales to step down.

On the evening of November 10, from his native coca growing region in central Bolivia, Morales announces his resignation after nearly 14 years in power.