This Sunday (14), the prosecution requested a six-month prison sentence for ex-president Jeanine Áñez and two of her ministers. The request has not yet been assessed by the court.
Añez, Bolivia’s former interim president, was arrested early Saturday (13) for conspiracy, sedition and terrorism following the resignation of Evo Morales in November 2019.
Añez was detained at her home in the city of Trinidad. She was found by police hiding in a box, according to the official ABI news agency. Then she was taken to a cell in the La Paz barracks.
In addition to Añez, there are arrest warrants against five ministers who were part of his government. Two of them have already been captured.
The former president considers her detention “as an act of abuse and political persecution” by the government of President Luis Arce, who accuses her “of participating in a coup that never took place” . She also said the process “has no head and no head.”
After the arrest, Josep Borrell, a senior representative of the European Union, said on Twitter that “the accusations for what happened in 2019 must be resolved with transparent justice and without political pressure”. He also called for dialogue and reconciliation.
The United States Embassy in La Paz called in a statement “that all civil rights and legal guarantees be respected.”
The Bolivian Episcopal Conference demanded, in a statement, the immediate release of the detainees. And he argued that as an institution, they cannot “remain passive, while arresting the citizens who have served Bolivia, with its limits, in difficult times in its history and in search of ways and pacification”.
The EU and the Catholic Church played a key role in the transition from Evo to Añez.
Some leaders and civil society groups have called for protests against prisons, called “political persecution” against those who “defended democracy and freedom in 2019,” said former President Carlos Mesa (2003-2005 ) on Twitter.
The main opposition parties, the right-wing conservatives, deny that there was a coup d’état in Bolivia at the end of 2019. At the time, Evo was running for a fourth term at the polls, but there was had reports of electoral fraud. Amid social upheaval and a police uprising, he resigned and went into exile in Mexico
Añez, then vice-president of the Senate, took over the interim presidency, two days after his resignation, in a controversial legislative maneuver.
The opposition said that as a former president, Añez should be tried by parliament and not by ordinary courts, but the justice minister refused the possibility of a privileged trial.
The complaint against the ex-president was presented by a bloc of MPs and former MAS MPs, captioned by Evo and the country’s current president, Luis Arce. The case went to court. In the process, the prosecution accuses Añez’s top government of causing more than 30 deaths in cracking down on protests after Evo’s departure.
Civilians have been murdered in Sacaba (Cochabamba) and Senkata (El Alto), amid government security forces crackdown on pro-Evo Morales protests.
The charges of “sedition, conspiracy and terrorism” refer to the way Áñez acted during the period he was temporarily in power – between November 12, 2019, two days after Evo’s resignation, and November 8, 2020, date Luis Arce took office, which won the elections held in October.
The penalties for the crimes described, if confirmed, range from 5 to 20 years in prison. The arrest warrant also concerns former ministers Arturo Murillo (government), Luis Fernando López (defense), Yerko Núñez (presidency), Álvaro Coimbra (justice) and Rodrígo Guzmán (energy).
Without directly citing the former president, Evo called for firm punishment. “For justice and truth for the 36 fatal victims, the more than 800 injured and more than 1,500 illegally detained during the coup. That there be an investigation and sanction against the authors and accomplices of the dictatorship which shook the economy and damaged life and democracy in Bolivia, ”he wrote on a social network on Saturday (13).
During his 11-month tenure, Añez faced stiff opposition from Evo’s party, which included acts of violence and state-suppressed roadblocks.
During the government of Añez, the Bolivian justice opened proceedings against Evo, who accused him of terrorism for having stimulated violent demonstrations. An arrest warrant was issued against him, but the former president fled abroad. The arrest warrant was quashed in October after Arce’s victory.
Añez has also been criticized for his mismanagement of the pandemic crisis. There have been cases of corruption, such as the overpriced purchase of respirators, which led to the arrest of the former health minister. A month before the October elections, she withdrew her candidacy, calling for “unity” against Evo’s party.
Áñez’s arrest came a week after her defeat in the regional elections, when she was running as governor of the department of Beni. Her performance at the polls was poor and she came third.
Right winger Luis Fernando Camacho, an ally in the maneuver that led to Evo’s resignation, emerged victorious and was elected governor of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. He is also the target of the action against Añez, but the prosecution has not ordered his arrest.