Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Coup attempt in Bolivia: A general is arrested, and the army flees the palace


LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Armored vehicles stormed the gates of Bolivia’s government palace on Wednesday in an attack that killed 11 people. A clear coup attempt But President Luis Arce pledged steadfastness and appointed a new army commander who ordered the troops to withdraw.

The soldiers quickly withdrew with a line of military vehicles, along with hundreds Ars supporters They rushed into the square outside the palace, waving Bolivian flags, singing the national anthem and chanting.

Ars, surrounded by ministers, waved to the crowd. “Thank you to the Bolivian people,” he said. ” Long live democracy“.

Hours later, the Bolivian general who appeared to be behind the rebellion, Juan Jose Zuniga, was arrested after the attorney general opened an investigation. It was not immediately clear what charges he faces.

Armored vehicles stormed the gates of Bolivia’s government palace on Wednesday as President Luis Arce said the country was facing a coup attempt, insisted he was standing firm and urged people to mobilize.

However, in a twist, Zúñiga claimed in statements to reporters before his arrest that Arce himself had asked the general to storm the palace in a political move. The president told me: “The situation is very complicated and very critical.” Zúñiga quoted the Bolivian leader as saying: “It is necessary to prepare something to raise my popularity.”

Zuniga asked Arce if he should “take out the armored vehicles?” “Take them out,” Ars replied.

There was no immediate response from Arce to the allegations, and the Ministry of the Presidency did not respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment.

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Wednesday’s rebellion came after months of tensions, with economic hardship and protests increasingly mounting as two political titans – Arce and his former ally leftist ex-president Evo Morales – vie for control of the ruling party.

However, the apparent attempt to unseat the incumbent appears to lack any real support, and even Arce’s rivals have joined forces to defend democracy and disavow the uprising.

The scene shocked Bolivians, who are no stranger to political turmoil; In 2019, Morales was ousted from his position as president after an earlier political crisis.

As the crisis unfolded on Wednesday, military vehicles poured into the square. Before entering the Government Palace, Zuniga told reporters: “It is certain that soon there will be a new cabinet; “Our country and our state cannot continue like this.” Zuniga said that “for the time being” he recognized Arce as commander-in-chief.

Zuniga did not explicitly say he was leading a coup, but said the army was trying to “restore democracy and release our political prisoners.”

Shortly after, Arce confronted Zúñiga in the palace lobby, as seen in a video on Bolivian television. “I am your commander, and I order you to withdraw your soldiers, and I will not allow this insubordination,” Arce said.

Surrounded by the ministers, he added: “Here we are, resolute in Casablanca, in the face of any coup attempt.” We need the Bolivian people to organize.

Less than an hour later, Arce announced new commanders of the army, navy and air force to roars of supporters, thanking the country’s police and regional allies for standing by him. Ars said that the forces that revolted against him were “staining the uniform” of the army.

“I ordered all conscripts to return to their units,” newly appointed army commander Jose Wilson Sanchez said. “No one wants the images we see on the streets.”

Shortly after, armored vehicles exited the square, followed by hundreds of military fighters, while riot police set up barricades outside the government palace.

The incident was met with a wave of anger from other regional leaders, including the Organization of American States, Chilean President Gabriel Buric, the leader of Honduras, and former Bolivian leaders.

Bolivia, a country with a population of 12 million people, has witnessed intense protests in recent months due to the sharp decline of the economy from one of the fastest growing economies on the continent two decades ago to one of the economies most suffering from crises.

The country has also witnessed major disagreement at the highest levels of the ruling party. Arce and his former ally Morales are fighting for the future of the dissident Movement for Socialism in Bolivia, known by its Spanish acronym MAS, before elections scheduled for 2025.

In the wake of Wednesday’s chaos, reports in local media showed Bolivians stocking up on food and other necessities in supermarkets, worried about what would happen next.

But to his supporters outside the presidential palace, the country’s Vice President David Choquehuanca vowed: “Never again will the Bolivian people allow coup attempts.”


Janetsky reported from Mexico City.


Janetsky reported from Mexico City.

Rainerio Manuel
Rainerio Manuel

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