BOLIVIA. La Paz: On Thursday, parliament approved a trial of responsibilities for transitional president Jeanine Añez and 11 of her ministers. The former president and members of her administration face charges for corruption and murder in relation to events that transpired during their brief stewardship, which began in November 2019.
This comes barely a week after the democratic election of a new president, Luis Arce of the Movimento al Socialismo (MAS) party.
A legacy punctuated by scandal
Añez took control of the nation after a brief and bloody coup that was ignited by the discovery of election fraud last October. As a result, former president Evo Morales resigned and fled the country, after which, Añez came to power through the laws of succession.
After Morales fled the country in November 2019, demonstrations lead by his followers popped up like wildfires throughout the country, some of which turned violent. Añez stands accused of authorizing the use of deadly force by the military to bring the protesters to heel. This ended with the deaths of an estimated 35 people, the worst casualties occurring in the towns of Sacaba and Senkata. These numbers were released after an investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Compounding this is the imputation of the embezzlement of government funds during the pandemic lockdown, which started in March of 2020. A joint session of the chamber of deputies and the senate already approved the charges and subsequent trial with a two-thirds majority vote. This was after an investigative committee delivered its report, which recommended a criminal trial for the accused parties.
Añez could face life in prison
President of the senate and MAS party member Eva Copa explained the recommendations for a criminal trial will be sent for consideration to the Attorney General’s Office, which then proceeds to congress for final approval.
Congressional approval could be reached as early as next week. However, the official sign off of congress will become certain once the MAS administration regains control of the government, which happens after the inauguration of the newly elected president, Luis Arce, takes place on 11 Nov.
The maximum sentence for criminal charges, even murder, in Bolivia is 30 years. This could equate to a life sentence for Añez, who is 53 years old.
A declaration of innocence
Social media was buzzing this morning after former president Añez made a statement addressing the charges leveled against her. “I am innocent of your accusations, I only ask for an impartial investigation,” Añez published on Twitter.
The former president concluded by adding, “I am going to defend myself and I will do it from Bolivia.”