Breaking News

Bolivian Police Detain Leader Of Alleged Coup Attempt

Bolivian Police Detain Leader Of Alleged Coup Attempt

Bolivian police have arrested the leader of an apparent attempted coup shortly after soldiers stormed the presidential palace in La Paz. The incident saw hundreds of troops and armored vehicles occupying Murillo Square, where key government buildings are located. An armored Bolivian police vehicle breached the palace gate, allowing soldiers to enter before later withdrawing.

The rebel military leader, Gen Juan José Zúñiga, who spearheaded the action, expressed intentions to “restructure democracy” and hinted at a change in government while initially respecting President Luis Arce. He was subsequently apprehended. Gen Zúñiga had been relieved of his duties earlier after making controversial remarks about Bolivia’s former president, Evo Morales.

Read more: Israeli Forces’ Dog Attack on Elderly Palestinian Goes Viral

President Arce denounced the coup attempt and urged the public to defend democracy through organization and mobilization. Pro-democracy demonstrators rallied in support of the government, spurred by President Arce’s televised message from inside the palace confronting Gen Zúñiga and appointing new military commanders.

The coup attempt followed Gen Zúñiga’s dismissal for suggesting he would arrest Mr Morales if he sought office again, despite being barred. Morales, exiled since 2019 over election result allegations, condemned the coup and called for legal action against Zúñiga and accomplices.

Investigations are ongoing, including criminal charges against the head of the Bolivian Navy, Vice-Adm Juan Arnez Salvador, also detained. The motivations behind Gen Zúñiga’s coup attempt remain unclear amid political and judicial tensions in Bolivia, prompting calls for a thorough investigation into the unfolding events.

Wednesday’s events appear to have been a brief and poorly executed military uprising rather than a broader unraveling of power. The weeks ahead will clarify whether Gen Zuñiga’s actions were an isolated incident. While the government now seems more vulnerable, any future challenges to Mr. Arce’s administration are likely to be political rather than military in nature.

Mr. Morales urged his supporters, particularly from Bolivia’s indigenous coca-growers movement, to protest against the attempted coup. This display of popular support likely bolstered resistance against Gen Zuñiga’s plans, which included freeing political prisoners like former leader Jeanine Áñez.

Despite internal political tensions within their shared party, both Mr. Arce and Mr. Morales maintain an alliance. However, concerns persist that Mr. Morales may seek another term, following his attempt to circumvent the constitution in 2019. Despite winning the subsequent election, violent protests forced him to resign and flee the country.

Jeanine Áñez, who served as interim leader from 2019-20, was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for her alleged role in a coup against Mr. Morales. Mr. Arce later won a re-run election in 2020.

Formerly allies, Mr. Arce and Mr. Morales have recently differed on many issues but stood united in condemning the use of military force for political change in Bolivia. Before Mr. Morales took office in 2005, Bolivia was among the most politically unstable nations in the Americas. His presidency initially brought much-needed stability to the Andean nation, although it ended controversially.

Mr. Arce, elected after turmoil following the 2019 election, likely found reassurance in the swift regional response. Left-wing governments in Venezuela and Colombia swiftly denounced the events and called for democracy to prevail. The United States also urged for calm, while Paraguay’s President Santiago Peña, from the center-right, condemned the attempted coup.

Even Bolivians who opposed Mr. Morales’ socialist leadership would be reluctant to return to a dark era in South America’s history, marked by military interventions that often removed democratically elected leaders through force and human rights abuses.