One Bolivian Official Wants To Jail Evo Morales For The Rest Of His Life But His Supporters Vow To Fight Back
As protests and marches continue to plague Bolivia each and every day, one government minister isn’t afraid to add fuel to the fire. The government’s interior minister has vowed to throw former President Evo Morales in jail on terrorism charges.
The country’s Interior Minister has promised to send Morales to jail for the rest of his life for actions he says amount to terrorism.
A top Bolivian official (the new right-wing Interior Minister) has vowed to jail the former president Evo Morales for the rest of his life, accusing the exiled former President of inciting anti-government protests that he claimed amounted to terrorism.
In an interview with the Guardian, Arturo Murillo claimed Morales had been orchestrating efforts to “strangle” Bolivian cities by ordering followers to erect roadblocks that would starve its residents of fuel and food. Murillo claimed that an audio recording – which supposedly shows Morales giving such instructions – was definitive proof of the alleged crime and said he was “200%” certain it was genuine.
“This is terrorism and this is sedition,” he said. “We have asked for the maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.”
Murillo added: “Any terrorist should spend the rest of their life in prison – any terrorist – Evo Morales or whoever. It’s not about whether you’re an ex-president or white or black or a campesino … In fact, it’s even worse when it’s an ex-president. An ex-president should be sentenced twice over because people trust in their president.”
Experts worry about the sensationalist claims and the damage being done to Bolivian democracy.
Experts on Bolivian politics describe Murillo’s claim as a worrying publicity stunt that illustrates how the right-wing interim government is taking increasingly extreme measures to crack down on Morales and his party, MAS, in the wake of his controversy-shrouded resignation two weeks ago.
“What those charges are designed to do is keep Morales out of the country and cast his potential candidacy — in these elections or any future elections should he decide to come back — into doubt in the minds of a lot of Bolivian voters,” Calla Hummel, a political scientist at the University of Miami, told Vox.
Analysts say that Morales could try to return to power, despite the fact that his own party has demonstrated interest in carrying on without him.
For his part, Morales completely denies the allegations and vows to return to Bolivia.
But Mr Morales has rejected the accusations and claims they are merely a ploy to stop him returning to his country, although he apparently didn’t rule out the audio being genuine.
According to The Guardian, he said: “I talk to everyone who calls me. Sometimes I don’t know them. Sometimes they seek guidance.”
The left-wing politician was forced to flee his country to Mexico after the army urged him to quit. Violent protests crippled parts of the country since his resignation which Mr Morales claims is a military coup.
However, doing so will prove difficult since Bolivia’s interim president has annulled the results from the last election and legally banned Morales from running in the next.
On Sunday, Bolivian interim president Jeanine Áñez signed a law that annulled the results of Morales’s election and prevents him from running in the next one, which should be held within the next few months. The law received unanimous support in Congress — meaning that MAS backed the idea of moving ahead to the next election without Morales as a candidate. Yet experts say Morales still commands huge support in Bolivia, particularly among poor, rural Bolivians, and it is within the realm of possibility that he could try to stage a comeback.
Two days after Morales resigned, Jeanine Áñez swore herself into power as interim president without the requisite presence of the legislative branch, which is still controlled by MAS. And instead of acting in a nonpartisan manner — her only political mandate is to hold new elections swiftly after Morales’s resignation — she has pursued an aggressive right-wing agenda.
During her swearing in, she said, “The Bible has returned to the government palace.” The move was a pointed attack on Morales, since the constitution he passed in 2009 placed Christianity on equal footing with indigenous spiritual traditions.
Áñez quickly set up a transition cabinet with almost no indigenous people, but full of business elites who oppose Morales. This was striking because Morales was the first indigenous president of Bolivia, and the country’s majority-indigenous population was considered his core base.