Things That Matter

The Diplomatic Incident Between Mexico And Bolivia Has Intensified With One Bolivian Official Calling AMLO A ‘Cowardly Thug’

What started as a dispute over asylum status for nine supporters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales has now spiraled out of control into a full international crisis.

Bolivia’s interim government initially contested Mexico’s decision to grant asylum to Evo Morales who fled the country. But it was Mexico’s granting of asylum to nine former Morales’ supporters within the Mexican embassy in La Paz that has started this entire diplomatic row. Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister complained that the embassy was ‘under siege’ as Bolivian security forces surrounded the complex.

This situation grew even larger on Friday, as Spain was pulled into the confrontation.

The diplomatic crisis between Mexico and Bolivia has now even pulled in the likes of Spain into the chaos.

The diplomatic situation between Bolivia and Mexico continues to reach new lows. According to Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric, Spanish diplomats visiting the Mexican compound were joined by masked and armed men. She called that a brazen attack on Bolivian sovereignty and said she’d lodge a complaint with the United Nations.

The interim government already has been feuding with Mexico, which not only gave refuge to the nine, but also sheltered ousted leader Evo Morales when he resigned the presidency on November 10 after losing the support of the military and police following days of turbulent protests over alleged fraud in his reelection bid.

The Mexican embassy in La Paz is housing nine opponents to the current Bolivian government and the government is intensifying police presence around the building.

Embassies have a different jurisdictional status in the countries that house them compared to normal office buildings of houses. According to international law and agreements, security forces in the host country do not have full rights to enter embassies as they are considered de facto territories of the guest nations.

This is why when someone is fearing for their life or escaping the law on a matter that they deem unjust, some countries decide to open its embassies for political dissidents and activists. We can think, for example, of the super famous Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder who spent years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Now supporters of Evo Morales are seeking refuge in foreign embassies of countries whose governments were politically aligned with Morales, such as AMLO’s government in Mexico.

Nine Bolivians are now housed in the Mexican embassy in La Paz, but the new government has increased police presence around the building, making staff feel threatened and basically holding the embassy under siege.

As AAP indicates: “Since Monday, Mexico has accused the new conservative Bolivian government of heightening the police presence outside the embassy in La Paz and intimidating its staff”. 

The situation is so tense that Mexico is taking matters to the international court of The Hague.

Mexico’s highest ranking diplomatic official, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, has gotten involved. As the Australian Associated Press reports: “Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told a regular news briefing on Thursday that his government was appealing to the court, based in The Hague, to mediate in the dispute, which centres on Mexico’s decision to grant asylum to nine people at its embassy.”

Ebrard weighed what is at stake in this matter, which could set a precedent in terms of what the interim government of Bolivia, a far-right coalition, might do. He said: “What is in between here is the integrity of a representation of Mexico, it is our territory. In addition to calling into question the right to asylum.”

Mexican president AMLO was also quick to weigh in: “Let us hope that the right of asylum will be reconsidered, the right to be respected, and it will deviate from any temptation to take or violate our sovereignty, by wanting to penetrate the Mexican embassy in Bolivia.” He also said that not even Pinochet acted that way, referring to the Chilean far-right dictator who ruled over the South American country with an iron fist.  

But of course the response from his Bolivian counterpart was quick to come… 

Bolivian officials have blasted Mexico’s move, claiming that Mexico asked for increased security in the first place.

Bolivia’s chancellor, Karen Longaric, has criticized Mexico’s move, saying: “No one can forward claims for actions that are not proved or based on assumptions voiced by the Mexican Foreign Ministry.” She said that it was Mexican officials themselves who asked for increased security when massive protests erupted and violence in the streets of La Paz became commonplace for weeks.

According to Sputnik News Service: “Longaric pointed out the interim government’s commitment to international law and reassured that the country’s leadership would never order security forces to enter the embassy’s territory without the due permission of the diplomatic mission.” 

In the meantime, Evo Morales has accused the United States of orchestrating a coup to oust him and to dig into the country’s lithium reserves.

Credit: Robert Sieland

In the meantime, Evo Morales, the ousted president, told AFP that big mining money is behind the change of government. He said: “It was a national and international coup d’etat. Industrialised countries don’t want competition.”

From Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is currently living in exile, Morales said that his government was seeking Chinese and Russian investment to mine the vast reserves of lithium that lay under Bolivian soil. The United States, he believes, did not want the competition and wants to mine the reserves themselves. Lithium is key for the manufacturing of computers and mobile devices, and an extremely coveted commodity in the digital age. 

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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

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Evo Morales’s Protégé Luis Arce Wins Bolivian Presidency in Landslide Victory: ‘The Will of the People Has Been Asserted’

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Evo Morales’s Protégé Luis Arce Wins Bolivian Presidency in Landslide Victory: ‘The Will of the People Has Been Asserted’

Photo by Gaston Brito/Getty Images

A new president–Luis Arce–has been elected in Bolivia. According to reports, Arce who has been hand-selected by exiled former socialist president Evo Morales to be his successor. Morales took to Twitter to celebrate the victory, which has all but rectified him: “Brothers and sisters: the will of the people has been asserted…We are going to give dignity and liberty back to the people,” he tweeted.

Throughout Bolivia’s most recent election cycle, Arce had been the frontrunner, with a pragmatic centrist candidate named Carlos Mesa trailing far behind him. Mesa conceded before all the votes were even counted, saying: “It is up to us, those of us who believe in democracy, to recognize that there has been a winner in this election.”

The peaceful nature of the election was, indeed, a surprise to many. The world seemed to be expecting mass protests or violence depending on the election’s results. NPR reported that Bolivians were stocking up on food and water in anticipation of greater civil unrest. But the election ran smoothly, and the results are considered a win for socialism, but a greater win for democracy and the peaceful transition of power.

The election results are significant because they prove that Bolivians are committed to, and do, indeed, support Morales’s Movimiento al Socialismo party.

Bolivia is an Indigenous-majority country and Morales had been the first and only Indigenous president. He had been president since 2004 before he was ousted in 2019.

Originally a powerful union organizer, Morales was very popular with the indigenous community, but nonetheless, a controversial figure throughout his presidency. He was beloved by many Bolivians for leading the country to economic prosperity through implementing socialist programs like universal education and paved roads. He also nationalized the oil and gas industry.

Although Morales declared victory in the October election, he soon resigned under threat of arrest due to claims of election fraud. He called his ouster a right-wing “coup” and has since been in exile in Argentina.

Morales claimed that the “coup” was due to powerful Western influences (like the United States and Canada) being sick of his anti-capitalist policies.

His critics claimed that he was cheating voters out of a fair election and had been in power far too long. These claims were backed by a report by the Organization of American States that claimed that the election results were marred by “irregularities” that made it impossible to guarantee the integrity of the data and certify the accuracy of the results.” The report has since been condemned as inaccurate.

After Morales’s ouster in 2019 and subsequent exile to Argentina, Bolivia has largely been in a state of political unrest. Jeanine Áñez, a right-wing politician who was a vocal critic of Morales, took over as interim president until a new election could be held. Áñez’s administration was plagued with reports of corruption and human rights violations. She was accused of using her political power to violently suppress and silence socialist protestors.

As for now, Bolivians largely seem to be happy with the outcome of the election. But with COVID-19 crippling their communities and economy, they have a long road to recovery ahead of them.

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