BUENOS AIRES – Former Bolivian President Evo Morales on Tuesday in Buenos Aires “energetically” condemned the interim Bolivian government’s decision to expel two Spanish diplomats and warned that “international rights have not been respected.”
“I don’t agree. I energetically condemn this kind of sanction, of expulsions. I don’t know if it’s designed just to give a bad impression of Bolivia or if it’s designed to break diplomatic relations with progressive or leftist governments in the world,” Morales said in remarks to EFE in the Argentine capital.
The interim government in La Paz on Monday declared Mexican Ambassador to Bolivia Maria Teresa Mercado, Spanish charge d’affaires Cristina Borreguero, Spanish consul Alvaro Fernandez and other officials persona non grata and gave them 72 hours to leave the country.
Since November, about a dozen former officials with Morales’ administration, several of them accused by the Añez government of crimes such as terrorism, have received diplomatic asylum at the Mexican official’s residence.
The government of Jeanine Añez accused the foreign diplomats of harming Bolivian sovereignty by meeting with “masked” and “presumably armed” individuals at Mercado’s residence in La Paz last Friday.
The meeting was interpreted by the Añez government as an attempt to get the former Bolivian officials out of the country, something that the Spanish government has denied, saying that it was a “courtesy” meeting and that the diplomats were accompanied by “security personnel” – presumably the masked individuals – for their own protection.
“It’s not possible for the de facto government, the Añez dictatorship, to give Bolivia a bad name with the international community,” said Morales after a year-end toast with members of the Bolivian community in Argentina.
The former Bolivian leader said that “this kind of attitude in international diplomacy surprises (me) because they haven’t respected international laws.”
“We repudiate (and) reject it, and we don’t agree. It’s one thing to have ideological differences and another for someone to conspire, as happened to me with the US ambassador,” Morales said, recalling the diplomatic contretemps he had with Washington during his administration.
He said that “the people will judge” the measures implemented by the Añez government.
Meanwhile, Morales hailed the Bolivian Supreme Court ruling to throw out the requests to disband the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS-IPSP) party, which he had headed before he went into exile.
“The MAS will always be around. Saying that the MAS cannot participate (in upcoming elections) is saying that half of Bolivia cannot participate, which the Bolivian people and the whole world know is an attempt to malign us,” Morales said.
Later, the former Bolivian leader posted on his Twitter account that “those who asked for the proscription of the MAS are coupmongers, anti-democratic (individuals), the heirs of (late Bolivian dictator Hugo) Banzer.”
“The only thing we’re asking the new members of the Supreme Court for is to apply the law without favoring any party of citizens group,” he said.
Morales on Tuesday presided at a toast with members of Bolivian groups in Argentina at the home of a countryman in the capital’s Liniers neighborhood.
Before sharing typical Bolivian dishes, the former president appeared on the home’s front balcony to greet the dozens of people who had congregated outside to support him.
In his speech before the members of the Bolivian community, Morales once again criticized the “coup d’etat” he claims he suffered in November, adding that the “great challenge” for 2020 will be to recover Bolivian democracy.
Under pressure from the Bolivian armed forces, amid street riots and accusations of electoral fraud by the opposition, Morales resigned the presidency on Nov. 10 after the Organization of American States published a report warning of “serious irregularities” in the Oct. 20 elections in which he was proclaimed to have won a fourth consecutive term.
Morales claims that his departure was a “coup d’etat” aided by the United States. He spent a month in exile in Mexico before traveling to Argentina, where he requested asylum.
The interim government in La Paz has announced that national elections will be held within the next 120 days, and Morales – in his remarks – said that the MAS will announce its candidates for president and vice president on Jan. 19, although he will not be allowed to run.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the interim Bolivian government announced that it will empower a top representative at its embassy in Spain to “quickly” overcome the “impasse” between the two countries after the expulsion of the Spanish diplomats by La Paz.
The Bolivian Foreign Ministry reiterated its “full respect for international law and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations” and acknowledged the “important work” performed by the European Union in various areas in addition to its support “for the process of free and transparent elections” in Bolivia in 2020.
The foreign ministry said that Bolivia “has had and has excellent relations” with the European bloc and its member states “and desires to maintain them at that high level.”