BUENOS AIRES – Former Bolivian president Evo Morales traveled overnight from Buenos Aires to Cuba for medical reasons and is scheduled to return to Argentina this weekend, his press office said in a statement on Monday.
Morales, who has been living in exile in Argentina since mid-December, fled Bolivia after a disputed election in October.
“Ex-President Evo Morales last night made an unscheduled trip to Cuba for health reasons. He is expected to return this weekend to carry out his scheduled activities,” the statement read.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez also confirmed the trip in comments to Buenos Aires’s Radio Continental, saying Morales had mentioned those plans when he spoke with him a few days ago.
He added that “nothing prevents (Morales), as a political refugee, from traveling to Cuba.”
In April 2017, Morales underwent an operation in Cuba to remove a benign tumor from his left vocal cord.
Morales won a fourth term in office in Bolivia in that nation’s Oct. 20 presidential election, earning a margin of victory that narrowly avoided a runoff against rival candidate Carlos Mesa.
But those elections were annulled after an Organization of American States audit – conducted amid accusations of fraud by Bolivia’s opposition – found that the results could not be validated due to “deliberate actions that sought to manipulate” the vote count.
Morales, the first indigenous president of that poor, majority indigenous nation, agreed on Nov. 10 to a new general election following the release of the OAS’ report but was forced to resign hours later after losing the support of the military.
The 60-year-old former head of state, who says he was forced out in a coup, lived in exile for a month in Mexico before accepting an offer of asylum in Argentina.
Morales has been charged with terrorism and sedition by Bolivia’s right-wing interim government, which accuses him of seeking to foment unrest from exile.
The ex-president’s trip to Havana came hours after Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal announced that his bid to run for a national Senate seat from the department of Cochabamba in the upcoming May 3 general election is under review.
The tribunal cited the former head of state’s alleged non-compliance with certain requirements, including failure to submit an original birth certificate.
The candidacy of Luis Arce, the presidential hopeful of Morales’ leftist MAS party in that same general election, also is under review.