LA PAZ – Thousands of supporters of the government of Bolivian President Luis Arce demonstrated on Thursday, claiming that the imprisonment of former interim president Jeanine Añez, two of her former ministers and former military chiefs are not revenge but “justice.”
In the heart of La Paz, protesters detonated dynamite that prompted shouting against what they consider a “coup d’etat” that took place in 2019.
As next in line for the top job, Añez took the interim presidency that year after charges of voting fraud in the general election – which were later confirmed by the Organization of American States – led to protests and the resignation and exile of then-president Evo Morales.
“It was a coup and now we are demanding justice. It is not revenge, it is justice,” Alicia Chura, an Aymara leader, told EFE. She said all those who were part of the previous interim government should be imprisoned.
Sergio Veizaga, from the eastern city of Montero, told EFE that “it is not enough” that Añez has been arrested, but that she and others must be “imprisoned and prosecuted.”
With the demonstration of the thousands of government supporters, polarization in Bolivia has been exacerbated, especially as protests against the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) of Arce and Morales and the so-called “judicial persecution” have not ceased in other regions.
In the central city of Cochabamba, a demonstration demanded an end to “authoritarianism” and “freedom” in favor of Añez and her former ministers.
Government detractors have announced more protests against the arrests for Friday in La Paz.
The government, through its main spokespersons, has indicated that the arrests have been carried out within the framework of justice and without any intention of persecution, while international organizations request guarantees of independent and credible judicial processes.
The Bolivian Penitentiary Regime issued a brief statement in which it “categorically” denied claims that Añez is on a hunger strike and affirmed that, according to the latest medical report, her health is “stable.” On Wednesday, she required medical assistance for heart problems.
The former interim president and members of her cabinet are accused of sedition and terrorism.