BOLIVIA. La Paz: Police surrounded the home of former interim President Jeanine Áñez yesterday while an official arrest warrant circulated throughout the country. At 1 a.m. this morning, in the city of Trinidad, Áñez was discovered hiding under a bed with the assistance of some of her relatives. She was arrested and transferred by plane to La Paz via El Alto.
The arrest and detainment of former military officials that were in office during Áñez's tenure began yesterday after members of President Arce's party, the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), made follow-up inquiries this week into criminal allegations Áñez was charged with during her time in office.
"It was not a coup, it was a fraud!"
Supporters of Áñez, including some politicians, quickly expressed their outrage at what some have described as a witch hunt motivated by a desire for revenge by the MAS, which is the political party of former socialist President Evo Morales.
Right-wing political rival and governor-elect of Santa Cruz, Luis Fernando Camacho, was among the first to speak out. "President, you and all Bolivians know perfectly well that in October and November 2019, what happened in Bolivia was a fraud. It was perpetrated by some leaders of your political party, followed by a national and international condemnation for what happened. There was a peaceful mobilization of citizens who rejected this fraud, a technical report from the OAS, along with a binding character that provides evidence of this electoral fraud from state institutions, the armed forces, and the police. They refused to come out and oppress their people, " Camacho said in his address to President Luis Arce.
Áñez herself stated after her arrest, "It was not a coup, it was a fraud," which is now trending on social media networks.
Facing the music for pandemic crimes
While Áñez's fans continue to rally, members of the MAS point a finger at the criminal actions that transpired during the interim president's time in office. The new mayor-elect of El Alto and former President of the Senate, Eva Copa, began the process of charging Áñez for corruption and embezzlement scandals last year, which took place during the coronavirus lockdown. In addition to the formal charges leveled against Áñez, there were widespread accusations of abusing her right to stay in office. Áñez was originally meant to hold office for no more than 90 days after the post-election riots in Oct.-Nov. 2019, which ended the 14-year reign of Morales. Áñez came to power through the laws of succession and was tasked, solely, with scheduling a new election. Instead, Áñez canceled the general elections twice in 2020 and maintained a tenuous grip on power until nationwide protests forced a general election, in which the MAS party won by a landslide, last October.
A cry for help to the international community
With the past hour, Áñez pleaded for assistance from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union, claiming to be a victim of "political persecution." The indicted former president has released no formal statement since arriving at the prosecutor's office in La Paz. It remains to be seen if the accusations put against her will be supported by the public ministry, which will be required to move forward with criminal proceedings.