Bolivia's Ex-Leader Evo Morales Given Asylum in Mexico

Published November 12th, 2019 - 10:48 GMT
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard (Twitter)
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard (Twitter)
The 60-year-old stepped down under pressure from the military after weeks of protests over a disputed election result. 

Bolivia's former leader Evo Morales has fled to Mexico, leaving behind a country in turmoil after his resignation two days ago. 

Morales posed with a Mexican flag as he was spirited away into exile on an air force jet last night. 

'His life and integrity are safe,' Mexico's foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard announced as he revealed the plane had taken off.

Mexico had yesterday offered asylum to the socialist leader amid fears he would be arrested following his abrupt resignation. 

The 60-year-old stepped down under pressure from the military after weeks of protests over a disputed election result. 

'It pains me to leave the country for political reasons, but I will always be watching. I will be back soon with more strength and energy,' Morales said on Twitter.  

Back in Bolivia, the military which helped to oust Morales has agreed to help police secure the streets. 

Looting broke out in the wake of Morales's resignation and civilians scuffled with the former President's supporters in La Paz on Monday.  

The crisis deepened yesterday as gangs unhappy with Morales's departure attacked police stations and civilians, causing panic in the streets.

On Monday night hundreds of Morales supporters who traveled to La Paz from nearby El Alto protested outside the presidential palace.  

Police have largely been confined to barracks since rioting broke out and have asked the army to step in.  

'The military command of the armed forces has arranged for joint operations with the police to prevent bloodshed and fighting amongst the Bolivian family,' said chief General Williams Kaliman in a televised address.

Britain's Foreign Office has already warned against 'all but essential travel' to Bolivia, saying the situation was 'very uncertain'.  

Three people have died in clashes since the disputed election. 

An opposition senator, Jeanine Anez, is set to succeed Morales as interim President and has pledged to call new elections. 

Lawmakers are due to meet on Tuesday to begin the process. 

Dozens of ministers and officials resigned along with Morales, many of them taking refuge in foreign embassies.  

Morales also claimed last night that two of his homes had been attacked by 'vandalism groups.'

Opposition leader Carlos Mesa also claimed that 'a violent mob' was heading for his home to attack it.   

Morales said his opposition rivals, Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho, 'will go down in history as racists and coup plotters.

A former coca farmer, Morales was the country's first indigenous President and came to power in 2006 amid a wave of left-wing triumphs on the continent.  

Donald Trump hailed Morales's resignation as a 'significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere,' and praised the role of the country's military.

'These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail,' Trump said.

Many Bolivians celebrated in the streets with fireworks and honking horns after Morales's resignation. 

'We are celebrating that Bolivia is free,' said one demonstrator near the presidential palace in La Paz.  

However, others saw 60-year-old Morales's downfall as a return to the bleak era of military coups that long dominated Latin America. 

The socialist leaders of Venezuela and Cuba have already condemned what they called a coup, while their mutual ally Russia accused the opposition of unleashing violence to bring Morales down. 

Morales defended his legacy on Sunday, which includes landmark gains against hunger and poverty and tripling the country's economy during his nearly 14 years in office.

He gained a controversial fourth term when he was declared the winner of the presidential election by a narrow margin.

But the opposition cried foul and three weeks of street protests ensued, during which three people died and hundreds were injured.

An OAS audit of the election found irregularities in just about every aspect that it examined.

Morales called new elections but commanders of the armed forces and police backed calls for his resignation.

Some of his allies who resigned, including the lower house speaker and mining minister Cesar Navarro, cited fear for the safety of their families as the reason for stepping down. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.    

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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