Morales reaches exile in Mexico after fleeing Bolivia

Morales reaches exile in Mexico after fleeing Bolivia

Former president Evo Morales has flown to exile in Mexico after weeks of violent protests in Bolivia, leaving behind a confused power vacuum in the Andean nation.

He was met at Mexico City’s airport by foreign secretary Marcelo Ebrard after a flight from Bolivia on a Mexican government plane.

Evo Morales is greeted by Marcelo Ebrard (Eduardo Verdugo/AP)
Evo Morales is greeted by Marcelo Ebrard (Eduardo Verdugo/AP)

Supporters and foes of Mr Morales again headed for clashes in the streets of Bolivia’s capital even as the opposition leader laid out a possible — but still uncertain — path towards new elections after the president’s resignation.

Prodded by military leaders, Mr Morales – who transformed Bolivia as its first indigenous president – stepped down on Sunday after weeks of widespread protests fed by allegations of electoral fraud in the October 20 presidential election that he claimed to have won.

Resignations by every other constitutionally designated successor left unclear who would take his place and how.

The Senate’s second vice president, opposition politician Jeanine Anez, called a legislative session on Tuesday to formally accept his resignation and choose an interim replacement.

Jeanine Anez (Juan Karita/AP)
Jeanine Anez (Juan Karita/AP)

Under the plan, she would take temporary control of the Senate, making her next in line for the presidency.

“The country is experiencing dramatic moments and all parliamentarians have the obligation to give certainty to the country,” she told a news conference.

But it was not immediately clear if the session would occur or if a majority of senators would go along. Morales backers still have a majority in the body.

His departure was a dramatic fall for the one-time llama shepherd from the Bolivian highlands and former coca growers’ union leader who as president helped lift millions out of poverty, increased social rights and presided over nearly 14 years of stability and high economic growth in South America’s poorest country.

His downfall was prompted by his insistence on holding on to power despite a public referendum against continuous re-elections.

“It pains me to leave the country for political reasons, but I’ll always be concerned,” he said on Twitter. “l’ll return soon, with more strength and energy.”

Mr Ebrard said Mexican diplomats had to scramble to arrange a flight path for the plane because some nations initially closed air space to it. The plane stopped in Paraguay to refuel.

The aftermath of violence in La Paz (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)
The aftermath of violence in La Paz (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

Angry supporters of the socialist leader set barricades on fire to close some roads leading to the country’s main airport on Monday, while his opponents blocked most of the streets leading to the capital’s main square in front of Congress and the presidential palace.

Police urged residents of La Paz to stay in their homes and authorities said the army would join in policing efforts to avoid an escalation of violence.

Local media reported that Morales supporters were marching on La Paz from the nearby city of El Alto, a Morales stronghold, to try to break the street blockades thrown up by his opponents and reach the capital’s main square.

But the tensions were defused after General Williams Kaliman, chief of the armed forces, announced a joint police-military operation in a television address.

He said the hope was to “avoid bloodshed and mourning of the Bolivian family” and urged Bolivians to help restore peace.

More on this topic

UN urges talks to end Bolivia crisis amid rising death tollUN urges talks to end Bolivia crisis amid rising death toll

Eight killed in violence amid Bolivia’s political crisisEight killed in violence amid Bolivia’s political crisis

Bolivia’s growing crisis turns deadly as five killed in clashBolivia’s growing crisis turns deadly as five killed in clash

Ex-president Morales flees crisis-torn Bolivia as deadly clashes continueEx-president Morales flees crisis-torn Bolivia as deadly clashes continue

More in this Section

Let battle commence! General Election campaign in picturesLet battle commence! General Election campaign in pictures

Boris Johnson’s aide caught swearing on live TV in response to interview requestBoris Johnson’s aide caught swearing on live TV in response to interview request

Greta Thunberg hits out at governments for avoiding ambitious climate actionGreta Thunberg hits out at governments for avoiding ambitious climate action

UK Election night: The key results, hour-by-hourUK Election night: The key results, hour-by-hour


Lifestyle

Fr Brian D’Arcy was born nearEnniskillen, Co Fermanagh in 1945.A Question of Taste with Fr Brian D'Arcy

About a year ago Aitch, real name Harrison Armstrong, dropped out of school to start working with his grandfather as a labourer in Manchester.Rapper Aitch on quitting his job to pursue music full-time

A new book delves into the details of Harry Clarke’s stained glass windows in such places as Dingle and Cork, writes Marjorie Brennan.The book that delves into the details of Harry Clarke's stained glass windows

They’re the best air purifiers around so we should grow more houseplants all year round, says Peter Dowdall.Not just for December: The reason why she should grow more houseplants all year round

More From The Irish Examiner