Bolivia protests against the conviction of former interim president Áñez – 06/14/2022

La Paz, June 14, 2022 (AFP) – Dozens of protesters marched in Bolivia this Tuesday (14) calling for the freedom of former interim president Jeanine Áñez, sentenced to ten years in prison for irregularly assuming power after the resignation of Evo Morales.

“This is a political trial; it is a revenge trial,” said the daughter of the former interim president, Carolina Ribera, during the protest in La Paz.

The protesters, who carried placards with phrases like “free Jeanine” and “dignified justice for all”, belonged to movements and parties that oppose the Movement to Socialism (MAS), the ruling party.

“She is political prey,” said Kevin Vargas, a 26-year-old protester.

On Friday night, a court in La Paz found Áñez, who served as interim president of the country between 2019 and 2020, guilty of the crimes of violation of duties and resolutions contrary to the Constitution.

Áñez’s family announced that they will appeal the decision in all judicial bodies in Bolivia before going to international justice. The Public Ministry, which is aiming for a 15-year sentence, will also appeal.

Justice considers that Áñez assumed the presidency unconstitutionally in November 2019 after the resignation of Morales (2006-2019), amid protests over alleged electoral fraud denounced by the Organization of American States (OAS).

On Monday, US senators from the Democratic and Republican parties denounced in a joint statement “the continued politicization” of Bolivia’s judiciary, after the decision against the former president.

In addition, a group of 23 former presidents of Ibero-American countries last week asked the UN and the European Union to “repudiate the intention to arbitrarily condemn her.”

Áñez, a lawyer and former television presenter who served as second vice president of the Senate, became president to organize new elections after everyone who preceded her in the presidential succession resigned: the vice president, the head of the Upper House and the president of the Chamber of Deputies.

The Constitutional Court endorsed the procedure by which Áñez reached the presidency.

The elections were held in October 2020 after two postponements due to the pandemic and had Luis Arce, Morales’ political heir, as the winner.

In 2021, a group of experts hired by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in agreement with Bolivia, confirmed dozens of deaths and “serious human rights violations” during incidents of repression after Áñez came to power in November 2019.

The IACHR report also questions the independence of the Bolivian judicial system.

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