Jailed former Bolivian president Jeanine Áñez attempted suicide in prison on Saturday, her lawyer said, a day after prosecutors charged her with “genocide” over the deaths of protesters in 2019.
Áñez has been in jail since March, originally on trumped-up charges, according to her supporters – of staging a coup against her predecessor and rival, former President Evo Morales.
One of Áñez’s lawyers, Jorge Valda, said the ex-leader, disheartened by his legal situation, had “attempted suicide … an attempt in which, thank God, it failed”.
Bolivian authorities had announced that ñez had tried to harm herself, with Interior Minister Eduardo del Castillo claiming that she had only suffered “scratches” on her arm during the attempt on Saturday morning and that she was in stable condition.
The opposition deplored the government’s treatment of Áñez and called for his release.
Former centrist president Carlos Mesa said the official explanations for his injury were “not serious” and called for an end to his “political imprisonment”.
Áñez’s family has repeatedly called on the government to transfer the 54-year-old to a hospital for treatment of hypertension and other conditions. This request was rejected, as were requests from her lawyers for her to be placed in house arrest.
The Tory leader took power in November 2019 after Morales resigned and fled the country after weeks of violent protests against his controversial re-election for an unconstitutional fourth term. The natives fled the country after an election audit by the Organization of American States (OAS) found evidence of fraud.
After the elections, at least 37 people died in violence that erupted between supporters and opponents of Morales, as well as between protesters and the security forces.
Most of the deaths occurred in clashes between Morales supporters and the security forces after the socialist leader fled.
The specific charge against Áñez concerns two incidents in November 2019 in which a total of 22 people died.
Attorney General Juan Lanchipa said on Friday he presented documents against her in which the incidents were “provisionally classified as genocide, serious and minor injuries and injuries followed by death”.
After Morales resigned, ñez – as the most senior parliamentarian on the left – was sworn in as interim president, but his political opponents denounced it as a coup.
Under Áñez’s administration, Bolivia held peaceful and transparent elections in October 2020 in which Morales’ left-wing protégé Luis Arce won a landslide victory. He then vowed to prosecute those he accused of staging a coup.
Áñez, arrested in March for carrying out a coup, also faces charges of terrorism, sedition and conspiracy.
The Bolivian opposition denounced the lack of separation of powers in the country, claiming that the courts, the electorate and the public prosecutor’s office are all loyal to Arce, who is also a member of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party. from Morales.
“First of all, we need to reform the judiciary because it is neither independent nor autonomous,” said centrist lawmaker Alejandro Reyes. “As long as there is no judicial reform, nothing can be done.”
However, the case is unlikely to go to court, as in order for that to happen, the Supreme Court must seek permission from Congress to hold Áñez accountable for what happened.
Clearance could only be given by a two-thirds majority, and although the MAS controls Congress, it does not have a sufficiently large majority.
While the MAS lost the presidency for a year to Áñez, it never gave up control of the congress.
– TIME / AFP