The commission of prosecutors in charge of the case of Jeanine Áñez presented on Tuesday a formal accusation against the former Bolivian president for two minor crimes that carry very low prison sentences. Áñez continues in a women’s prison in La Paz, in which she has been locked up since March of this year, while the Prosecutor’s Office develops an investigation against her for the crimes of sedition, terrorism and conspiracy to overthrow President Evo Morales in 2019 and proclaim herself the Government leader. Áñez’s defense considers the accusations to be false.
The accusers must limit themselves to the illegal acts that Áñez allegedly committed before assuming the presidency, since their decisions during his tenure can only be processed with prior parliamentary authorization, which the opposition refuses to grant. “The commission of prosecutors, after having carried out an analysis, an investigation and a collection of both testimony and documentary evidence, as well as the corresponding expert opinions, has managed to establish that there are sufficient elements that Mrs. Jeanine Áñez Chávez had adequate her conduct these criminal types, ”stated Edwin Quispe, secretary general of the Attorney General’s Office.
The crimes for which Áñez will be prosecuted in this process, resolutions contrary to the Constitution and the laws and breach of duties, have a penalty of one month to two years in prison. Therefore, they would not merit the former president being detained, but at the same time she is accused of other more serious crimes, in particular terrorism, which is punishable by 20 years in prison. The investigation of Áñez’s behavior during the Bolivian political crisis has been divided into two cases, Hit I and Coup II, which is what the Prosecutor’s Office officially calls them.
From the accusation that has just been known, the Coup case II will go to trial. On the other hand, the former is bogged down by the difficulty of prosecutors in gathering the testimonies of those who supposedly decided that Áñez would take over the government in a series of meetings called by the Catholic Church and the European Union, which were attended by leaders of the Evo Morales’ party, the Movement for Socialism (MAS), and the main opposition leaders. So far, only former president Carlos Mesa has declared, who took advantage of his right not to respond in order not to incriminate himself. The Prosecutor’s Office has not yet received a statement from Luis Fernando Camacho, leader of the protests against Morales in 2019 and current governor of Santa Cruz. Every time he was summoned, such political tension was created in his region that the authorities gave up their intention.
Along with Áñez, the main military leaders at the time of the resignation of Evo Morales have been formally accused, including the former commander of the Armed Forces Williams Kaliman, who is a fugitive. Other accused former bosses have been in custody for months. The prosecution’s account states that immediately after Morales left power, and regardless of a meeting of the Legislative Assembly, Áñez, who was then second vice president of the Senate and the only opposition politician with an important parliamentary position, acted as if She was in charge of the country, dispensing with the usual parliamentary procedures when a representative resigns. According to the accusers, the military transported the then senator in airplanes and cars, and gave her protection, as if she were already president of Bolivia, and she ordered them to take to the streets to take care of public order, which at that time was upset. by demonstrations and outbreaks of vandalism. Finally, according to the accusation, Áñez “proclaimed himself” the ruler of the country in a legislative meeting that did not have the quorum necessary.
The defense of the former president and of the entire current opposition, which supported her government in 2019, is that there was a “power vacuum” after the resignation of the president, the vice president and also the presidents of the chambers of deputies and senators , all of them from Morales’s Movement to Socialism (MAS), which is why an “ipso facto” succession was applied that replaced the resigners with the first authority with the highest remaining rank, which was Áñez. This opinion was supported at that time by a press release from the Constitutional Court, from which later, when the MAS had already returned to power, it withdrew. According to the opposition, the succession to avoid a power vacuum made the parliamentary treatment of Morales’ resignation unnecessary and also that there was a parliamentary proclamation with the legal quorum.
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The division of the investigation against Áñez into two processes has been attributed by the defense to the need for prosecutors to prolong the preventive detention of the former governor, which is a maximum of six months for each accusation. Áñez has considered it a ploy to give the Prosecutor more time to assemble the most important accusation, thus violating his right to due process.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.