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Bolivia's ex-president Anez alleges 'abuse' in prison

March 24, 2021

In a long, emotional letter, former president Jeanine Anez said she was suffering abuse in pre-trial detention. She faces charges of leading a coup against her predecessor.

Bolivien I Jeanine Anez
Jeanine Anez has been charged with fomenting a coup against her socialist predecessor Evo Morales.Image: Natacha Pisarenko/AP/picture alliance

Bolivia's former interim president Jeanine Anez said in a letter posted on Tuesday that her rights were being violated in prison where she is being held in pre-trial detention.

In a seven-page letter posted on Twitter, she alleged "abusive" actions by the police and the state. She claims the authorities refused to provide her proper medical treatment.

Bolivian police  detained Anez on March 13 in an early morning raid at her home in Trinidad. She has since petitioned authorities to release her to a clinic where she could be treated for hypertension.

"I don't trust the government's doctors," Anez wrote in the letter. "They're part of the system of abuse and repression and have shown they're prepared to risk my life, injecting me with high-risk medication without precautions or previous studies, with the only aim of keeping me in their cells."

She did not specify exactly what medication she was given or for what purpose.

The United States has expressed "concern" over Anez's arrest and the Organization of American States (OAS) has demanded her release, questioning the impartiality of Bolivia's courts.

What are the charges against Anez?

Anez has been charged with fomenting a coup against her socialist predecessor Evo Morales.

She is accused of terrorism, sedition, and conspiracy alongside two of her ministers who are also held in pre-trial detention.

Prosecutors also accepted four new charges against her filed by the justice ministry.

These include issuing unconstitutional presidential decrees, failing to fulfill her duties, crimes against public health, and discrimination.

"This is a fight for democracy, and we will keep going until the end," Anez wrote, vehemently denying the accusations against her.

She also described the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party of Morales and President Luis Arce as a "dictatorship" and insisted "there was no coup, there was a fraud."

A year in power

Anez came to power in November 2019 after Morales and senior MAS allies resigned following weeks of protests over his controversial reelection.

Morales then fled into exile and Anez, a conservative lawmaker and deputy senate leader at the time, was the most senior parliamentarian left. She was sworn in by Congress as the interim president despite the lack of a quorum. Her administration passed a law giving security forces broad discretion in the use of force.

In October 2020, Morales' close aide Luis Arce won the presidential vote, replacing Anez the following month.

Homeschooling in Bolivia

Prosecutors allege that Anez and her allies threatened those before her in the line of succession to step aside and allow her to become interim president.

In her letter on Tuesday, she insists that those individuals had not wanted to take responsibility for restoring stability.

"Those who resigned rather than take charge of a country in flames where people were calling for civil war, were they not cowards," she wrote.

The three people in line to assume office before Anez — former Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, former senate president Adriana Salvatierra, and former house of deputies president Victor Borda had said at the time that they had received unspecified harassment and death threats.

Under Anez's regime, Morales had been accused of terrorism, and some members of his government were detained. At least 33 people were killed in violence that followed the election, 30 of them after Anez took office.

adi/dj (AFP, Reuters)