Death Toll in Bolivia Protests Against Interim Government Reaches 23

Ousted President Wants to Finish Term, Offers to Sit Out Fresh Elections

A week after Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales was forced to resign by the military, protests against the new government continue. Demonstrators have been killed in clashes with police and military forces, putting the death toll over the past week at 23.

Reports of police opening fire on demonstrators have come out. The UN Human Rights office and other human rights groups have denounced the violence, calling it an “unnecessary & disproportionate use of force.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned a decree signed by the interim government Friday that exempts “personnel from Bolivia’s armed forces who participated in the operations of restoration and stability of the internal order” from criminal responsibility and authorizes them to use “all available means.”

Most of the demonstrations took place near the city of Cochabamba, an area home to a large indigenous population of coca growers. The demonstrators were protesting against the self-proclaimed interim president Senator Jeanine Anez. On Saturday, a group of coca-growers’ unions in Chapare, a rural area near Cochabamba, demanded Anez’s resignation within 48 hours and fresh elections within 90 days.

On Sunday, the interim government said the protests were slowing down. The interim interior minister said the number of trouble spots were “down by half.” The interior minister angered opposition groups by suggesting protesters might have shot their own in an effort to gain sympathy.

Morales, who fled to Mexico for asylum, told reporters that he wants to return to Bolivia and finish his term, which would have ended in January. Morales said he would not run in a new round of elections. “I retire my candidacy, but they should let me finish my term,” Morales said.

Anez told reporters on Friday that Morales could return to Bolivia, but must “answer to justice for electoral fraud,” making it unlikely Morales would be welcome to finish his term.

Morales was accused of tampering with election results after the October 20th vote. After the Organization of American States released a report that said there were “clear manipulations” in the vote, Morales agreed to hold new elections. After agreeing to hold new elections, the military still demanded Morales’s resignation.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the assistant news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.