As Bolivia's political situation intensifies, the country's interim government Wednesday produced audio it says consists of former exiled President Evo Morales ordering a blockade to prevent food from entering Bolivian cities. But Morales' supporters have dismissed the recording as fraudulent.
"Brother, don't led food into the cities, we are going to do a blockade, a true siege," someone whom the government says is Morales is heard saying in what is allegedly a phone call he made from exile in Mexico. "From now it is going to be fight, fight, fight."
The audio was released by Interior Minister Arturo Murillo one day after the military clashed violently with Morales' supporters who were reportedly blocking fuel from reaching the capital, La Paz, which along with several other cities throughout the country has been facing a food and fuel shortage since the standoff between the protesters and interim government began, per The Wall Street Journal.
Morales' backers, who have accused the military of orchestrating a right wing coup to remove the socialist Morales from power, argue that the government released the video in an attempt to distract the country as it conducts a crackdown on protesters who are demanding Morales' return.
Meanwhile, morales activists have reportedly shared videos showing soldiers firing live rounds at protesters. Morales called upon the interim government Wednesday to "stop this massacre of indigenous brothers who ask for peace, democracy, and respect of life in the streets." Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell
Mexico flew former Bolivian President Evo Morales to Mexico City on Monday after offering him asylum amid what Morales and his supporters call a "coup" and protesters call a restoration of democracy in Bolivia. Morales resigned Sunday after weeks of protests following a controversial election in late October that international observers flagged for irregularities; the final straw was the country's military chief Gen. Williams Kaliman calling on him to step down to restore peace to Bolivia.
With Morales gone and all other officials in the line of succession also tendering their resignations, Bolivia has no clear leader. "It hurts me to leave the country, for political reasons, but I will always be concerned," Morales tweeted. "I will return soon, with more strength and energy." Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard tweeted a photo of Morales on the Mexican Air Force plane, explaining that "according to current international conventions, he is under the protection of Mexico. His life and integrity are safe."
Ya despegó el avión de la Fuerza Aérea Mexicana con Evo Morales a bordo. De acuerdo a las convenciones internacionales vigentes está bajo la protección del de México. Su vida e integridad están a salvo. pic.twitter.com/qLUEfvciux
The weeks of massive protests against Morales were sparked by the Oct. 20 election, in which he sought a fourth term despite constitutional term limits and a referendum that upheld those limits; a friendly top court later threw out the restrictions. Morales also declared victory before official results were in, and no results were released for 24 hours. Organization of American States election observers found a "heap of observed irregularities" in the election and called for a new vote. Morales had served since first winning the presidency in 2006, becoming Bolivia's first indigenous president. He leaves a legacy of increased economic equality, a long streak of stability, and accusations of corruption. Peter Weber