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The European Parliament demanded the release of Jeanine Áñez in Bolivia: “We are watching with horror a wave of political persecution”

A resolution approved by the majority of MEPs emphasizes that the former president, detained by the courts along with two of her ministers, “fully fulfilled her duty as second vice president of the Senate, by filling the presidential void” left by Evo Morales in 2019

FILE PHOTO: Extraordinary plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on July 23, 2020 (REUTERS / Francois Lenoir)

The majority of the European Parliament condemned this Thursday the arrest of the former interim president of Bolivia Jeanine Áñez and He asked the Bolivian authorities for his release and that of two of his jailed ministers and other politicians, as well as the withdrawal of the charges against them for political reasons.

The condemnatory resolution was carried out by 396 votes in favor, 267 against and 28 abstentions, and in her Áñez and his former collaborators are considered “political prisoners” and their arbitrary and illegal detention is “denounced and condemned”.

Áñez has been in preventive detention for more than a month for the “coup d’état” case, based on allegations of alleged conspiracy, sedition and terrorism during the political and social crisis that occurred at the end of 2019 and which led to the resignation of Evo Morales to the presidency and the annulment of the elections of that year amid allegations of fraud.

In this context, the European Parliament emphasizes that Áñez “fully fulfilled her duty as second vice president of the Senate, by filling the presidential void” left by Morales and recalled that the Plurinational Court of Bolivia supported the transfer of powers to Jeanine Áñez.

File photo: Jeanine Áñez during her proclamation as interim president in 2019 (MEAGAN HANCOCK / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO)

File photo: Jeanine Áñez during her proclamation as interim president in 2019 (MEAGAN HANCOCK / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO)

In the parliamentary debate on this matter, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, stressed that Brussels has already publicly requested that the accusations against Áñez linked to the 2019 events be addressed in a judicial process “transparent and fair, with full independence, without political pressure and with full respect for the division of powers.”

On the other hand, the vice-president of the European Parliament, the Czech Dita Charanzová, expressed shortly after the resolution was approved: “We all hoped that the last elections in Bolivia would mark a positive change, that they would restore peace in such a divided country, but the opposite happened.”

“We have watched with horror a wave of political persecution. Let me be clear: the presidential succession in 2019 was constitutional. The European Union, among others, supported the OAS audit of the transitional government of Jeanine Áñez “, added.

The community delegation in La Paz is in contact with the family of the former interim president and with the United Nations representative who visits Áñez in prison on a regular basis. The organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also described Áñez’s prosecution as political.

Former President Jeanine Añez, detained in a prison in La Paz, Bolivia, on March 13, 2021 (AFP)

Former President Jeanine Añez, detained in a prison in La Paz, Bolivia, on March 13, 2021 (AFP)

In its resolution, the European Parliament “expresses its concern about the lack of independence and impartiality of the Bolivian judicial system and the prevalence of structural problems; observes that this lack of independence affects access to justice and, more generally, undermines citizens’ trust in the national judicial system ”.

MEPs ask Bolivia for “structural changes and reforms” in the composition of its judicial system and that the “widespread issue” of corruption in the country be addressed, as well as to modify the definitions of terrorism in the Penal Code so that they are more proportional.

In addition, they ask the Bolivian Prosecutor’s Office to reopen the investigation into the alleged channeling by the Morales government of 1.6 million dollars of public funds through irregular payments to the consulting firm Neurona.

File photo: People protest on March 15, 2021 against the arrest of former interim president Jeanine Áñez, in the city of Santa Cruz (Bolivia) (EFE / Juan Carlos Torrejon)

File photo: People protest on March 15, 2021 against the arrest of former interim president Jeanine Áñez, in the city of Santa Cruz (Bolivia) (EFE / Juan Carlos Torrejon)

In Bolivia, the ruling party had anticipated this European resolution on Wednesday. The Chamber of Deputies, controlled by the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS), yesterday approved a Declaration of rejection of the interference of international organizations in Bolivian affairs. And former president Evo Morales tweeted: “We reject the interventionist initiative promoted by the extreme right in the European Parliament that promotes impunity in the face of deaths and serious human rights violations during the coup.”

And for his part, Carolina Ribera, daughter of former president Jeanine Áñez, thanked the European Parliament for its position. “This is further proof that my mother’s government was supported and continues to be supported by the international community. We hope that the national government will take this resolution with the respect it deserves (…) and will not try to silence it with senseless attacks, ”he declared to the local press.

With information from EFE

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