July 17th, 2024

The Latest | Bolivian official says general wanted to take power, navy vice admiral also arrested

By The Associated Press on June 26, 2024.

FILE - Bolivian President Luis Arce attends an Indigenous ritual before delivering his annual state of the nation address at the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia, Jan. 22, 2024. Armored vehicles rammed into the doors of Bolivia's government palace Wednesday, June 26, 2024, as a top government official warned of a coup attempt. (AP Photo/Juan Karita, File) (AP Photo/Juan Karita, File)

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) – An apparent failed coup attempt erupted Wednesday in Bolivia, where armored vehicles rammed into the doors of the government palace and President Luis Arce said the country stood firm against attacks on democracy.

Arce confronted the general commander of the army – Juan José Zúñiga, who appeared to be leading the rebellion – in the palace hallway, saying, “I am your captain, and I order you to withdraw your soldiers, and I will not allow this insubordination.”

Bolivian television showed two tanks and a number of men in military uniform outside the building, but troops and armored vehicles later began to pull back. Supporters of Arce flooded into the plaza outside soon afterward, waving Bolivian flags.

Arce said the day has been “atypical in the life of country that wants democracy.” He decried what he called “an attempted coup by troops who are staining the uniform, who are attacking our constitution.”

Arce also replaced the heads of the armed forces, with Zúñiga and navy Vice Adm. Juan Arnez Salvador being arrested later.

Tensions have been brewing for months, with protesters streaming into the capital amid a severe economic crisis as two political titans battle for control of the ruling party.

Here’s the latest:

___

Bolivian official: Army general “wanted to take power”; navy vice admiral also arrested

A high-ranking Bolivian official says the army general arrested in Wednesday’s apparent failed coup attempt was out to seize power and a second top officer was also arrested over the uprising.

Government Minister Eduardo del Castillo said in the evening that in addition to Juan José Zúñiga, former navy Vice Adm. Juan Arnez Salvador was taken into custody. Both men were dismissed by President Luis Arce and replaced after the uprising began.

Del Castillo accused Zúñiga of attempting a coup with political motivations.

“What was this group’s goal? The goal was to overturn the democratically elected authority,” del Castillo said in an appearance before journalists in which the two men were presented.

“Gen. Zúñiga wanted to take power,” he added.

Del Castillo also said two people were injured and taken to the hospital: One who was hit in the leg by a shotgun pellet, and another for whom details were not released.

___

High-ranking Bolivian official denies arrested general’s claims that president asked for uprising

Bolivia’s justice minister has denied an army general’s claims of being asked by the president to storm the government palace.

Iván Lima said Juan José Zúñiga, who was arrested earlier Wednesday after the apparent coup attempt fizzled, was lying and trying to justify his own actions, for which he will face justice.

Lima also said via the social platform X that prosecutors will seek the maximum sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison for Zúñiga, “for having attacked democracy and the Constitution.”

Shortly before he was arrested, Zúñiga told reporters: “The president told me: “˜The situation is very screwed up, very critical. It is necessary to prepare something to raise my popularity.'”

Zúñiga said he asked President Luis Arce if he should “take out the armored vehicles?” and Arce replied, “Take them out.” ___

Army general apparently behind failed coup claims president asked him to storm government palace

The army general apparently behind a failed coup attempt has claimed that the president asked him to storm the government palace in a political move.

Shortly before he was arrested Wednesday, Juan José Zúñiga told reporters: “The president told me: “˜The situation is very screwed up, very critical. It is necessary to prepare something to raise my popularity.'”

Zúñiga said he asked President Luis Arce if he should “take out the armored vehicles?” and Arce replied, “Take them out.”

Arce has not commented on Zúñiga’s claim. The Associated Press has asked the Ministry of the Presidency, but there has been no immediate reply.

Zúñiga was replaced by Arce earlier in the day, along with other heads of the armed forces, while the rebellion was still underway. It was not immediately clear what the charges against Zúñiga were. ___

Army general apparently behind the failed coup attempt has been arrested

Bolivian authorities say the army general apparently behind the failed coup attempt has been arrested after the attorney general opened an investigation against him.

Juan José Zúñiga was previously replaced by President Luis Arce, along with other heads of the armed forces, while the rebellion was still underway. It was not immediately clear what the charges against Zúñiga were.

Before entering the government palace earlier Wednesday, Zúñiga told journalists in the plaza outside: “Surely soon there will be a new Cabinet of ministers; our country, our state cannot go on like this.” Zúñiga said that “for now” he recognized Arce as commander in chief.

Zúñiga did not explicitly say whether he was leading a coup, but in the palace, with bangs echoing behind him, he said the army was trying to “restore democracy and free our political prisoners.”

___

President Arce thanks the Bolivian people, and VP says country will not allow more coups

Bolivian President Luis Arce has addressed supporters who gathered in Plaza Murillo, outside the governmental palace, after Wednesday’s apparent failed coup attempt.

“Many thanks to the Bolivian people. … Long live democracy,” Arce said.

People then began singing the South American country’s national anthem.

Vice President David Choquehuanca told the crowd, “Never again will the Bolivian people allow coups d’etat.”

___

Chile, EU among foreign governments condemning apparent failed coup attempt

Chile is among foreign governments that are condemning what appeared to be a failed coup attempt in neighboring Bolivia.

President Gabriel Boric told reporters that he “immediately” contacted his Bolivian counterpart to offer his “solidarity.”

“We condemn this coup attempt. We call for institutions to function, for the constitution and the laws to be respected,” he added. “We hope that no one is injured and that the legitimate government of President Luis Arce remains in place and can continue with the mandate that the Bolivian people have voted for.”

Boric said the matter would be raised Thursday before the Organization of American States.

EU President Ursula von der Leyen also expressed the European bloc’s strong support for constitutional order and the rule of law in Bolivia.

___

Troops and armored vehicles begin to pull back; president decries those who “are staining the uniform”

Troops and armored vehicles have begun to pull back from Bolivia’s government palace.

Supporters of President Luis Arce flooded into the plaza outside and waved Bolivian flags soon afterward.

Arce said the day has been “atypical in the life of country that wants democracy.”

He decried what he called “an attempted coup by troops who are staining the uniform, who are attacking our constitution.”

Arce praised those troops who obey the constitution and “wear their uniform with pride.”

“We deplore the attitudes of bad troops who regrettably repeat history by trying to carry out a coup when the Bolivian people have always been a democratic people,” he added.

___

Bolivia president replaces heads of the armed forces; new army commander orders troops back to barracks

Bolivian President Luis Arce has announced new heads of the army, navy and air force. That includes the position of the army general commander, Juan José Zúñiga, who appears to be leading the rebellion.

New army chief José Wilson Sánchez is ordering all mobilized troops to return to their barracks. “No one wants the images we’re seeing in the streets,” he said.

Arce said that those who rose up against him were “staining the uniform.” He vowed that democracy would be respected.

Police with riot gear have put up fences around the government palace and the plaza outside.

Video from the streets showed armored vehicles driving away from the palace, followed by troops and journalists.

___

Bolivian labor union condemns what it calls an attempted coup

The leadership of Bolivia’s largest labor union has condemned what it calls an attempted coup d’état and declared an indefinite strike of social and labor organizations in La Paz in defense of the government.

___

President to Army commander: “I order you to withdraw”; army commander says he is out to “restore democracy”

Bolivian President Luis Arce has told the army general commander, who appeared to be leading the rebellion: “I am your captain, and I order you to withdraw your soldiers, and I will not allow this insubordination.”

Before entering the government palace, Juan José Zúñiga told journalists in the plaza outside that “Surely soon there will be a new Cabinet of ministers; our country, our state cannot go on like this.” Zúñiga said that “for now” he recognizes Arce as commander in chief.

Zúñiga did not explicitly say whether he is leading a coup, but in the palace, with bangs echoing behind him, he said the army was trying to “restore democracy and free our political prisoners.” ___

Armored vehicles ram the doors of the palace, and president confronts army commander

Armored vehicles rammed into the doors of Bolivia’s government palace Wednesday as President Luis Arce said the country faced an attempted coup, insisted he stands firm and urged people to mobilize.

In a video of Arce surrounded by ministers in the palace, he said: “The country is facing an attempted coup d’état. Here we are, firm in Casa Grande, to confront any coup attempt. We need the Bolivian people to organize.”

Arce confronted the general commander of the Army, Juan José Zúñiga, in the palace hallway, as shown on video on Bolivian television. “I am your captain, and I order you to withdraw your soldiers, and I will not allow this insubordination,” Arce said.

Share this story:

74
-73
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments